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Sunflower seeds... The dreaded addiction.


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Hey all,

 

I know this subject has to have come up many times before but I'm not seeing it directly addressed, and sunflower is too common a word to search for effectively.

 

My 4 mo old CAG weaned himself at the breeders. I brought him home and though he will eat most "treats" I give him (applesauce, juice, bread, squash,etc) it seems that when it comes to eating on his own in the cage he will only pick out the sunflower seeds. The food I have him on, which is the same that the breeder had him on, is a bag of Exact Rainbow and a seed mix. The problem is the seed mix has a decent percentage of sunflower seeds.

 

I'm curious as to if I make food a regularly scheduled event, in limited quantities, and for limited time if he will start eating more of everything? The only reason I hesitate to try this is as some of you may have seen in the health forum he'd gotten into some detergent just before I brought him home (Monday) causing a slight topical infection/irritation. I don't want to put him at any more points of risk than necessary right now until he's properly settled in and get this cleared up. On a further note the vet tech and dr. Both said he was a little on the heavy side. Not overweight, just heavier than average. My Breeder says she typically likes to send them home that way in the event that they fluctuate weight in their new environment, they have some leeway.

 

For now I'm going to try the limited time and quantity on a schedule approach and see how it goes.

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thanks for the tip. Though that's not really the problem I'm having. I can't really change his whole diet on him right now, or that quickly. I'm just trying to figure out how to get him to eat all of the food I have for him (what he's been on). Eventually I'll probably transition him over to something like Harrison's or Lafeber's for his pellet, and veggies and fruit etc with a few seeds mixed in.

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Good catch recognizing the dreaded sunflower addiction. Many people don't realize their bird's filling up on as many of them as possible & not eating other things unless they're still hungry once they're gone.

 

I agree that it's better to wait until you feel he's fully recovered from the move & the detergent episode before breaking his habit. He'll be ok as he is for a while & you are getting him to eat other things too.

 

In the meantime, you might want to start feeding the other things first thing in the AM. If he's eating whatever you feed him, then just wait until later in the day before giving him seed. You can reduce his seed portions gradually. You can also pick at least some of the sunflower seeds out of the mix & save them for bribery, if you want.

 

If he's reluctant to accept other foods earlier in the day, you can try sprinkling his dish w/just a little seed. Maybe see if he'll go for sesame, fresh or dried pepper seeds. Then you could use those rather than his mix.

 

But I should probably warn you that he may start tossing things while he's looking for every last sunflower seed. So you might want to start experimenting w/smaller portions at first. Less clean up, less waste. Just make really sure he's getting enough to eat while you're working this out.

 

Eventually, you can wean him over to a safflower mix, like Janet suggested. You can buy a new mix, now & start to introduce it by adding a little to his current mix. Then you can very gradually add more safflower mix & less of the old mix until he just doesn't have anymore sunflower seeds in the bowl. :confused:

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Hey all,

 

I know this subject has to have come up many times before but I'm not seeing it directly addressed, and sunflower is too common a word to search for effectively.

 

My 4 mo old CAG weaned himself at the breeders. I brought him home and though he will eat most "treats" I give him (applesauce, juice, bread, squash,etc) it seems that when it comes to eating on his own in the cage he will only pick out the sunflower seeds. The food I have him on, which is the same that the breeder had him on, is a bag of Exact Rainbow and a seed mix. The problem is the seed mix has a decent percentage of sunflower seeds.

 

I'm curious as to if I make food a regularly scheduled event, in limited quantities, and for limited time if he will start eating more of everything? The only reason I hesitate to try this is as some of you may have seen in the health forum he'd gotten into some detergent just before I brought him home (Monday) causing a slight topical infection/irritation. I don't want to put him at any more points of risk than necessary right now until he's properly settled in and get this cleared up. On a further note the vet tech and dr. Both said he was a little on the heavy side. Not overweight, just heavier than average. My Breeder says she typically likes to send them home that way in the event that they fluctuate weight in their new environment, they have some leeway.

 

For now I'm going to try the limited time and quantity on a schedule approach and see how it goes.

 

This is concerning 2 things that you talked about.

