How To Get Your Bird Interested In Vegetables


Vegetable smeared beak. The galah/rosebreasted cockatoo equivalent of a milk moustache. Merlin loves his food.

The only stupid question is the one that you don’t ask. I’ve heard that often enough and I’m not entirely sure that I believe it. Mainly because I once worked in a bookstore and was asked if we stocked books that had pages in them? Or the time that my mother asked me what the dishwasher was doing and I answered the dishes? Yes, I’m afraid there are stupid questions out there and I’m pretty sure that some of you are going to think this blog post is dealing with one of them.

First though, I’m going to deal with a question that isn’t stupid and that I do hear a lot. “My bird won’t eat vegetables, how did you get your galah to eat broccoli like that???!” It’s the common thing that bird people say to me if they ever happen to witness my elderly galah, Cocky Boy devouring an entire head of broccoli (stalk and all) as is if his life depended on it.


Cocky Boy working on what was a whole head of broccoli (which he has chosen to eat in preference to a dish of pellets).

The answer to that question is found in the last part of the above – his life depended on it… Ok, that seems odd, doesn’t it? But I think that’s literally what he feels. Why? Do you know how to make a galah REALLY mad? Accidentally bash him over the head with a full head of broccoli when he’s “helping” you prepare his breakfast. Watch that galah go mental and retaliate by attacking the broccoli. Best part of that though is when he gets even angrier when he realises he can’t get a decent grip on the leafy bits and has to rip them off until he finally reaches a branch-like bit and can get a grip that is strong enough to hurl the broccoli angrily back at you.

The next step is obvious, isn’t it? Broccoli war. What followed was my prodding him with the remaining broccoli, so he that he attacked that. A version of broccoli tug-of-war ensued and ever since that day if he sees broccoli – he jumps on it and devours it before I can conveniently bash him over the head with it. Can’t get your bird to eat vegetables? Bash your bird over the head with them. Awesome piece of advice that! Wonder why I don’t tell it to everyone? 


Male eclectus parrot – what have you done to the kiwi fruit????

Ok, so we shouldn’t be bashing our birds over the head with vegetables to get them to eat them but there is a point to this story. The real answer to the how do I get my bird to eat fruit and vegetables question is to look at the way you present the fruit and vegetables. If you can get their interest or even turn it into a game, you’re more than halfway there.

As more proof of that, my eclectus parrot Pepi is neurotically obsessed with getting the small black seeds out of kiwi fruit. He smears the fruit over every surface as he searches for them. My fault. This was caused because of the way in which I originally introduced him to kiwi fruit. This is what happens when you stab sunflower seeds into a kiwi fruit just to get a bird’s attention.


The search and destroy all seeds mission has started…

Don’t give up if your bird doesn’t appear interested in a healthy diet initially. Persist. Present things differently and make a game of it wherever possible. There are plenty of ideas in the cookbooks to help with this.

Which brings me squarely back to stupid questions, namely my own stupid question. I was complaining about how tired my hands get when chopping and grating vegetables to make up a large quantity of the batch recipes for freezing. Different textures/chopping styles significantly helps to keep their interest so I try to cut everything slightly differently. Cooking for 10 birds? As much as I love my birds, I get over how long it takes to chop vegetables. I remarked that if it weren’t for my blender I’d die. Well the friend I was talking to said that if it weren’t for her food processor she’d die. So my stupid question? What’s a food processor??? Clearly a stupid question as if it’s such a basic tool for chopping vegetables for someone else, then I should have come across one before – right?


Otto – my musk lorikeet. He prefers his carrot diced.

Well as crazy as it seems to me now, the world of the food processor was new to me. My parents never had one when I was a child and their parents hadn’t when they were children. I don’t really watch much television and haven’t seen them advertised. I’m not sure how you find out about these things if the people around you do not expose you to them? In my world, if you wanted a vegetable cut up – that’s what a knife was for. Want a fine mash? Pulverise it in a blender. Simple, right? Well apparently it could be simpler.


How much chopping is required before shoving the vegetables into the food processor…

So I went shopping and I bought a food processor. It came with bits. Silver discs that are meant to cut things, whisks, a sort of bladed propeller and odd things that you could impale someone on (which are apparently supposed to hold the discs in place). The instructions were awesome. The instructions told me to stay away from the sharp bits because (shock) they are sharp. There was also a picture showing the different shapes the machine could turn vegetables into (with no indication which bits made which shapes). More evidence of how stupid my “What is a food processor?” question is. Clearly food processors are such a basic thing that everyone knows what the bits do without instruction.


