What you may see as your bird converts to Harrison's

As your bird converts to a diet which is predominantly based on Harrison's Bird Foods, and that forms the main part of its daily intake, you may see changes in both their appearance and behaviour.

The behavioural changes will likely be positive. Whilst there may be a brief initial period when your birds is dissatisfied with not receiving their usual food, in the longer term most owners report that their feathered friends have more energy, interact with them more, and seem generally more content.

Some physical changes may be readily apparent, and some may be more subtle. This change of diet - particularly if they were previously eating a lot of seeds - will likely be providing crucial nutrients to many of the body's organs and systems which may have been in a state of disrepair. As healthy cells grow in the body any dead cells must be 'flushed out'. You may therefore notice:

  • a change in colour in their dropping. A change in colour to brown or light green is common, due to the formulation of the food. The droppings may also become softer. The droppings associated with a seed diet are often dry, and black, dark green or yellow - that is abnormal, so this change shows an improvement in the bird's digestive system. See below for more information on your bird's droppings.
  • some sneezing or a clear nasal discharge. As the body starts to repair the epithelial tissue, with the nutrients in the Harrison's helping the development of new, healthy cells, these old tissues can be expelled from their nasal passages.
  • some itching, or flaky skin. They may also go through a heavy moult after 1-2 months. The Harrison's is having a benefit to their skin and feather condition, and this is the removal of the older skin and feathers that will be replaced by new, healthier ones. You can help relieve any temporary itchiness using a plumage spray such as Opti'Plume.

If during the conversion process, however, your bird becomes listless, appears cold or fluffed up, and interacts less, then pause, and return them to their usual food for a period of time. You can re-start the conversion when they seem themselves again. It is also recommended to weigh them regularly during conversion - if they lose 10% of their body weight quickly during this time, then return them to their previous diet while their weight stabilises. Whilst conversion to Harrison's might result in your bird becoming a more healthy weight, it would be expected that this would be a more gradual process, rather than occurring rapidly during conversion. Whilst conversion is best achieved by having a period of the day when Harrison's is the only food available to them - see here for some guidance on conversion - it is important to ensure that they are consuming sufficient food during this time, so making their usual diet available to them at times during the day is advised.

Always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your bird's health.

Monitoring your bird's droppings

Checking your bird's droppings is a way to monitor its health. Some changes should be a cause for concern whereas others - particularly during conversion to a formulated diet - may be expected. Always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Clean white paper or other smooth surfaces can be used to collect your bird's droppings.

  • The normal appearance of the faeces is usually soft and brown when the bird is eating a formulated diet but may be abnormally dry and black, yellow or green with a seed diet. A change in the faeces may therefore be noticed during conversion to a formulated diet.
    • Larger amounts of faeces than normal may be seen in the first droppings of the morning, and in the droppings of egg-laying females and baby birds on hand-feeding formulas.
  • Urine is normally clear.
    • The urine may be increased in amount due to excess consumption of fruits and vegetables.
    • Urine output may increase when the bird is nervous or ill.
  • Normal urates are creamy white waste from the kidneys and are often suspended in the liquid urine or are 'wrapped around' the faeces.

    • Any colour change in the urates is abnormal.
  • A sick bird may show a change in the volume, colour, consistency or frequency of droppings.