What to Know Before Feeding Your Bird Treats
Want to treat your bird to a little something delicious? Of course you do – who doesn’t love to surprise their feathered friends with a little extra joy and scrumptious fun.
Before you buy whatever treat looks best, it’s important to take note of what ingredients are best for your bird and which treats will help them maintain a healthy diet.
4 Things to Know Before Giving Your Bird Treats
How Many Treats Should You Give a Bird?
A general guideline is that no more than 10% of your bird’s diet should be made up of healthy treats to maintain their wellbeing. Smaller birds like finches, canaries, budgies, and cockatiels tend to need more seed in their diet than larger birds like parrots and conures, so treats containing these, in addition to those containing healthy fruits and veggies, can be a great supplement to a daily diet.
Other factors to consider include exercise levels and bird size. Birds that have larger indoor cages or outdoor flight cafes with ample room to exercise will need more food and treats than those in smaller cages. Treats like nuts, though natural, are high in fat and should be limited to 1-2 whole nuts per day for most species.
It’s a great practice to give your bird a daily treat. Not only will doing so strengthen the human animal bond, but it’s also a behavioral check for the bird. If your bird doesn’t take a treat it typically enjoys, it may signal a possible medical concern which should be followed up on that day. For most large-sized treats, one daily is plenty. The key is to find treats that last!
When to Give Your Bird a Treat
Treats are a great way to bond with your bird and help them grow to trust you and feel comfortable with your presence. Some birds are afraid of hands, so associating your hands with giving treats will help build trust and encourage them to interact with you.
You can also utilize treats during your training process! The key is to give your bird a treat when they’re engaging in good behavior. If you give your bird a treat when they’re screaming loudly or after they bite you, they’ll view the treat as reinforcement for the behavior and be more likely to repeat it afterwards. Similarly, if they’re behaving calmly and kindly when you treat them, they’ll be more likely to continue behaving that way.
How to Avoid Overfeeding Your Bird
Just because your bird asks for another treat, doesn’t mean you should give them one. At the end of the day, you are in charge of managing their health and you need to do what’s best for them in the long-term. Animals are clever and will learn what behaviors are more likely to result in them getting treats. Once you figure out how many treats your bird can consume daily to maintain a healthy diet, set a limit and don’t surpass it except on rare occasions.
What Kind of Treats To Give Your Bird
Like we mentioned above, there are plenty of types of bird treats available and some are more beneficial to your bird’s overall health than others. Look for treats made with real, natural ingredients. Crunchy treats will help to wear down your bird’s beak as needed to keep it trim and healthy. Long-lasting treats are great for keeping your bird occupied and engaged and can even reduce stress.
Some healthy ingredients for bird treats include:
- Citrus Fruits
- String beans
- Snap peas
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Eggs (in moderation)
- Peanut Butter (in moderation)
- Nuts and Seeds (in moderation)
- Cooked whole grains – rice, wheat, quinoa, etc.
- Whole wheat/grain bread, crackers, etc. no or reduced sodium
- Leafy greens
- Meal worms
- Wax worms
Avoid foods high in added sugars, salt, fat, artificial sweeteners and those with caffeine or alcohol. Limit treats containing seeds and nuts as these are high in fat compared to vegetables and fruits and can be addicting to birds.
Treats and Foraging Behavior
In the wild, most of a bird’s time is spent foraging for food. In your home their food is readily available and a feeding process that typically takes most of the day is reduced to a few minutes. Foraging is a learned behavior that provides your pet bird with necessary physical and mental stimulation. This practice can be worked into your bird’s lifestyle, starting slowly and making it easy to find the food initially. Use the following steps to introduce foraging to your bird:
1. Create Multiple Food Stations
Place several bowls of food in your bird’s cage at different locations and levels, with a small amount of a different food in each dish. Then place small amounts of food in different locations throughout the cage, outside of the dishes.
2. Hide Their Food
Cover existing food bowls with a piece of paper or cardboard with a hole in it. Your bird will see the food through the hole and will chew the hole until it’s large enough for them to access the food. Get even more creative by concealing the food with PVC pipe, coffee filters, bird toys, and other safe, household items to make finding the food more challenging.
3. Change Feeding Time
Instead of waking up every morning and filling your bird’s food bowls, create an unpredictable schedule with different foods so your bird never knows when they will be fed a specific food. You should always have nutritious food available for your bird, but can change the times of days and days when specific foods are available to increase your bird’s food variety and work treats into their diet.
Bring variety and healthy nutrition into your birds life with healthy treats!! A little crunch, some natural fruity sweetness and something fun to chew on can make up the perfect nutritious and delicious treat for your bird. Vitakraft® Crunch Sticks have all of the above. It’s up to you to find the perfect flavor for your feathered friend!