Home | Bird diet | Tips from the Past: Feeding Dried Invertebrates to Finches and Softbills – Part 2

Tips from the Past: Feeding Dried Invertebrates to Finches and Softbills – Part 2

Please see Part I of this article for an overview of some tropical fish foods that may be fed to pet birds.

The protein requirements of finches are often over-looked by bird keepers, as these captivating little birds are usually thought of as “seed-eaters”.  However, nearly all species readily consume insects in the wild.  Invertebrate-based protein is also essential for bringing most into breeding condition, and for parents with chicks.  Lories, painted quail, shama thrushes, white-eyes, Pekin robins and many others also relish and need invertebrate foods.  A number of products originally formulated for captive reptiles contain shrimp, snails, flies, Gammarus and other foods that make healthful additions to the diets of many cage birds.

Snails, Shrimp and other Canned Invertebrates

Canned invertebrates such as shrimp, snails, grasshoppers, crickets and mealworms represent an important and little-utilized food source for pet birds.  Most birds prefer that the shrimp be left out to dry for awhile, but will eagerly take the other items straight from the can.


Gammarus, tiny crustaceans usually referred to as “fresh water shrimp”, are actually amphipods, not true shrimp. They have long used as an important protein source for cage birds of all types.  Originally collected in Southeast Asia and rather expensive by the time they arrived in the USA, local Gammarus species are now used in the trade here.

Repto Treat Gammarus Shrimp Supplement, comprised entirely of sun-dried Gammarus, is a useful way of providing your smaller birds with this nutritious but often-forgotten food item.

Dried Flies and Egg Food

Zoo Med Anole Food, which contains freeze dried, laboratory-raised flies, is readily accepted by most small finches and softbills.

Every old-time bird keeper knew how to prepare egg food, which was considered essential for bringing birds into breeding condition.  Nearly all the birds with which I have worked, from tiny finches to massive cassowaries, consumed it with gusto.  Cede Egg Food is a convenient means of supplying your birds with this is nutritious, high protein treat.

Further Reading

Please see my article on Breeding Finches  for further information on the role of invertebrate foods in promoting reproduction.

Please also check out my articles on individual bird species for specific information.  You can also subscribe to my RSS Feed at



Image referenced from Wikipedia and first published by NIMSoffice.

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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