Is Fruit Good For Our Birds?

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 molecularity 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.

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.

 Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.





Hello, I adopted a few birds which were fed only bad human food and seed for some my African was only fed awful things for a bird. I have slowly got them all eating seeds and nuts and fruit….but they won’t touch veggies,what can I do,I am worried they are not getting the nutrients they need and will get fat and fatty liver disease.


What about Eclectus parrots?

Sebesa Stohldrier

Thanks for the Jiffy birdie bread in the cookbook idea. I finally got my rescue severe macaw to eat something other than citrus fruit and bananas. She can be fickle, somedays she’ll only eat pellets. Others she’ll eat her bird tricks mainstay 16 bean mix, some she’ll just ignore it. I’ve had to pair it with a tortilla to make her forage and I’m experiementing with different ‘glue’ options to get her to eat the things she needs. So inconsistent surprises work for her :) thanks! Favorite bird: its a tossup between Capri bird and Crash. Capri bird is probably the hardest to work with at times, but probably the most fun. :D And Crash helps understand some of my Jack’s behaviors and how bloody fickle he can be. He can be utterly irritating, and then out of the blue he will sing like a 5 year old, and its his most adorable moment.

Sebesa Stohldrier
Joan Elston

Our 4 year old Hahn’s Macaw has been badly affected with itching lately all over her body. In her desperation to ‘scratch’ she has several patches of skin showing mainly under her wings .A pet shop owner suggested we use a small amount of hair conditioner diluted with water and to apply onto the affected areas. This has had no effect. We have sought advice from an Avian Vet & was given a medication to mix with water for her water bowl. She refused this totally. We are concerned for her and my husband has asked me to request your help. He seems to think it might be an allergy to food. Her problem even keeps her awake at night. The Avian Vet thought her problem might be an emotional one. We would appreciate your advice. Many thanks in advance.

Joan Elston

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