What Is A Circus Diet?

Wakizashi21

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The 'Circus Diet' for Pet Birds

By Steve Hartman / The Parrot University Co Author & photographer Dot Schwarz

IntroductionGeneral ConceptsThe Circus Diet contains:parrot PelletsSprouted Sunflower, Millet and Other SeedsBean, Rice, Corn Crock-pot MixFruits and VegetablesTreatsCombining of IngredientsBulk Preparation - StorageFeeding: Determining How Much To FeedOpportunistic FeedersCreate a Foraging Attitude - Three Benefits From One ActivityOverfeedingPoisonous Foods ListTeach Your Bird to Forage in Case He Escapes1. Introduction

The 'Circus Diet' was named by The Ohio State University Veterinary School students who trained at Hartman Aviary. They were surprised to find parrots eating a diet so rich in flavors, textures and colors, and felt the birds were getting the same experience humans get when we go to the circus and eat all those exciting circus delights.

There is no such thing as the "perfect" parrot diet. The ingredients we use and suggest are to be a guide to a complete diet. All of the items in our diet can be swapped for similar items. It is important to include a variety of foods each day. A varied diet will improve mental and physical health and teach your bird to accept many foods. Variety is also the "spice of life" for parrots.

With the exception of a very few species of parrots, you should not try to duplicate the diet your parrot would eat in the wild. Wild parrots are very active mentally and physically, flying miles a day, and utilize their nutrients differently than our sedentary pets. Wild parrots are also generalized as chronically undernourished most of the year. You can find wild diets that consist of 10 or 20 items, but most are only seasonally available. Most parrot species have only a few of the items available during any season, so feeding all of the items at one time would not be a duplicate of their wild diet.

Just like humans, individual parrots have particular tastes. They should be offered a wide variety of items they like, and even some foods they may not especially like. When it comes to our birds, we are the parents and they are the children. They neither understand the food pyramid, nor do they understand that some of the foods they need for a healthy diet may not be their favorites. Just because peas and carrots are not his particular favorite does not mean a parrot should not be eating them.

Our goal is to have approximately 30 different items in their meal each day. Many foods will vary depending upon what fresh produce is seasonably available. However, the Circus Diet is easier to prepare than you might think.

The Circus Diet promotes good eating habits in pet birds. Birds that have well developed palates are healthier and more adaptable to diet changes throughout their lives. Parrots that accidently leave home for a while, who are used to the variety of tastes, flavors and textures of the Circus Diet, have a significantly higher survival potential because they are confident about finding food while on the loose.

2. General Concepts

We advise the main 'meal' of the day to be fed about two hours after your bird's wake up time in the morning for two reasons. First, most humans eat soon after they wake up in the morning if they need to go to work or school, but when we have a choice on the weekend, we take a more leisurely approach and tend to eat a little later. Most wild parrots take some time to chat and goof off before setting out for breakfast in the morning.

Second, there should still be a small amount of food left in the dish from yesterday. Some items will be stale or the taste may have changed, but all of the items are still edible. If your parrot did not eat many of the items he is not fond of, but are required for a complete diet he may eat them early the next morning. As you will see later this is an important strategy for making sure your bird eats a complete diet without being overfed.

At least half of the correct 'meal' portion size (chapter 6 below) will be consumed in about 15 minutes, with the remainder of the Circus Diet being consumed throughout the day. The rest of the diet is offered in the form of treats that are fed sporadically throughout the day and always in the evening, about an hour before bedtime. A parrot that does not eat something before bedtime may become very hungry and uncomfortable during the night. A bored parrot that is fed all of his food early in the day may eat everything by afternoon. If not offered food before bedtime it could be 18 hours before he eats again.

All items in the Circus Diet are diced into small pieces no larger than a pea. There are four important reasons for this.

Many parrots are picky eaters. Small particles mixed together have residue from all the other pieces on them. Thus, when a bird eats one item, he is getting a taste of everything in the mix. This is important because of the way the food center works in the brain. The bird's brain keeps track of all foods consumed for 6 to 8 hours. If, at any time, a bird does not feel well when eating a new food, the brain records that it may be a result of the new food and thus cause the bird to avoid this new food in the future. The reason this happens is that parrots evolved as seasonal feeders and generally eat very few items at a time; they continually change their diet as other foods become available. Just like humans, birds don't always remember exactly which foods or what stage of ripeness is healthy so they sample the new food for a few days before they consume a whole meal of any particular food. After sampling the new food for three days, the bird's brain will no longer be cautious of the item and will allow the bird to eat large quantities. Our diet mix makes it impossible for a bird to avoid trace amounts of individual foods so their brain is quickly programmed to accept all of the items. Once a bird's subconscious and conscious brain is programmed to eat a large variety of foods, it's very easy to make changes and introduce new items to their diets.
Even large macaws consume very little food each day, so small pieces make it easier to provide a well-balanced and interesting meal.

