How To Open:
I think the one thing that causes us to shy away from the coconut is its rock hard outer layer. Before I learned how easy it actually is to crack one open, I always felt like mother nature was watching from somewhere and snickering at my efforts. It can be a maddening procedure, and messy, until you learn how to do it properly.
There are several methods to opening and each one will get the job done. You can select which one works best for you.
If you want to make a toy for your birds that contains the meat, you may want to simply crack it open with the back of a heavy knife, such as a cleaver, until it breaks in half. This video will demonstrate this method. Scoring the shell first with the blade of the knife will make that job a bit easier and is likely to create more uniform pieces, if that’s important to you.
Another easy method is to drain it and pop it into a 250 degree oven and bake for an hour. You will know it is done when you can hear the insides move when you shake it. Score the outside and crack it open.The heat will often crack the shell and do the work for you. One benefit to this method is that the meat pulls away from the shell for easy removal and can then be frozen, grated or served in chunks. Another is that the shell will be free of any contaminates following the cooking procedure.
I think there is less mess involved when you drain the coconut of water before you break it open. To do this, locate the “eyes” of the coconut, which are the three depressions on one end of the shell. Punch holes into at least two of them with a nail, knife or corkscrew and let it drain over a bowl. Save the water to make coconut milk, which you do in the blender by pureeing the water with chunks of flesh taken from inside the coconut. You can add hot water to thin the mixture if necessary. Your birds will love the milk as much as the flesh.
The shells of coconuts have great potential for creating a variety of toys. You can drill a hole into the pieces and hang them with the meat attached to make a food toy. Or you can remove remove the flesh and put the two halves back together again with a chain running through the center to create a great hanging forager for your birds. If your shell breaks into many pieces when you open it, you can drill a hole in each piece, string it onto different lengths of ropes with knots at the end and attach all pieces to a quick link to create one big fabulous toy that your bird can chew, preen and climb.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.