Q: Why do you guys say I shouldn’t give my bird fruit every day? I keep reading that we should feed fruit and vegetables.
-Blake, B., Barstow, CA
I understand your confusion. It is always fruit and vegetables this...fruit and vegetables that. Whenever discussion is about diet and nutrition, it is difficult to find the word “vegetable” when it isn’t paired with the word “fruit”. Even though these words seem inseparably linked together, nutritionally speaking, comparing fruits and veggies is like comparing apples and…okra.
It is really all about the carbohydrates. Carbs are fuel. All foods contain carbs. We need them to power our energy sucking brains and give us the vigor to get through the day. Carbs are essential to our bodies, but they can cause problems in the diet, especially when given in excess.
“Simple” carbs, the kind found in fruit and other high sugar foods, are molecularly structured to travel easily and quickly into the blood stream. This explains the sugar rush we experience – it gives us a sudden jolt of “fuel”. It also causes a chemical process that takes place in the body that causes simple sugars to be stored as fat.
By comparison, vegetables are a “complex” carb. Their structure provides a slower and more regulated entry into the blood stream that does not set off the chemical process that causes the body to want to store it as fat.
However, over-indulgence in any carb can result in fat build up. This is why, in our cookbook and nutrition course, we advise limited servings of all grains and legumes (pulses) both of which are high in carbs. This is also why birdie bread should be used as a means to coax birds to a vegetable high diet and not as the main meal every day.
Vegetables are, without question, the best choice of produce to fuel your bird’s body. There is no denying that fruit has nutritional value, but fruit cultivated and engineered by man has become less nutritious and is higher in sugar than the wild fruit that grows without human intervention. The fruits that wild birds dine on are more valuable to their diet than the fruits we get in the supermarket. This is so much so the case that we, at Birdtricks, are now calling for fruits to be offered only as “snack foods”.
When you pair vegetables with fruit in your bird’s food bowl, the vegetables will often take a back seat in preference to the better tasting fruit. This will eventually impact your bird’s health and body weight.
**IMPORTANT NOTE – This DOES NOT apply to the nectar eating lories and lorikeets. They have evolved to have a different diet than the other parrot species.