Hopefully, by now we all know how important it is for parrots to eat a balanced diet that includes fresh foods. In fact, I just recently attended a parrot nutrition lecture by Jason Crean in which he advised a 100% whole food diet. In other words, NO processed foods including pellets.
I’ll blog about his parrot nutrition philosophy more in a separate article. But here’s one of the slides from his introduction:
But what do you do when you have a bird who doesn’t seem to be interested in “best practices” espoused by experts?
I used to have two of those birds myself. When I got Stewie and Mika, they wouldn’t touch fresh food. I’ve recently been looking back on some of my earliest posts on this blog, back when I documented every little thing about Stewie and Mika.
“Look, she’s playing with a green bean!” “Progress, they’re eating freeze-dried veggies!”
And it occurred to me that since I haven’t been blogging for the past few years, the picture that people may have of how my birds eat is stuck in the past.
Actually, my birdsitters always remark on what good eaters my guys are. Whenever they are offered a bowl of anything, they tend to at least sample some of it.
During that same nutrition lecture with Dr. Crean, one of the attendees said it took them offering fresh mash twice a day, every day, for close to a year before their birds started eating it. I can’t say I was ever that dedicated.
But somehow, here we are, in 2018. And both Mika and Stewie will happily eat almost anything. I’ll be honest, most of their diet is still a high-quality, vet-recommended pellet. But years of offering them new stuff, consistently, sometimes with success and sometimes not, has definitely paid off over the long term.
Today, I was making a stir fry for myself. After I washed and chopped up my veggies, but before I seasoned and cooked them, I put a little bit of everything aside (everything except onions!). I threw squash, carrots, green beans and broccoli into the blender, pulsed it long enough to get everything nice and mixed together (but with a few chunks left to keep it interesting) and then threw the mix over quinoa. I didn’t sprout the quinoa this time, but will next time. Sprouted grains are VERY high in nutrients.
Here’s what it looked like:
And here’s Mika devouring it:
If you have parrots whose nutrition isn’t up to snuff, here are a few things to try:
- Introduce the concept of fresh foods with sweeter items like bananas, apples, grapes, corn and snap peas
- Chop the mix really small
- Feed big chunks
- Put it on top of their regular food for a while
- Sprinkle tiny bits of their favorite treats on top (make sure they see you do it)
- Put it on a skewer next to their favorite toy
- Feed fresh foods before giving them access to their regular food
If some of these tips sound contradictory, it’s because they are! Every bird is different, so you should try lots of different approaches. And keep at it! Often it just takes a while!
But keep in mind: If a bird doesn’t recognize a new object as food, they won’t eat it. Always make their normal food available to them before too long. Don’t think “well, they’ll eat if they get hungry enough” because you may end up starving your poor parrot!
Also, don’t keep fresh foods in cages too long as they will spoil. Foods high in moisture should be removed sooner. Ditto on removing foods sooner if your parrots are kept in a very warm environment.
This post is intended as a look at what was on today’s dinner menu and is FAR from a comprehensive look at a parrot’s nutritional needs. Nor is it a conversion plan away from seed or pellets.
Stay tuned for a more comprehensive look at what you should be feeding your birds and how to get there!