 

1---Breeders can't fluctuate a grey's weight for selling purposes when selling the bird. It's impossible to do. The bird's weight is what it is. When a breeder says he keeps or makes them a little heavier in case there's weight fluctuation isn't being truthful. There's no way to increase a grey's weight before selling the bird. There's no way to lessen a healthy bird's weight either. A bird thats sold that suffers from malnutrition will weight less than normal.

 

2--Greys aren't prone to getting overweight. Weight wise, the biggest problem is weight loss, not weight gain. Weight loss happens when a bird is sick or not given enough food to eat. Other species of parrots are prone to weight gain and others such as greys aren't. It's very hard to put poundage on a grey. It takes a long time to do that.

The weight of a grey is judged by by the original size and bone structure of the parent birds. There's small, medium and large greys and all will have different standard weights. The same applies to TAGs.

 

This is Smokey and he weighs 564 grams and his parents weigh even more. All the chicks that come from his parents have weighed between 550 to 575 grams. That's because the parents are large greys.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v50/DaveVP/P1010024-.jpg

Edited by Dave007
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  • 1 year later...

There are few things that I see so often that get my to the point I can't stop myself from correcting the errors. First: The myth that birds will get fatty liver if they eat too many sunflower seeds. Fatty Liver is the layman's term for Steatohepatitis. You won't know if your bird has steatohepatitis unless you have an avian vet draw blood and test your bird's liver enzymes.

 

When we first got our U2, he was malnourished to the weight of my Timneh Grey. He was scary thin, having been fed a diet of peanuts and squirrel food exclusively. His first vet visit was within 2 days of getting him and his labs were not encouraging; his liver enzymes were bad. No more peanuts. The vet wanted him on pellets. I want to be a skinny rich blonde. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen. Frankly, things were going to get worse before they got better. Finding food that was healthy AND the bird would eat was like finding a needle in a haystack. Nothing I tried worked; and I tried everything. Harrison's, Higgins, Zoo-preme, raw fruits and veggies, etc. I still had a half bucket of Nutri Berries left from our Senegal who passed at 14, and I put a few in his bowl. I almost cried when I saw him eating them. And slowly, his weight started to go up. I never had a problem with my TAG, she eats everything. Over time, I noticed that the longer we had him, and the healthier he got, the more likely he was to take risks with food. He would sample the Higgins, and he would never miss an opportunity to have some pizza. I added some sunflower and safflower seeds to one of his bowls. He ate the sunflower and safflower seeds. He also started eating some of the Higgins.

 

Now, with his weight closer to normal than it's been in who knows how long, I watch his eating habits and see that he's pretty much abandoned the nutri-berries (good thing I ordered 20 pounds huh). But he seldom finishes a bowl of sunflower seeds. I check the bowl daily to see how many seeds are left vs shells and the bowl can last several days. I have to conclude that if addiction was an issue, he would eat only the seeds and nothing else. For the record, I give him about a quarter cup of Sunflower seeds and that lasts about 3 days along with his other food.

 

Whenever I read posts about the evils of Sunflower seeds, I keep waiting for someone to point out the benefits. They never do. So I will point out the benefits of Sunflower seeds which comes directly from Livestrong "Sunflower seeds may be small in size, but they contain a surprisingly large amount of nutrition, including vitamin E, fiber, folic acid and especially protein. Not only can sunflower seeds be part of a healthy diet as snacks and an ingredient in other foods, research is showing they may also have important health benefits." How does your bird get it's protein? If you use egg products, they get a little protein there, but egg yolk, the part that has the protein, is very, very dangerous. I feed it very sparingly and I'm rethinking offering it at all. Dr. David Spence published his most recent study of more than 1,200 people found egg consumption accelerates atherosclerosis or plaque build up on arteries. He claims the cholesterol found in the yolk is almost as dangerous as smoking. He said the culprit is the cholesterol found in the yolk, which is 237 mgs in a jumbo egg." So which is the lesser of two evils? Both contain protein, folic acid, omega 3 acids and vitamins. But eggs also have cholesterol.

 

So, when considering an addiction to one of the world's healthiest foods, sunflower seeds, keep in mind that sunflower seeds contain large amounts of Vitamin E which is an important anti-oxidant, it also lowers cholesterol through the phytosterols they contain. Eggs have zero Vitamin E. Sunflower seeds also contain magnesium which counterbalances calcium, thus helping to regulate nerve and muscle tone. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as Nature's own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve. Sunflower seeds also have Selenium. Studies on animal models of cancer has suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.

