Please Help My Senegal Parrot With A Vitamin D Deficiency
The Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus).

Please Help My Senegal Parrot With A Vitamin D Deficiency

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Pat F replied

Re: What should I do for my bird with a vitamin D deficiency, blood test to verify it.

He has a serious skin issue also.

you replied

what does the vet say?

Vet did blood test to rule out other problems and first text showed high uric acid and calcium deficiency.

Second test showed uric acid was normal and Calcium deficiency still low, but not extremely low.


My Senegal parrot is continually scratching like crazy.

I give him baths several times a week.

He has grown a lot of feathers back and numerous PIN feathers which seem to be painful to him.


The only test I have not done is an xray to see any bone issues.


He is a rescue and was on a seed diet for over 10 years, Vet said it will take at least a year for him to get better.


The vet also told me to get a UVB/UVA light and then at a subsequent visit he told me there was indications that a light was not a good idea because it irritated the birds eyes.


So I did not know what to do.


The bird is a picky eater, I have been trying to get him on a pellet diet.

He won’t eat pellets but I have sometimes gotten him to eat Harrisons feed.


As far as his skin, he scratches continuously and big flakes come off at times.


Let me know if you have any ideas please.




Hi Pat


I’m going to try to break this down, for the both of us.


I’m confused as to why your veterinarian is confused about the lighting situation.

Pat F replied: Me Too, I purchased a lamp that stood next to the cage and it was OK, but this weekend I purchased a Fetherbrite lite that has the night light also. 

It is so much brighter than the other one.

Pepper has only had it for a few days but he really likes it a lot.


We talk a lot about lighting here on Windy City Parrot and have little wiggle room when it comes to birds and lighting.


The fact that your vet was concerned about lighting irritating your birds eyes is quite disconcerting.


With the exception of pointing lasers directly into your birds eyes it’s unlikely that a commercial lightbulb made specifically for pets be they birds or reptiles would be harmful, by any stretch of the imagination.


I like to point out that birds get an enormous amount of information regarding their environment from the light that they receive.


All 10,400 species, to the best my knowledge have something called a pineal gland located directly behind the right eye.


This gland helps birds associate the quality and timing of light to help them make decisions about things like when to breed and when to molt.


Birds can tell time as accurately as any Rolex they just don’t know what day it is.


One of the most stressful things to birds is our North American light cycles that produce darkness at 5 PM in December and 8 PM in August.


This is why we recommend introducing artificial lighting over every birds cage.


The light should be no more than 6 inches above the top of the cage and connected to a timer which provides 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness simulating equatorial light cycles.


I’m not surprised to hear about the conflicting laboratory test results.


You are the second person in a week to regale me of a similar incident with another avian veterinarian – conflicting lab reports.


With regard to the vet saying that “it will take at least a year for him to get better,” if they have the ability to predict the future, why can’t they tell us how to end feather plucking or excessive screaming?


Pat F replied:  I think he was referring to his nutritional deficiencies taking a year to recover.


One factor that we didn’t talk about is whether or not your Senegal parrot is flighted.

Pat F replied: His wings are clipped but some are growing back. 

I don’t think he knows how to fly. 

He/she does not even try.

When we got Peaches our Senegal parrot, she had been in a rescue for seven years and never fledged.


We were told she will never fly.


Nobody told her that.


It took close to nine months for her flight feathers to grow in fully.

​Popcorn our rescue cockatiel went from a severe clip to fully flighted in about 90 days.


Getting a bird to fly is not the hard part.


Teach a bird how and where to land, now that’s a whole other discussion.


My point is that a flighted bird will have a healthier respiratory system just like mammals who exercise.


Muscles stay firmer and are less likely to atrophy, especially in the chest and shoulders.


Regarding the vitamin deficiencies, we’ve been hearing anecdotal stories about labs reporting false positives with conflicting results which is basically bad information about the health of your bird.


To ensure your Senegal is getting the right nutrition in terms of parrot food, we recommend Higgins Safflower Gold and/or Hagen Tropimix.

Pat F replied: I have tried almost everything o the market except that one.

This weekend I attended a parrot palooza in N.J. and got some samples of zupreem natural, he ate it so I bought some, now he wont eat it.

I also have Harrisons pellets he seemed to like last week and not so much this week.

His favorites right now are scrambled eggs, banana chips, any kind of cracker ( I limit those) and of course seeds.

I purchased a custom mix of fruits and veggies to mix with pellets but I dont know if he will eat it.

He does not like pumpkin, squash , watermelon, kale, spinach, any greens. He wont eat millet .

There is a longer list of things we have tried I just cant remember them right now.

Pistachios was his favorite until last week too. Some cereals, like Life, and Fruit Loops, he will eat, will NOT eat cheerios, or any sugar free cereals,

He/she definitely has a sweet tooth.

These two blends offer a combination of seeds, fruits, nuts, various other ingredients including pellets.


By going this route in terms of parrot food you’re no longer guessing about what to feed your Senegal parrot.


