Opportunistic Foraging Behavior

Regarding the Quakers eating horse dung:

I have always heard that in the wild, the African Grey flocks follow the elephant herds. It is not uncommon to see an elephant with a flock of Greys hitching a ride on their backs!

The Greys eat the seeds and pods that that pass thru the elephants undigested into their dung. So, those Quakers are probably doing the same thing. They are probably not actually eating the horse dung, just what is in the dung.

Also, as the seeds and pods get dropped into boggy areas, and are surrounded by the dung, they are quickly sprouted, and the Greys devour those sprouts. I have heard that the undigested seeds and pods are often already sprouted, when they get passed by the elephant, having been sprouted as they pass thru the elephant’s system! One can see that the path thru the elephant’s body would be a perfect climate for sprouting – moist, warm and dark!

I suspect this is a very natural thing for wild birds to do.

I have traveled extensively throughout Mexico (before I had birds of course). It is not uncommon to find parrots, usually Macaws or Amazons, who have lived in restaurants and bars, as pets all their lives.

They are fed sunflower seeds and FRESH table scraps, exclusively. I have met both Amazons and Macaws in excess of 50 years old, always in perfect feather, and as tame as could be, raised in these circumstances. Many of these birds have never been caged, roam the restaurant or bar at will, beg for food from all the patrons, get fed by all the patrons directly from their plates of fresh foods, and perch on a chair at night!

Many can even roam outside, are fully flighted, and would never dream of leaving! I remember, in particular, one such pair of Amazons, named Chico and Rosita, who were frolicking on an outside wall, of the restaurant, as we arrived in the afternoon to eat. The minute they saw the car approach, they flew and waddled back into the restaurant, and sat down with us at the table! They knew that the arrival of 4 people meant food would be on the table in short order! They ate everything we shared with them with gusto! And, they were very old birds, still behaving as youngsters. Needless to say, I named my first bird (an Amazon), Chico!

A friend of mine, from Mexico, had a grandmother who had a pet Amazon all her life. The grandmother lived on a small farm in No. Mexico all her life. The bird was only fed her fresh table foods – beans (yes, with lard), home-made corn  tortillas, a few freshly grown vegetables, a few fruits, and whatever else this lady had. No seeds at all, and of course no pellets. The bird was thought to be at least 65 years old when the grandmother died. Of course, the bird died soon after, probably of a broken heart. The bird, again, was never caged, and perched on a kitchen chair at night.

Sincerely, Mary Sara Fields