Hey everyone. A while back, I posted a topic about a method recommended by my vet to get my budgie to accept foods with more nutritional value than just seeds. It was very well received and relatively unheard of, so I figured I would reiterate it with more detail and relevance. I've heard a lot of methods for converting "seed junkies", but I've found this method to be successful despite never hearing much about it. In fact, I've never seen this method included in any How To guides I've seen.
This method is a bit similar to the "Monkey see, monkey do" method, where the budgie watches their owner eating a particular food and then will be more likely to do the same. But what if your budgie isn't putting 2 and 2 together despite watching you eat a mushed up banana or floret of broccoli? This is the issue I was encountering. By taking this method a step further, it's possible to more accurately mimic budgie flock behavior using your hand to "eat".
This method requires that your budgie is comfortable being out of their cage and on another surface, such as the floor or a table. They also should be hand tamed and comfortable with your hand. First, choose whichever food you want your budgie to start eating. If it's something like an apple or carrot, make sure it's cut into pieces small enough for your budgie to manage. Though for starters, you may want to just start with seed or food pellets, whatever your budgie is already familiar with. Lay the bits of food on a paper towel (or a paper plate if the food is wet to avoid soaking through). Next, bring your budgie to the towel/plate in an area free of too many distractions. It may take them a while to become comfortable with the presence of the food on this different surface.
Next comes what I call the "hand budgie". Pinch your thumb and index finger together, and with your other fingers, curl them into a small bowl shape. What you want to do is grab the food bits between your two fingers, roll the food back and forth in your fingers, and then shove the food back into the rest of your hand. Already, this is greatly mimicking the general behavior of a bird pecking at and eating food in a flock environment. You can take this behavior a step further if you have long fingernails (I'm a nail biter, unfortunately) by clicking them together, which will mimic the sound of eating. Such a sound can also be reproduced by rubbing two seeds/pellets together or crunching the bits of food between your fingers.
By having your budgie observe this, it provides a much better representation of "Monkey see, monkey do" than if you were just putting the food in your mouth. Depending on your budgie's comfort level, they may start eating along with you right away, or it might take a few minutes. At first, they might only be bringing their face up to the food and lightly tapping it, or picking it up with their beak only to put it back down. As with anything, patience is key. You may want to do this multiple times a day, but I would recommend you do it once every other day, at the very least.
I've seen great results with this method, especially considering previous methods weren't working at all. I started with seed, then moved on to colored fruit blend pellets, and eventually things like apple and spinach. It did take multiple sessions of doing this in order for my budgie to be comfortable eating these in her own food dish, but I'd say it's definitely worth trying. I hope this helps any of you who own seed junkies!
Oh, and here's a video of me using this method to get my budgie to try apple bits for the first time. Only took about a minute before she started chomping away.