Ask the Experts: Grey Cheek Nutrition
by Gail Worth
Q. How can I get my grey cheeked parakeet to eat better? All he will accept are grapes, apples, cheese, and sunflower and safflower seeds. The pet shop in Florida said he was a locally bred bird, but his leg band was open, and I think he was really an import. My vet agrees and said the band indicated a Florida quarantine station. Where could he have been imported from?
A. Grey cheeked parakeets are very popular small birds of the Brotogeris genus. Their native habitat is arid scrublands in western Ecuador and northwestern Peru. One of the reasons that grey cheeks are so popular is that they are imported in the late fall as hand-feeding babies are sold quite young and usually quite tame. Thus they can appear to be hand-raised, domestic-bred birds. Actually, grey cheeks are not bred easily in captivity, so the great majority of the birds on the market are imported. The presence of an open band on a bird is not proof that the bird is an import, but in this case, the odds are that your bird was indeed imported.
Grey cheeked parakeets enjoy soft fruits and vegetables. In their native habitat, they are often seen around banana plantations and, indeed, they are quite fond of bananas and plantains (cooking bananas). They also love steamed, baked or boiled yams, carrots and beets. Papaya is one of their favorite fruits. I recommend removing most of all of the safflower and sunflower in your bird's diet and replace them with small seeds, such as you might feed a budgie or cockatiel. Spray millet is an excellent small seed to feed small birds.
In addition to the above-mentioned foods, offer a variety of fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, green beans, corn on the cob, peppers and other nonacid fresh fruits and vegetables in season. If your bird does not accept these new foods readily, don't despair. Continue to offer them. Most birds will learn to enjoy new foods once they become familiar with them.
Article originally appeared in the June 1992 issue of Bird Talk. This is copyrighted material.