We know this because we have a Senegal of our own, Miss Peaches.


You also mentioned that you give “him” baths on a regular basis.


Do you know for sure it is a him or are you making an assumption?


Pat F replied: Its easy to say HE but I think Pepper is a female, and I have no proof of it other than a customer at the bird store said the coloring of the tail feathers would indicate she is a female, So I really don’t know.


I would also advocate at this point that you offer fewer bathing opportunities.


Pat F replied:  I have slowed down on the bathing, I am spraying him with a pure aloe liquid that is a food grade drinkable aloe.

He hates it but I do it anyway, I dont spray him daily.

I also have a spray from the pet store that has aloe and some oils in it


In that your bird is bathing so often, the bathing might be the cause of dry skin.


The frequent bathing might be causing the dry skin.


You may not be allowing your bird to accumulate the natural oils necessary to keep parrot feathers in excellent shape.


Pat F replied: His skin seems better and the large flakes are not there, this has just been this week. So I guess the combination of all of the above are helping.


I also feel like his whole personality has perked up since he was eating pellets.


Consider adding a small amount, quarter teaspoon of coconut oil on top of the daily food dish.


If the coconut oil is coagulated, put it in a small glass dish and microwave it for no more than five seconds.


Test for temperature before pouring it over the food.


It will re-coagulate and cling to whatever parrot food is in the food dish, helping to bring oil to your Sennie’s integumentary system.


From Wikipedia we learn


The integumentary system comprises the skin and its appendages acting to protect the body from various kinds of damage, such as loss of water or abrasion from outside.


The integumentary system includes hair, scales, feathers, hooves, and nails.


It has a variety of additional functions; it may serve to waterproof, cushion, and protect the deeper tissues, excrete wastes, and regulate temperature, and is the attachment site for sensory receptors to detect pain, sensation, pressure, and temperature.


In most land vertebrates with significant exposure to sunlight, the integumentary system also provides for vitamin D synthesis.


end Wikipedia


Now let’s circle back and talk about what parrot food we should use as a daily diet for your Senegal.


It’s a lot to ask of a bird to make a transition directly to bird food pellets after 10 years of seeds.


Pellets are also not an end all to end all.


Thus another reason we recommend blends like Hagen Tropimix and Higgins Safflower Gold is that both have a well-rounded mixture of fruits and nuts and seeds.


The two bird food blends include their branded pellets as well.


Any and all bird food blends in the Higgins bird and parrot food lines, contain InTune pellets, so the bird is starting out with a well rounded avian nutrition foundation.


For the record, our seven birds (we have six budgies) eat what we get in broken bags, tubs and boxes.


All the birds are good eaters, we don’t overly pamper or cater to their needs.


Throughout the day the birds will get everything from almonds (for Peaches) both shelled and unshelled.


Nutriberries, Avi-Cakes, slices of cucumbers, lettuce in their dishes, over their food and in the budgies bath.

Pat F replied: When we first got pepper he loved nutriberries and now he wont eat them.

I did get some this weekend that have popcorn in them and so far he has eaten the seeds off and throw down the inside part.

When we have dinner, Peaches joins at the table and usually gets what we are eating.

Pat F replied: We always offer and he is never interested, but recently he has shown some interest and actually tried to eat some of my husbands eggs. 

I was eating a cookie and did not offer him any and he climbed down my shirt and grabbed it, that was a first too.


She’s a lover of protein and likes chicken, pork and beef.


She likes her veggies but only when they’re warm.


The lettuce better not have any dressing or other slimy condiments either.


In conclusion: just spend time with your bird, consider perhaps clicker training which will help engage him  which may take his mind off plucking and preening.


The healing process could take a year, it may take six months or even two years.


Have no expectations, just enjoy your bird.

Pat F replied: We enjoy him very much, I had no idea how much fun they are.

I am just trying to help him/her get healthy and be happy.and live a long life.

Keep us posted.






Pat F replied 10/10/2018

Thank you so much for all the information.

My Senegal (Pepper) seems to be doing better. I will answer some of your
questions here, and we can go from there.

There is a longer list of things we have tried I just cant remember them
right now.

Pistachios was his favorite until last week too. Some cereals,
like Life, and Fruit Loops, he will eat, will NOT eat cheerios, or any
sugar free cereals, He/she definitely has a sweet tooth.

and on 10/10/2018


He seems to be.
He does not have as much flaky skin as he used to. He is now eating Harrison pellets regularly, of course he started eating them after I bought fiive pounds of Zupreem naturals! But I dont care at least he is eating.

He eats apples, and oranges, and eggs now. I don’t know if the UVB light is helping but I bought a better one since I emailed you.
He/she is happy, Even chewed up some paper and cardboard recently.

His head was completed Bald a month ago and now he has the little white fluffy feathers, I am really hoping that his new feathers come in.

So I guess progress.

Thanks for all of the info.

Pat F and Pepper

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