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Please use the list of Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen to help you feed your feathered friends the best diet possible. Information from www.ewg.org

Eat fruits and vegetables!

The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.

For the second year, we have expanded the Dirty Dozen™ with a Plus category to highlight two crops – domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards. These crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.

Though the Environmental Protection Agency has been restricting the uses of the most toxic pesticides, they are still detected on some foods. For example, green beans were on last year's Plus list because they were often contaminated with two highly toxic organophosphates. Those pesticides are being withdrawn from agriculture. But leafy greens still show residues of organophosphates and other risky pesticides. That's why they are on the Plus list for 2013.

Tests in 2008 found that some domestically-grown summer squash – zucchini and yellow crookneck squash -- contained residues of harmful organochlorine pesticides that were phased out of agriculture in the 1970s and 1980s but that linger on some farm fields.

Genetically modified plants, or GMOs, are not often found in the produce section of grocery stores. Field corn, nearly all of which is produced with genetically modified seeds, is used to make tortillas, chips, corn syrup, animal feed and biofuels. Because it is not sold as a fresh vegetable, it is not included in EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Nor is soy, another heavily GMO crop that makes its way into processed food.

The genetically modified crops likely to be found in produce aisles of American supermarkets are zucchini, Hawaiian papaya and some varieties of sweet corn. Most Hawaiian papaya is a GMO. Only a small fraction of zucchini and sweet corn are GMO. Since U.S. law does not require labeling of GMO produce, EWG advises people who want to avoid it to purchase the organically-grown versions of these items.

 

DIRTY DOZEN PLUSTM Apples

Celery

 Cherry tomatoes

 Cucumbers

 Grapes

 Hot peppers

 Nectarines - imported

 Peaches

 Potatoes

 Spinach

 Strawberries

 Sweet bell peppers

 Kale / collard greens +

 Summer squash +

 

 

 

CLEAN FIFTEENTM Asparagus Avocados Cabbage Cantaloupe Sweet Corn Eggplant Grapefruit

 Kiwi

 Mangos

 Mushrooms

 Onions

 Papayas

 Pineapples

 Sweet peas - frozen

 Sweet potatoes

 

 

We believe very strongly in the phrase "what you eat is what you are" and believe strongly that this also relates to birds and all living creatures as well. In this world of toxicity, we believe it is very important to feed our feathered friends as non-toxic of a diet as possible.  

We also believe it is very important to feed straight from "nature" with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies. Below we will try to immulate our "typical diet" that we feed on a daily basis. Please read this knowing that we don't feed the same fruits and veggies daily--- we feed depending on what is actually available seasonally... in other words as the seasons change so does our birds diet, This is the way they would eat in the wild. We do use the freezer as well as a food dehydrator to "add to" what fresh foods we can purchase", but fresh is always BEST.

The scope of this article is not to go in depth to teach you how to serve a balanced diet, but to just explain to you the diet that we feed and believe strongly in. We strongly encourage you to go to a yahoo group called feedingfeathers and read about Shauna's Mash recipe/ guidelines. This is more in depth information on how to make sure that the food you feed your parrot is providing a very balanced nutrition. You can also check out a youtube video made by Patricia Sund. She makes a "Chop" recipe that is very wholesome. We do encourage fresh food but this is just another way to make sure the birds get plenty of fruits, veggies and grains into their diets.

A typical day at the Haven would be:

carrots, sweet potatoes, brocolli, cawliflower, beets and beet greens, bell peppers (yellow, orange, red and green), jalapeno peppers, mustard greens, blueberries, apples.  The goal is to try to feed "the rainbow" of colors each day when you feed. Something red, something green, something orange... etc. We also always add at least 2 different fruits to each days meal. Because some of our birds thrive on berries in the wild we always make berries one of our fruit choices. We also use apples, peaches, cherries, pears, melons, pomegranate, grapes, kiwi..... and more. Please do not feed fruit seeds from apples, cherries, peaches, etc  to the birds. They are toxic.  Also be sure and read the "clean 15 and dirty dozen" list article on our website. We try to feed organic when possible but if not... there are definitely some traditional fruits and veggies  that are not safe to feed unless they are organic. Become aware of these foods and avoid them if you can't always buy organic. I have a friend from another rescue who said that a volunteer had brought in non-organic grapes and passed them out among the flock. Within minutes birds were getting sick. Many of them died. These grapes were from either Chili or Mexico (can't remember) and had toxic chemicals sprayed on them.

We feed the different colors because each of these different colors provide different vitamins necessary to make the diet balanced. This above makes up about 50%- 60% of our birds diet. To this we add legumes and grains- alternating between sprouted and cooked. We always have a jar of sprouts sprouting- and then feed the cooked grain/legume mix  any time sprouts aren't ready yet. This usually works out to sprouting about 4 days a week and cooked mix about 3 days a week. We purchase our sprouts from a few different places- depending on the availability. You can find sprouting blends at www.chinaprairie.com or www.sproutpeople.com or others. The grains/legumes make up about 25 %of the birds diet.

The rest is varied from day to day. We feed organic eggs about once a week. We also feed a few pieces of nuts daily as well as a natural organic pellet. Our pellet of choice is Totally Organics. We are retailers for this wonderful product so we can make it available to to our customers.

Anytime our "mash" or "chop" is a bit too moist we will add varied dried foods to the mix to absorb the excess liquid. We use things such as whole grain pasta, rolled oats and dried sometimes dried fruits that we have dried ourselves. It is very important to not use any dried fruits that have been sweetened or had added preservatives used on them. Variety is the "spice of life- even for the birds.:)

NONTOXIC HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS
- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

Chemicals and toxic cleaners can be very hazardous to your birds. I personally believe they are hazardous to you and your family as well. Why not make the change--- for your whole family's sake? First of all I will say that many times we reach for a strong cleaner- when just a mild soap/water solution would work just as well… because of habit. Try to re-think the use of any and all cleaning products and ask yourself if you really do need it. Many times it isn't necessary.

There are 2 basic products that most people keep in their kitchen that work great for cleaning many different surfaces. .. baking powder and vinegar. I'm including a couple of simple recipes that you can make yourself that work great as a household cleaner. For those that want the convenience of a ready-made product I'm listing a few other items below. Just remember that with the self-made products you are also SAVING money, a huge plus in today's economy. All of the prepared items I am listing can be purchased at almost any health store or click on Good Shop. On this page just type in the store name VITA-COST or their website which is www.vitacost.com. Once on the Vita-cost website you will see each product that I've listed below and how to order them. They are almost always discounted, plus you can order as much as you want for only 4.99 shipping. Many times for me the cost is much cheaper than going to my local health food store.

By ordering them thru the Bird-Haven website you will be giving us the opportunity to earn a small % to help the Haven. If you go directly to the Vita-Cost website without clicking thru the Bird-Haven website we aren't given the % kickback for your order. Please take the time to purchase thru our site… cost is the same for you- yet makes a big difference to the birds at the Haven. Every penny helps.

