Offer a pellet from your fingers as a treat (if your bird is used to taking treats from your fingers that is) and go ahead and try one yourself so the bird can see. I’m serious – try it yourself. Your bird shouldn’t be expected to eat anything that you wouldn’t eat yourself.
I’ve mixed pellets in with cereal too, especially a good, healthy, low sugar type. Try crushing them into an all natural yogurt or baby food of mixed vegetables, sweet potatoes, squash or the like. One of our macaws started to love them when she found them in with her blueberries and other cut up fruit.
I’ve found it’s not a good idea to mix the pellets in with the seeds, but be creative otherwise.
One warning is that if you mix the pellets in with anything wet or even make a ‘mush’ out of the pellets using plain water, a natural, low sugar fruit juice – you must remove the dish (must!) after an hour or two, tops. There’s too much chance for bacterial growth in wet foods and this only makes a problem worse.
Sprouting fresh seed for vitamin and enzyme loaded greens for your bird is easy. The rumors about it being dangerous, often referring to fungal contamination or bacteria, are greatly exaggerated and not a concern when sprouting is done right.
Soaking seeds in an even cleaner environment can be effected by adding 1 tablespoon of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) to a gallon of plain water and then using that water to soak the seeds.
When rinsing the sprouts, use a fresh batch of treated water.
One of the very best and most comprehensive guides I’ve seen on sprouting, including detailed instructions and explanations of the different kinds of seeds and nuts is here
For overall feeding and nutrition for your bird, this is a pretty extensive resource that includes homemade recipes that are for both birds and their owners to share
Grey’s have a tendency to develop what can only be described as allergic reactions.
There are different possible causes.
Rhinitis (inflammation of the nares/nostrils). There would likely be a nasal discharge involved that may be clear, cloudy or yellowish; thick or thin. The underlying cause may be anything from viral to bacterial or fungal. It could also be a reaction to a foreign object, which could be as common as dust or other bird’s feathers/dander.
Also try installing a vaporizer (as opposed to a humidifier) in the room. The hot steamy air can be helpful to both feather quality and respiratory tracts. There are also cool mist vaporizers that make more sense in summer.
Vacuuming instead of just sweeping or dusting, needs to be done daily. It might sound like a lot of work, but when done on a regular basis it’s really not so bad. I do it twice a day to help one of the permanent residents, a wonderful macaw with acute allergies. She’s improved quite noticeably with these efforts.
Calcium Deficiency Disorder is rather common in African Grey’s. It’s not that they need more calcium than any other bird (though this is a popular myth), they seem to have more severe reactions to lower calcium levels than many other birds.
You may see imbalance, falling, what appears to be fainting and even seizures.
It’s not suggested that you use calcium supplements since over dosing on calcium is also a possibility that will produce dangerous results.
The first thing you should do is have a vet check your bird’s BCL (blood calcium level).
With avians, blood calcium levels are deceptive. They will often fall within the normal range (8.0 - 13.0 mg/dl), so an ionized calcium level needs to be done.
If it’s low, the vet may offer options. Your own options are to feed a pellet diet for the most part of the bird’s nutritional needs. Supplement fresh foods with higher calcium foods like almonds, natural cheese, natural yogurt and even offering a (cooked) chicken leg with a bit of the meat left on it (no skin, no spices). There’s something a bit curious about watching a parrot snap a chicken bone and expertly dig out the marrow with their tongue.
I try to offer this treat about once a week.
You can also give an original formulation Tums, although I’ve never had to do this. ½ tab a day or every other day. Some birds eat these like it’s a treat. The fruit flavored types are fine as well, but be sure it’s nothing more than an antacid (calcium) product. You don’t want aspirin or other drugs added.
In order to properly process calcium in their system, birds need adequate D vitamins too. Ideally this is from natural sunlight, but these days with more energy efficient windows, much of the UVA and UVB rays are blocked.
A full spectrum light bulb in the area of your bird for at least two hours a day is a good idea. Not all full spectrum light-bulbs are necessarily the same. It’s best to buy one made specifically for birds and keep in mind that though the light might come on, after many months the efficiency may be down.
I replace them once a year. If you consider it a lightbulb, it’s expensive; but, if you remind yourself it’s a piece of the sun and a health product for your bird - it’s a bargain.
You can see more about Calcium, D, and more here
Have your vet perform a blood serum test for zinc levels (just in case your vet isn’t an avian vet, zinc levels over 2 ppm are positive for zinc toxicity). There will also likely be elevated WBC’s (white blood count).
Zinc can be ingested slowly over time when toys, clasps, chains, links or even cages are chewed on or played with. Other poisonings occur when the bird actually swallows a toy, link or piece of one. Watch out for bell clappers for instance.
Metal toxicity (lead, zinc being most commonly found). Quick links, cage bars, even professionally supplied toys, depending on where they're manufactured, may contain lead and/or zinc. It's frightening to learn how many sources of zinc there are in any household. If anything in your bird's environment is magnetic, it may be a toxic metal.
. I strongly suggest getting regular weights.
A gram scale is one of the best investments a bird owner can make since many illnesses are not noticed until pretty far along. With a regular weight monitoring, you’ll know when a weight loss (or gain) trend occurs and may be able to stave off serious problems by catching them early.
I weigh everyone every Saturday morning, right after a dropping. They’ve come to expect it and happily step up on the scale when it’s their turn.
For more ideas and options at conversion, take a look at these links. There are as many ‘right ways’ as there are individuals.