Lovebird Journal Entires on Diet

The Diet Entries

Last updated July 31, 2004

This research in this section deals with the importance of diet for breeding birds. A varied diet is crucial in order to successfully breed Lovebird parrots.

June 13th, 2004 - 5:46 PM

Had an interview with Diana Holloway and I summarized some articles.

[Below is the interview, then the summary of the article. I had to summarize articles for the research project at school.]


Diana Holloway interview on June 13, 2004

Diana Holloway is director of the Mid-Eastern region of the American Federation of Aviculture, as well as the President of the National Amazona Society.

I had contacted her regarding the deaths of the babies I had raised. Below are some suggestions she had given me over the telephone:

- "Rule out infection before you do anything. Necropsies should be done after any bird dies."

- "People who sell pellets tell you that pellets are the only food birds need to eat. People also say that if you have a Lexus, you don't need to ever worry about purchasing, or using another car. Well, obviously these people are wrong. The truth is that birds don't need pellets, they need fresh fruits, vegetables, and seed. Pellets are also a good food to add along with the other woods. Pellets with out food coloring that is."

- "Feeding your birds healthy does not have to be expensive or time consuming. Some suggestions are store brand frozen vegetables, home-made birdy bread, peanut butter. and speghetti and meatballs."

- "Feed your birds what you eat for dinner."

- "Parrots, and most other birds love seed. It's as if it is an emotional thing for them. That's why parrots are called hook bills."

- "In your case, the nest box could of had bacteria even though you said it has been washed. Nest box bacteria leads to babies getting infections."

Diana Holloway suggested that I get in contact the woman below due to the fact that she has great information about feeding seed.:

Gloria Ridgeway - Washington state - "Seeding the Feathers" -


William Fritsch

Summary #1: “Are Natural Diets Nutritional?” By Howard Voren

The article starts with a question regarding the controversy over what is the proper diet for parrots. The person asking the question is also curious about the types of foods certain birds consume in their natural habitats. Howard Voren responds to these questions by explaining that the knowledge of information gained on what certain parrot species eat in their natural setting is limited due to the immense amount of problems that come with conducting the research. However, he mentions, “the majority of parrots […] exist on a varied diet.”

A problem Voren mentions regarding the determination of what species eats in the wild is difficult considering that birds do not always consume what they put in their mouths. He also brings up that past scientists have done crop content examinations. In these types of examinations, Scientists took birds away from their natural habitats and opened their crops to see what foods they had been consuming. Although crop content examinations helped determine what certain species of parrots eat in the wild, it killed many birds in the process.

Another problem Voren mentioned was seasonal availability. Seasonal availability is defined as the availability of crops per season. This is problematic because certain seasons birds do not have access to foods with higher nutritional values than in other seasons. Therefore, when research is conducted it becomes difficult to determine which nutritional foods certain birds will eat opposed to foods they are forced to eat. In addition, if it is an “off year” and research is performed, the outcome can indicate that birds eat a food that may be non-nutritional.

Furthermore, Voren brings up the point that just because you may be feeding your bird “naturally” with fruits and vegetables, you should not automatically assume that you are feeding the healthiest diet available.


June 23, 2004 - 6:45 PM

Regents are finished! Great! [Regents are a New York State exam that test students in individual subjects.] Now I can focus on this project. I am going to summarize the article by Carol Highfill momentarily. . . That would make two completed summaries.


William Fritsch

Summary Two: “Calcium, Phosphorus, & Vitamin D3 in Your Bird’s Diet”

by Carol Highfill

This article discusses the relevance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3 in a pet parrot’s diet. The author puts a strong emphasis on balancing these three essential nutrients because if one level is greater than the other, deficiency is likely to occur.

The use of calcium in a bird’s diet is crucial considering it comprises about 1.5% of a bird’s weight. Calcium is also used for bone formation, eggshell production and blood clotting. Therefore, calcium must be offered to pet birds for their own safety. The author also mentions that too little calcium can cause demineralization of bone(fracturing), soft eggshells, and inadequate calcium levels in the blood.

According to the author, "The recommended allowance of calcium for a maintenance diet is .50%. Higher amounts are required for breeding and growth." Thus, this information is beneficial for my research project due to the fact that I plan on breeding the Lovebird parrots in September of 2004.

The author suggests that a way to provide birds with adequate levels of calcium would be to offer foods such as cheese, yogurt, bones, calcium powder sprinkled over soft foods, calcium syrup in drinking water,

and oxalted foods (spinach, rhubarb, etc), The author strongly advises to not provide pet birds with to many vitamin supplements because it can be detrimental to the bird's health.

