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Dear Parrots magazine,

Nutrition and enrichment

I have had an Orange-winged Amazon for over 16 years and have always been relatively happy with what I have been feeding him on. Probably like many of this magazine’s readers, I have read a lot about diet and nutrition and have always tried to follow the advice of experts who have written much about this subject.

I have to say that there have been times when I question what is said, as some experts might disagree with others, so it can be quite confusing for people like me who are not experts and can only go by what others tell us. There has been a lot said about pelleted diets with some saying they are the ideal complete diet to feed to our birds, but then others say they are not complete enough to provide the best nutrition. I can understand there will always be different opinions and it’s up to us to make our own minds up.

A few years ago I came across a Yellow-headed Amazon that was in a small cage, which I considered not to be adequate. This poor bird had just one round dowel perch to stand on and as a result its claws almost wrapped around. The diet this bird was on consisted of almost sunflower seeds and was clear the owner had very little knowledge of diet and what nutrition parrots need. I am sure the man who owned this bird just followed popular knowledge and thought he was doing the right thing.

I could not let this situation continue and did spend quite a lot of time with him who did listen to me and was quite willing to make the necessary changes, not just to this bird’s diet, but to its whole environment, it clearly needed some stimulation and enrichment. But the one thing I thought most important was what this Amazon was being fed with. I did explain to him the importance of a good nutritional diet and that his Amazon was looking under nourished. He was a very pleasant and understanding man and realised he wasn’t treating his bird properly.

As a result of my visit he agreed to change a lot of things and when he invited me back a couple of weeks later he had bought a much bigger cage, filled it with a number of toys and natural perches cut from one of his apple trees in his garden, I did suggest this as I could see he had a number of fruit trees in his garden and the dowel perch was of great concern to me. I was also very pleased to learn that he now only buys organic fresh produce whenever he can. I know that a lot of people can’t always afford organic foods, but this man was quite well off so price was not an option, only the welfare of his Amazon.

I am sure that there are many other birds in similar situations and are not discovered, some through total ignorance, but others through little interest in the well-being of the birds some people keep. It is concerning that it was only by chance I came across this man through a mutual contact, but glad I was able to improve the care of this very precious Amazon parrot.

Alison, by email




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