Food Group Percentages
Fruits and veggies….50%
Vasa diets do not differ that much from other parrots but those differences are very important. Vasa do not do well on a strict pellet diet. Nor do they do well on an all seed diet. Vasa’s tend to benefit from a mostly fresh diet, with fruits being at the for front. Protein also plays a significant role in their mental and physical health. It should also be noted that the nutritional needs of vasa change through out the year. While this is actualy true for most parrots, these feeding practices are typically reserved for breeding birds. However over the years I have found that for the vasa, whether breeding or not these dietary changes should still be followed. Diversity will be very important when creating a nutrition plan for vasa’s. Each of the following sections provides an overview of the diet that Eve is on.
Fruits should be of a high nutritional value! Since most fruits are lacking in nutrition but high in sugar it would make sense to make the most of the fruit you choose to feed,. Examples of good fruit choices would be mango’s, nectarines, apricots, berries (cranberries are a favorite), banana, peaches, pomegranates, and melons. Eve also gets things like star fruit, kiwi, and cactus fruit. All these fruits have either high nutritional vaule or other very positive effects like antioxidants. For example 1 once of mango has 1103.95 IU of Vitamin A. Spoilage however is a problem, and if you decide to go with dried fruit it must be sulfur free, but keep in mind that the sugar content will be more concentrated.
Again diversity is the key, as well as nutritional value. Any dark leafy green or orange veggie will be high in Vitamin A. So things like kale, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash will be good choices. Corn although relished by most vasas, doesn’t have much in the way of nutrition so should it be used in moderation. I find that for eve it really depends on the time of the year as to what veggie he will eat. Peppers and carrots are only eaten right after molting as well as dark greens. He will show absolutely no interest in them for the rest of the year. But during the time after molting he consumes a lot carrots and peppers and greens. Other things like sweet potatoes, corn, peas, green beans, sprouts, squash and broccoli he will readily eat throughout the year.
Vasa’s have a lot of energy! They are like Jack Russell terriers… constantly on the move. They can and will fly regardless of a wing clip, they can run and hop like a blue jay, and they roll around on their backs like puppies. All that activity needs a good source of energy! This is where grains come in. Those carbs will give a vasa the energy it needs to run around . Vasa’s are very rarely overweight! So the perch potato syndrome that applies to most birds is not a concern with these guys. In fact they actually need the extra calories or they have a tendency to become underweight. So no need to be cautious with the pasta, rice, and beans. This is particularly important during molting season as vasa’s tend to loose a significant amount of weight during this time and they will greatly benefit from the added calories.
Protein is vital to a vasa! For most birds too much protein can cause kidney and liver issues. But vasa’s are different. They can suffer from protein deficiencies. Vasa’s not receiving enough protein will become aggressive and moody, their feathers will become stiff like a macaws tail feathers, they might also have a crunchy feel to them. Their cere will be hard almost like their beak. A vasa should have very soft and fluffy feathers like a cockatoo. Their cere should be smooth and feel more like skin. As far as attitude is concerned they should be for the most part mellow, vasa’s with a lack of protein in there diet seem to act out. (See vasa head hunting) More protein is needed during breeding season. Eve will get some form of protein about twice a week throughout the year. However during breeding season he requires some form of protein about 4 times a week. It is important that their source of protein be healthy. Things like chicken turkey, egg and fish are good choices. Fish and shrimp have the added bonus of omega 3’s. Omega 3’s greatly benefit vasa’s during molting season. It has been noted that lesser vasa chicks are stunted when the parents birds are not feed animal protein during the rearing process. This would make sense given the fact that vasa chick grow at an extremely rapid pace, fledging at 7 weeks. For comparisons sake, conures flegde at 12 weeks. That kind of rapid growth would requires decent amount of protein not to mention mass amounts of food.. Animal protein is also a complete protein! Important amino acids as well as B12 only come from animal protein. It is my belief and thatof other vasa owners and breeders that vasa will hunt in the wild when food is scarce or for rearing young. Although not a predator in the true sense, vasa’s defiantly exhibit predatory behaviors and predatory flight patterns. Vasas will dive like a hawk, and in captivity have been rehomed for hunting smaller birds. Eve snatched my conure right out of the air in mid flight once (she was fine) and has also hunted people heads as well as the cat. This hunting seems to only be triggered when a protein source is scarce. Or at least this seems to be the case with Eve. This would also make sense given that in Madagascar food sources can be hard to come by and the more methods of feeding themselves that vasa’s have the better off they will be.
Pick a good quality pellet! But keep in mind that pellets will only be a small portion of their diet, so the shelf life of the pellets is important. Vasa’s do not do well on a largely pellet diet. There is not enough fat or protien in pellets to sustain them. Vasa’s on a pellet only diet will be underweight and down right cranky. Eve gets only about 10% pellets, I think of them as more of a supplement than anything else.
Eve doesn’t get any seed. He just doesn’t like them. But others feed seed in addition to everything else. Seed is a very good source of energy for them if you can not provide the needed calories from other sources such as rice and pasta during the day
Other important factors…
Vasa’s require a good amount of Vit. D. In the wild as well as captivity they will sunbath. They will lie on the ground on their backs and spread their wings out to catch some sun. Or they will perch with wings out like a vulture in an effort to sunbath. This tell us that sunlight it extremely important for them. Which in turns means Vitamin D in very important. Since the UV rays (responsible for vitamin D production) can not penetrate glass, other sources of D3 would be from egg, fish, milk, and most cereals. (in the US most cereals are fortified with D3. Milk will depend on your individual vasa. Eve has no problems digesting it and gets a couple of sips a day. Some birds are very intolerant to dairy and become sick when ingesting milk. Natural sun light is always best, but not always feasible if you live in a cold climate or more seasonal climate.
Bee pollen, spiralina and sprouts…
These three are some of the most important things you can give any bird! And when using a mostly fresh diet these items will go a long way in completing your nutrition program. Remember inorder to use a fresh diet it must be balanced.
Dietary changes throughout the year
Breeding season requires more protein
Molting season requires more carbs, omega 3 and vitamin A, but less protein than during breeding season.
Wild diet recordings
Not much has been recorded, however Vasa's (both Greaters and Lessers) have been seen eating figs as well as star fruit in the wild.