Phosphorus is an essential vitamin known to affect more biological systems than any other element. According to Carol Highfill, "It is an important element in many body functions including bone formation, acid-base balance, metabolism of fat and carbohydrates, egg formation, and in the proteins, carbohydrates and lipids [,or fats,] used throughout the body." Moreso, the recommended allowance of availiable phosphours for a breeder's diet is over .25%

Carol says, "As much as 70% of phosphorous in the diet may be unusable by a bird. Phosphorus from animal products or inorganic supplements is almost completely usable, but phosphorus from plant sources is considered to have only about 30% availability." Therefore, instead of buying over the counter phosphoruos supplements, I must provide my birds with plants that contain this crucial element. The author includes the following foods as examples of foods high in phosphoruos: bone meal, dicalcium phosphate, corn gluten, egg, fish and meat meals, dried whey, brewer's yeast, and peanuts.

"Vitamin D3 is essential in regulating absorption and excretion of calcium and phosphorus. This is especially important when the levels (ratios of calcium and phosphours in the diet are unbalanced," says Carol. An easy way to think about the function of Vitamin D3 is to remember those tiresome days in Mr. Wantuck's biology classroom where we learned about the pituitary gland and how it regulates the actions of other endocrine glands. Both the pituitary gland and Vitamin D3 work to regulate the workings of other functioning parts.

Vitamin D3 is derived from Vitamin D and is produced in a bird's body primarily when the bird is exposed to sunlight. Therefore, it is essential to provide birds with a good amount of light for Vitamin D3 production. A major flaw of the work I had conducted earlier in the year was the lack of light in the basement room in which I decided to breed the birds in. Inconsequenitally, there was one only one 12'' X 24'' window to provide natural light, and the window is ground level to my house. In addition, some foods high in Vitamin D3 are fish liver oil, liver, fish oil, and egg yolk. More so, the recommended amount of vitamin D3 for breeding birds is above 1000 IU/kg.

Too little vitamin D3 can result in thin or soft shelled eggs, decreased egg production and hatching, and even seizures and bone fractures. Carol Highfill says, "In chicks, lack of D3 can result in bent or easily fractured bones." Therefore, the lack of Vitamin D3 in the chicks diets is primarily the reason for their deaths.

To balance calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin d3 the author suggests that a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio is applied. She states, "egg laying hens will require higher calcium to phosphorus ratios during laying periods." More so, she mentions the use of pellets in trying to balance these levels. Although she mentions this alternative, she brings brings up the point that pellets should be used with other healthy foods. This is also where I seem to have failed. I only offered pellets to the parents.


Food Ca : P [Ca = Calcium / P = Phosphorus]

Kohlrabi 1:0.56

Lettuce Dark Green Leaf 1:0.29

Orange or Tangerine 1:0.65

Collards (cooked) 1:0.40

Dandelion Greens 1:0.40

Parsley 1:.60

Beet Greens 1:0.4

Kale 1.0.3

Mustard Greens 1.0.4

Spinach 1:0.14

Poor sources of the Ca:P ratio include apricots, asparagus, bananas, beets, broccoli flowers, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cherries, corn, cucumber, eggplant, grapes, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, sweet potato, and tomato. The reason for this is because in the Ca:P ratio, the Phosphorus levels exceed the Calcium levels.

Furthermore, the article by Carol Highfill was credible considering her impressive background in working with pscittascenes and the vast amount of credible sources she got her information from. The author currently is the owner of two conures, four umbrella cockatoos, and are the creators of, Winged Wisdom, and Cockatoo Heaven websites.


8:26 PM

From reading and summarizing that information, I learned a heck of a lot! The vitamin D3, Calcium, and Phosphorous levels [when dealing with birds] seem to be the reason for the failure of the successful upbringing [of my past chicks]. Much is discussed in my summary.


No specified date on when I completed this summary.

William Fritsch

Summary # 3: "Lovebird Seeds" by the Lovebird Information Center

This article basically discusses the importance of seeds in a Lovebird's diet. The ratio that is given for lovebird seed to fruits and vegetables is .7:.3. However, based on prior knowledge of percentages of a bird's diet I am going to incorporate pellets into the seed's portion of the ratio. Furthermore, in this article the main discussion is the type of seed that should be used and how it should be used.

The author discusses the fact that most seed mixes aren't specifically made for lovebirds. Therefore, it is important to feed mixes that are suitable for small birds in general such as budgie mixes, and cockatiel mixes. However, the author strongly suggests that Budgerigar mixes are used to feed lovebirds.

Based on information Charlene Beane has given me on seed mixes and based on the information in this article, I am now going to purchase the Budgerigar mix that Charlene Beane strongly recommends titled "Pudgie Budgie". This mix is availiable at Charlene's website.

The author stronlgy suggests that seeds are kept in an area that is cool and dry due to the fact that insects will manifest themselves into the seeds. "Everytime you have to refill your lovebird's seeds, meticulously look through the seeds to see if there are any bugs or moulds in the container. If you find any larvae, insects or eggs, etiher dead or alive, throw away all the seeds immediately. If the seeds are dustry, discoloured, soft, or moldy, or if they start to germinate inside the container, throw them all away," says the authors. In addition, they mention that if any liquid or moist food is spilled into the seeds, than all of the seeds must be disposed.

