Prepared bird diets have greatly eased the task of providing balanced nutrition to feathered pets of all types. I can well recall times when the diets of birds other than seed-eaters were, of necessity, prepared from scratch…please see my article Alternative Bird Foods, Yesterday and Today for details and some useful products. However, along with the innovations that have come about in the field of avian nutrition, it seems a few of the finer points have been lost.
Aquatic Foods for Terrestrial Birds?
Today I’d like to focus on what may perhaps seem an odd food for most pet birds – freeze dried shrimp and shrimp-like creatures such as Daphnia and Gammarus. Widely used as tropical fish foods today, in years past zoo and private bird keepers relied upon these as important protein sources for finches and softbills such as bulbuls, shama thrushes, Pekin robins and white eyes.
Although most of these birds likely never encounter aquatic invertebrates in the wild, decades of experience has revealed that these creatures none-the-less contain well-accepted and useful nutrients. Shrimp also help maintain the red coloration of many birds…among zookeepers it is well known that flamingos and scarlet ibis deprived of whole shrimp (or a substitute) soon fade to washed-out, pink “shadows” of their former selves.
Some Useful Freeze Dried Invertebrates
At That Fish Place/That Pet Place, we carry an extensive line of freeze dried shrimp and similar invertebrates, many of which will be well-accepted by a variety of birds. Please give Daphnia, bloodworms, baby shrimp and mini krill a try. You can either mix these foods into your pets’ usual diets, or offer them directly.
Wild and commercially-bred insects are also of great use to aviculturists. For information on collecting wild insects with the Bug Napper Insect Trap and the use of canned insects in bird collections, please see my article Feeding Insects to Pet Birds .
Image referenced from Animal Pictures Archive and originally posted by K. W. Bridges.