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I've lived with Peachfront Conures Aratinga aurea for 30 years. I've bred 'em, trained 'em, even visited Bolivia to observe them in the wild. For more about me, click right here.

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8:02 a.m. 2013-04-30

Milk Seed For Peachfront Conures

The peachfronted conures I observed in Bolivia were lowland birds often on the edge, with access to trees that hosted the kind of termite mounds they like but also access to open grasslands.

I've always been a believer in supplying greens and sprouted seeds, and my wild observations did nothing to change my mind...although I have to admit that I mostly saw Forpus eating on the seeding/milky heads of grasses.

I have unsprayed areas in my back garden where I can collect plenty of green sprouting grasses and, especially milky seeding heads.

Here's a moderator on an Australian finch board called AussieFinchForum, talking about the value of milk seed for finches:

"I think I can clear up the milkseed issue. The milk that it's referring to is the milky stage of endosperm formation. Inside the seed it is actually liquid and white before cell walls form around the endosperm nuceli...[N]ot all the seeds on a panicle will be at the milky stage when you pick it.

"Some studies have shown that the food value of milkseed is the same as egg because the values are given for weight of protein as a proportion of dry matter...All the seed's protein that is ever going to be in it is translocated into it during the first week and afterwards the accumulation of starch dilutes the protein. While the seed is still green and immature it is...a superior product for nestlings as the birds are able to more quickly assimilate it as it doesn't have to sit in the crop soaking and softening before it goes to the gizzard. Many studies of wild zebra finches and budgerigar show that breeding is triggered and sustained by the availability of green seed and it's probably the same for most granivorous birds."

Well, that's finches. So what about parrots? Turns out that a lot of people, not just peachfront, are giving their parrots various milky seeding grasses. A very popular choice is milk thistle. However, please DON'T go around picking wild plants unless you are 100 percent certain of the identification. Many plants understandably resent being eaten and are therefore poisonous. Stick with providing milky seeding heads from known safe sources, such as sprouted bird seed, health food store seed, and so on. I would love to hear from other people who feed milky and sprouted grasses to their peachfronts.

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