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Feeding Your Amazon Parrot

By: Dr. Don Harris

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Amazons, like most birds, do best on a diet built around commercial pelleted foods. These birds are prone to obesity, and pelleted diets are the most effective at maintaining ideal body weight.

In addition to the pellets, feed your bird minimal amounts of chopped fruit and starches – no more than about a tablespoonful per day. Vitamin supplements sold in pet stores are not necessary when Amazons are fed a balanced pelleted diet.

Although some bird owners still insist on feeding their pets primarily with seeds, that diet has now been virtually discredited as lacking proper nutrients. No amount of vitamin supplementation can fix that problem; neither will adding fruit to this high-fat diet.

Carbohydrates Should Be Avoided

The main culprit that contributes to obesity in Amazons is probably not protein or even fat, but simple carbohydrates. The book written for humans entitled Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins illustrates a principle that may relate to fat storage in these birds. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, cause the body to store more fat than do fats and proteins alone. So, when high-fat seed diets are supplemented with the carbohydrates in fruit and starches, obesity is more likely. Pelleted diets, on the other hand, ensure an appropriate balance of nutrients.

Never overlook the one "nutrient" that cannot be packaged: sunlight. All diets perform better when the birds eating them are exposed to natural lighting.

Certain kinds of nuts make better treats than sunflower or safflower seeds or peanuts. Think of them as the avian equivalent of dog biscuits. Macadamia nuts, almonds and pine nuts, in moderation, are highest in quality and actually can be beneficial. The key is to limit the amount provided. Don't feed your bird more than a tablespoonful of nuts per day.

Amazons like to dunk everything they eat in their drinking water. While daily water changes are necessary for most birds, an Amazon's water should be changed two or three times a day. Water that has been contaminated with food can become unsafe for drinking within just a few hours.

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