During my recent visit to Ginger's Parrots Rescue in Phoenix, there was one bird in particular that I had trouble recognizing. She had no trouble recognizing me as we'd become friends during my previous visits and she even participated in my seminar. This was Ubee, a 16 year old female Senegal Parrot.
Ubee is a sweet little Senegal Parrot but can be very bratty and requires a firm hand. She is one of the smaller Senegals I've seen yet with a huge personality. She can be quite the little terror if given the opportunity. I recall a story where Ubee (while still originally clipped) jumped off her tree, casually strolled across the floor, climbed up Ginger's husband's leg, got on his shoulder, and then viciously attacked him! That's the kind of bird Ubee is and the reason she is being rehabilitated at the rescue.
Anyway, the interesting thing is that the last time I saw Ubee, she was half black on her wings. Her plumage was covered in stress bars and she sooner looked like a black parrot with green specs rather than the other way around. She was very easy to tell apart from the other Senegals because of this alternate appearance. Yet this time when I visited, I could no longer tell Ubee apart by color. I had to get used to telling her apart from the others mainly by size alone. Her vest is also more orange than the others but that is harder to see at first glance.
So what is fascinating is that after less than a year primarily on Roudybush pellets (converted from a different/colored pellet prior) this Senegal Parrot's plumage has taken a 180 and really cleaned up! Not only are the stress bars gone, but the plumage is brighter, crisper, and cleaner looking. Aviculturists and Veterinarians seem to be able to infer a lot about a bird's health by its plumage so I think it is pretty reasonable to correlate that this parrot not only appears visibly better but is healthier as well.
To me, seeing these kinds of visible results is by far the biggest reason to use and support a Roudybush pellet diet. Seeing is believing. It's one thing to postulate that one pellet is better than another based on ingredients, etc. But it's quite another when you see brilliant plumage (and particularly in contrast to how it was on a different diet). Furthermore, Roudybush has years of research and data to back it up. Regardless, nothing is more convincing than seeing actual improvement.
I realize the color/flash in the photos is a bit different but I really want to point out the clarity of the plumage in the second photo. Notice all of the black in the wing feathers as well as tail feathers. After being converted to Roudybush, the plumage has become more uniform as well as vibrant. I can vouch that in person I noticed the plumage to be a brighter shade of green than originally. It went from a dark leafy green to a more iridescent sort of green that I am accustomed to seeing on my own Poicephalus parrots.
The interesting thing is that this parrot was already on a pellet diet, just of a different kind. Seeing improvement when a parrot converts from seeds to any pellet is pretty obvious. But it is much more surprising to see this much improvement from a parrot going from one pellet to another.
Here are a few more reasons I think this is a pretty objective demonstration of the value of the diet change. The rescue keeps parrots on a predominantly pellet diet (80%+) so it's almost impossible that the change is due to beneficial supplemental foods. Unfortunately the rescue birds do not get outside much (which I am hoping to change) so the role of natural sunlight did not play a role at improving feathering. Although it is impossible to compare stress levels between the prior home and rescue, I doubt that stress at the rescue decreased. If anything, I would guess that stress increases (in a healthy amount) because the birds are trained and have to fend for themselves in a flock environment. Also the parrots' food is managed so food stress certainly is not lower. Yet the plumage of all of the parrots has improved while on the Roudybush Maintenance diet. Improvement has been noted in all of the parrots, however, Ubee's case really stands out because it was so drastic and quick.
I am first to admit I don't know much about parrot nutrition. I don't think any individual can claim to know what foods a captive parrot needs and in what proportion. The problem is that the fresh/human foods we can offer are not natural to parrots, the proportions are arbitrary, and the results are difficult to measure. If you offer a mix of fruits/vegetables to your parrot, you can't tell which ones are helping or hurting because you only see the net result. If feeding an all fresh diet is better than pellets, at best it is only marginally so. I see excellent plumage and health results of parrots that have been converted to Roudybush. But going with a fresh diet is risky. Since you don't have the knowledge of how to properly balance the diet and since the parrot does not either (remember in nature is is balanced by availability and species are evolved to subsist on that availability), there is a greater risk of something necessary being left out. For example if you decide to mix seeds and pellets and let the parrot choose, the parrot will eat a lot more seeds then pellets and effectively be on a seed based diet. Likewise with fruits/vegetables, if the parrot eats all the ones it likes and leaves the others, it may just be on an all fruit diet and be missing out.
Reading the research and hearing good things about Roudybush convinced me to try it for my parrots and to recommend it to the rescue. Seeing the improvements first hand (much more starkly in the rescue parrots because mine were on ok diets prior), has even further solidified my opinion that a predominantly Roudybush diet is a reliable starting point when it comes to parrot diet. I may have expected some improvement but I am actually a bit surprised that the advantage is so extensive and visible. Perhaps there is something better out there or a better fresh diet, however, seeing how good the plumage on a Roudybush fed parrot already is, it would be very difficult to observe and demonstrate this. Until someone is able to do so, I will stick with what I know produces reliably results. On this basis, I will continue to recommend Roudybush as an excellent staple diet for companion parrots.
Here is a video of me target flying a bunch of Ginger's Rescue Senegals for Roudybush pellets as treats.