 

Sunflower seeds are high in calories and one cup contains 72 grams of fat and 800 calories. But who feeds that much to their birds daily?

 

Finally, Steatohepatitis aka "Fatty Liver" is most often associated to alcoholism and obesity. When not associated with alcohol, it is referred to as Non Alcoholic Steato Hepatitis (NASH). Not everybody who is alcoholic get Steatohepatitis, and not everybody who gets Fatty Liver eats sunflower seeds.

 

If you are concerned, have your bird's liver enzymes tested annually, or semi-annually.

 

Hey all,

 

I know this subject has to have come up many times before but I'm not seeing it directly addressed, and sunflower is too common a word to search for effectively.

 

My 4 mo old CAG weaned himself at the breeders. I brought him home and though he will eat most "treats" I give him (applesauce, juice, bread, squash,etc) it seems that when it comes to eating on his own in the cage he will only pick out the sunflower seeds. The food I have him on, which is the same that the breeder had him on, is a bag of Exact Rainbow and a seed mix. The problem is the seed mix has a decent percentage of sunflower seeds.

 

I'm curious as to if I make food a regularly scheduled event, in limited quantities, and for limited time if he will start eating more of everything? The only reason I hesitate to try this is as some of you may have seen in the health forum he'd gotten into some detergent just before I brought him home (Monday) causing a slight topical infection/irritation. I don't want to put him at any more points of risk than necessary right now until he's properly settled in and get this cleared up. On a further note the vet tech and dr. Both said he was a little on the heavy side. Not overweight, just heavier than average. My Breeder says she typically likes to send them home that way in the event that they fluctuate weight in their new environment, they have some leeway.

 

For now I'm going to try the limited time and quantity on a schedule approach and see how it goes.

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Welcome Evie and thanks for this post. I posted several times about the nutrition values at various times on this forum when it comes up. They are not "Evil Food". I agree with you wholeheartedly. My grey and conure has sunflower seeds mixed in with their birdseed and harrison's pellets mixed each day when I prepare the seed and veggy bowls. Most the time many sunflower seeds are left untouched, somedays maybe a quarter or half are eaten.

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I don't worry about my birds getting sunflower seeds like Dan, it is in their seed mix. Rikki my cag LOVES them, Talon my tag, doesn't like them. Taln loves safflower tho. rikki, not so much. Then there is Nilah, she eats anything!

Edited by Talon
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Dayo eats all the safflower seeds as well. In watching him and jakes eating habits over the years, the various seeds and nut quantities consumed and type change depending on whether that are molting or not. Instinct is a powerful driving factor in all birds. They both consume more sunflower seeds and nuts like almonds, walnuts and dry roasted non-salted peanuts when they are molting. The same is true of fruits and veggies they consume more of depending on the time of year.

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The most picked on seed in parrot mix that causes debates is sunflower seed. Sunflower seed is in just about every parrot mix made today. Whenever the subject of parrot mix comes up, it usually has to do with a parrot's daily diet. With some parrots, sunflower seed might contribute to obesity if that particular species is prone to obesity such as amazons and ( very few other species). Parrots who are prone to obesity need a lot more excersize. Many people don't do that. Other debates have to do with what nutritional values sunflower seeds actually has. Some people are totally against giving those seeds. Others find it okay to give in moderation. Others buy parrot mix that has safflower seeds in it as opposed to sunflower seeds. Because parrots enjoy eating sunflower seed as well as other seeds in parrot mix, some people believe that it hampers the act of changing a parrot mix diet to a pellet diet. Other people believe it slows down the parrot's desire to accept fruit and veggies. Sometimes, a small bit of information can grow out of hand and spread. I don't pick out the sunflower or saflower seeds from a bag of seed. The only thing I watch out for are tiny seed bugs that are sometimes in seed mix. I simply take the food and stick it in the freezer and they die. For all I know, the birds eat them too.

Sunflower seed has received a bad rap over the years when it comes to the dietary needs of birds. But keep in mind, years ago, there were not the sophisticated seed blends that there are today and many people would just provide sunflower as the only seed source for their birds. If this was the case, then yes, sunflower would not be balanced nutrition for any bird. But today, we have seed manufacturers that spend time and money on research in order to create balanced seed blends that include seveal other ingredients more than just seed. Some have pellets, dried fruit and vegetables, nuts, grains, vitamin and mineral enhancements added to the seed mix.