By the way--- www.vitacost.com isn't the only store you can buy from to allow us to get that % kick-back. There are hundreds of others. Please take a few minutes to see what other stores you shop that we could benefit from as well.

PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS

LAUNDRY PRODUCTS

DISHWASHER PRODUCTS

HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS

GENERAL ALL-PURPOSE CLEANERS

PAINT/STAINS/STRIPPERS

AUTO CLEANING PRODUCTS

PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS

DEODORANTS--- There are many different ones to try. I've used Tom's of Maine, Aubrey, Jason's, Burt's Bees, and others. I'm not going to lie--- this is one item that doesn't work as well as the antiperspirant you've been using. However, if you really stop and consider what an antiperspirant is actually doing to you (clogging your pores) you would agree that the deodorant (even if you have to apply it more than once a day) is worth the health risks. Did you know that antiperspirants have been linked to causing cancer as well as Alzheimer Disease???

SHAMPOO---Many different types-but I use the Aubrey Organics for dry brittle hair. It never leaves a residue on my hair and my hair always feels clean and soft. More than one beautician has commented on how soft my hair feels. I contribute it to the fact that I use only natural organic products.

CONDITIONER--- Again, many different types- but I use the Aubrey Organics for dry hair. The fragrance is mild… honeysuckle rose- but nothing that is overpowering… even a guy can use this and not worry about the smell.

BATH SOAP--- There are many different types of bath soap products on the Vita-Cost website. All are good- and healthy for you and your family. I prefer to use Dr. Bronner's liquid Castile soap. It comes in several different fragrances.. tea tree, almond, lavender, original, peppermint, hemp almond, citrus, baby soap, rose, hemp eucalyptus… and others. I use the Earth Therapeutic" body sponge as my cleaning rag and boy does this soap really later up well on this sponge. You'll love it. My personal favorite is hemp almond.

HAIRSPRAY--- I personally never use hairspray, but Jason's and Aubrey both make one that is very good… take your pick.

MOUSSE/GEL---On the occasion that I do wish for a little extra hold- I choose Giovanni Natural Mousse. Air-turbo charged, it comes out like foam--- so it is easy to get just a tad rubbed into your hair instead of too much. There are many others- but this is the one I choose when I need a mousse.

MAKE-UP--- BASE/FOUNDATION--- any mineral make-up is non-toxic. Well, although I don't use a lot of makeup, there is one product that I do love when I do need to get dressed up and look nice. It is called Tinted Facial Moisturizer. The one I've always used is by Burt's Bee's, however they have recently stopped carrying this product. I'm currently waiting for an order for a different Tinted Moisturizer. The moisturizer works like a make-up base to cover up imperfections in the skin- but yet is a moisturizer allowing your skin to breath naturally. The one make-up type product I won't be without.

LIP-STICK--- I also love the Burt's Bees lip shimmer. It comes in many different colors and feels silky, not sticky on your lips.

MASCARA--- I typically buy Ecco Bella Mascara from Vita-Cost. There are other brands there that work just as well.

POWDER, BLUSH AND EYESHADOW--- For my other make-up products I buy only mineral based powdered. I purchase several years ago from a company called Sweet Scents. They can be found at www.sweetscents.com. Be sure to check out their clearance section. You can find almost any color of eye shadow you want at ½ the original cost. Plus, a little goes a long way. Find a friend to split the product with because if you buy as I did (1 oz packages) you can probably have enough for an entire lifetime of that same color. Just be sure to purchase the little "sifter pot" containers as well. You will need 1 for each color of shadow. You can also order eyeliner, powders, blushes, etc. from this same company at a fraction of the cost of other mineral based companies.

LAUNDRY PRODUCTS

DETERGENT--- I always prefer a liquid. I usually either use Seventh Generation or Earth Friendly Ultra Eco brand.

SPOT REMOVER--- I have tried both Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer's brands. Both work great.

FABRIC SOFTENER--- I've used Seventh Generation and Earth Friendly. There is also a fabric softener sheet if you prefer this. It is by Sun and Earth.

BLEACH--- Seventh Generation and many others make a non-chlorine fabric bleach that is much safer and less toxic than the chlorinated type.

DISHWASHER PRODUCTS

DISH-WASHING LIQUID--- FOR DISWASHERS---I use Seventh Generation.

DISH-WASHING LIQUID--- FOR HAND-WASHING--- I USE THE SAME Dr. Bronner's Castile that I use for showering. I use this same item for many different things around the house.

SPOT TREATMENT- FOR DISHWASHING--- Haven't found a product that substitutes for this but then again--- don't have a need for this either. You might try just adding a squirt or two of vinegar to the final rinse-that usually works well on spots and streaks.

HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS

SHOWERS AND TUBS--- I typically use an all purpose non-toxic cleaner instead of one specific for the showers but they do make several. Seventh Generation I know sells one specific for cleaning the shower.

TOILET BOWLS--- same as above--- Seventh Generation and many other companies make a non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner.

FLOORS--- Earth Friendly Floor Cleaner is good for most hard-surfaced floors such as tile, laminate and wood surfaces.

CARPET CLEANER--- Earth Friendly Carpet Shampoo--- Please remember that when you rent a carpet machine the toxic chemicals might still be in the hoses, etc. Make a thorough cleaning of the equipment before you use the carpet cleaner in your home. As always, even though you are using a seemingly non-toxic product- please make arrangements for your birds and other animals to be out of the house during and for several hours afterward to avoid any respiratory distress.

CARPET SPOT REMOVER--- Seventh Generation makes a good carpet spot remover.

ODOR ELIMINATOR--- When I need to make my house smell nice--- I just put a small handful of cloves on the stove in a pan of boiling water. You can buy cloves by the pound at www.star-botanicals.com. You can also use Essential oils by the drop (make sure you only buy from www.young-living.com or www.swissorganics.ch). These two companies are very careful about buying and using only the highest quality products when making their oils. Don't settle for second best. You can use things such as orange, lavender or bergamot essential oils dripped into a pan of boiling water as well. You will only need a few drops each time.

If you want something to put on the carpet--- try adding a few drops of good-smelling Essential oils into a shaker both with baking soda. Baking soda is an all-natural odor grabber and when you add the Essential oil to this it makes a great substitute for carpet fresh. Just sprinkle it down and vacuum it up as you would the chemical type such as Carpet Fresh.

You can also throw down a handful of whole cloves and vacuum them up. The cloves will be broken up inside the vacuum cleaner. The scent will then be distributed throughout the room and house.

FURNITURE CLEANER/POLISHER--- I personally don't buy a store-bought furniture polish. I make my own. Here is the recipe.

Pine Fragrance Furniture Polish
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 TBLS lemon oil
20 drops of pine essential oil

This is a scented oil designed for hydrating old dry wood. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and apply with a cleaning cloth.

Lemon Fragrance Furniture Polish
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
10 drops of essential lemon oil
This recipe is for cleaning wood. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and apply with a cleaning cloth.

