Little Feathered Buddies

Small birds, big hearts


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*Health & Nutrition
 - Blood feathers
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 - Illness
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 - Evacuation kit

 - New bird won't eat

 - Nutrition
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     - Pellets
     - Probiotics
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     - Soy
     - Sprouting
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     - Wild diet & pet birds
     - Miscellaneous topics

 - Other nutrition topics
     - Diet conversions
     - Cockatiel diet
     - Feeding ecology,
        wild tiels

     - Ekkie gut length

 Breeding & Genetics

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Health & Nutrition

If Your New Bird Won't Eat

Note: this article was written specifically for cockatiels. It may or may not be applicable to other species

It's normal for a new cockatiel to be scared in a new home, and many will be too frightened to eat at first. Some birds will go without food for three days, which is very hard on the bird and is also hard for the humans to watch.

Fortunately there are some simple things that you can do to make your bird start eating sooner. The first and most important step is to hang a piece of millet spray and some leafy greens in the cage close to the place where your bird likes to sit. Your bird is a prey animal and has been instinctively watching out for danger ever since he arrived. He would have to let his guard down for a moment to put his head in the food cup, and this is scary. But he can nibble on hanging food and watch for danger at the same time, which feels a lot safer to him. The millet spray provides nice healthy calories and the greens are a good source of moisture for birds who are afraid to use their water cup.

There are other things you can do to make your bird feel safer. Covering the cage on three sides can be helpful, because then the bird only has to watch for danger in one direction. It can be helpful to put the cage in a quiet place at first because he'll feel safer in a location where there isn't too much activity for him to watch. You can move the cage to a more active location when he's comfortable enough to eat from the food cup. When you're near the cage, keep your movements slow and smooth and talk in a gentle voice. When you look at the bird don't use a long silent stare, because this is what predators do when they're getting ready to strike. Talk while you're looking, and frequently look away for a moment. If you drop a small clump of millet spray into the food cup when you're near the cage, it will help the bird realize that good things come from you.

Eventually your new bird will feel brave enough to eat from the seed cup, but at first he might not be bold enough to do it in front of you. So check the food cup from time to time to see if anything has been eaten, and you'll know when your bird has reached this milestone.

Copyright 2014 Carolyn Tielfan all rights reserved