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Diet and health help?

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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 7:25 am

Diet and health help?

Post by Mephistopheles » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:49 pm

Hello, I posted here a while ago and I was advised to prevent my two IRNs from breeding until I was properly prepared for babies. Despite boarding up the nesting box they have been mating regardless and the female has been laying what I think are soft-shelled eggs. Anyways, I've tried upping their calcium with Broccoli and Kale and dusting their food with finely crushed shell grit, though whether she is actually eating them I'm not sure. Sometimes they'll be picky and only eat what they want and a whole bowl-full of fruit and veggies can go to waste and other times they'll nibble and drop food on the aviary floor.

Food they definitely eat:
Seed mix with shell grit mixed through (about a cup between the two but they ignore a lot of the seeds and go straight for the sunflower seeds)
Apple (though I've noticed they will ignore it if corn is available)
Watermelon (as a treat on hot days)

Food they will sometimes eat and sometimes they won't:
Mango (Female dived on it the first time I offered it, second time she ignored it completely)
Broccoli (Male seemed interested in stems but tosses the tops on the floor)
Kale (I've seen small nibbles)
Capsicum/Bell Peppers (enjoyed it the first time though their fondness for it wavers every now and then)

Food they ignore completely:
Kiwi Fruit
Zucchini (nibbled slightly but tossed to the floor seconds after)
Spinach (nibbled slightly but tossed to the floor seconds after)

Right now they have a bowl full of fresh Kale and broccoli (leaves, stalk and tops) washed and dusted with finely crushed shell grit. But they are still being incredibly picky...I feel like I have two kids who won't eat their veggies....Could anyone give me tips on how to get them to eat it or at the very least interested in it? Especially the leafy greens?

There was a health scare with my female a few days ago. (I'm including it in this post as I'm not sure where to post it and I figured diet may have contributed to it) All signs pointed to egg binding as she was dragging herself about, unable to stand up straight, not eating much and ignoring the males attempts to feed her. I called vets and described her symptoms but they were all fully booked and none could give me an appointment until the next day. Though thankfully, her condition seems to have improved since then and there is no swelling/redness/bleeding with her cloaca region. I found two new eggs the next day on the aviary floor, both broken but still intact (meaning no shards were missing) and their shells were rather soft.

Today she has been both feeding herself and accepting food from the male. She is moving a bit slower than usual, almost cautiously and using her beak to help her move along and turn around on the perch and she is standing upright although she leans to the side slightly (not roosting). Despite all this they are still mating and she still sleeps on the perch. I am concerned as to why she is moving so slowly. Could there be a strain or something more serious? I am organizing a time in which my dad can help me catch her and drive me to a vet (he works to 6pm most days which makes getting to a vet before closing time hard) and I've tried calling a taxi but I was refused as the driver would not allow an animal inside his car...

Since they started mating this year she has laid five eggs, though the last two were soft.
(The one year I don't want them having eggs and now they won't stop!)

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Re: Diet and health help?

Post by InTheAir » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:22 am


I've read a bit, but have no experience of egg laying. Hopefully I can give you some ideas until someone experienced pipes up.

First up, can you get her in a box and pretend there is no bird in there when the taxi turns up? tie a ribbon around the box and pretend it is a gift or something... Seeing an avian vet is a really good idea right now, she may need a calcium injection or something.
Parrots keep laying if you take their eggs away. Have you left her eggs in the cage or replaced them with dummy eggs in the right size?

Get a good quality pellet and add that to their diet. Seeds are like macdonalds, crap yet addictive.

Try presenting veggies in different ways. My birds will destroy a zucchini that's on a skewer, but won't touch it in their dish. Skewers are great. Pegging leaves to the side of the cage can work. Chopping veggies in certain ways seems to make them more attractive to my birds. Putting all the veggies you want them to eat through the blender together makes an attractive gloop. I mix pellets in it sometimes. You could mix some seed into the gloop too, to pique their interest. Some veggies are more attractive when they're lightly steamed too. Steamed broccoli stalks on a skewer go down well here.

My birds aren't fans of leafy greens, but they do eat their gloop with greens. Keep offering them a variety, even if they don't seem interested. It might be their favourite tomorrow.

Best of luck with your girl!

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Re: Diet and health help?

Post by Mephistopheles » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:34 am

The eggs I'm finding are all over the aviary floor so I don't know if she's just letting them drop wherever or laying in a certain place then tossing them, as I haven't actually witnessed her lay any of them. All I know is they're all broken (I'm guessing after dropping from a decent height) and she ignores them completely. She doesn't sit on them or even inspect them when foraging about (Four were on the floor and the most recent one was in their fruit/veggie dish) There is still one on the floor only because it's out of reach in the furthest corner. I was thinking of getting some dummy eggs but if she's not nesting or looking after the eggs then I don't know how I would get that to work....unless I open up the box again and place some inside? But she'd remember if she laid eggs in their wouldn't she?

My nesting box is built into my aviary so I was going to try removing it entirely and replacing it with another door and purchase one of those store-bought boxes, that way I can remove it whenever I need to without all the fuss and the extra door will make accessing and cleaning the other end a lot easier. Though given that things are still happening I'll probably have to wait for the season to end. They started mating back in June, so their season should be wrapping up soon, shouldn't it?
My local vet gave me the number to a bird specialist and they are about an hour or so away so I'm trying to get my dad to take me on Sunday which is his only day off. Though, could any vet provide a calcium shot? Catching her is a two-person job as well. I could try passing her off as a present but I don't know how she'd go with a long drive in a box, I'm worried about stressing her out (plus she can get quite...vocal, when upset)

Ooh I'll try skewering some of their food, it sounds fun to me so I hope they think so too :) Could I also try attaching some of the food to their favourite toys? Even after all this she still climbs and chews some of her rope toys. As for pellets, can I do the switch straight away or do I need to introduce it slowly?
(Sorry, lots of questions)

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Re: Diet and health help?

Post by InTheAir » Sun Sep 07, 2014 2:39 am

I would definitely see the bird specialist. Normal vets really don't learn much about birds at school. Our bird vets are amazing, we learn so much from health checks with them. It is worth the 1 hour drive for us.
Even though a big drive may be stressful for the bird, it is probably safer than not seeing a specialist. Take it from me, normal vets usually have very little idea about birds! You're local vet is giving the best advice in his/her power and credit to them for referring you to a specialist instead of going out of their depth.

I have not had any experience with egg laying, so I'm not sure what you should do about it. I'd ask my bird vet for advice.

Attaching veggies to toys is a great idea!
I'm not sure about pellet conversion in your situation. My vet recommended just giving pellets and no seed for my younger bird, but I couldn't bring myself to do that and had a bowl of pellets mixed with seed (no sunflowers) and then two bowls, one with pellets and one with seeds. When I noticed she was eating pellets quite well I stopped giving seed at all. I'd ask a bird vet, as your bird probably needs more tlc than mine did because of the egg thing.
My birds go crazy for hardboiled chicken eggs, maybe try offering a couple small pieces to your birds as well.
Btw rope toys can be dangerous if your bird chews them. I had to take the rope perch away from my girl because of that. Some parrots ingest the rope which can result in internal blockages or get tangled in the frayed bits.

I'm sorry I can't be more help. I hope your dad can make a trip to the av with you.

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