Cedar and Patchouli Furniture Cleaner
1/2 cup liquid Castile soap
3/4 cup water
10 drops of patchouli essential oil
15 drops of cedar essential oil
I use the above recipe about 4-6 times per year--- just to get off any left-over residue that might be left on the furniture with continued use of the polish oils.

GENERAL ALL-PURPOSE CLEANERS

WINDOW/GLASS CLEANER--- I typically use vinegar and water with an added essential oil but there are several good cleaners for glass on the Vita-Cost Website. Seventh Generation would be my choice if I had to purchase one, but I prefer the results with the Vinegar/water/EO. Remember that one of the main problems with cleaning glass is the "lint" that accumulates when you are wiping if off. Try using old newspaper for this job and see if you get a more "lint-free" result.

SCOURING CLEANER--- Try using a mixture of baking soda, salt and an essential oil. Baking Soda is a great cleaner and the salt adds the "scrub". If you prefer a store-bought yet chemical free version try Mrs. Meyers Surface Scrub.

PAINT/STAINS/STRIPPERS

Obviously if you are going to do any major renovating in your home it is best to board your feathered friends (as well as your furr babies). It is my belief that even young babies and the elderly need to be removed from the environment during this time because their immune system is compromised. Be sure to air out the home for several hours before bringing them back into the environment. One company that I have used with great success is called Eco Safety Products. They have concrete stains, wood stains, paints, strippers, etc. all that are non-toxic. You can find them on the web at www.ecosafetyproducts.com. I have also purchased non-toxic paint from Sherwin Williams. The brand I buy is Harmony. It is both non-toxic as well as low VOC. I am just in the beginning stages of working on a shelving product in the Haven using wood stain called BioShield. The website is www.bioshieldpaint.com. This stain is non-toxic and has very deep- rich colors. I can't wait to see the finished product.

AUTO CLEANING PRODUCTS

CAR WASH/WAX--- I've never used it but have read that the product called Ecover Car Wash and Wax is a great product.

If you have any testimonials or suggestion on other products we should add to this list of non-toxic products please send us an email at de@bird-haven.org. We would love to include your thought about the different suggested products.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a $2 donation to benefit the birds at Wings of Love Bird Haven by clicking the button below.

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HEALTH RISKS TO HUMANS
- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director of Wings of Love Bird Haven

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that are transmissable from animals to humans. Young children, elderly adults and individuals with poorly functioning immune systems are at the greatest risk of being infected by a zoonotic disease. While there are a number of diseases which can be transmitted by companion birds, many are more likely to be transmitted by poultry or wild birds. If your bird has been examined by an avian veterinarian and is considered healthy, the risks of infection are significantly reduced.

There are also some simple things you can do to mitigate any possible risk for you and your pet bird:

* Bathe your bird at least twice a week
* Do not keep birds in your bedroom
* Change cage papers/bedding daily if possible
* Air out your home in nice weather
* Switch to non-aerosol cleaning products and avoid using any chemicals. There are healthy plant-based products that you can buy to substitute. These are safer for both you and your pets.
* Buy and use a quality, HEPA air filter. In addition to doing an excellent job of capturing feather dust/down, these filters will reduce smog, household dust, mold, mildew, yeast and other allergens and toxins--all of which are unhealthy for you and your birds.

The following diseases in birds which are of reasonable significance include: Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis), Salmonellosis, Camphlobacteriosis, New Castles Disease, Allergic Alveolitus, Mycobacterosis (Avian Tuberculosis) Influenza, Giardia, and Cryptospondiosis. Chlamydiosis Chlamydiosis (also known as Psittacosis) is caused by a bacterial parasite. The disease in parrots and humans is called Psittacosis. It is called Ornithosis in bird species other than parrots. It is also called "parrot fever" in Psittacines. It can be transmitted to humans, birds, cows, goats, sheep and pigs. Most human cases are contracted from psittacines, pigeons and turkeys. It can also be transmitted from person to person.

The infected bird will shed the bacteria in their feces, urine, saliva ocular secretions, nasal exudates and feather dust. These infectious particles are inhaled or ingested by other birds and people. Egg transmission has also been documented. The incubation period in birds is several years. Symptoms in birds might include inflamed eyes, difficulty in breathing, watery droppings and green urates. Many birds are carriers and show no symptoms of the infection.

Humans are typically infected by the inhalation of the infected particles in the air. The incubation period is 5 to 14 days. Symptoms are generally flu-like fever, diarrhea, chills, congunctivitis and sore throat. There are several tests available to diagnosis the disease in a live bird. The newest is called PCR and is highly sensitive. Treatment for both humans and birds is doxycycline or tetracycline. People are treated for 3 weeks, while birds are treated for 45 days.

Salmonella

Salmonella is a gram negative aerobic bacteria that can infect birds, humans and other animals. It can persist in soil and water for long periods of time. A large number of serotypes exists. All types are capable of causing food poisoning. Birds can become infected with salmonella by oral ingestion of contaminated food, water and through the egg--either by ventical transmission or by penetration of the egg shell. Infected birds will appear lethargic, lose their appetite, have watery droppings and may develop arthritis. Parrots may also develop bloody diarrhea, profound depression, high white blood count and often die.

Most human cases of salmonella are acquired by eating contaminated food-- especially poultry rather than from pet birds. The incubation period is 6-72 hours in people. Vomiting, bloody diarrhea, fever and dehydration may occur. Recovery may occur in 2-4 days. Salmonella can be transmitted from person to person as well. Humans carrying salmonella can infect their pet birds too.

Diagnosis in the live bird can be difficult since bird may be intermittent shedders. Fecal or cloacal cultures are used for diagnosis. Birds are treated with aggressive antibiotics for 3-5 weeks based on culture and sensitivity. Birds may remain carriers of salmonella for life.

Antibiotics are not typically prescribed for people unless they have a prolonged fever and are septicmenic.

Allergic Alveolitis

Allergic Alveolitis has a number of names among which include hypersensitivity pneumonitis, parakeet dander pneumoconiosis and pigeon lung disease. It occurs in people who are hypersensitive to feathers, feather dust, and fecal material--- especially from pigeons and parakeets. Signs can occur within two years but often takes as long as 10 to 20 years with continued exposure.

It may occur in an acute, sub-acute or chronic form. The acute form occurs within 4-8 hours of inhalation of a high level of feathers, dust and/or feces, difficulty breathing, chills and fever will occur. If exposure is stopped in time no treatment is necessary and signs will disappear. The sub-acute form results over long term exposure. A dry cough and progressive breathing difficulty occur. This form too may be reversed if exposure is halted. If continued exposure occurs, a chronic, nonreversible form occurs--leading to progressive difficulty breathing, a dry cough and weight loss.

Allergic alveolitis decreases lung capacity and causes impaired diffusion of air through the alveoli of the lungs.

