What do I feed?my parrot?
But here is what we do know… we know parrots eat newly sprouted grasses, flowers, clay licks, fresh rain water, fruits, seed, nuts and many other things. They also eat things in the wild that they can’t have in captivity because of the difference in environment. For example, many birds can eat toxic foods because they drink the natural rain water (like distilled water) which carries toxins out of the body, flushing them clean. But people feed their pets tap or bottled water. And it’s not always distilled that carries that magic touch. For instance, there is a substance within trees in the rainforest where the water gathers that toucans drink which carries iron out of their bodies so they can eat bugs and other small mammals higher in iron than their normal fruit diet. We just can’t possibly mimic natural to perfection in captivity… but here is what we can do!
We can feed them foods that are organically grown and as natural as possible. The idea is to stay very close to nature in your feedings. Raw veggies and fruits carry the most nutrients for your bird – so they are getting the most out of them if nothing is cooked. However, sometimes they won’t always go for that.
You can start with a purely organic pellet diet. We started our organic pellet diet due to our rose breasted cockatoo, Bondi, developing some low level foot tapping. As soon as we changed her diet from an all pellet diet that was non-organic, it stopped 24 hours later!
Other important foods in your bird’s diet are things like cooked brown rice, cooked pastas and beans… these foods should be cooked as it gives better texture and there is talk that uncooked pastas and rices will expand in the stomach. Better to be on the safe side if you ask me.
If your bird isn’t taking a liking to healthy foods, try changing the temperature or texture. For example, here are some foods I use as “temporary transitional foods” to get my birds to like the really healthy stuff.
Creamed Corn – This is a great food that birds will normally eat if warmed a little. It gives the texture and temperature of baby bird formula and is easy for them to eat while giving them a taste for corn. Eventually, you can move to corn kernals and then straight corn on the cob!
Mushy Berries – I will take a variety of berries and push them together to make them all mushy and delicious. Something about the texture makes the birds love this – I’ve never had a bird not like it! I normally use blue berries, raspberries, black berries and strawberries.
Sweet Potato – Parrots love these, especially if they’re boiled so they are soft, too. The softer textures seem to really have an impact on getting a bird to try something new. Especially if they are picky.
In the above picture, this was Cressi’ first experience with a boiled sweet potato. There was no looking back!
The advantage with mushy foods is also that you can push treats into them to get your bird to have to dig for the treat they really want, and in the process they get a taste for the healthy stuff. This works great in foods like oatmeal, flowers, wheatgrass, birdie bread, pasta, rice, and more. Get creative!
Your bird should be eating healthier than you – fruits, veggies and even meats if they like it. My birds love a little (cooked) fish or steak here and there. Everything is best served to a parrot plain and bare of any sauces, spices, etc. Keep it as natural as possible. Raw is best, but sometimes you will just need to boil it or cook it (then cool it so there is no burning of the crop) just to get your bird to come around and try it.
Putting healthy foods on birdie kabobs is a great way to make them play with their food and get some in the process. You can fit tons of things on these – celery, olives, bread, and many other fruits and veggies.
So basically? As much organically grown fruits, veggies and meats as possible along with an organic pellet diet. Always consult your local avian specialist on your bird’s specific diet as each species varies and each birds can vary from there. They all have different bodies even if they are the same species – just like humans. The same diet wouldn’t work for all of us or have the same effects on all of us so make sure you are catering to your bird’s body when looking into the proper diet.