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How Harrison's Bird Foods Turned My Picky Parakeets Into Health Nuts

Updated on July 21, 2014

Like so many other parakeet owners, I spoil my two birds silly. They love to chow down on millet - as soon as I reach for it, they swoop in excitedly, chirping as they devour it. It's hard to resist giving them some several times a day since it makes them so happy. But millet is basically bird junk food, and their regular seed food was comprised largely of millet already. They picked through most  They were gaining a lot of weight and I also noticed some behavioral problems arising - if they ate a large amount of millet one day, the next day they would be very withdrawn, refuse to come near me, and scream if I got too close to them. Since they absolutely wouldn't touch fresh fruit or veggies and were so adept at avoiding all non-millet pieces in their food, I decided to switch them to a pellet food to ensure that they got proper nutrition and weren't so full of millet all the time.

I looked mainly for a pellet that was small in size, preferably close to millet size in hopes that they would be more inclined to sample it. I also looked for one that included a lot of vegetable and plant matter, as those contain a lot of vitamins that birds need but millet doesn't provide. Harrison's High Potency Super Fine looked like a great choice. The description stated it as being ideal for overweight or undernourished birds, as well as birds who had never eaten pellet food before. The ingredients included lots of veggies, including green peas, lentils, soybeans, and corn, as well as things you'd never think to give to birds like kelp and algae. It also contained some millet, but I wasn't concerned with that since it was all consolidated together in a pellet, so there would be no cherrypicking through the food for it. Plus I figured that the presence of some millet flavor in the food might make the birds more willing to try it.

I got a one pound bag of the Harrison's High Potency and crossed my fingers that the transition would go smoothly. My birds were rescues, and I have no idea of their diet before I got them, but since they only touched millet, I suspect that they were only fed that in their early lives. I was prepared to spend a good two or three weeks swapping foods several times a day to wean them off seed and hopefully get them to realize that the new pellet food wasn't so bad. On the first day, I let them eat some of their seed and then replaced the seed bowl with a small bowl of the Harrison's pellets. They seemed afraid of it, touching it with their beaks and then flying away and out of the cage. Overnight, I returned the seed bowl, and the next day I put the pellet bowl next to it. They had already picked through much of their seed for millet, so it was a choice between the "bad" seeds and the strange new pellets. At their bedtime, I noticed that the pellets at the top of the bowl had become smaller in size, with some of them reduced to powder. I tried not to be too excited, just in case it turned out the powder was from them chewing the pellets without actually eating them. But over the next day, the food level went lower and lower until the bowl was nearly empty except for a bit of powder on the bottom. There were no pellets on the cage floor, and the birds seemed a little more active than they had been. I'm not a bird, so I can't speak to the taste of these pellets, but they must be pretty tasty for my two millet-obsessed parakeets who had never touched any other food to take to them within two days!

It has been about a month since I switched to Harrison's High Potency and the birds are better than ever before. Since switching, they haven't had any mood swings, which tells me that the high amounts of millet they were eating were responsible for making them moody and defiant. Harrison's doesn't recommend using vitamin supplements when feeding their food, so I no longer have to buy vitamin drops to ensure that the birds get nutrition. They recommend feeding up to 3 grams of food a day per parakeet, so a one pound bag for my two parakeets would last a little over two months - it's pricier than seed, but considering how much of the seed was going to waste in favor of the millet, it's a great deal, especially since it's so much healthier. I no longer worry about the birds getting enough of the nutrients they need to live long, full lives. Harrison's recommends feeding the High Potency pellets for at least six months and then switching to their Adult Lifetime pellets if you want. If those are as tasty to my birds as the High Potency pellets are, switching should be no problem at all.

Bottom line: If you're struggling with getting your millet-addicted bird to touch more nutritious food, Harrison's High Potency Super Fine pellets are a great choice. Even if your bird has never eaten anything healthy, you may be surprised at how quickly these pellets get gobbled up. Since many behavioral problems in birds are caused by poor nutrition, switching to this food may help solve them. Birds with respiratory problems or other illnesses influenced or caused by vitamin deficiency need highly nutritious food, which Harrison's certainly delivers. In general, the High Potency pellets seems to be a fantastic food for even the pickiest birds, and I feel much better about giving my parakeets the occasional treat (or two) now that their daily diet is Harrison's.

Harrison's High Potency Super Fine Pellets are ideal for small birds like parakeets, finches, canaries, lovebirds, and cockatiels. Other birds may be more suited to one of the other pellet sizes.

Harrison's High Potency Fine 1lb …
Harrison's High Potency Fine 1lb …

Recommended for conures, cockatiels, lories, lovebirds, doves, quakers, and other similarly-sized birds.

Harrison's Adult Lifetime Coarse 5lb
Harrison's Adult Lifetime Coarse 5lb

Recommended for eclectus, macaws, cockatoos, African greys, large conures, pionus, and other larger birds.

Harrison's High potency Mash 1 Lb
Harrison's High potency Mash 1 Lb

For birds who can't handle the size of pellets, either because they are too small or due to illness or disability.


Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My two parakeets, Henry (left) and Tina. They love to sit by the window and relax after eating their afternoon meal.Tina the parakeet soaks up some sun.Henry the parakeet nibbles on a branch.
My two parakeets, Henry (left) and Tina. They love to sit by the window and relax after eating their afternoon meal.
My two parakeets, Henry (left) and Tina. They love to sit by the window and relax after eating their afternoon meal.
Tina the parakeet soaks up some sun.
Tina the parakeet soaks up some sun.
Henry the parakeet nibbles on a branch.
Henry the parakeet nibbles on a branch.

What kind of food do your parakeets mainly eat?

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