Please see Part I of this article for information concerning hill mynas and African gray parrots. Today we’ll continue our overview of nutritional considerations particular to specific groups of birds.
Amazon Parrots (Genus Amazona)
Amazons gain weight easily, and seem prone to obesity. This is in part due to their fondness for sunflower seeds and peanuts, and also to the difficulties involved in trying to convince them to accept a healthier diet…they are just to smart and stubborn for their own good!
Switching Amazon parrots to a pellet-based diet is the ideal solution, but is often quite a challenge. One very useful product in helping them to make the adjustment is Lafeber Nutriberries. Containing both pelleted and natural foods, nutriberries retain their consistency well, making it difficult for parrots to pick out favored ingredients.
Amazon parrots love to manipulate food items with their feet. You can take advantage of this by offering them thick stalks of kale, carrot chunks and other such vegetables. This may help to satisfy their appetites and will keep them occupied and stimulated as well.
Hypocalcaemia, Hypovitaminosis A and Sinusitis
In common with African gray parrots, Amazons are often troubled by these three ailments. Please see Part I of this article for a discussion of their causes and treatments.
There is some evidence that certain macaws, especially those that feed heavily upon palm nuts in the wild, may do best on a high-fat diet. However, please bear in mind that the nutritional requirements of the world’s 17 macaw species vary greatly, and they cannot be treated as a single entity in this regard. Always be sure to carefully research the individual species in which you are interested (please see Further Reading, below).
Psittacine Proventricular Dilation Disease
Known also as “macaw wasting disease”, this affliction is as yet incurable. Believed to be viral in nature, it is seen more frequently in macaws than other parrots, but is by no means limited to them.
In birds stricken by the disease, a region of the stomach known as the proventriculus dilates and ceases to contract normally. Food, unable to move through the digestive system, is usually regurgitated. Whole seeds may also appear in the droppings, and weight loss will be evident. Some birds also exhibit abnormal head movements, lameness and other problems associated with the nervous system.
Carefully choosing your birds, and quarantining all new arrivals for 3-6 months, is the best protection against macaw wasting disease.
Hypervitaminosis D and Stunting
With hand-raised macaws commanding such high prices, it is inevitable that many people try their hand at what is actually an extremely difficult undertaking. An excess of Vitamin D and a failure to develop normally, both typically seen in baby macaws, are linked to inappropriate nestling formulas.
Kaytee Macaw Handrearing Formula is specifically formulated for macaws, but the advice of an experienced aviculturist should also be sought if you are new to hand-rearing birds.