grains and seeds contain phytonutrients. These are neither vitamins
nor minerals but are instead pigments with names like "anthocyanins"
that give foods their color. It is being proven in clinical trials
that these phytonutrients boost the immune system and help the
body to heal itself and to prevent or possibly to cure some cancers.
There was an excellent article in the 12/6/99 issue of Newsweek
magazine entitled "Focus on Your Health- A Prescriptive Palette".
This article described various phytonutrients found in various
foods and the scientific and anecdotal evidence of their importance
for good health.
finding that foods once considered to be low in nutritional value
are actually packed with powerful antioxidants. In numbers of
studies, these antioxidant pigments have been found to reduce
heart disease, cancer, and other ailments that are the result
of oxidative damage.
For example, anthrocyanins, the pigment found in berries such
as blueberries, plums, and cherries, are believed to relieve arthritis
and to boost brain power. Lycopene, found in tomatoes, helps to
prevent prostate cancer. Alpha and beta carotenes that occur in
orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots, sweet potatoes,
pumpkin, squash, and cantaloupe ward off lung cancer. Zeaxanthin,
which is found in egg yolks, spinach, and corn protects vision.
Another pigment which has been found to preserve eyesight is lutein
which occurs in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach,
and collard greens.
So what does this
have to do with birds? Birds (other than strictly carnivorous
or insectivorous species) in the wild eat a large variety of fresh
plant material. They eat lot of colorful fruits and berries from
tropical trees, young green leafy shoots, tree bark, tubers etc.
that vary from season to season. Birds often fly great distances
to search out seasonal fruits. Gut contents from birds caught
in the wild show that they eat a large variety of such foodstuffs.
I guarantee you there are no pellet trees in the wild. Pellets
are processed food, no matter the brand, no matter how organic,
no matter how they are stored, no matter WHAT! Processed food
has all the life oxidized, ground, heated, pressurized, and extruded
out of it. Often synthetic vitamins are added to give these pellets
"nutritional value" so that these vitamins can be listed
on the label to reassure the consumer that the birds will be getting
complete nutrition. Sure, these pellets will probably keep the
bird alive but do they provide complete nutrition? We strongly
believe that they DO NOT and CANNOT! Phytonutrients boost the
immune systems of people and birds and help us to ward off illness
(bacterial, fungal, and viral), degenerative disease, and to keep
our organs functioning well, thus helping us to live longer and
This is a quotation
from the article: "In fact, the best Rx for preventing troubles
as we age may be a diet featuring a wide variety of colorful fruits
and vegetables- preferably five to nine servings a day. By far,
the best way to take in pigments is through whole foods, not supplements.
People who rely on supplements miss out from the synergistic effects
between the nutrients in the foods."
At Aves International
we STRONGLY believe there is a correlation between the good health
of our birds and feeding a natural, varied, and healthy diet.We
feel that a large variety of fresh foods should be the BASIS of
the diet with pellets and seeds given as supplemental additions.
Please click here to see our diet recommendations.
There have been
some studies that have shown that organisms often considered pathogenic
can be found in healthy appearing wild-caught birds. Why don't
these "bad organisms" cause disease in these wild birds?
The difference between wild birds and captive ones is that the
wild ones are eating fresh natural foods that contain the phytonutrients
they need to keep their immune systems healthy and able to repel
infections. I have personally seen wild Amazons eating ficus (fig)
fruits that were absolutely covered in fungus. Who is to say that
these birds were not eating a natural antibiotic (where do you
think penicillin originally existed?)
This diet is more time consuming to prepare than pouring pellets
out of a bag but aren't your birds worth it? We are what we eat!
Some people have
commented to us that they cannot get enough fresh foods in winter.
We are quite spoiled here in southern California as we have a
huge variety year-round but most areas can get some fresh produce
in the winter. Next to fresh produce, frozen is nearly as good
and is better than canned. Root vegetables can also be obtained
fresh year-round. Boiled beet root, carrots, and sweet potatoes
are excellent dietary items for birds. Squashes are also nearly
always available. We also highly recommend sprouted seeds and
grains. This can be done year-round and is not as difficult to
do as some think. China
Prairie Company (http://www.chinaprairie.com/) makes some
wonderful sprouting kits that are safe and easy to use. We highly
recommend their products and we have used their sprouting kits
for three years. We have seen increased health, vitality, and
egg production since we began our sprouting program. Fresh living
sprouts impart their life force to the consumer.
We have also heard people say that they are concerned about bacterial
growth in fresh foods. We have heard this many times but do not
find it to be a valid concern. We feed over 1000 birds here. They
are fed once a day in the early morning and they eat nearly everything
in their plates by early afternoon. Then they sit around and nap
and in the afternoons they become vocal and social and go to sleep
shortly after dusk. This mimics the feeding behaviors of parrots
in the wild. We have observed them many times feeding in the wild.
Surely some bacteria does grow in food over the course of hours
but this is not a problem. Bacteria are normal gut flora and if
the bird has a healthy immune system, it can handle a small amount
of bacteria with no problem whatsoever. We do not have problems
with bacteria as a primary health problem here. Bacterial overgrowth
is generally secondary to another health problem.
Here's to good
health for our birds and ourselves! Please do not think we are
saying that pellets are bad foods. We just think they are fed
instead of fresh foods way too much. Just keep our suggestions
in the back of your mind and consider whether you think a bird
would rather eat green leaf shoots, purple berries, pink-fleshed
figs, orange fruits from a forest tree, etc or a boring, homogeneous,
processed dry pelleted diet?
Please take a look at photos of our breeders
to see how birds look that are fed a nutritious natural fresh