Although this disease is thought to occur in genetically predisposed individuals, one can take certain steps to minimize dander in the environment. These steps include: cleaning cages daily, bathing birds frequently, avoid overcrowding, providing good ventilation and using a good air purification system.

Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis is caused by a gram negative. It can affect people and a variety of animals--especially parrots, finches and canaries. This bacterial organism lives in the small intestines and colon and may be isolated from clinically ill as well as healthy birds. Free-living wild birds maintain and spread the disease by the fecal-oral route. Clinically ill birds develop hepatitis, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss and yellow diarrhea. Mortality can be high.

People may become ill from eating contaminated poultry or poultry products. People develop cramps, fever, diarrhea and headaches within 2-5 days of exposure. Pregnant women, debilitated individuals, and the immuno-compromised are at the greatest risk. The risk is primarily from contaminated poultry rather than from pet birds. A blood test, culture and isolation of the organism from the feces may be used to diagnose the disease. Recovery occurs with appropriate antibiotics and support occurs within 7-10 days. Fecal cultures may be done to screen birds for camphylobacter.

Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease is a paramyxo virus that can affect birds and people. It is more commonly seen in wild birds. The virus is shed through oral and respiratory secretions and through feces. It causes respiratory signs, diarrhea and neurologic signs--such as tremors, abnormal head position, circling and seizures in birds. Some birds may recover while others die.

The people who are at greatest risk are those who work in poultry processing plants or those who handle diseased wild birds. Incubation in people is only 1-2 days. Conjuntivitis, chills, fever and lethargy may develop. Recovery generally occurs within 3 weeks.

Diagnosis in birds and people is by virus isolation. There is no specific treatment other than support--fluids, rest and adequate nutrition.

Avian Tuberculosis (Mycobacterios)

Avian Tuberculosis occurs throughout the world and has been found in waterfowl, turkeys, psittacines, passerines, columbiformes and raptors. Tuberculosis is transmitted by ingestion and inhalation of aerosolized infectious organisms from feces. Incubation in birds is weeks to months. Any species can be infected, however this is most commonly found in Amazons and Green Cheek Conures. It is believed that immunocompetent humans are resistant to the strains of tuberculosis found in birds, but that immunocompromised people--such as those infected with HIV, those on chemotherapy, the elderly and children are at increased risk.

In adult humans, tuberculosis frequently affects the lungs, producing respiratory signs. In young children, the cervical lymph nodes are often involved, while immunocompromised people often have the disseminated form. Diagnosis of tuberculosis in the live bird can be very difficult due to intemittent fecal shedding and obscure signs. Physical finds, very elevated white blood cell and low red blood cell count and other diagnostic tests which include radiology (x-rays), endoscopy and identification of acid fast bacteria in feces or tissue can lead to a preliminary diagnosis. Definitive diagnosis is based on culturing the organism from the feces or from an organ.

If a positive bird is identified, it should be separated from the collection. Treatment of a positive bird is controversial because of the large number of organisms shed in the feces and because the organism is resistant to many of the drugs used to treat human T.B. The infected bird must be treated for a long period using combination drug treatment. All contact birds should be quarantined for 2 years and tested at 6- to 12-week intervals.

People who are infected with human tuberculosis should not own birds, since these people may serve as a source of infection for their pet birds.

Giardia

Giardia is an intestinal protozoan that is found in the small intestine of infected birds, dogs, cats, humans and other mammals. The motile form, the trophozoite, attaches to the villi (fingerlike projections) of the small intestine by means of a sucking disk. The cyst form is passed in the feces (as well as the trophozoite) and is able to survivie in the environment.

People, birds and other animals become infected when they ingest contaminated food and water. Giardia cysts are not destroyed by standard chlorination. Boiling will destroy them, however.

The most frequently infected companion birds include budgies, cockatiels, lovebirds and grey cheeked parakeets. This may be the result of the way these birds are raised--in very densely populated environments. Other species may also be infected. Infected adult budgies and cockatiels (as well as other species) often appear clinically normal, but shed the infective cysts intermittently in their feces. Certain stresses, such as reproduction, molting or other diseases, may cause clinical signs such as the passing of voluminous, foul smelling, watery droppings, passing whole seeds in the droppings, ruffled feathers and death. The highest mortality is in nestlings and birds weakened by other illness. Some birds, especially budgies and cockatiels, are thought to become itchy as a result of a toxin secreted by the parasite. These birds tear out their feathers, frequently screaming as they do. People can develop severe cramping and diarrhea from Giardia.

Giardia appears to be limited in host range. The giardia infecting budgies is Giardia psittcai. It is unknown if these species can infect other types of birds. Giardia from mammals may infect humans, but the zoonotic potential for avian giardiasis is believed to be low, since it is not thought that avian giardia can infect mammals. Diagnosis of giardia in live birds can be difficult. Feces must be fresh--examined within ten minutes--in order to find the motile trophozite. If the feces cannot be examined immediately, it may be placed in polyvinyl alcohol and later trichrome stained for cysts. Multiple specimens may need to be examined because the parasite is shed intermittently.

Infected birds may be treated with metronidazole. Unfortunately, not all birds may be cleared and reinfection from the environment is common. Multiple courses of treatment are often necessary.

Quarantine, avoidance of overcrowding, and treatment of birds showing clinical signs will decrease the incidence of Giardia in a collection.

Avian Influenza

Influenza is caused by an enveloped RNA virus. It is an infectious disease of birds, swine, humans and other animals. Three types of Influenza viruses exist - types A, B, and C. Influenza A viruses infect birds and other animals, while B and C infect people.

Hundreds of subtypes of Influenza A viruses have been isolated from birds and other mammals. Influenza viruses are continuously undergoing change, resulting in new serotypes. Migratory birds, especially waterfowl are believed to be reservoirs for Influenza A virus. The infection often causes an inapparent intestinal disease in waterfowl. These infected waterfowl don't show signs of disease unless severely stressed by other diseases or transport. These unapparently infected birds shed the virus from their respiratory tract, conjunctiva (lining of the eyes) and in their feces - serving as a source of infection for other birds. Incubation may be as short as a few hours.

The signs of illness depend upon the species infected, the age, environmental factors, and virulence of the viral strain. Birds may die suddenly without showing signs of illness or develop depression, appetite loss, coughing, sneezing and decreased egg production.

Influenza A has been isolated from captive birds, including psittacines (parrots) and passerines (canaries, finches, sparrow, starlings, etc). Psittacines my demonstrate loss of balance, torticollis (twisted neck) and may die.

The virus may be isolated from swabs of the cloaca and upper respiratory tract in the live bird. It may be isolated from the lungs, liver, spleen and brain at postmortem. A companion bird could serve as a source of virus exposure for humans, but it is more likely that humans could serve as a source of virus exposure for susceptible companion birds. If a human has clinical signs of the "flu", he should avoid contact with his bird.

Wild migratory birds should not be allowed contact with companion birds, chickens and turkeys - as they may serve as a means of spreading Influenza.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a $2 donation to benefit the birds at Wings of Love Bird Haven by clicking the button below.