If more than one bird is eating from the same food dish, it is easier for the less aggressive birds to get some of the tastier and/or healthier items.

Most birds take a bite and drop the rest so if any item is larger than a pea, a portion is apt to be dropped on the floor and a significant amount will be wasted. Large pieces of food held in the foot may be dropped as soon as your parrot changes his mind, sees a cage mate headed for the dish, sees you enter the room, etcetera.

Portion size is very important for captive birds. Ad lib feeding leads to picky eating and unhealthy diets. The 'meal' you prepare and place in the cage should be almost completely consumed by the next morning. Never offer more than 10% more food than the bird should be eating. Remove the very small uneaten portion the next morning before offering more food.

Never leave an open bowl of pellets in the cage. Besides being unhealthy, offering too much food causes the bird to eat small amounts throughout the day rather than consuming a whole 'meal' when the food is first offered. This continued sampling of food all day long can lead a bored parrot into other repetitive behaviors that are categorized as stereotypical behaviors like Pennatillomania (feather mutilation syndrome) and polydipsia (excessive water consumption).

Due to the large number of ingredients we suggest preparing larger quantities once a month that can be broken down into daily portions and frozen until needed. Add the pellet portion after thawing and warming. If the pellets are added to the mix too long before serving, they will be too soft.

Warm the food to at least room temperature, too cold and it may not taste good. Birds can eat warm food just like us. Most birds are used to room temperature so if you do warm the food make sure it is not too warm to burn their mouth.



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Wakizashi21

Regular Member
Found this really interesting so though id share and get some views on it.

Skip to main content

Search form

Search

EnglishFrançaisDeutschPolskiEspañol

English

The 'Circus Diet' for Pet Birds

By Steve Hartman / The Parrot University Co Author & photographer Dot Schwarz

IntroductionGeneral ConceptsThe Circus Diet contains:parrot PelletsSprouted Sunflower, Millet and Other SeedsBean, Rice, Corn Crock-pot MixFruits and VegetablesTreatsCombining of IngredientsBulk Preparation - StorageFeeding: Determining How Much To FeedOpportunistic FeedersCreate a Foraging Attitude - Three Benefits From One ActivityOverfeedingPoisonous Foods ListTeach Your Bird to Forage in Case He Escapes1. Introduction

The 'Circus Diet' was named by The Ohio State University Veterinary School students who trained at Hartman Aviary. They were surprised to find parrots eating a diet so rich in flavors, textures and colors, and felt the birds were getting the same experience humans get when we go to the circus and eat all those exciting circus delights.

There is no such thing as the "perfect" parrot diet. The ingredients we use and suggest are to be a guide to a complete diet. All of the items in our diet can be swapped for similar items. It is important to include a variety of foods each day. A varied diet will improve mental and physical health and teach your bird to accept many foods. Variety is also the "spice of life" for parrots.

With the exception of a very few species of parrots, you should not try to duplicate the diet your parrot would eat in the wild. Wild parrots are very active mentally and physically, flying miles a day, and utilize their nutrients differently than our sedentary pets. Wild parrots are also generalized as chronically undernourished most of the year. You can find wild diets that consist of 10 or 20 items, but most are only seasonally available. Most parrot species have only a few of the items available during any season, so feeding all of the items at one time would not be a duplicate of their wild diet.

Just like humans, individual parrots have particular tastes. They should be offered a wide variety of items they like, and even some foods they may not especially like. When it comes to our birds, we are the parents and they are the children. They neither understand the food pyramid, nor do they understand that some of the foods they need for a healthy diet may not be their favorites. Just because peas and carrots are not his particular favorite does not mean a parrot should not be eating them.

Our goal is to have approximately 30 different items in their meal each day. Many foods will vary depending upon what fresh produce is seasonably available. However, the Circus Diet is easier to prepare than you might think.

The Circus Diet promotes good eating habits in pet birds. Birds that have well developed palates are healthier and more adaptable to diet changes throughout their lives. Parrots that accidently leave home for a while, who are used to the variety of tastes, flavors and textures of the Circus Diet, have a significantly higher survival potential because they are confident about finding food while on the loose.

