Bird Food: Feeding Your Parrot A Well-Balanced Diet
Optimal parrot health starts with a nutritionally enriched diet. Avian vets recommend that you feed your parrot 80% premium pellets like Harrisons Bird Food and the 20% fresh foods. "Our birds' bodies are adapted to fresh raw foods, such as fruits, vegetable matter, nuts, seeds, sprouts, berries, leaf buds, pollen, nectar, insects, larvae, and small vertebrae" (Excerpts from Avian Nutrition by Alicia McWatters, Ph.D., C.N.C.) Offering your parrot a variety of fruits and vegetables is essential to parrot nutrition. Dried fruits and vegetables are good while fresh fruits and vegetables are better. Fruits provide your parrot with essential protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant. Fruits even contain fructose to support parrots energy level. The natural sugars in fruit are absorbed through the mouth providing an immediate energy boost aiding in re-hydration. A variety of vegetables provide minerals that are not available in some fruits. For instance, leafy greens contain essential vitamin A .
However, sometimes getting your parrot to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables is difficult. Parrots are picky by nature. In the wild, adult parrots acutally teach their young what foods are safe to eat through demonstration. Your parrot may not feel that a new offering is safe unless you show it. Birds that have been taught to eat a variety of foods tend to instinctively know which vitamins and minerals their body needs. For example, while your parrot may avoid eating the stems of many fruits, they eat the stems of vegetables such as Kale, Broccoli, or Mustard Greens which have increased nutritional values in the stem. Some root vegetables have combined nutrition from the root and the leaves. Dandelion Greens and Roots offer different, more complete nutritional benefits.
Clean your fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove pesticides from the skin before feeding them to your parrot. Avicine (bird safe disinfectant) or GSE are two good products to try. You can also peel most fruits since parrots usually disgard the peel. Try leaving a few chunks of fruit with the peel on for the fun of it. Parrots have a natural ability to peel foods due to of the unique shape of their beaks and tongues. Most parrots make a fun foraging game of shredding up fruit peel or picking at and tossing fruit seeds from fruits such as Papaya and Cantaloupe. If there is a significant portion of the fruit or vegetable that is leftover, you can toss the unused portion in the food processor and freeze for later use.
Several things can influence whether or not your parrot eats a particular piece of produce or not. Keep the FAITH! If once you do not succeed, try, try, try again! Entice your parrot with creativity!
- Is the fruit ripened? Some parrots do prefer some fruits just before they ripen while some parrots like fruits sweet and juicy.
- Is the fruit expired or out of season? Parrots know if the fruit is not good or not
- Does your parrot avoid soiling it's beak? Your parrot might be dying to try that sweet piece of Cantaloupe but he sees the juice is dripping down and he is thinking "Too messy for me!" Yes there are neat freaks out there, so we have to find a way to get parrots to try new foods.
- Flavor: Does your parrot love hot and spicy foods? Try combining dried chili peppers to cooked sweet potatoes to encourage your parrot to taste test a new healthy vegetable. Sweet and Tangy. Does your bird love tart apples? Shred up some Granny Smith Apples and sprinkle them over another fruit you want them to try. They will love to find the surprise underneath the apples! For the Garlic Lover. Mince up some garlic and add it to your broccoli. Stand back and watch your bird ravage it!
Shape: Slice, Dice & Chunks. There are those little rascals who prefer their fruit or vegetables cut a certain way. Here are some tips on fitting the "cut" with your parrots persona.
- Julienne: Great for birds who use their talons to eat.
- Chunks: What else, other than for the hearty eaters.
- Diced: Ideal for those who like petite bites. Bite size pieces is also helpful in attaining less waste.
- Puree: You can also puree it in the food processor till it is a "pudding" consistency. Often times parrots will enjoy a specific produce item served warm on a spoon.
Shredded: Nice alternative for those who might like a certain vegetable/fruit but are afraid to try it (Try it with carrots or apples).
Sprout seeds for increased nutritional value to the seed junkie parrot.
- Temperature: If your parrot does not enjoy a particular vegetable, try offering it steamed. It is an inventive way of enticing your parrot to eat specific vegetables with high nutritional values. (Note: Some parrots have an extraordinary sensitive beak which may cause them to dislike warm food. Always make sure foods are served at 105 degrees or less)
Crushed Ice Fruit Shake! Blend ice with tropical fruits such as Papaya, Mango or Pineapple.Fun Bird Recipes To Try:
- Broccoli Delite: Steam Broccoli and Carrots until tender. Sprinkle with some fresh lemon juice and serve.
- Broccoli Soup: Chop steamed Broccoli and Carrots in a food processor, add Soy Milk for and you have Cream of Broccoli soup!
- Bursting Birdie Bread: Grind up leftover fruits and vegetables and add them to Momma's Birdie Bread!
- Fruity Oatmeal: Add a teaspoon of ground up papaya or apple to some warm oatmeal. Keep all bird food under 105 degrees. Your parrot will love to try it.
- Apple Seeds
- Dried Beans
- High Fat Foods
- Junk Food
- Vegetable Leaves