Respiratory illness, susceptibility to infection and egg-binding were all like to a lack of vitamin A. Many bird owners blamed the sunflower seeds, but the seeds probably did not actually cause these problems. Instead, more likely the illnesses were a result of lack of vitamin A rich foods, such as certain fruits or green vegetables. Obviously, the rich taste of sunflower does not meet all the bird’s nutritional requirements, but it does satisfy the bird’s hunger.
Another reason bird owners fear sunflower seeds is a rumor that has been circulated around bird breeders and hobbyist circles for more than a decade. This rumor concerns the supposedly addictive quality of sunflower seed. The rumor has gained credibility over time, yet when pet food laboratories investigated they could find nothing which led people to believe these seeds were addictive was merely a way of showing that seeds are their favorite food!
To Seed, Or Not To Seed?
The choice to offer sunflower seeds to your Quaker is ultimately yours. If you don’t wish to use sunflower seed, you can certainly offer safflower. However, you should be aware that both seeds are grown mostly to produce oil for human consumption and only secondarily as bird food. The smaller seeds found in many mixes are not necessarily high in fat and should not be automatically grouped in the high-fat, high-calorie category. Different seeds contain a varying mix of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, as well as trace nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, depending on the plant and the manner in which it was grown and stored.
Generally, one single species of plant will not contain all of the amino acids required to provide a complete source of protein to maintain a healthy Quaker. But, any amino acid that is missing from one type of seed can be found in another food, so it’s relatively easy to provide a balanced, high-protein diet if you offer variety to your Quaker.