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Eclectus

Kristy's Story and the Parrot Palooza!
 
Two and a half years ago I experienced one of a bird owner’s worst nightmares.  I had adopted a female Solomon Island Eclectus Parrot, a species that I knew little about, and within a few days of owning her I realized she is what people refer to as a feather “barbarer”.  I had no idea, you see, because feather barbarers are a little different than feather pluckers.  You cannot tell their feathers are disturbed quite as bad since there are no feathers missing, just little “V’s” snipped off of each feather.  Now being an inexperienced Eclectus owner, I thought that is probably what their feathers were supposed to look like. (I was really unknowledgeable about this species huh?)  I had read that they have very different feathers than other parrots.  That is until I noticed her constant picking of her feathers and her constant scratching.  I had another bird (Yellow Nape Amazon, later to add a Pacific Parrotlet) and have never seen him act this way.  I knew something had to be wrong, it just seemed like she was in a constant state of discomfort.  So I started trying to find out what was wrong, and what I could do to help her. I had taken her to the vet, tried various other products like Georges Aloe Spray (which when she was still wet from it did give her some relief), pluck no more, more frequent baths etc...  I think I had tried everything on the market to get her some relief.  I had not found anything however that worked completely.  This is when I started to believe it had to be something in the food I was giving her.
 
The day we adopted her, we asked her owners what kind/brand of food she ate.  The owner told me Brown’s Seed Mix but that they had forgotten what was left of the bag at home.  I thought, well, I am sure she can eat the same thing my other birds eat.  Zupreme fruity pellets, fresh fruit and veggies, rice, pastas, grains, etc…So from day one, she received the same meals the rest of my flock did.  And from day one, I had noticed all that itching and feather picking.  This lead me to an intense search for information on the Solomon Island Eclectus traits, food requirements etc…anything I could find.  This search led me to many websites, chat rooms, etc.
 
One website in particular that has a boat load of very good information as well as a chat room specifically for the Eclectus was
 www.landofVos.com . It was here that I learned you cannot feed the Eclectus many of the industries leading foods.  It is here that I learned of the Eclectus complex digestive system, and their sensitivity to many of the chemicals found in much of our pet foods on the market today.  After reading all of this information, I immediately removed the colored pellets from my bird’s diet that I was feeding since they had all of the preservatives, chemicals and added colors and vitamins etc that Eclectus do not tolerate very well.  I figured if it is not good for the Eclectus than I probably should not be feeding this to my other birds either.  I think I had read that the Eclectus is more sensitive to these chemicals since they have longer digestive systems therefore more time to absorb all of this nasty stuff.  However, once I knew all of this – there is no way I could feed this stuff to my other birds in good conscience knowing how bad it was for them.
 
I tried many of the foods on the market over those first several months. Harrison ’s pellets, FEED, Golden Feast, MAD, TOPS pellets, Crazy Corn, RoudyBush, the list is very, very long.  None really seemed to relive all of my Eclectus itchiness, and feather picking symptoms.  I am sure you can just imagine the dismay on my birds faces when once again they discovered that I had put yet something new and foreign looking in their dishes. Now don’t get me wrong, there were some of these foods that one bird would like, maybe 2, of course the third would hate it, none as I said earlier, relieved the Eclectus issues or pleased them all even with all the different blends and sizes for various birds.
 
Then I discovered a line of foods called Avian Naturals from
www.AvianNaturals.com
.  I read up on this line of food, and the more I read the more I thought; this looks like the answer to my prayers.  This food makes sense!  No preservatives, no added chemicals, no sulfured fruits, all natural, the way nature intended it.  This stuff had actual pieces of unsulfured fruits and veggies, nuts, grains, seeds, bee pollen, pastas etc…This was the real deal, not all the ingredients formed into pellets! (pellets do have their place but extremely boring for birds when given as the main part of their diet every day like some of the pellet companies want you to do) This in my opinion seems to be closer to what birds would eat in nature than anything I have ever tried or had ever come across. So, I ordered my first batch of Avian Naturals cage mixes.
 
My order came like the speed of lightning.  I think it was but 2 days from the time I placed my order until it arrived.  I opened the box and was examining the foods in front of the parrots.  The food looked every bit as good as it did on the website.  It smelled delicious as well!  So much so that I took a piece of a banana chip from the bag and ate it myself.  The Amazon said, mmmmmm, that’s good!  I gave them some of this food on their play gyms immediately since the Amazon seemed so receptive to this new food.  Then, I stood there in shock, as they were in their bowls tails up, beak buried and ate.  They ate and ate and ate.  I was starting to feel guilty thinking they were acting like I starved them to death that day or something.  Now as many of you bird owners know…usually getting a bird to try something new does not go over very well. Usually my birds, when I was trying something new in the past, would not go near their dish for hours.  Or, if they did go over to the new foods, it would be thrown out of the dish with beaks and feet immediately.  So, there I stood, in awe of this new food that was just delivered, as my birds simply devoured it.  What was even more surprising is that this feeding frenzy did not end on that first day.  Day two and three the food received much of the same reaction from my birds.  They simply loved this stuff and still do!
 
