June 19, 2010

Taking Care of your Grey Cheek - Brotogeris Diet

So, you've found yourself the brand new owner of a Grey-cheeked Parakeet, a member of the Brotogeris family of birds. Now what do you do? This was the situation I found myself in back in 1995! A cute little grey cheek had strained toward me in a local pet shop and begged me to take her home. She was minus a toe and a bit pricey, but it was love at first sight. Luckily, I was an experienced bird owner (or is that ownee?) and had read articles about the species so wasn't totally unprepared to care for a bird. Below is some information that a new owner might find helpful in caring for a new grey cheek.

  • Vegetables: Peas in the shell or thawed frozen peas, broccoli, corn (fresh or thawed frozen corn), green beans, cooked and cooled limas, yellow or green squash (baked), carrots (raw or cooked), grated beets, red or green peppers, cucumbers, greens (such as chopped spinach, Swiss chard or other greens), cooked pinto beans, cooked lentils, cooked white beans. Please note that is important to let cooked food cool thoroughly before offering them to your Brotogeris, otherwise they could burn their tongues and crops.
  • Fruit: Apples (their absolute favorite!), blueberries, cut-up oranges, tangerines, bananas, pears, grapes, peaches, melon (minus the rind), strawberries, mango, papaya, plums, cherries, Always remove seeds/pits from fruit before serving.
  • Starches: Cooked brown rice, cooked pasta, baked or boiled shredded potatoes or yams (corn/peas are also starches). It is also good to sprinkle a good avian vitamin supplement on fresh fruit and veggies mixtures.
  • Other: Pellets (Roudybush, etc.), a good seed blend such as Kaytee's Forti-diet cockatiel mixture, spray millet, sprouted seed, Lafeber's Avi-cakes, a mineral block or cuttlebone, multi-grain cereals that are low in sodium, sugar, and fat.
As a working woman and head of household, I do not always have time to spend cutting and chopping in the mornings or evenings, so I started doing a few shortcuts. Cook up batches of the following items separately: cooked peas, carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, brown rice, pasta, yams, acorn squash, potatoes, pinto beans, lentils, white beans, pasta, yams, acorn squash, shredded potatoes, and brown rice. Rinse the batches well, cut them up as needed, and freeze them spread out on a cookie sheet so that they do not stick together. When the items are frozen, the pan is then removed from the freezer, and its contents broken up, placed in ziplock freezer bags, and dated. The same procedures works well with a cooked mixture of pinto beans, lentils, white beans and split peas. In addition, it is easy and fairly economical to purchase a bag of frozen mixed veggies (carrots, corn, peas, green beans & limas) when they are on sale and keep these in the freezer as well.

Then, as needed, open the different bag mixtures, take out some of each, place in a microwave dish, add a little water, and pop everything into the microwave for 5-7 mins. Some of the newer microwave models cook in less time than this.

Dump the hot mixture in a colander, run some cool water over it, so that it isn't scalding hot, and give your bird about a 1/4 cup serving dish of the mixture. They REALLY love it! Your bird will probably make contented little noises when he/she eats and have a mess on his/her beak afterward--not to mention the wall, floor, etc.

Cook enough of the mixture to last for a couple of days and keep it in the refrigerator. Also treat your bird with fruit from the list above. I use the term 'treat' when it comes to fruit since green cheeks definitely have a sweet tooth, and when fruit is mixed into their regular food dishes with the vegetables, they rarely eat the veggies! I found that it's wise to give them fruit at a different time than they are given vegetables. But it is important to provide fruit as a steady part of their diet.

It is equally important to thoroughly wash fresh fruits and veggies that you give to your birds. Any fresh food that you give your bird should be removed from their cage after an hour or so, otherwise it tends to spoil (bacteria) and is not good for your bird.  

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