Q: I like to buy my produce from local farmers and it usually takes several days before the food I buy gets used up. How many days in a row can I give my birds the same foods before they get bored?
– Tamara T., Houston, TX
A: I think it’s wonderful that you buy your produce from local farmers. It is something we should all consider doing. Not only does it support your community, but the quality of the produce is better than that which you will find in your local supermarket. Good for you.
The answer to your question calls for a bit of speculation. It is impossible, of course, to get inside the heads of our parrots and most of the judgements that we make on their behalf are based on our observations of their preferences.
A wild bird spends most of its day foraging for food. A flock might locate and feed on the same food source for weeks before it is depleted and they move on to another source. With this in mind, it seems completely reasonable to me that can you feed your birds the same food until it runs out. But is this acceptable to your bird?
In captivity, your birds gets what you give them – whether it’s what they would choose for themselves, whether it’s in or out of season. Our indoor birds have an entirely different dining experience than that of their outdoor cousins, but food, and feeding, is no less important to them.
Utimately, a successful parrot diet relies on both you and your bird. Your job is to be thoughtful and creative in your decisions about the diet.You should offer foods in ways that increase the likelihood that your bird will eat it. This is as much about your preparation and presentation of food as it is about the type of food you are serving. If you have several days worth of green beans to go through, try to serve them in different ways each day. You could leave them whole one day, dice them the next, steam them on the following day.
You need to keep in mind, however, not to let the food sit for too long in your fridge. For each day that goes by there is a marked decrease in its nutirional value. If you have more than four or five days worth of a particular food, consider freezing the rest. It is best that you make that decision on day one and freeze a portion while it is still at its nutritional peak.
Your bird’s job is to eat the food you prepare…and fling some against the wall, drop some on the floor for the dog, and make parrot soup by filling the water bowl with any leftovers. You get to clean up.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.