2. General Concepts

We advise the main 'meal' of the day to be fed about two hours after your bird's wake up time in the morning for two reasons. First, most humans eat soon after they wake up in the morning if they need to go to work or school, but when we have a choice on the weekend, we take a more leisurely approach and tend to eat a little later. Most wild parrots take some time to chat and goof off before setting out for breakfast in the morning.

Second, there should still be a small amount of food left in the dish from yesterday. Some items will be stale or the taste may have changed, but all of the items are still edible. If your parrot did not eat many of the items he is not fond of, but are required for a complete diet he may eat them early the next morning. As you will see later this is an important strategy for making sure your bird eats a complete diet without being overfed.

At least half of the correct 'meal' portion size (chapter 6 below) will be consumed in about 15 minutes, with the remainder of the Circus Diet being consumed throughout the day. The rest of the diet is offered in the form of treats that are fed sporadically throughout the day and always in the evening, about an hour before bedtime. A parrot that does not eat something before bedtime may become very hungry and uncomfortable during the night. A bored parrot that is fed all of his food early in the day may eat everything by afternoon. If not offered food before bedtime it could be 18 hours before he eats again.

All items in the Circus Diet are diced into small pieces no larger than a pea. There are four important reasons for this.

Many parrots are picky eaters. Small particles mixed together have residue from all the other pieces on them. Thus, when a bird eats one item, he is getting a taste of everything in the mix. This is important because of the way the food center works in the brain. The bird's brain keeps track of all foods consumed for 6 to 8 hours. If, at any time, a bird does not feel well when eating a new food, the brain records that it may be a result of the new food and thus cause the bird to avoid this new food in the future. The reason this happens is that parrots evolved as seasonal feeders and generally eat very few items at a time; they continually change their diet as other foods become available. Just like humans, birds don't always remember exactly which foods or what stage of ripeness is healthy so they sample the new food for a few days before they consume a whole meal of any particular food. After sampling the new food for three days, the bird's brain will no longer be cautious of the item and will allow the bird to eat large quantities. Our diet mix makes it impossible for a bird to avoid trace amounts of individual foods so their brain is quickly programmed to accept all of the items. Once a bird's subconscious and conscious brain is programmed to eat a large variety of foods, it's very easy to make changes and introduce new items to their diets.
Even large macaws consume very little food each day, so small pieces make it easier to provide a well-balanced and interesting meal.

If more than one bird is eating from the same food dish, it is easier for the less aggressive birds to get some of the tastier and/or healthier items.

Most birds take a bite and drop the rest so if any item is larger than a pea, a portion is apt to be dropped on the floor and a significant amount will be wasted. Large pieces of food held in the foot may be dropped as soon as your parrot changes his mind, sees a cage mate headed for the dish, sees you enter the room, etcetera.

Portion size is very important for captive birds. Ad lib feeding leads to picky eating and unhealthy diets. The 'meal' you prepare and place in the cage should be almost completely consumed by the next morning. Never offer more than 10% more food than the bird should be eating. Remove the very small uneaten portion the next morning before offering more food.

Never leave an open bowl of pellets in the cage. Besides being unhealthy, offering too much food causes the bird to eat small amounts throughout the day rather than consuming a whole 'meal' when the food is first offered. This continued sampling of food all day long can lead a bored parrot into other repetitive behaviors that are categorized as stereotypical behaviors like Pennatillomania (feather mutilation syndrome) and polydipsia (excessive water consumption).

Due to the large number of ingredients we suggest preparing larger quantities once a month that can be broken down into daily portions and frozen until needed. Add the pellet portion after thawing and warming. If the pellets are added to the mix too long before serving, they will be too soft.

Warm the food to at least room temperature, too cold and it may not taste good. Birds can eat warm food just like us. Most birds are used to room temperature so if you do warm the food make sure it is not too warm to burn their mouth.



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More info on here

https://theparrotuniversity.com/circusdiet



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Roz

Regular Member
Ooooh thanks @Wakizashi21 Never heard of the Circus Diet. Agree that it looks very interesting with interesting thinking behind it. Like the idea of cutting things up into pea sized pieces (rather than smaller) and that parrots need flavourful food. Going to look at it more carefully, but excited about it!! :biggrin:

I never leave food in the cage at night - I would have thought parrots don't eat in the dark?
 