Another important concept mentioned in the article was the notion of germinating birdseed. According to authors, "you can allow seeds to germinate and sprout, and then feed the seed shoots to your lovebird.[...] To germinate seeds, spread a handful of birdwseed on a wet paper towel and give it some sunlight. Mositen the towel with water every day. The seeds should sprout in a few days." From prior knowledge of feeding birds sprouts, I know that it is a very easy and healthy method of providing certain essential vitamins and minerals.

In conclusion, the article is a basic sum up of the importance of seeds in a lovebird's daily diet. The information that I obtained in this article is definitely going to be used throughout my research project and throughout the lifetime of my avian companions.


June 24, 2004 - 10:45 PM

I spoke to Charlene Beane today about my next ark article and about diet. She says the 2:1 Ca:P diet is excellent. Also, [she suggested] that I purchase some Pudgie Budgie seed from her. ALL MY BIRDS ARE CONVERTING! GOOD NUTRITION TO ALL MY PSCITTASCENES!

June 26, 2004 - 2:15 PM

Last night I cooked Thai style chicked for the birds from the exemplary Cooking Light magazine. Very nutritional!

Today all my birds received spinach, which has a 1:14 Ca to P ratio. According to Carol Highfill (article #2), this is a GOOD source of calcium.

June 27, 2004 - 6:23 PM

Fed birds spinach and jalopeno peppers. Yes, this is healthy. Also, I gave seed and pellet in a 2:1 ratio (pellet to seed).

June 30, 2004 - 1:13 AM

This morning birds received cillantro, 2:1 pellet to cockatiel seed, and cottage cheese, which Charlene recommened.

July 04, 2004 - 12:30 PM

I've been feeding a 2:1 ratio of pellet to seed and frozen vegetables. Of course, I cook the frozen vegetables.

July16, 2004 - 11:30 AM

I haven't written any entries in quite a few days, but I have been consistent on feeding the birds a varied diet. My birds are very accepting to new foods at this point.

July 17, 2004 - 5:45 PM

Seed and pellets today. Seed to Pellet in a 3:1 ratio.

July 20, 2004 - 10:14 AM

Birds received speghetti (from left over italian food <Spasso's in Wantagh, NY>, Kaytee natural pellets, Kaytee Conversion pellets, Cockatiel seed, and a breeder's specialty mix. Pictures were taken of the food. The camera is finally fixed so the use of photographs with this project will be more consistent.

July 29, 2004 - 3:21 PM

Today I have acquired a new Lovebird. This all happened at about 11:30ish AM. An old couple walked into my mother's office at the church, while I was there, with a charming little Lovebird in a bird cage. They said the bird is five months old and that I could have him because they can't handle him with the amount of work they already have at home. So I gladly accepted the offer without any further questions. They told that this bird was from Guppies to Puppies [a petstore located in Levittown, NY]. I contacted the owner and was given no information regarding the sex of the bird. Later in the day I sent Charlene Beane pictures of the Lovebird to see if she would beable to visually identify the sex. I'm waiting on her email. However, I also contacted (via telephone) Diana Rich, owner of Lovebird Conspiracy, to see if she could help me. Over the phone she told me to take three photos of the bird and email them to her. So I did and she wrote back requesting the bird's leg band number. She said that his/her mutation is seagreen [, which is NOT a sex-linked mutation, meaning I can't visually determine the sex of this mutation]. She also asked if I would call her again.

3:37 PM

From Diana I've discovered that if you know the mutations of the parents of a pair, you can easily tell what the sex of the babies will be. So, normal green males produce normal green females. It is always the opposite of the parent.

*Babies born with white down feathers are blue mutations.

*Babies born with green down feathers are green series.

July 31, 2004 - 9:38 PM

I finished the rest of my research project tonight on diet. I decided to put the nest box back up today. I think the pair is ready to breed again. The female looks very well rested and I think she can handle one more round of breeding. After this upcoming clutch that is IT until the spring of 2005.

I think that the pair will now produce bigger, healthier, and more successful clutches now that I have the diet part down. I'm glad I went throughout with this research. I never realized how much I could be suckered into the idea of feeding ONLY pellets.

I introduced the new bird to Elmo. In fact, I put this bird directly in Elmo's cage. I am almost positive that this bird is healthy. Although Lovebirds are known to be carriers of certain diseases, it doesn't mean that they are infected themselves. In addition, Guppies to Puppies is a quality bird store that guarentees against diseases. I worked for them in the past, and they were always very meticulous when it came to their livestock, especially their birds.

I am not exactly sure if the bird is a male or a female though. The behavior that I've observed in this bird doesn't tell me much. I am going to have this bird DNA sexed by having some chest feathers plucked off. I'd prefer that over taking blood from the nail and using quick-stop. That stuff stings very badly. I don't want my birds to have to suffer when they don't have to.

Today I also went out into my backyard and gathered some nesting material for both of my Lovebird pairs. I also took away the rope perch in the breeders cage and added a branch that I had found.