Nutrition for Good Health: Eclectus Diet
Eclectuses have unusually long digestive tracts and require large amounts of fiber, fruits & vegetables in their diet to remain healthy. This need has to be met. They are far more likely than other parrots to suffer from nutritional deficiencies, since many people ignore their special dietary needs. On the other hand, their long digestive tracts also allow excess nutrients (minerals, vitamins, etc.) can also be a problem, to collect - potentially resulting in toxicities. Naturally derived nutrients (from fruits, vegetables, plant matter) are usually not a problem unless a diet is extremely one-sided. However, synthetic supplements can easily lead to toxicities (as for example "vitamin enriched" seeds or pellets. The key is to maintain a healthy balance with focus on a variety of fresh food items.
Special Nutritional Requirements of the Eclectus Parrot
The eclectus requires a diet high in Beta Carotene and vegetable protein, and reduced fat compared to other parrot species.
The diet of the adult eclectus should consist of 6% fat. Younger birds that are more active and burn more fat may need 12% of fat in their diet.
Eclectus Parrots need more fruits / vegetables than other parrots.
It is generally recommended that eclectuses be fed about 80% soft foods, such as fresh or thawed-out frozen fruits, vegetables, soaked seed. They enjoy corn-on-the-cob, banana, mango, apple, per, passion fruit, berries, cantaloupe and watermelon. It is imperative that the fresh, soaked and cooked food items need to be removed daily to prevent sickness from contaminated food.
Convenient Sources of Fruits / Veggies: For days when I am too busy to prepare something for my eclectus, I always have available jars of baby food with fruits & vegetables (i.e. Gerbers). My pet birds LOVE those.
The Eclectus is often deficient in Vitamin A and offering a diet in dark leafy greens and orange-colored produce (i.e., apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, red peppers, pumpkins and sweet potatoes), mashed up with other fruits or vegetables will be both loved by your eclectus, as much as it is good for her or him.
It is important to favor safe and natural forms of vitamin A over supplements. Synthetically produced nutrients may not be absorbable and could easily be overdosed. With a healthful diet, birds should never need a vitamin A supplement - assuming that they have no metabolic problems.
List of natural sources of beta carotene/vitamin A that are safe for birds (starting with food items highest in this nutrient):
- Red chili peppers (fresh or dried) - Most Eclectus relish hot red peppers and they are rich in beta carotene; so including dried hot chili peppers in a dry food mix will be a constant source of a safe and natural form of vitamin A.
- Broccoli leaves; broccoli flowers - as well as dandelion greens and other dark leafy greens are rich sources of beta carotene and are, therefore, highly recommended for parrot health.
- Carrots - Many birds also enjoy fresh carrot juice - or try offering shredded carrots.
- Sweet potatoes
- Turnip leaves, Collards, Endive, Spinach, Canteloupe
- Egg yolks - Laurella Desborough, www.eclectusbreeder.com, advises as follows "Eggs should NOT be offered more than twice a month. Vet experience and breeder experience is that eclectus parrots (and other parrots) fed boiled eggs on a routine weekly basis develop serious problems with high cholesterol and subsequently arteriosclerosis and die young!"
- Mango and Papaya
Sprouting represents an excellent method (and most certainly one of the most cost-effective) of providing nutrient-dense (living) foods to birds.
Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by "seed addicts" than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process - thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.Soaked and germinated "oil" seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while "starch" seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.Note: Sprouted seeds should be limited to only a few times per week for "Hormonal" birds or those suffering from kidney disease. If your pet suffers from kidney disease, high-protein food items such as sprouts should be discussed with your vet.
Sprouting is easy ... You can also germinate the sprouting mix - rather than going through the process of sprouting, which may be somewhat intimidating initially. Germinated seeds offer their own unique sets of valuable nutrition and are quicker to obtain and less likely to spoil.
Additionally, provide a high-quality "large parrot" dry food mix (as always, variety is the key). Dr. Harvey's Bird Food Mixes or Lafeber are convenient options that lack many of the harmful additives that are commonly found in commercial mixes and have a great variety of quality ingredients (including dried fruits, veggies, herbs / greens and even superfoods, such as bee pollen!) - in short: myriad nourishing ingredients that are not found in other commercially available bird mixes.
However, our biggest grievance with their products is that they use sulphurated dried produce (a process which also requires chemicals), but it is very difficult to find mixes with unsulphurated fruits and veggies. You could just buy the seeds, nuts and grain mix and buy human-grade unsulphurated dried produce / greens as well as bee pollen and mix them in. Even organic trail mixes (WITHOUT CHOCOLATE!) work great. With a little creativity you can put a mix together that offers superior nutrition without the chemicals typically found in commercial brands.
- Laurella Desborough, www.eclectusbreeder.com, advises as follows:
- " I would NOT be recommending ANY COLORED PELLETS ever. Eclectus parrots often are unable to correctly make red feathers if they are fed colored pellets. They end up with yellow stripes on red feathers, whole yellow feathers, and even their black beaks turn light colored, if they consume enough colored pellets!