After about the third or fourth day of feeding Avian Naturals…I noticed something which I can only tell you was like a miracle.  My Eclectus stopped itching!   She was no longer on her gym with her head wrapped around her back barbering feathers; she was no longer scratching her neck (which had a ring of only grey down left).  She was sitting on her gym facing me and was not preening (or should I say over preening).  I blinked a few times and watched her from the corner of my eye to make sure she was not just on a “break” from all the preening.  Nope, sure enough she did not itch and scratch and preen for over an hour.  Instead she picked up a toy hanging on her play gym and started to play with it.  SHE WAS ACTUALLY PLAYING!  At this point, over the past several months of owning her, she had ignored all her toys.  She preferred to preen and scratch and itch.  I did not want to get too excited so I watched her for the next few hours.  What I observed was a parrot at play, happy, talkative, comfortable and relieved.  I cried then and there!  So afraid that what I was seeing would end as quickly as it came about.  I am not sure if the itching lessened those first 2-3 days slowly, maybe I am not that observant. I just remember the day it ceased to exist.
 
This is the short version of my experience with a bird that had sensitivities to foods riddled with chemicals, preservatives, colorings etc…. It is because of this whole experience that I feel compelled to spread the word.  It has led me on somewhat of a crusade of educating bird owners on pursing better food choices out there.  Being a member of 2 bird clubs, I feel it is a responsibility of mine to do so.  I have told this story to many people throughout the last year or so, and told them of Avian Naturals and what it has done for my birds when added to their daily diet. Today, my birds get fresh fruit and veggies, fresh greens, some people food, pastas and grains, natural pellets and of course, Avian Naturals food every day. Not just the Eclectus has benefited from this food; the other two birds are in marvelous feather, bright eyed, healthy and happy.  My Amazon travels with us, sometimes 3 times a year and so he must go to our Avian Vet each year for wellness checks in order to be allowed to fly in the cabin of the plane with me.  Earlier this year, my Vet said to me, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it, he looks wonderful!”  I told him too about Avian Naturals J
 
 
Then, I had an idea.  Both my bird clubs were going to be present at a NJ event at Bird Paradise called Parrot Palooza on October 21, 2006.  At this event last year over 1700 bird-loving people were present.  This to me seemed like the absolute perfect opportunity to get the word out about Avian Naturals.  On one of my orders to Avian Naturals in September, I asked the owner if she had any samples that I can take with me to pass out at this event from our club tables.  I was very surprised at her response and willingness to take on such a large event.  She agreed to supply a generous amount of poundage of her foods as well as some beautiful baskets to raffle!  You can image the buzz of excitement I felt when I read her response!  She had never done anything like this before…and neither did I.  So after weeks of planning, getting literature about her line of foods together, bagging all the samples and affixing the food labels, we were ready.  No small task for Joan or myself!
 
At the Palooza, we were given a table for both clubs to setup and get our samples and literature together an hour or so before the event was to start.  They also had a guest speaker scheduled for the Palooza that day.  Dr. Irene Pepperberg!  Alex, her student African Grey, also eats Avian Naturals!  Before Irene was to speak, I asked her if she could tell the audience that the bird clubs outside have free samples and raffle baskets available, which she was glad to do.  I wrote down the information for her and reported to my table.  After Irene was finished speaking the crowds started in.  Some, I had found had never heard of this line of food, while others heard of it but never tried it.  Even more were new bird owners who were very willing to listen about this line of food.  We even had two Blue and Gold Macaws visit our tables.  The owner of them opened the sample and offered it to them on the spot.  She too, had never heard of this food.  Her Macaws however, acted much as my birds did when offered Avian Naturals.  I think pictures speak 1000 words, so I have included their reaction to this new food below.


 
 
As you can see they dove right in and gobbled it up!  They loved it.  People were gathering around in amazement at these two darlings eating every crumb of this food.  You could hear people in the crowd asking the owner if they ever had this food before…the owner told them “no, this is the first I have ever heard of it”.  Needless to say the owner plans to buy some of this wonderful food for her birds!  From the start of the day until 8:00 PM – we passed out over 500 samples and brochures of Avian Naturals to the Parrot Palooza’s guests.  All in all – I feel we educated many people on better food choices for their birds that day.
 
This whole Palooza event was like no other that I have ever attended.  At the bird club tables, there were lines forming to get their free samples and brochure for Avian Naturals. People gathered around while we told them about this food.  It was so interactive. Lots of questions and answers. Being able to provide a sample with the literature of the food, made it possible for the bird owners to look the foods over, smell it, see it, and of course, have their birds try it.  I cannot thank Avian Naturals enough for making this all possible! For saving my Eclectus from a life of itchiness, for allowing 2 bird clubs to help educate people on better food choices for their birds and most importantly for making foods for our birds that are chemical free, all natural, nutritious, packed with unsulfured fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, grains etc which is loved so much by our birds!  Here is to many more years of Avian Naturals foods, and to the health of our birds.
 
Kristy Garcia
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