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POISONOUS PLANTS
Plants that are poisonous or potentially harmful to birds:

Alacia
Amaryllis- bulbs
American Yew
Apples
Apricot
Autumn Crocus/Meadow Saffron
Avocado
Azalea- leaves
Balsam pear- seeds, outer rind of fruit
Belledonna
Baneberry- berries, root
Beans--- all types if uncooked
Birch
Birds of Paradise- seeds, flower and bush
Bittersweet nightshade
Black Locust- bark, sprouts, foliage
Bleeding Heart/Dutchman's Breeches
Bloodroot
Blue/green algae
Boxwood- leaves, stem
Bracken Fern
Broomcorn Grass
Buckthorn- fruit, bark
Buttercup- sap, bulbs
Caladium- leaves
Cala Lily- leaves
Candelabra Tree
Cardinal Flower
Carolina Jessamine
Castor bean- also castor oil, leaves
Chalice Vine/Trumpet Vine
Cherry tree- bark, twigs, leaves, pits
China Berry Tree
Christmas Candle- sap
Clematis/Virginia Bower
Coral Plant- seeds
Cowslip/Marsh Marigold
Crown of Thorns
Croton
Daffodil- bulbs
Daphne- berries
Datura/Angel's Trumpet
Deadly Amanita/Fly Agaric Mushroom
Death Camas
Delphinium
Dieffenbachia/Dumb Cane- leaves
Eggplant
Elderberry
Elephant's Ear/ Taro- leaves, stem
English Ivy- berries, leaves
English Laurel
English Yew
Euonymus/Spindle Tree
False Hellebore
False Henbane
Fava Bean
Ficus (weeping)
Firethorn/Pyracantha
Four O'Clock
Foxglove
Glory Bean
Glory Lily
Golden Chain/Laburnum
Ground Cherry
Hemlock- also the water it's in
Henbane- seeds Sorrel
Holly
Honey Locust
Horse Chestnut/buckeye- nuts, twigs
Horsetail
Hyacinth- bulbs
Hydrangea- flower buds
Indian Licorise Bean
Ivy
Indian turnip
Iris/blue Flag
Jack-in-the-pulpit
Japanese Yew- needles, seeds
Jasmine Yew (American, English, Japanese)
Java Bean/Lima Bean xxxxx
Jerusalem Cherry-berries
Jimsonweed/Thornapple
Johnson Grass
Juniper- needles, stems, berries
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Lantana- immature berries
Larkspur
Laurel
Lily of the Valley- also water it's in
Lobelia
Locoweed
Lords & Ladies/Cockoopint
Lupines/bluebonnet
Mandrake
Mango tree- wood, leaves, rind
Marijuana/hemp- leaves
May apple
Mescal Beans- seeds
Milk Bush
Mistletoe- berries
Mock Orange- fruit
Mondshood/Aconite- leaves, root
Moonseed
Morning Glory
Mountain Laurel
Mushrooms- several varieties
Narcissus- bulbs
Nectarine
Neighboring Jasmine
Nettles
Nightshade- all varieties
Nutmeg
Oak- acorns, foliage
Oleander- leaves, branches, nectar
Peach
Peanuts- raw
Pencil Tree
Periwinkle
Philodendron- leaves, stem
Pigweed
Pikesweed
Pine needles- berries
Plum
Poinsettia- leaves, roots, immature
Poison Hemlock
Poison Ivy- sap
Poison Oak- sap
Pokeweed/Inkberry- leaf, root, young berries
Potato - eyes, new shoots
Pothos
Privet
Prune
Rain tree
Ranunculus/buttercup
Red Maple
Rhododendron
Rhubarb- leaves
RosaryPea/Indian Licorice- seeds
Sandbox tree
Scarlet Runner beans
Skunk cabbage
Snow on the Mountain
Snowdrop
Snowflake
Sorghum Grass
Sorrel
Sudan grass
Sweet Pea
Tansy Ragwort
Tobacco- leaves
Vetch
Virginia Creeper- sap
Water Hemlock
Western Yew
Wisteria
Yam Bean- roots, immature roots
Yellow Jasmine
Yellow Oleander
Yew (American, English, Japanese)

This is not an all-encompassing list. There may be other plants that could be added  to this list. Many of these plants are also toxic to humans and other pets.

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TOXIC PRODUCTS
- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

Birds' respiratory systems are more sensitive than humans, and for that reason, bird owners need to pay particular attention to toxic fumes and other potential dangers. When in doubt, err on the conservative side to avoid putting your bird at risk. Here are some things to avoid:
Fumes toxic to birds:

- Asbestos                                   - Bleach/Chlorine                  - Carbon Monoxide
- Cigarette Smoke                      - Flea bombs and collars     - Diazanon
- Floor polishes                          - Hair dye & hair spray         - Formaldehyde
- House paint                             - Kerosene                              - Matches
- Moth balls                                - Nail polish and remover    - Oil-based paint
- Oven Cleaner                           - Paint remover                     - Perfume
- Permanent wave solution     - Shoe polish and cleaners  - Pesticides
- Spot removers                         - Spray starch                        - Suntan lotion
- Surgical acrylics                       - Toilet cleaners                     - Wax
- Overheated, non-stick cookware

Non-chemical Dangers that can be Toxic or Fatal:

Fatty Diet. In humans high fat diet has been shown to cause heart disease, liver malfunction, and endocrine problems (diabetes and pancreatitis). Birds do need more calories than mammals based on body weight, but 30-50% should be high- quality carbohydrates. Excess fat is either stored in the millions of liver cells or recirculated in the bloodstream. This overloads the liver and can eventually lead to liver failure. Sometimes this can be acute with the only symptoms being death or severe weakness, paralysis or seizures. Excess fat circulating in the blood stream can produce fatty tumors. Atherosclerosis also exists in birds with the associated heart maladies and circulatory problems associated with it.

Alcohol. This includes wine, liquor and beer. All are destructive to the liver. Because the bird has a high metabolic rate and the ability to ingest a much higher volume compared to its body weight, liver failure occurs in a very short period of time. Tobacco Products. This includes cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and marijuana. Chronic sinusitis, lung, and liver pathologies have been confirmed in birds housed with smokers. In any given breath, a bird can extract 70% more air particulate than a human. This added to an increased respiratory rate makes birds very susceptible to airborne toxins.

FYI: Did you know that it has now been proven that ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke) can cause cancer, bronchitis and heart disease in humans? ETS contains 43 compounds known as human or animal carcinogens. No studies have yet been done on birds, however birds' unique respiratory anatomy makes them highly sensitive to airborne toxin.

In conclusion: Many birds housed with smokers have been diagnosed wtih low grade infections, respiratory compromise, heart disease, skin disorders, as well as other nondescript symptoms. If you smoke, DON'T HAVE A BIRD!!! Avocados. Research was done in 1989 to prove that avocado was indeed toxic to birds. Budgerigars were the most suseptible with 6 out of 8 dying within 48 hours after ingesting one drop from a 1:10 dilution mixture. Avocado is also toxic to goats, horses, rabbits, cattle and mice. The toxic component has not been identified but... do not feed any part of the fruit, seed or tree to your bird.

