Canary / Finch / Small Bird Diets*
Formulated Canary / Finch / Small Bird Dry Food Diets Available Online
- Base Diet: Feeding finches is easy. They will survive on just plain canary seed for some time. But a one-sided diet will cause them to be more susceptible to diseases and less productive as breeders.
For good health they need a balanced and varied diet, which should include a quality dry food / seeds and greens. You can also buy quality mixes online (both WITH Seeds and WITHOUT) ...
- Vets often recommend a good quality formulated diet - the most common is Harrison's. It is one of the better formulated pellets, but one drawback is that it is mostly available at vets' offices. Also, as is the case with pellets in general, acceptance may be an issue. Besides, finches and canaries so enjoy REAL food, that I personally dislike the concept of feeding pellets. I also worry about synthetic additives that can be found in many formulated feeds and "hotspots" of additives due to poorly balanced manufacturing equipment leading to toxic levels.
- Calcium / Mineral Blocks: Birds should always have access to minerals, including calcium.
This is particularly important for maintaining a health calcium level in your breeding finches.
- You could provide a dish filled with crushed egg shell (from boiled eggs to kill any bacteria) and/or attach a calcium / mineral block to the cage.
- However, in order to absorb calcium properly, Vitamin D3 is needed. Vitamin D is normally produced in the skin through ultraviolet rays obtained via daylight / sun exposure. Indoor birds, or during the winter time in the northern hemisphere when not sufficient sunlight exposure can be obtained, appropriate indoor lighting / full-spectrum lighting can make up for the lack of natural sunlight.
- Supplements that include both Vitamin D3 and calcium are also available.
- Protein - especially important for breeding birds, and should also be available to hens in the spring prior to the breeding season.
- Mealworms are a great and inexpensive choice -- but for those who don't like the idea of feeding insects and worms, a high-protein nestling food is acceptable.
- Shelled hemp seeds (aka Hemp Heart) are comparable in size and consistency to chopped sesame seeds. They have virtually the highest concentrated balance of proteins, fats, vitamins and enzymes. As they are a significant source of protein, they are used to bring canaries and finches into breeding condition and to advance song. Breeders also provide a little hemp during the molt when birds need extra protein to replace molted feathers.
- 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: Birds that have a tendency towards developing gout should be fed a diet low in protein. Plant based protein is not as likely to induce gout, but it can - if fed in large amounts. A diet too high in protein diet can also put a pet bird into breeding or hormonal mode.
Vegetables and fruits should be part of a pet or aviary bird's daily diet. This includes apples, grapes, many garden vegetables such as spinach, watercress, field lettuce, poppy, chickweed, dandelions, carrots, corn on the cob, peas, endives and sweet potatoes.
- Greens: Greens such as dandelion, ChickWeed or Thistle, or salad greens, such as Buk Choy, Lettuce or Cabbage, should be fed daily if possible. Just a little - if you have a single bird as you don't want to upset their metabolism.
- Convenient Sources of Fruits / Veggies:
- Baby Food: Human baby food with fruits & vegetables (i.e. Gerbers)
- Dry Fruits / Veggies: When fresh fruits and vegetables are not available, dehydrated fruits and vegetables work wonderfully. Many birds love their crunchiness, or they toss them into their water dish (creating a "soup" of some sorts) and then eat them once they are rehydrated. Be prepared to change the water more often throughout the day. Dried fruits & vegetables have the advantage that they don't go off. You could literally leave them in their cages for days (unless they get wet, of course). This surely comes in handy when traveling. Dried fruits & veggies also help convert "seed junkies" to a healthier diet. When you are at home, you can moisten the dried fruits & veggies with warm water to rehydrate them. Birds tend to LOVE warm fruits & veggies, maybe because it gives them flashbacks to the times when they were chicks and were fed warm regurgitated food by their bird parents.
- It is important to keep in mind that some companies add artificial coloring to their dried fruits and veggies to make them visually appealing.
- Only purchase naturally dried fruits without any sulfur dioxide, as this preservative is known to increase hyperactivity, aggressiveness, feather shredding or picking due to allergies.
GRIT: Your finches and canaries need grit. It could be crushed stone or shell grit. The grit is used by the finch in the gut as part of the digestion. I use shell grit because of the calcium which is essential when breeding.
EGG and BISCUIT: During the breeding season you should feed "egg and biscuit" mix - which the parents need to feed the chicks with. I boil some eggs, mash the hard-boiled eggs, including their shells (which are a great source of calcium) with a potato smasher, add soaked wholewheat bread and mix it well. Canaries and finches absolutely LOVE it!. You can buy dry mixes at the store. But I enjoyed giving them the freshly made batches. Give first thing in the morning - before feeding anything else. Remove after 30 minutes or so - as it will go off fairly quickly, especially in the summer heat.
WATER: It is essential to have clean water available at all times ... Converting Seed Junkies
- Very important for molting, stressed or sickly birds, chicks or elderly pets, as well as those who have recently undergone antibiotic treatments. Antibiotics destroy "friendly" bacteria in the gut, allowing harmful pathogens to grow unchecked. Probiotics suppress the growth of potentially harmful organisms and boost the immune system. Acidophillus also helps to restore the microbial balance within the digestive tract. The probiotic strains acidophilus and bifidum release anti-fungal enzymes and alkalinize the body, so pathogens, such as candida (a big problem with chicks and stressed birds), can't flourish.
- Avi-Culture® - The #1 Probiotic that actually works!! A Live Probiotic Specifically Developed for the Avian Gut and Intestine
- Yogurt not a good alternative: The live cultures found in yogurt are beneficial to the humans; however, these strains are different from those found in the gut and intestines of birds and, therefore, cannot provide the clinical therapeutic gut recolonizing strength needed. Opinions differ, but some experts recommend against feeding yogurt to birds, as the colonies may indeed be harmful to them.
Never feed: caffeinated drinks, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, pits of most fruits, avocado ... More on "toxic foods"
|Foods to Feed Only in Moderation:||
|Foods you may consider NOT feeding||*Peanuts are often contaminated with aflatoxin, a fungal toxin. Aflatoxin is carcinogenic and causes liver damage in birds and other animals. Roasting reduces aflatoxin but does not eliminate it entirely. North American peanut producers are currently working on eliminating contaminated peanuts from their products. Especially peanuts with dark spots on them should be considered suspect, but even those that look clean and perfect could possibly be contaminated.|
|Foods to NEVER Feed:||