In general, Birds of Prey hunt and eat a variety of animal matter. Prey items such as birds, small mammals, fish, reptiles, insects and amphibians are consumed. For Bird of Prey keepers and caretakers, it is important to know the natural diet of their birds. The challenge is to approach and treat this diet in the best possible way.
Day old chicks are the staple diet for many birds of prey in captivity. It is a relatively cheap food Â source and they are fairly nutritiously complete. The egg yolk, for instance, is a highly nutritious package full of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin E. However feeding day old chicks with egg yolk every day might cause problems. It is therefore advised that half of the day old chicks that are fed, should be de-yolked.
Most mammals given as food to birds of prey are rodents such as rats and mice. Hamsters and guinea pigs are less readily available, but are also good to offer. Care has to be taken when feeding big mammals to smaller birds as the big bones can be a danger and should be broken up. In their greedinessâ they can ingest big bone pieces which can easily get stuck in their crop or oesophagus. Rodents are an ideal prey source to vary the birds diet.
Birds of prey are often fed with quail or pigeon. These prey items resemble the natural diets of many birds of prey, especially falcons.. When using these prey items as food, caution should be taken regarding the transmission of bird specific diseases. Removing the head and the digestive system can minimize the risks of transmissions of pathogens. The freezing process also kills some pathogens. Often only certain parts of the prey items are used as food, which results in the necessity to supplement it with a vitamin and mineral supplement.
Other meat products such as chicken or turkey necks can be a good source to give some extra variation and enrichment. Minced beef or cow heart are often used when hand feeding chicks. Be aware that these products are not nutritionally balanced and can only be used as part of a diet. Ask your nutritionist or your veterinarian on how to implement these products in the diet.
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Good nutrition in birds is of great importance. Michiel Derks, nutritionist at Kiezebrink, has together with veterinarian Frank Verstappen and animal nutrition expert Joeke Nijboer developed a booklet containing a lot of information on the responsible feeding of birds of prey and owls. This useful booklet can be ordered online in our web shop and in the wholesale catalogue.