Caffeine. This includes chocolate, tea, soda and coffee. These items tend to affect the body muscles including the heart with signs such as vomiting, restlessness or hyperactivity with more severe signs of a drunken-like appearance, muscle tremors, cyanosis, seizures and possible death from cardiac or respiratory collapse. This toxic group is dose related. Just because you might have given a product that didn't hurt does not mean that it could not be more serious next time.

Lead or "plumbism". Lead toxicity is well documented. Sources include lead-based paints, lead shot, solder, birds toys, linoleium, ceramics, curtain weights, stained glass windows, Tiffany lamps, glitter from trendy clothes, Christmas ornaments and foil from the top fo wine bottles. Very small amouns are sufficient to create toxicity. Lead adversely affects all body systems. South American species, particularly amazons and macaws are acutely sensitive to lead poisoning. Signs usually show up several days after ingestion, but proceed rapidly and can lead to death within 48 hours. Symptoms can be vague, but usually have a sudden onset with one day the bird acting fine and the next day demonstrating weakness, anorexia or other neurological symptoms. If a bird suddenly regurgitates and looks listless one should seek veterinary attention immediately and have radiographs taken. Time is critical once symptoms manifest themselves. Antidotes are available to control the symptoms, then further medical or surgical therapy can be undertaken.

Zinc. Zinc poisoning has become more and more common in pet birds and is often underdiagnosed. Because so many products contain zinc as a component, clinical symptoms are quite variable dependent on quantity ingested, concentration of zinc, and species of bird. Symptoms might include regurgitation, lameness, mental aberrations, marked depression and sometimes death. History of ingestion has ranged from only a few days to chronic low-grade exposure over years. If your bird is a heavy chewer, replace all galvanized hardware with stainless steel as a precaution.

Common sources of zinc are: paint primers on cages, especially pre-1995, bronze coating on metals, galvanized products, anodized aluminum windows, costume jewelry and sequins, hardware products, washers, bolts, etc., post-1982 pennies, "hot spots" in colored food pellets, many forms of rubber products. Other Heavy Metals. Various other metals are also toxic to birds. TIN: found in aluminum foil, gum wrappers and cans.

Copper. Certain toys, old pennies, designer furniture and home electrical cords. Iron. Found in rusted steel products. Just remember to be very careful where a bird roams in your house unattended. Symptoms in these other metal toxins are variable but most commonly present neurologically, gastrointestinally and concurrent with feather picking.

Teflon Vapors. When nonstick cookery (teflon, silverstone, etc) is heated above a critical temperature (530 degrees) an invisible, odorless vapor is emitted. The irritating vapors accumulate in the lungs causing fluid production and subsequent anoxia (lack of oxygen) with the only sign often being acute death, sometimes within 1-5 minutes. Birds seem to be highly sensitive to this toxin compared to other animals or humans. The critical temperature is usually not obtained during the "normal" cooking processes, but may be reached when pans are used for searing meat or when using teflon-coated Chinese woks or electric skillets. To be safe, never keep your bird in the kitchen and be aware of which products contain teflon. Even products such as curling irons, hot curlers and portable room heaters have been known to have teflon in them and are potentially hazardous.

Simple Sugars. Foods like sweet rolls, danish, candy, glazed products, and even portions of sweet fruits have caused acute toxicity or death in some birds. The cause stems from the simple sugars causing a fermenting process in the lower bowel and a change from an aerobic environment to an anaerobic environment. Toxin-producing bacteria already located in the small intestines proliferate under anaerobic conditions with the ensuing signs of shock and/or death if antibiotics and fluid therapy is not rapidly administered. Unfortunately, birds have an affinity for these types of foods. Be careful!

Acidic Foods. A newly observed cause of toxicity in bird species is foods with a relatively low pH (acidity). Examples are oranges, tomatoes, raspberries or tart apple varieties. Small birds are again more susceptible since this is dose related. The symptoms are similar to sugar toxicity, but by a different mechanism. When ingested, acidic foods lower the pH in the crop and slow or stop the crop's normal function as a passageway to the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This leads to the absorption of "normal" toxic food by-products, causing dehydration, depression, regurgitation, shock and sometimes death.

Plants. See Toxic Plants

Conclusion: this is an overview of toxic compounds possibly available to your bird. If your bird ingests any of these products or suddenly does not seem right, contact your avian veterinarian immediately as only a few hours delay may make the difference between life and death.

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GENERAL BIRD SAFETY
- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

When it comes to bird safety, there is a mountain of information. This page is not designed to be a substitute for doing your own study. On this page I will highlight some of the most important things to remember concerning keeping your bird safe. Cigarette Smoke. Do not smoke, or allow others to smoke around your bird. We now know that tobacco smoke can kill humans, imagine what it will do to our smaller feathered friends. Even with ventilation, the smoke is still harmful. Most of the time you won't be able to tell that it is damaging your birds. It happens over a long period of time. For your bird's sake, just don't do it.

Teflon. This includes any non-stick cookware, curling irons, portable heaters, irons with non-stick plates, all Teflon baking utensils, and even some hair dryers. The fumes emitted from Teflon are deadly, both to humans and animals. It is best to get rid of any item that has this because sometimes we just aren't careful enough. How many times have you or someone in your house gone off and left the iron or curling iron plugged in? One too many. It takes only a few seconds to produce these fumes that will kill your bird. Please don't take this chance.

Toxic Foods. Yes, there are foods that are poisonous to your birds. The most toxic are chocolate, avocados, alcohol, caffeine and fruit pits. Other food items that are dangerous to your birds include sugar, salt, and greasy foods. Be sure to keep all of these items away from your birds reach.

Scented Items. Anything scented should send a "red flag" to you for the safety of your bird. Whether it is scented candles, potpourri, artificial (scented) flowers, scented soap, strong perfume, do not use them around the birds. Some people use them, just keep them in a separate area of the home. I feel the more you can eliminate of these items the better off your bird will be. There are some good substitutes that can be used for these items. Good, pure essential oils in minute amounts can sometimes be used safely, although they can still be dangerous. I use baking powder with a few drops of either lavender or lemongrass essential oil mixed into it as a substitute for Carpet Fresh. I also sometimes boil cloves or cinnamon on the stove in a pan of water. This gives a very nice holiday smell to your home. Please use these with caution even though they are natural oils. They can still be hazardous.

Also included in this list is all chemicals and cleaning supplies. If you can smell it, it is most likely toxic to your bird. Try using white vinegar as a basic cleaner. It is an exception to the rule and is bird-safe even though it does have a strong odor. There are special cleaners you can purchase to clean your birds cage with as well. One good one is called NOVOSAN. I offer it for sale here.

