Some Tips for Adding Pellets to your Bird's Diet
Why Pellets you ask? Good question, so let's try and find some answers. Many seed only diets may lead to health issues as some birds can pick and choose only what they like and miss out on important vitamins and minerals. Pellets have nutrition in every bite, so even if a bird picks and chooses shapes or colors, they still get nutrition in every bite. Pellets can be a very important part of your bird's diet, but convincing the bird is sometimes a bit of a challenge.
You will want to be sure your bird is actually eating the new pellets before you discontinue the old seed diet if you are converting your bird from seed to pellets. If you are just adding some pellets into the diet, along with the current diet, you may need to cut back "some" of any seed mix, to help encourage your bird to eat both seeds and pellets. I do not personally recommend cutting foods such as healthy vegetables and fruits from the diet, as these are nutritious for health and weight, and usually are a lot of fun for the bird. What parrot doesn't just love foraging or flinging a strawberry across the room after taste testing it?
If you are changing to pellets instead of seed because you have an overweight bird, well that's a whole other subject, and the tips below work for the change to pellets regardless of the reason.
There is no "one right way" to convince your bird to eat pellets, so I have gathered a few tips that have worked for me over the years that might make it easier for both you and your bird. If one doesn't work after at least a week of trying, then move on to the next suggested tip. Some birds will try a pellet the first time you offer one, some may take a few days to taste one, some a few weeks, others a few months, or if your bird is the really hard core rebel bird, he or she may never really eat a pellet if given a choice of seed vs. pellet.
1. Try mixing a small amount of the pellets with the old food and slowly increasing the pellet amount over several weeks watching carefully to be sure the bird is beginning to eat the pellets.
2. Try feeding the pellets in a special treat dish, or giving them to your bird by hand as a treat to encourage eating the pellets. Make a big to-do about the treat to excite your bird into trying it.
3. Try feeding pellets first thing in the morning, followed after a few hours by some fresh foods, or the previous seed or prepared diet. Birds are usually hungry in the morning and may even be ready to try new things in their food dish. By giving the regular diet a few hours later, you are making sure the bird does have some food throughout the day and does not go hungry.
4. You can also try baking some of the pellets into a birdie bread. Although heating may destroy some of the vitamins in certain pellets, it may be a good method to introduce your parrots to the taste and look of the pellets, and some of the vitamins will still be present as well.
Once you know for certain your bird is eating at least some of the pellets, you may want to feed the pellets and fresh foods during the day, giving only a small amount of the old seed diet just before bed time to make sure the bird does not go to bed hungry.
Watch the bird's droppings carefully every day as they may change color as the bird eats the new pellets. Droppings are very important in telling you that the bird is eating certain foods, and often how much. If you are feeding colored pellets, then the poop might also change color so don't panic if you suddenly see red or pink or green poop without investigating the cause. It could simply mean your bird likes the red or green or yellow pellets. Some birds will only eat one color even though all colors taste exactly the same. Parrots are very visual and color is very important to them. They either like certain colors or they hate certain colors.
It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to change a bird's diet. Each bird is different and patience and consistency is the key to success.
Some birds do best with a diet of half seed and half pellets mixed together, and fresh vegetables and some fruit added. Some birds thrive with a 1/3 seed, 1/3 pellet and 1/3 fresh/cooked diet. Some flourish on a mostly pellet with fresh/cooked and a few seeds as treats. Birds such as Lories, Lorikeets, and other softbills or nectar eaters, usually do best with pellets formulated specifically for them, with lots of fresh and even some cooked foods added in.
Birds who eat pellets usually also drink more water than on a seed only diet, so be sure there is always fresh water available.
There is no guarantee that every bird will eat any particular brand of pellets just because you buy them.
If your bird absolutely refuses to eat the pellets you bought, it doesn't necessarily mean the bird will never eat pellets, maybe just not the brand you bought. Again it could be that color thing. If you buy plain looking pellets and they are not a big hit, try some of the colored ones instead. Also do the reverse, if your bird was not impressed with all those colors, try some natural uncolored pellets instead. Sometimes it is trial and error process to find the "perfect" pellet for your bird.
It's rare but it does happen, you have the parrot who absolutely refuses to ever eat a pellet no matter what you do. Remember with birds it is essential that you are consistent, and extremely patient working with them to help them eat a better more healthy diet. Birds are not quitters, especially when they are determined not to eat something, so keep patient, keep consistent, keep it fun, keep determined, and you too can win the diet war.
One last VERY IMPORTANT NOTE - Birds who are refusing to eat pellets, CAN starve to death, so DO NOT put pellets in the cage and figure your bird will eat them if he or she gets hungry enough. The result could be disastrous, ending with your bird suffering a related health issue, or even going without eating leading to starvation.