There are seed mixes that are void of sunflower, and in it's place, safflower is substituted. Safflower is a good seed also, but not very different in it's composition compared to sunflower. But because it's NOT sunflower it is more widely accepted. Most of today's parrot mixes are very nutritious and should be a part of every birds diet. The optimum words being "part of."

Along with seed there should be pellets ( maybe), fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc to make what could be described as a balanced diet.

Nutrition is very much a debatable issues when it comes to birds and no one will ever be in complete agreement with what is the best diet for any of the birds we keep. The idea is to offer a wide variety of nutritous foods and hope to develop good eating habits with your bird.

All of the above is just my opinion but it's been my experience that parrots don't have a shorter life span if they only eat parrot mix. I own a couple of birds that refuse to eat fruit and veggies. At this time, nothing I do would change their minds. They're perfectly healthy, active, feisty and sometimes, big pains in the ass.

I also believe that parrot mix should be available in their cages all day because parrots and other wild birds don't eat the same way that people do. Fruits and veggies should be given but I always tell people not to get overly upset when they won't accept pellets.

Many parrots just don't like pellets. Loads of people will confirm that. Vets are starting to change their minds concerning the value of pellets

What I say to people who are getting overly upset when pellets aren't accepted is this---'in the wild where there are flocks of parrots getting ready to fly off to get their everyday basic food, do you think that they're gonna purposely avoid their natural food and try to find out where that * pellet tree* is located?' It just doesn't exist.

I've raised parrots before pellets were invented and I've never had any problems. The parents ate sunflower seeds. The chicks came out fine. I feel that a varied mixed diet of parrot seed, veggies, fruit and various human food is the best way to go but again, this is just my opinion based on true experiences.

I thank Evie for her post but I know people aren't gonna agree with me and I totally accept that. People need to feel good about their birds cause that * feel good* process has to do with the *love process*.

Sorry for the long post but I agree with Evie and I'm greatful that she listed ingredients in sunflower. Addiction?? The only thing my birds are addicted to are being pains in the ass.

Edited by Dave007
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Yes, it carries a lot of weight in mine as well. Like many here, I do the best I can to provide Timber with a variety of food. Pellets? Not happening. Like the children most of us have raised, they will eat what they will eat and no amount of coaxing is going to change their minds. The only commercial food I've found that Timber will eat is nutriberries. Not ideal perhaps, but his weight is acceptable now (though still on the low side). He eats a bit of fresh vegetable most days from his skewer. He eats a little of the Higgins Mundo Brazil cooked mix I offer him daily. He eats a little seed (yes, as Dave mentioned I'm using safflower based though I'm not sure that is necessary or advisable either), and eats several nuts a day (some in the shell, some not). He picks at the seeds I sprout for him. He will often eat a bit of cooked sweet potato and a bite of the birdie bread that I sneak some veggies into. He gets his quarter slice of whole wheat toast spread with a bit of peanut butter every morning. Sometimes he eats some of it, sometimes not. I boil egg or chicken wing for him sometimes (not every day) and he either does or doesn't eat those. There are a couple of things he will always eat, namely bacon, sausage, hamburger and cheese. Obviously, he doesn't get a lot of that. I give him whatever we are having if it doesn't contain anything he can't have, and he often picks at that. Chop? Forget that too, not happening. Having said that, I still keep sticking things in his bowls hoping that at some point he will give it a shot or change his mind. I'm not losing sleep over it anymore though. In the end, we do the best we can. With a picky bird you have to live with the progress you do make. I'm sure that he eats better now than he did before I rehomed him, and that has to be good enough. The vet is satisfied with his health and appearance. She says he is on the thin side, but that appears to be his natural weight since he is healthy so not to worry about it.