Drafts. Birds should not be kept in drafty areas all the time. They can have fresh air when they are outdoors, but not on a continual basis such as would be if their cage were placed in front of a door or window. Allow fresh air to enter the room from another area that is not directly in front of the bird's cage.

Doors and Windows. Be sure that you make certain that the bird is not out of its cage when opening a door or window. Fully flighted birds can be out in seconds-- never to be seen again. If your birds wings are clipped, they can still fly short distances, and walk out or be crushed in the door or window as it is being closed. Always exercise extreme caution.

Lead. Lead poisoning is a very serious problem. Most paints have some amount of lead in them, so anything painted is poisonous to your bird. Do not let your bird chew on anything such as paint, costume jewelry, foil, or linoleum. Even some cages unfortunately have been known to have lead in the paint. Be careful and do your homework. Lead poisoning causes nervous system disorders and seizures. It isn't a pretty sight and is something that can be avoided.

Other Pets in the Home. Not only are smaller birds at risk of being injured by larger birds, having other animals in the home can be even more dangerous. If you own a dog or cat or any other animal, make sure that they are never unsupervised in the same room as the birds. Their saliva is toxic to birds. Do not leave your bird outside the house unsupervised as well. Any outdoor area should have a covered top and side protection with bars that are very small so that no animal can touch them. Even short amounts of time in an unsafe cage can be potentially deadly if a cat or dog is around. Don't chance it.

Deep Water Areas. Your bird needs a bath often to keep his feathers in good condition. However, too much water is very dangerous. Once a bird's feathers get saturated, he can't swim. Leaving a sink full of water, or the toilet or washing machine opened, is a danger. Make sure that anything with water that is too deep for them to stand in is covered at all times.

There are three very safe ways to allow your bird the water time it needs: 1. Use a spray bottle and mist your bird. 2. Take your bird into the shower with you. 3. Set up a "bird bath" in the sink with a shallow bowl with only an inch or two of water. Not all birds LOVE to bathe. Two to three times a week is adequate unless you have one that just loves it. After a bath, gently towel off the excess water and avoid putting him in a drafty area. It is best NOT to blow dry the bird, but to let him use his preening instincts to care for his feathers properly.

Electric Wires. Even for a bird that has its wings clipped, there are many dangers around the house. Electric wires are one of them. All wires must be hidden and away from reach to prevent the bird from being shocked.

Leg Bands. Leg bands are meant to help, but many times they do more harm than good. They can get caught in open wires, or on toys in the cages. This has been fatal in many instances when someone isn't around to release it. Please be certain that all wires, toys, perches, et cetera, do not have any thin wires sticking out that the leg band can get hooked on.

Toys. Toys can be a great hazard as well. Be sure that the toys are the correct size for the bird you give it to. Make certain that the bird can't get its head caught in a ring and strangle himself. Do not use baby toys with birds unless you are certain they are too hard for the bird to crack. IF you present baby toys, be sure to do it while you are supervising. Make sure that there are no small pieces (such as clappers on bells) on any of their toys. They can eventually remove these and may swallow them.

Drinking Water. Most people don't consider drinking water a hazard, but it sure can be. Be sure to give your bird drinking water that is safe for human (and avian) consumption. It is best to serve purified, boiled, distilled or bottled water.I hope the above information has helped. Please don't stop here. Read all you can about bird safety so that you can offer the safest possible environment for your feathered friend.

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BIRD NUTRITION
- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

Over the years there has been much controversy over the best diet for birds. We know that the diet choice makes the difference between a bird living a long healthy life and one that dies early because of nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional needs vary from bird to bird, just as they do from person to person. For this reason, the below information is not meant to be taken as a set-in-stone rule for the feeding of all birds. Be sure to do your homework on the particular species of bird you own.

In general, just remember that birds need a variety. You should also try to feed them as close to nature as you can. You don't find pellets growing on a tree in the wild, do you? Pellets can be offered as a supplement, but please do not make this the main portion of your birds diet. Seeds are also fine, in a limited quantity. All birds usually love seeds and would eat that above most other foods if given that option but this is not healthy for them, so please limit the amount you give them. Sprouted seeds are always a better choice than dry seed, since the sprouted seed is actually "live food."

Since we are a rescue, we have birds of all types, sizes and health conditions living here at the Haven. Each bird is fed according to what we believe he/she needs for their particular situation. When a bird is first brought to us, they are usually accustomed to an all seed or all pellet diet. Our number one goal at this point is to convert them over to a more "balanced" diet. We continue adding the pellets or seeds in large enough quantity so that we know they are getting enough to eat, but they have to "dig" to find it. Therefore, while digging to find the food they are accustomed to they will inadvertently taste some of the new, more healthy choices that we know they need. We will then start a slow "weaning" process, by removing a little more of their favorite food each day, until such time they are eating the balanced diet at their own will.

There are dietary differences among birds

Feeding pet birds the right foods is important for their health. A balanced diet based on sound bird nutrition recommendations is the key. Balancing a parrot's diet from the beginning will prevent many health and behavior problems. But it's never too late to get your pet bird on a sound nutritional footing. It is something you will want to do since an unbalanced diet is the main cause of disease and early death in pet birds. Malnutrition is a human-made disease. Fortunately, it is also preventable. When feeding pet birds, we must realize that the species of birds we have as companion pets do not all have the same dietary needs. Just as our North American wild birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds do not eat the same foods, neither do our companion birds. In general, parrot diets can be classified according to their normal diets. Most psittacines (members of the parrot family) are florivores, meaning the main portion of their diet is obtained from plants. Among florivores, there are granivores (birds that eat grain and seed), and frugivores (birds with diets based on fruits). Some pet birds are omnivores, whose diet can consist of both plant and animal components. There is a special class of florivores called nectarivores, who eat mostly nectar.

Pet Bird Dietary Classification/Primary Diet/Species

Florivore: Seeds, fruits, nuts, bark, roots, berries (Military macaw, Blue and gold macaw, Red-faced parrot)

Granivore: Grains, seeds (Budgerigar, cockatiel, Hyacinth macaw) Frugivore: Mostly fruit and flowers; some nuts and seeds (Blue-throated macaw; Green-winged macaw)

Omnivore: Seeds, fruits, insects, invertebrates (Sulphur-crested cockatoo, Red-tailed amazon)

Nectarivore: Nectar, pollen; some insects and seeds (Lorikeet, lory) From the above list, you can see that even among related birds, such as macaws, diets differ. Additionally, among each bird classification there will be different nutrition recommendations. For instance, even though both are considered granivores, in the wild, Hyacinth macaws eat mostly palm nuts, while budgies eat mostly seeds. See "birdy personalities for more information on what each different type of bird needs as his/her diet.

