Home | Bird Product Review (page 5)

Category Archives: Bird Product Review

Feed Subscription

Product Review: Alternative Bird Foods – Yesterday and Today, Part I

Eggsnack Bird Food

The nutritional needs of some of our most colorful and interesting pet birds are not met by seed-based diets. Lories and lorikeets, for example, require a soupy mix of fruits and nectars. Many gorgeous softbills, such as the shama thrush (Copsychus malabaricus) and Peking robin (Leiothrix lutea) subsist largely upon insects, and require a high-protein diet if they are to thrive in captivity.

Dietary Specialists
Such birds were, in earlier times, considered to be “delicate” captives, and hence were largely ignored by aviculturists, or left to well-heeled experts.Providing them with a balanced diet required painstaking daily efforts, and usually involved gathering a variety of uncommon ingredients and a good deal of cooking.

I well remember preparing, twice daily, meals for the Bronx Zoo’s rare Tahitian lories (Vini peruviana).Breakfast was put together at 5:30 AM, and consisted of a blended shake containing fresh papaya, blueberries, nectar (apricot, pear, peach and guava), yogurt, vitamins and mineral powder.Their second meal was comprised of several types of commercial nectars (designed for hummingbirds and sunbirds), each containing several ingredients and mixed separately, as well as various tropical fruits and insects.

Commercial Diets for Picky Birds
In time we learned that many birds formerly thought to be difficult captives were actually quite hearty and long-lived, given the proper diet. Commercial, pre-mixed diets evolved, and now we are in the happy situation of being able to keep a wide variety of interesting species in our homes. Pretty Bird Species Specific Food for Lories and Goldenfeast NectarGold for Lories and Lorikeets serve well as basic diets for the specialized lories and lorikeets. Pretty Bird Softbill Select and Higgins Egg Food are of great value in maintaining toucans, barbets, tanagers, bulbuls and a host of others.

Many seed eating birds, especially the various finches, consume insects and fruit in the wild, and nearly all will benefit from a bit of Softbill Diet and Egg Food from time to time. When such birds are rearing chicks, these foods are vital.

Live, Canned and Collected Insects

Live crickets, mealworms, waxworms and other insects will be appreciated by nearly all softbills. A very useful innovation to appear recently has been the Canned Insects (marketed for reptile pets) by Exo-Terra and ZooMed.

ZooMed Bug NapperI urge you to give these a try for finches and other softbills. Zoo Med’s Bug Napper Insect Trap provides an easy (and interesting!) means of collecting wild insects – trust me, your birds will consider moths, beetles and the like a very special treat indeed.

Next week I’ll describe what was involved in feeding the Bronx Zoo’s huge collection of insectivorous birds before the advent of commercially-prepared diets.

Please see my article Providing Insects to Pet Birds…Useful Products Designed for Reptiles, on this blog, for more information on feeding softbills and other birds.

Product Review: Vitakraft’s Sprout Pot – a Convenient Method of Supplying Your Birds with Valuable Nutrients


On of my first jobs as a fledgling keeper at the Bronx Zoo was distributing grass sprouts at the World of Birds building.  Grown hydroponically (in water, without soil) the tiny green shoots were relished by nearly all of the zoo’s vast bird collection, from finches to ostriches.  Sprouts were given to the majority of the zoo’s other animals as well, including beetles, tortoises, elephants, squirrels and even supposed die-hard carnivores such as otters and weasels. 


Why Use Sprouts?

Zoologists and experienced aviculturists know that sprouting plants are packed with all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and trace elements that are needed to get the plant off to a good start.  What’s more, these nutrients are in an easily digestible state, much more so than later on in the plant’s life.  The animal consuming sprouts spends little metabolic energy to reap great health benefits.


I have noticed that sprouts are sometimes overlooked as a food source for pet birds, despite the fact that they represent the easiest way of providing a host of hard-to-find trace elements and nutrients.  What’s more, nearly every common and not-so-common pet bird species – parrots, finches, canaries, doves, jay-thrushes, quail, ducks, to name a few – will gobble them ravenously.


Vitakraft’s Sprout Pot

I strongly recommend that you offer your pet birds the Vitakraft’s Sprout Pot.  The plantain, grass, garden cress and lettuce seeds it contains will sprout in 5-6 days, and a convenient water reserve will keep them fresh and growing thereafter. The water reserve is a particularly important accessory, as the sprouts’ nutritional value declines after 5 days or so.  Providing your bird with continually growing plant shoots is therefore the best route to take.  Seed packets to re-fill the unit are available.


Fresh, growing sprouts, as your bird’s reaction will confirm, stimulate the appetite and the foraging instinct.  The sprout pot serves, therefore, as a form of behavioral enrichment, allowing your pet to feed in a more natural and, I can’t help but think, “enjoyable” manner.


Another Sprouting Option

You can also sprout a variety of seeds on your own – its more time consuming than using the sprout pot, but is a useful way of increasing dietary variety.  Please look for my future article on this topic.  


An interesting perspective on the nutritional value of sprouts and other bird foods is posted at:


Scroll To Top