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Yes, it carries a lot of weight in mine as well. Like many here, I do the best I can to provide Timber with a variety of food. Pellets? Not happening. Like the children most of us have raised, they will eat what they will eat and no amount of coaxing is going to change their minds. The only commercial food I've found that Timber will eat is nutriberries. Not ideal perhaps, but his weight is acceptable now (though still on the low side). He eats a bit of fresh vegetable most days from his skewer. He eats a little of the Higgins Mundo Brazil cooked mix I offer him daily. He eats a little seed (yes, as Dave mentioned I'm using safflower based though I'm not sure that is necessary or advisable either), and eats several nuts a day (some in the shell, some not). He picks at the seeds I sprout for him. He will often eat a bit of cooked sweet potato and a bite of the birdie bread that I sneak some veggies into. He gets his quarter slice of whole wheat toast spread with a bit of peanut butter every morning. Sometimes he eats some of it, sometimes not. I boil egg or chicken wing for him sometimes (not every day) and he either does or doesn't eat those. There are a couple of things he will always eat, namely bacon, sausage, hamburger and cheese. Obviously, he doesn't get a lot of that. I give him whatever we are having if it doesn't contain anything he can't have, and he often picks at that. Chop? Forget that too, not happening. Having said that, I still keep sticking things in his bowls hoping that at some point he will give it a shot or change his mind. I'm not losing sleep over it anymore though. In the end, we do the best we can. With a picky bird you have to live with the progress you do make. I'm sure that he eats better now than he did before I rehomed him, and that has to be good enough. The vet is satisfied with his health and appearance. She says he is on the thin side, but that appears to be his natural weight since he is healthy so not to worry about it.

 

***I'm using safflower based though I'm not sure that is necessary or advisable either),***

There's nothing wrong with safflower. Give all you want.

Nuts---Great!! almonds, walnuts, human grade roasted peanuts, hazel nuts, brazil nuts ( although used more so with macaws, because brazils need to be really cracked with a strong beak. Sometimes even people can't crack them.

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He won't eat brazil or hazelnuts even if I crack them for him. Stinker. He does eat the almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts and cashews (roasted, no salt) though. The pine nuts and cashews are a bed time treat. The almonds and walnuts I hide in his forage stuff. I do have to use the nutcracker and get them started though. He won't eat anything or even try if it is really hard. In fact, he won't chew wood much but prefers cardboard. Not sure if that is because he is a small Timneh or just a preference!

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He won't eat brazil or hazelnuts even if I crack them for him. Stinker. He does eat the almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts and cashews (roasted, no salt) though. The pine nuts and cashews are a bed time treat. The almonds and walnuts I hide in his forage stuff. I do have to use the nutcracker and get them started though. He won't eat anything or even try if it is really hard. In fact, he won't chew wood much but prefers cardboard. Not sure if that is because he is a small Timneh or just a preference!

 

Oh, I didn't know he was a TAG. No, they're not into chewing wood very much. Sometimes, they do like to knock it around especially if the wood is hanging and has a bell attached. Then my TAG gets very aggressive with these things and then sleeps with the toys surrounding him. My Tag loves to shred stringy hanging toys . Basically, he loves to get mock viscious with his toys. He also gets very nasty with a hard plastic cup on the grating. He's learned how to dislodge it from the holder.

PS---congrats on being able to crack that brazil. You must be a very strong willed woman who's used to getting her way ALL THE TIME!!. Maybe people even fear you. After all, if you can do a brazil, what's a human skull??

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LOL! Uh... I'm not using my teeth ;) Yes, Timber loves his plastic cup. He gets almost frenzied chasing it around the bottom of the cage. It is light enough that when he strikes it it bounces around, which just thrills him no end. What a big, bad bird he is! At least my woodwork seems safe. Any shipping box that comes to the house isn't though. He will shred corrugated cardboard practically to dust and enjoys every minute of it. I posted a pic recently of him inside a rather small box working away.

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Good to see this thread revived. Lots of good humor along with excellent advice. Gosh I love this forum. I hadn't thought much about sunflower seeds because it just wasn't something that attracted Gilbert. Then, after reading all the benefits, I wondered if he might be missing something. We use almonds every night for a bedtime snack because the vet suggested it was a good calcium source. We do keep pellets on hand and I just went to get the bag and read the ingredients because I thought sunflower seeds were in there. As it turns out, we use Harrison's lifetime coarse and the first ingredient on the list is sunflower seeds. Little did I know I was providing such good nutrition.

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When Cricket our amazon came home to live with us. she had a sunflower seed addiction, but as soon as I added new foods she took to it right away with out a hitch.

Now she won`t even look at a sunflower seed.

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