There are a few theories as to why pet birds are so fascinated with their reflection in a mirror. The most common is that they believe it is another bird. We prefer to think that they are simply admiring their own beauty. With those iridescent greens, yellows and blues in their feathers, how could they resist admiring that handsome devil in the mirror? How is it that those magical hues come together to make such a beautiful creature? We've laid out factors that lead to healthy plumage followed by our tips on how to keep pet bird plumage beautiful!
Factors That Lead to Beautiful Plumage
- The darkest stripes and tones come from a molecule called melanin. That probably sounds familiar, because it is the same substance that provides the color in our own human skin and hair. Birds rely on melanin to be able to fly, because it is very strong and resistant – so it is usually found in the flight feathers, conveniently also helping provide great aerodynamics.
- Carotenoids are another form of pigment that make up those warm oranges and yellows. Carotenoids come straight out of what birds eat. They are compounds of plant origin and require photosynthesis to make, so birds have to get them from eating plants, or insects that have eaten plants.
- Last but not least are the “special edition” pigments, called Porphyrins which are produced by modifying amino acids. Not just your average pigment, Porphyrins make up the vibrant pinks, reds and greens found on parrots, cockatoos and macaws.
- If all of that is not amazing enough, Keratin, the crucial protein in bird’s feathers, is structured to allow light to twist and turn into rainbows of iridescence. In other words, keratin allows feathers to act like a prism to scatter light and provide that shimmer.
How to Keep Pet Bird Plumage Beautiful
One of the most important factors in helping our captive birds develop and keep that incredible plumage is providing a nutritious balanced diet. Not only does proper nutrition keep a bird healthy and help fight off illness and disease, it helps grow strong beautiful feathers. New feather growth requires vital nutrients including amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and protein is needed to keep their muscles strong for flying.
Feeding just seeds and nuts is not enough to keep a bird healthy, happy and beautiful. Even “vitamin enriched” seeds may not have enough calcium, protein and Vitamins A & B. Fruits and vegetables should be added, along with a supplement with key vitamins and minerals like The Missing Link® Avian Formula. Adding this daily powder supplement will deliver much needed Omega 3 essential fatty acids, dietary fiber and phytonutrients along with calcium and Vitamins A and B. The supplement not only supports sustained energy levels and a healthy digestive system, but helps maintain color and shine and thicker plumage.
Birds generally have a poorly developed sense of smell and taste so the appearance and texture of food is what matters most to them. The Missing Link powder formula is easy to sprinkle in with seed, soft food, or add to veggies and fruit. They will never know that those powerful phytonutrients are going to work to keep them happy, healthy and handsome. But they just might feel a bit more like strutting their stuff and taking a second look in that mirror.
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About The Author
Marjorie Murray has been around animals every day of her life, and is currently dog mom to Layla, a rescue hound mixed with a whole lot of personality. Marjorie has worked for The Missing Link for four years where she spends her days happily immersed in all things pet. When not at work or on another long walk with Layla, she enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors, hiking, biking, gardening or reading, or in the kitchen baking comfort foods.