EDUCATING THE CONSUMER
ABOUT AVIAN NUTRITION
Educating bird owners about proper avian nutrition remains a top priority with retailers and manufacturers.
“The most important things for consumers to know are the nutritional needs
of their bird and how to best satisfy [those needs] when they’re shopping for nutri-
tion products,” said Michael Acerra, marketing representative for Penn-Plax Inc. in
Hauppauge, N. Y. “It’s important for consumers to know what to look for and what
At Magnolia Bird Farm in Riverside, Calif., employees are trained to understand
the nutritional requirements of all types of pet birds, from parakeets to macaws.
“We also train our employees to spend as much time as needed explaining nutrition to customers,” said Lori Miser, co-owner.
The employees also offer tips on getting picky eaters to try new foods, Miser
said, a topic that comes up frequently at all types of bird stores and establishments.
Nathalie Buetow, an employee at Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Del Mar,
Calif., recommends that bird owners entice picky birds by modeling the behavior
they want them to emulate, and offering a variety of healthful foods.
“Birds thrive on both security and excitement,” she said. “So when an owner
feeds a pet bird, they should give them something familiar and something new. This
way, the bird feels like he has a choice.”
The bird’s diet also should be geared to its size and species—and properly
trained employees can help customers find a food that fits an individual bird, Bue-
Still, other factors will play a part in determining what a bird should eat.
“Consumers need to know what their individual bird needs in the way of a foundation diet and realize it’s not just a matter of what a certain species requires,” said
Melanie Allen, avian product specialist for Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. in Mansfield,
Mass. “This is determined by the overall diet evaluation in accordance to their bird’s
energy levels and some guidance from their avian veterinarian.”
Most birds show a healthy amount of suspicion toward new items in their food dishes—a trait that can frustrate many bird owners. This aversion to new foods, however,
helps protect birds in the wild.
“If a bird in the wild eats something that makes him sick, he becomes more
attractive to predators,” said Lori Miser, co-owner of Magnolia Bird Farm in Riverside,
Calif. “Birds in the wild eat familiar foods out of instinct. Pet birds have those same
instincts, so new foods need to be introduced repeatedly.”
Birds also will gravitate toward the tastier foods they like and fill up on those as
opposed to eating the foods that might be better for their health.
“Many pet birds owners think that if they have a pellet mixed in with their pet’s
food, the bird will eat the nutritional morsel in addition to the bird’s favorite yummy
peanuts or seed,” said Melanie Allen, avian product specialist at Mansfield, Mass.-
based Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. “What happens in this case is that the bird fills up
on the yummy enrichment foods and has no room for the good nutritional part of the
diet. And that’s when we hear, ‘My bird won’t eat pellets.’”
The solution? Continue to introduce the nutritional foods—such as pellets, fruits
and vegetables—along with the familiar foods again and again.
“A young bird might need to see a new food 30 times before the light bulb goes
off and they try it,” Miser said. “This period may be as long as six months with an
adult bird. Just keep putting it in every day, and taking it out every night until they
discover they like it.”
IS THAT BIRD PICKY—
VITAPOL CORP.’S Smakers is a healthful
treat for small animals in an appealing
stick form with a patent-pending Shark
hang tag. The treat offers vitamins and
minerals to keep pets’ teeth healthy
and coats shiny. Ingredients come from
ecological, natural Polish crops. The
drying temperature—under 149 degrees
Fahrenheit—allows the treat to retain
more vitamins and minerals than with
VITAKRAFT SUNSEED presents Vita
Prima Sunseed Sun Drops Advanced
Daily V Liquid Vitamin Supplements.
Sun Drops for Small Animals are
enriched with vitamin C, while the
Sun Drops for Birds are enhanced with
vitamin A, giving each type of pet the
healthful boost they need, the company
states. The high-potency multivitamins
are easy to use and taste great.
SPECTRUM BRANDS offers its
redesigned Tetrafauna ReptoHeat
Dual Temp Basking Heater. Using an
advanced ceramic heating element to
produce and radiate heat, as well as an
internal microcomputer to control the
basking heat, the product provides a
reptile with the proper amount of heat
in each growth phase throughout its
life. A sophisticated dual-temperature
heating mode is in place that includes
high and low settings for proper heating
regulation, so a variety of reptiles and
environments can be heated simultaneously without overheating. Addressing
safety concerns, each easy-to-install
mounting option (on metal screen
and on-frame) can be configured to a
consumer’s current setup.
PREMIUM NUTRITIONAL PRODUCTS
presents ZuPreem Pure Fun, a
high-quality blend of nuts, fruits, vegetables and ZuPreem Smart Pellets to
excite and enrich pet birds. The product
line provides both pure and fun nutrition.
With “pure,” there are fewer and simpler
ingredients, minimal fines and the rightsize food to minimize waste. The “fun”
part means it is engaging for birds to
play with and it instinctively creates an
interactive activity during the day. The
blend is available in 2-lb. units in four
different sizes, from small to large birds.
ALKAME’S HydrO2Pet Small Animal
Waters are a one-step hydration care
solution for rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils,
hamsters and other small critters. The
water improves the digestive system
and contains energy-enhancing oxygen,
according to the company. It is purified
through reverse osmosis.