Chapter 5 – Now, Who Will Eat Them?

Experience has shown that between 70 and 90 percent of the birds introduced to sprouts enthusiastically eat them the very first time. When I introduced sprouts to my flock, nine out of 13 birds were in this category. These included two out of three budgerigars, a pair of scarlet-chested parakeets, a pair of Amboina king parrots, one of two blue and gold macaws, and a green-cheek and white-eyed conure.

Worth at Aves International says, “You have to treat birds like children—make sure they eat their broccoli. It’s easier to convert a bird to eating sprouts than people think it is. Often times it’s the people who are concerned about trying something new. Whenever I acquire a new bird, he is fed what all my other birds eat—a diet that is as close as we can get to what they would eat in nature—and I’ve never had a bird refuse to eat.”

Expectations

Worth is right. Often times it is a person’s opinion or attitude that influences the behavior of a parrot or other
companion animal under their care. Why do some birds readily accept sprouts being introduced into their diet while others do not?

Several factors influence this condition. In my experience, animals—and especially parrots—are quite capable of making decisions based on prior experiences they have had. They do this in a manner much like people do. And, like us, the animals then make conscious choices regarding a variety of situations.

So, based on a parrot’s expectations, and previous experiences, he will have beliefs and behavior patterns that have developed from these encounters. Because of this, each individual will have their own range of possible behaviors when responding to a given situation.

What are your expectations about how your bird, dog, or cat will respond to something new?

For a very long time, information has been available regarding how strongly our thoughts, expectations, and beliefs actually affect and create the experiences we have. In understanding this phenomenon, we have come a long way from Norman Vincent Peale and the power of positive thinking. So how does this apply to helping your birds readily accept the addition of sprouts to their diet?

When we think, we automatically form pictures in our mind’s eye. If you’re reviewing how your greenwing macaw, Sam, always tosses any new food item across the room, as you think these thoughts, you have a very detailed action film running through your mind. Animals see these mental pictures we inherently create and act upon them. Simply because we think about a behavior our bird, dog, or cat has done, he automatically thinks we want him to do more of that particular behavior. Why? Because we’re concentrating on it, and what we focus on expands.

When working to improve the quality of a behavior, especially when introducing sprouts into the diet, always focus on and think about the result you actually want to see occur. If you catch your thoughts wandering, take a breath and refocus.

Review the image in your mind of Sam curiously investigating the sprouts in his food dish. Envision his response as he tastes one. See his eyes pin, meaning, “WOW this is good”. Hear him say, “Mmmm!” Expect to walk by the food dish later that day and see it empty—every sprout having been eaten.

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