Budgie parakeets > Bird food

Bird food

Nothing is more important than the proper selection of food for your bird. Pure, fresh, clean food is necessary at all times, and not only that, but the food must be that which is best adapted to the needs of the bird. The digestive organs of birds form them into two distinct classes: Those having cartilagineous stomachs, covered with very strong muscles, called the gizzard. With this class of birds the principal food is grain and seeds of various kinds, which require grinding, and nature has provided that gravel or some similar hard substance is necessary to help them grind their food and prepare it for digestion.

The second class of birds are those which have membraneous stomachs, resembling that of carnivorous animals. These birds feed on fish, insects or flesh, and the gastric juice assists the action of the stomach in digesting the food. To the former class belong most of the birds which are kept as cage pets, and it is very necessary for them to have plenty of gravel, as it takes the place of teeth. While we should try and make the food of birds in captivity agree with that which they were accustomed to when in their natural state, still this is frequently difficult, if not wholly impossible, for who in this country can furnish us with the seeds which birds imported from all parts of the world are accustomed to eat. For this very reason it is advisable to feed a variety of seed so that the birds can take their choice, being careful to give them nothing which is objectionable. Some birds will eat almost everything that is placed before them, while ,others which are more delicate refuse to eat when they do not find the food to which they are accustomed. Canaries, linnets, siskins and all kinds of finches live almost exclusively on seed. Mocking birds and other soft billed birds which are accustomed to eating insects, must have meat food. This is supplied in regular prepared mocking bird food, which any bird dealer can furnish.

All kinds of seed-eating birds will not thrive on the same kind of seed, nor should seed necessariiy be their exclusive diet. They are very fond of lettuce or other green stuff, and also of occasional insects, and the egg food which is described below is greatly relished by almost all kinds of birds. Egg paste, such as we have used for years and is also used by most bird fanciers, is made on a small scale as follows: Boil one egg for twenty-five or thirty minutes, until it is past the state which is usually considered "hard boiled," and is in such condition that it is readily made into a paste. It should be grated or chopped fine and rubbed with a knife or spoon until it becomes paste-like, with about the same quantity of cracker crumbs, to which should be added as much cayenne pepper as will lay on a dime, for seasoning. This should be fed in small quantities about once a week to older birds, though it may be used more freely for young ones. Maw seed and granulated sugar are frequently mixed with this egg food in small quantities.

Of the various kinds of seed used for feeding birds by far the most important is the German summer rape seed. The best grade of this is imported from Germany, where it is grown exclusively for the birds; and, in fact, many of the German bird fanciers who make a business of breeding birds, feed this. St. Andreasberg canaries, which are noted the world over as the highest grade of songsters, are fed on this seed. It is without doubt one of the best seeds for feeding the majority of seed-eating birds. It is not as rich nor fattening as hemp. The seed is small and of a peculiar dark reddish color, quite similar to a turnip seed in general appearance and has a mild, somewhat sweet taste. A large portion of the rape seed sold in the U.S. is American grown, most of it being produced in Wisconsin.

Canary seed stands next in importance. The best variety is grown in Sicily. The seed is plump, well formed, though not quite as large in size as the Spanish. It should have a bright luster, and be clean and clear from all trash and dirt.

Hemp seed is the richest of all seeds, and should be regarded more as a dainty than as a food for most birds; and still it is a fact that probably two-thirds of the people who keep canaries will feed them a large portion of hemp, as all birds are as fond of it as children are of candy. This has a fattening tendency and injures the voice. Hemp seed should only be given to canaries as a treat, and it should not be mixed with other bird seeds, as the canary will waste the other seed in searching for it. It makes a good food, however, when crushed, for the very young canaries, and is a good food for parrots.

Of millet seed there are many varieties, the German millet being small, round seed, while the French yellow millet is larger and of peculiar yellow appearance. There is also a white variety which is used to a limited extent in some sections. Millet should form a part in the food of all finches, and may be used to a limited extent for canaries.

Padda or unhulled rice, is the ordinary rice of commerce before the hulls are removed, and although it is very hard, it forms a very strengthening diet. Red birds, parrots and cockatoos are quite fond of it.

Sunflower seed is the principal seed for parrots, and is also greatly liked by red birds. The Russian is the variety most generally used. It is quite a pleasant tasting seed, and is rich and oily. It is stated that feeding this seed gives a luster to the feathers of the bird; and poultry­men quite frequently purchase it for feeding their fowls for a few weeks before poultry shows.

Crocked corn, oats and other grain may be fed to a limited extent; indeed, cracked corn is found in most mixtures, of parrot seeds. Buckwheat is also fed largely to parrots and red birds.

All classes of birds enjoy a change of diet, and should be given green food occasionally. Chickweed, lettuce, plantain and fresh fruit may be fed to most birds, but it is best not to give any juicy, acid fruit to parrots. Grated carrot and boiled potato are also relished by most birds, and soft billed birds should have a frequent supply of flies, grasshoppers, meal worms, ant eggs and other delicacies.

Birds have no teeth and their beaks are made hard so as to enable them to seize, hold and, divide their food. Most birds live by picking up small objects, such as seeds, insects, etc., and their sharp pointed beak enables them to do this conveniently, as well as to pick off small pieces of apple or other food which is placed near them.

A piece of cuttlefish bone should be kept in every cage as it is a necessity for all seed-eating birds on account of the salt it contains. The cuttle bone should not be placed between the wires of the cage as the bird is very apt to fly against it and hurt itself. Cuttle bone can easily be attached by boring two small holes through it about a half inch apart.