Wakizashi21

Regular Member
Ooooh thanks @Wakizashi21 Never heard of the Circus Diet. Agree that it looks very interesting with interesting thinking behind it. Like the idea of cutting things up into pea sized pieces (rather than smaller) and that parrots need flavourful food. Going to look at it more carefully, but excited about it!! [emoji3]

I never leave food in the cage at night - I would have thought parrots don't eat in the dark?
I just had a quick read this morning on lunch at work...so not studied all parts of it so cant remember haha but i will definately look further...it was a good quick read so thought id share. Definately a new concept iv never heard off

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Ararajuba

Regular Member
@Wakizashi21 - interesting article!

I never leave food in the cage at night - I would have thought parrots don't eat in the dark?
Ours do, and will come out of their box to find their food bowl or forage in the cage if there is the slightest light to see by, no matter how dim. Even when it's the middle of the night, the cage is well covered, household lights are off, and it's absolutely pitch black in there, we can sometimes hear them crunching away on seeds (presumably stray ones that found their way into the box somehow, unless they are secreting them in there), or performing home improvements with their beaks. Their solid pine sleeping box now has a back entrance, about the same size as the front one, from their nocturnal renovations over the last couple of months. I was woken up at about 4 am by loud crunching a week or two ago when they were supposed to be peacefully sleeping under covers in the darkened room (still not sure what was being crunched, probably a big chunk of box). It was loud enough to penetrate the bedroom walls and a solid wooden door, when I was sleeping pretty soundly.
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
Seeing the heading had thrown me out of what this post was about (not noticing the subject was in the health section.) And started to read the first part thinking it was a joke and trying to think of where this is leading too and what can be the punch line. well that's just the way my mind works but as I carried on reading the basics of the diet they state using different textures and flavours is a principle I have used for years and one I believe in. I like the idea of cutting things up to be pea sized and is something I will try. yes most of my flock have a midnight snack (as I call it) and I have always had food in there cages over night. getting birds to eat a balanced diet I can see the sense in using this principal but one thing I would have to point out is many of my flock chuck there not the favourite foods to the floor so for the bird to gain using this method the use of a grill in the bottom of a cage would have to be stopped or your bird will not benefit as it cannot reach the thrown foods. there is one concern that I have although they say its ok is having fresh foods left in there bowel for a longer period than what I would normally have them is the problems of fungus or mould as I have always been in the habit of removing fresh foods and especially fruit's that are left after a short period. During the summer there can be problems with fruit fly's and having small bits thrown around by the birds may attract them . Mixing all the foods together is something else I have not tried well not all in one bowl at the same time yet again its a thing that I have not done as cross contamination and thinking of problems like Aspergillosis as dry foods may become damp that then attracts the asper to settle on the damp food. I love the idea of one feed that covers every thing in one meal that is not boring like I feel pellets are so what are your thoughts on the hygiene side given the slight concerns I have and the damper atmosphere we have in this country .
 

TomsMum

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Have you read the whole article as per the link? because Part 6 gives more details about the size of portion, etc. they are not implying that you leave fresh food there for extended times...... it says about the main meal of the circus diet mix and that other things are given throughout the day, and my interpretation was that it’s a treat part (nut, etc) that is given late at night and left for possible overnight eaters.

Mine don’t eat overnight, but my Conure will go and eat from his seed bowl before he gets uncovered, it he hears movement in the house from us. My Amazon doesn’t stir until he is uncovered.
 

Roz

Regular Member
Ahhhh - all the parrots get nut treats before lights out which is when we usually do a little training.

Well, tried cutting everything in slightly larger pieces than pea sized this morning and mixed it all up. I would say Bobbie and Chico (Amazons) ate a little more than usual which is great. Chico had a few false starts and much whining then he got into it. However Ollie (picky Amazon) only ate his sprouts and blueberries which is less than usual... usually he eats mango and celery too. Kobe (Pionus) ate more or less the same as usual. Have to say cutting things smaller makes the portion size less which is good for me as I tend to over feed. Didn't try mixing pellets into it.

Personally I wouldn't leave cooked food in the cage for more than a couple of hours... especially in the summer. So unsure about adding cooked beans in the morning, but like the idea of doing so for the evening meal.
 

TomsMum

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
I’ve not had chance for a proper read yet.....but I think the difference is mixing in the dried elements, pellets, seeds, etc with the rest??? I doubt I’ll try it out, as already know Chiko prefers chunks to chop anyway :) he has also managed to train me well and if there isn’t sufficient left in his bowl at pre-bedtime time, he has reserved a particular nagging call to let the slaves know that the restaurant service is below par!
 
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