Nutritional breakdown of daily foods
By Gudrun Maybaum
We all want to feed our birds (and ourselves) the nutritional right combination of foods to be healthy and happy. I know people that try to provide the exact composition of foods for their bird’s needs. But these needs vary, depending on such things as species, season, genetics, and environment. Even two birds of the same species–having come from different parents (genetics), having been exposed to different environments, having been fed an insufficient diet before they came to you and probably many other unknown factors–might have different nutritional needs. Figuring out the best diet (according to current science) for a species can be rather difficult. Our scientists are constantly finding new nutrition in fresh, natural foods, which are important for our well-being. How many more will they find over the next years?
Using fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and pellets and trying to combine the currently known nutrition to create a perfect food for your birds is very wise, as long as you use natural food. Even then, feeding all the time foods that provide the same nutrition is not such a good idea. The good thing is that birds usually pick out what they need at any given time, if variety is provided. So, they can help us there, if we pay attention.
Another important thing is not to underestimate the intelligence of the body and its functions. As long as it gets a minimal amount of its needs met, it can adjust its lack of some nutrition and sometimes even heal itself. For example, when we provide a food with water-soluble vitamins in a natural form, the body absorbs what it needs at that time and the unneeded amount will be eliminated. We (and our birds) do not absorb all the vitamin C of an orange or any other food when we eat it. Our wonderful, smart body takes what it needs and the rest is passed on back to the environment.
It even gets better, when it comes to fat soluble vitamins, like A, K and D, which are produced by the body itself, under the right conditions. For example if you feed foods with beta carotene, again, the needed amount will be turned into vitamin A. If a bird (or a human) is exposed to sunlight or full spectrum light its body will be able to produce the needed vitamin D. Taking care of the fat soluble vitamins this way we don’t run into the risk of vitamin toxicity.
So, instead of counting vitamins and minerals, we should just provide a variety of foods in moderation. Birds that are used to eating many different foods usually can make the right choice for their momentary needs.
A little personal story about cravings and needs:
I was for a while vegetarian, but did not do very well on this diet. So, I started eating some fish and chicken a few times a week. Though I was eating a balanced organic diet, I was having some health issues. At the same time I started having this craving for dark red meat. Something I normally don’t like taste-wise. I finally ended up at a Chinese doctor. He told me after a rather short survey, that I was anemic and needed to eat more red meat. So, after getting some acupuncture, Chinese herbs and eating more red meat, I feel better then I have felt for many years.
Soaking grains and seeds
In nature many parrot species eat seeds. Often these seeds are germinated.
Seeds are little miracles. Slumbering within them are all the nutrients necessary to develop and grow a plant. When germinated this dormant treasures awaken. Now the seeds provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, amino acids, fatty acids and much more every plant needs to grow.
All this nutrition’s are offered in a perfect combination only Mother Nature provides. Unlike raw food, they are also easy for the body to utilize in this form.
We can copy this process for our birds, if we soak the seeds and grains before feeding them. Most are at the peak of their nutritional value after 8 –12 hours of just soaking them. So, why don’t we throw our clean, best organic, seeds and grains in water, rinse them after the 8-12 hours and voila, we have a fresh nutritious food for our birds.
We can get fancy and soak them in orange juice. Or serve them with some carrot juice, applesauce or any mash a bird loves.
Botanical name: Matricaria chamomilla
Family name: N.O. Compositae
I call it the soft power herb. As a tea it is very calming for the nerves, relaxing for the muscles, antispasmodic and soothing for the digestive system. There are different types of chamomile. The German Chamomile is most often used for medicinal purposes, and is usually given as a tea. It can also be administered as a compress for external healing and as a bath for babies. Because of its safety taken internally and externally, I have used it to spray on itchy skin or as a tea in the drinking water of restless birds. Chamomile contains a natural hormone, which rejuvenates the skin. For nervous birds or when in stress situations it has a wonderful tranquilizing effect. Several people told me that the spraying their bird with Chamomile decreased the feather plucking.
Nutritional breakdown of daily foods