The "4" Nutrient Groups for Excellent Avian Nutrition

Proteins:
Eggs--white and yolk should be scrambled or hard-boiled and grated Cooked Chicken--small bits are ocassionally okay
Cooked Legumes
Soy Products such as soybeans, tofu--use sparingly as some birds have experienced
digestive problems with tofu
*No red meats, pork or shellfish should be given.
Carbohydrates:
Cooked Pasta (preferably whole grain)
Cooked Rice (preferably brown)
Cooked potatoes

Fat Sources:
Seed mixture dependent on species (little to no sunflower seeds)
Nuts high in fat--use only dependent on species of bird
Corn
*Use NO dairy or cheese products. Birds can't break down the lactose and
it can cause obstructive disorders or inflammation.

Vitamins/Minerals:
There are hundreds of vitamins and minerals a body needs and the sources of foods in which to find them. Two of the biggest deficiencies facing exotic bird species are: Vitamin A. Suggestions of high Vitamin A content are: carrots, sweet potatoes, jalapeno peppers, kale, chard, spinach, squash- butternut, dandelion greens, sweet red peppers. Vitamin A found in the above products is one of the most common deficiencies in pet birds diets, especially in South American species (amazons, conures, macaws). At least one of these foods should be fed to your bird daily. Remember, birds can discern color and texture, as well as taste, so changing the form and presentation of the food can make a big difference in whether the bird will or will not accept the new food. There is an instinctive fear of new foods, especially in older birds. This is a protective mechanism against being poisoned in the wild, so offer new foods often and in the same manner before attempting a new method. Alternative methods to try are hanging food on the side of the cage or preparing foods in different ways such as peeled, or unpeeled, cooked or raw, and placing multiple foods on the same dish. Most birds usually take upwards of 2 weeks seeing a new food every day before first investigating and/or playing with the food and then actually trying to eat it. Above all, be patient with your pet bird when it comes to new foods!

Calcium:
Suggestions of high calcium content are: turnip greens, green cabbage, chinese cabbage, mustard greens, watercress, kohlrabi, chard Calcium is the predominant mineral in the body and yet is the most common mineral deficiency found in pet birds diet. Calcium is used by the bird for bone formation, blood clotting, and egg shell production. Calcium also affects heart, muscle, and nerve function as well as enzyme systems in the body. As expected, most of the calcium is stored in the bird's skeleton. All birds are susceptible to long term deficiencies if fed inadequate diets. "Grit" sold in the pet trade is not a decent source of calcium. DO NOT SERVE YOUR BIRD GRIT. A safe source of calcium for smaller species is the backbone from the cuttlefish "cuttlebone" mineral blocks, or ground oyster shell. Larger species can be offered cooked chicken bone in small amounts or mineral blocks. Some birds, such as conures and African Grey parrots, are more sensitive to calcium deficiency, but do not need extra supplementation if placed on a well- balanced diet. Also, like humans, as some birds age their calcium demand increases. The foods listed above are only to be used as indicators of Ca: P supply, however no single food is bad when evaluated in an entire dietary management program created by you and your avian veterinarian. Above all, always offer your bird a calcium source.

Remember: A good balanced diet can extend the life of your bird by 50% or better compared to a diet of only commercial type products. Always offer a variety and try to keep their foods as close to nature as you can.

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NUTS & SEEDS
- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

You talk to many bird owners and you will hear such things as "I've fed my bird nuts and seeds for 15 years and he is healthy so far..." or "My bird was healthy--just died one day all of a sudden for no reason at all."

Compare these comments to what we might hear said about someone's ancestors... "My ancestors always ate meat and did fine" or "My grandfather lived 55 years on an all meat diet". Have you heard this one...My father at 50 was the picture of health until he died of a heart attack." How healthy were they really?

Let's take a look at the three main areas of nutrition in an all seed/nut diet: total fat levels, calcium and phosphorus levels and Vitamin A content. Total Fat levels... current nutritional research suggests that most psittacines need no more than 15% total fat in their diet. Safflower seeds represent the lowest fat level in all seeds and they have a fat content of 38.40%. This exceeds the maximum levels by 250%. Calcium (Ca), Phosphorus (P) and Ca:P ratio...Pssitacine research seems to mirror that of poultry findings showing that a diet should contain 0.50% calcium for maintenance and 1% for proper bone development. Using 100 gms of any given food, this would equate to 0.5 - 1 gm (500-1000 mg) of calcium to contain adequate levels for maintenance and growth. The highest levels of calcium in seeds/nuts is demonstrated by almonds at 266 mg, barely 50% of the levels necessary for maintenance and only 27% of the calcium needed for growth. High-fat diets may further exacerbate the situation by forming insoluble calcium soups thereby preventing calcium uptake in the small intestines which would result in even less percent.

Ca:P ratio analyzed in bone approximates 2:1. Any given diet should deliver this ratio of calcium to phosphorus to maintain equilibrium within the body. The best level to be achieved with seeds and nuts is represented on the chart by macadamia at 1:1.94, delivering 4 times higher phosphorus levels compared to calcium. The kidneys must excrete this excess phosphorus from the body and when they do, they also excrete calcium. This process further magnifies the overall calcium depletion within the body of the bird.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is crucial to cellular function in many parts of the body including the formation of mucous membranes and epithelial surfaces, for growth, vision, development of the vascular system, production of adrenal hormones, formation of red and orange pigments in feathers and many other functions. A concentration of 5000 IU/pound of food is required to prevent eventual signs of Vitamin A deficiency. For a 100 gm portion of food, there must be 1100 IU of vitamin A to meet these requirements. The highest level on the chart for nuts and seeds is represented by pumpkin seeds at 380 IU/100 gm wt...barely 1/3 of the level necessary for sustaining avian health.

Profiling these three nutritional categories of seeds and nuts should clearly demonstrate how a diet exclusive of any supplementation will eventually lead a bird to multiple nutritional deficiencies and a shortened life span. The deficiencies are masked for an extended period of time due to each organs reserve capacity. For example, the kidneys can perform 100% of their function with only 30% of their total mass. This is why people can donate a kidney and still live normally. The liver can perform 100% of its function in some species with only 10% of its total mass. The same has also been seen in psittacine birds. Once this threshold is crossed the clinical symptoms are not only obvious, but usually severe and often life threatening. It has been said many times that "ignorance is bliss", but as it relates to one's health we know that this is not true. A diet for a pet bird must contain ALL nutritional groups (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) in the right proportions to support each bird's genetics for maximum life expectancy.

One last comment. The claim that supplementing a seed diet with fruits and vegetables will make the diet "complete" is not an accurate statement. Supplementation solves some of the problems, but tends to create others. Science does not have all of the answers, but much progress has been made in the last several years. Blood tests are now available and often required to determine the current nutritional condition of a bird and serve as a guide to demonstrate improvement once nutritional therapy is instituted. Ask your veterinarian to help you plan the proper nutrition for your specific species of pet bird. If you don't ask...you won't know. Approximately 94% of the birds tested at most clinics have some form of nutritional imbalances. The bird is the result of what it eats. Please feed a large variety of foods STARTING WITH veggies and sprouts, then add pellets, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, et cetera to "round out" and complete the diet.

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