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Is Your Bird Eating His Pellets?

Does your bird like to grind pellets to dust? Find out if your bird is eating his pellets or if he might need to head to the avian veterinarian.

Margaret A. Wissman, DVM

Bird Food Pellets

Q: My bird grinds his pellets down into a fine, dusty pile. Does this mean he’s consuming them, or should there be no remnants of pellets left if he’s actually eating them?

A: Some birds that are bored spend some time grinding up their pellets in their bowl, after eating their fill, until the pellets disappear into a fine powder at the bottom of the bowl or cage. If you notice that your bird is spending time grinding pellets into dust, then this can be a clear sign that it needs some new toys, enrichment or foraging activities to keep him busy.

If you are unsure about your bird’s consumption of his pellets, and you are seeing a lot of dust in the food bowl, and you are not sure if it is producing enough droppings, then I recommend that you purchase a good quality gram scale and weigh your bird periodically, at the same time of day each time.

Keep a chart of your bird’s weight. A drop in weight of 5 to 10 percent can signify that your bird isn’t taking in enough calories or that there is a medical problem causing him to lose weight. A bird fighting an illness may not be able to take in enough calories to fight an infection or other problem and still maintain his weight.

If you are still unsure if your bird is eating enough, make an appointment with your avian vet, who can examine, weigh and test your bird for any subclinical illness, if necessary. Bring in your bird in his uncleaned cage (with white paper toweling in the bottom of the cage so your vet can easily evaluate the number and consistency of the droppings) or if the cage is too large to transport, bring in the papers from the cage bottom instead. The peace of mind from a clean bill of health for your bird is certainly worth it. 

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Posted: February 21, 2014, 1:15 p.m. PDT

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Is Your Bird Eating His Pellets?

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Reader Comments
We feed petals and our bird is a bare bear eye cocktail and he does very very well. His name is Hopper and we coveted him to petals by feeding him petals in the morning when he is most hungry. The petals we feed is Harrison's and he is going very well with this food.
Posted: 4/16/2014 5:28:29 PM
It's an interesting article, but I kind of disagree with the first part. There's a small flat, raised surface on my bird's cage next to his food dish, and he uses it like a plate. He'll eat over it, so the crumbs land there, and then he'll eat the crumbs. (He does that even when he's sitting on me eating Cheerios while I lie on my back and read my Kindle. He'll eat the Cheerios, then peck at all the crumbs until they're gone.) So he sort of "makes dust," only they're really just crumbs, and he's definitely eating everything. So I think the Q/A is a little misleading (although I guess it might be a misunderstanding on my part).
Allison, Milford, CT
Posted: 4/3/2014 8:52:28 PM
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