The magical machine itself (looks a lot let confusing when the bits are all in place!)

Now I can hear many of you making incredulous remarks about my not knowing what a food processer was, but I’m quite sure I’m not alone. In fact, I had a bird friend visit while I had the bits spread out on my kitchen bench. I asked her for help and she hadn’t seen one before either. “I just use a blender,” she said in a why-are-you-even-bothering-? tone of voice.

I turned to YouTube but discovered that the people who made my machine produced the videos that related to my food processor (the ones who thought instructions were unnecessary). The videos sort-of helped me work out how to put the bits together but didn’t help me work out which discs cut, which shapes. So I took the approach of “shove carrots in and see what happens” which was a fantastic technique for learning how to use the machine, that was until I found the dough folding tool (which apparently doesn’t like carrots).


Less than 10 seconds work to end up with this. (Capsicum/pepper and carrot blend.)

So at the end of all of this, I’ve come to understand something that many of you already knew. A food processor makes preparing bird food WAY easier and a lot more fun. It more than halved how long it took me to prepare my last batch recipe. However, as these things go – you’re never alone when you have a stupid question. I’m sure there are others aside from me that will benefit from this revelation.

I’m also guessing that I’m not the only person who has a bird in their flock who will only eat carrot if it is grated, another bird who wants it diced, another who wants slices, another who likes to wave it around whole and then the evil one who only wants it if it’s in a food bowl that belongs to another bird or better on the end of a fork headed for your mouth.


My galah/rosebreasted cockatoo Merlin assisting with breakfast. Photo taken two seconds before the “maximum capacity disc” got flung at the dog sleeping on the floor below. In all seriousness, it really does seem to be best used as a frisbee…

If you have a bird that isn’t convinced a better diet is better, change up your presentation, try some different recipes, and get the cookbooks. If like me and time is an issue maybe try a food processor? Who knows? You might join me in the world of wondering why food processor manufacturers think people are smart enough not to need instructions but need a ‘maximum capacity disc’ to tell them that the top of a bowl is its full capacity. (I still think that disc’s real purpose is to be a Frisbee and at least one bird here agrees…)

Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.


Jennifer Percopo

After about 3 hours of chopping… well, actually MINCING by hand I went downstairs to my moms and vented about my arms falling off. She said “why aren’t you using a food processor?” Because I don’t have one, and the blender sucks. “You could have taken mine!” Would have been nice to know that 3.5 hours ago!! lol… But, the last little bit was processed, then everything was thrown in for good measure lol. But I did it, blood sweat and tears (and 3 cuts on my fingers to prove it) for my birds!

Jennifer Percopo

You can buy really cheap food processors at places like Wal-Mart where I got mine. It’s small so I only do a veggie at a time but it works great esp if you don’t have to many birds. Cuts through everything like carrots & harder veggies! Plus I know people make now commonly referred to as chop in large quantities & freeze some. I noticed my birds don’t prefer thawed out chop although I’m some what lucky as my birds eat anything! But if you are having trouble try using veggies on a stick like a toy ( you can buy metal ones for this but you can just buy the wooden ones a lot cheaper at grocery stores that you would use if you were making your own subdivisions) just make sure if you buy wooded skewers you cut off the sharp tip after you put the veggies on. Then just attach to your cage with safe leather or other safe things you use to attach toys & at first they might distort like a toy but then realize it’s yummy & now you got your birds starting to eat veggies. Also some prefer veggies a link steamed or warm. Diff sizes or shapes. Try processing less or more or grate n cut in diff sizes. If you look on Uribe or face book for parrot nutrition groups you can get a ton of ideas & if you keep at it they will eventually get it! Do research bc there’s tons of ways like bird breads n such. Also I found a few good parrot cook books at the library and the more they eat fruit n veggies plus stuff like oats,flaxseed, healthy nuts, vanilla seeds added to chop it can help save money because they eat more fresh stuff so your pellets that can be expensive will even last longer! There’s getting to be a lot more nutritional health tips out there for free. You just gotta use the tools I mentioned for research. Also ask your vet to make sure your diets are good & research diets for the species of parrots you have will help to make sure your giving them the best diet. Also if you have access to a local food market check it out. They are the freshest usually organic & mention it’s for you birds, you’d be surprised,I usually bring one of my birds & they usually give me great deals & hook me up with some extra freebies! Good luck!


I only discovered food processors a few weeks ago. I am still learning about the bits :)


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