Sharing Thanksgiving Dinner With The Birds

I don’t know the exact hatch dates of any of my birds, so we celebrate their birthdays collectively each year on Thanksgiving day. Since I also don’t know the hatch dates for Jamie and Dave’s budgies, Nikko and Visa, who are in my care, they will celebrate with us tomorrow.

I  chose Thanksgiving day as their pseudo-hatch dates for two reasons: 1) because I am so very grateful (usually) for their presence in my life, and 2) because there is always yummy treats to offer them.

Thanksgiving is the one meal each year where gluttony is entirely acceptable, and while I shouldn’t admit it, it is the one meal where I allow caution over their diets to fly out the window. I am always going on about how important it is to feed your birds a strictly healthful diet. I adhere to that policy every single day – except Thanksgiving. This one day a year, I close my eyes to the butter in the mashed potatoes, the marshmallows on the yams, and the gravy on the turkey. (Cut me a break, it’s their birthday!)

In years gone by, I have served the birds their meals in various ways, but usually the cockatoos eat at the table with me while the smaller bird tear through their meals at a separate table. I have learned to put down a drop cloth no mater what the size of bird. My cockatiels and Quaker make an industrial sized mess that will stand up against any high school cafeteria food fight. And it is no fun picking dried stuffing out of the carpet.

It’s a fun day for everyone, and surprisingly guilt-free for me, given how seriously I take their diet.  Everyone has has a big fat crop, myself included.

Please be very careful on this day, especially during the preparation of your meal. The kitchen is a dangerous place for your bird on days when every burner on the stove isn’t in use, and when you aren’t preoccupied with cooking and house guests.  And remember, tomorrow it’s back to fresh veggies without all the trimmings!

Finally, for any of you who missed this gem last year, this is what you can expect from your parrots during Thanksgiving preparations…

Thanksgiving With Parrots  (author unknown)

Turkey stuffing, Sweet potatoes, Mashed potatoes, Gravy, Green beans, Cranberry Sauce, Hot rolls and butter, Relish tray, Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, Hot coffee


1. Get up early in the morning and have a cup of coffee. It’s going to be a long day, so place your Parrot on a perch nearby to keep you company while you prepare the meal.

2. Remove Parrot from kitchen counter and return him to perch.
Prepare stuffing, and remove Parrot from edge of stuffing bowl and return him to perch.
Stuff turkey and place it in the roasting pan, and remove Parrot from edge of pan and return him to perch.
Have another cup of coffee to steady your nerves.
Remove Parrot’s head from turkey cavity and return him to perch.
. Re-stuff the turkey.
Prepare relish tray, and remember to make twice as much so that you’ll have a regular size serving after the Parrot has eaten his fill.
Remove Parrot from kitchen counter and return him to perch.
Prepare cranberry sauce, discard berries accidentally flung to the floor by Parrot.
. Peel potatoes remove Parrot from edge of potato bowl and return him to perch.
Arrange sweet potatoes in a pan and cover with brown sugar and mini-marshmallows.
Remove Parrot from edge of pan and return him to perch.
Replace missing marshmallows.
Brew another pot of coffee. While it is brewing, clean up and replace the torn filter.
Pry coffee bean from Parrot beak. Have another cup of coffee.
.Remove Parrot from kitchen counter and return him to perch
When it is time to serve the meal:
18. Place roasted turkey on a large platter, and cover beak marks with strategically placed sprigs of parsley.
Put mashed potatoes into serving bowl, re-whip at last minute to conceal beak marks and claw prints.
. Place pan of sweet potatoes on sideboard, forget presentation as there’s no way to hide the areas of missing marshmallows.
. Put rolls in decorative basket, remove Parrot from side of basket and return him to perch.
. Remove beaked rolls, serve what’s left.
Set a stick of butter out on the counter to soften. think better and return it to the refrigerator.
Wipe down counter to remove mashed potato claw tracks.
.Remove Parrot from kitchen counter and return him to perch.
Cut the pie into serving slices.
Wipe whipped cream off Parrot’s beak and place large dollops of remaining whipped cream on pie slices.
Whole slices are then served to guests, beaked-out portions should be reserved for hosts and hostesses.
.Place Parrot inside cage and lock the door.
Sit down to a nice relaxing dinner with your family – accompanied by plaintive cries of “WANT DINNER!” from the other room.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving day.

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



So funny because it is so true.


I love this article. It is funny, and it is funny because it’s so true. The truth is, parrots may just beat cats in the comedy world.

Deb N

This was wonderful! I especially loved # 27 wipe whipped cream off parrot’s beak and #28 whole slices served to guests beaked out portions should be reserved for host and hostess! Thank you for sharing your love of and knowledge of how to best care for our feathered friends!

Deb N

This is so wonderful. I laughed till cried. I can see it all the way along. Thank God I don’t have Sam doing these things as it would not be good for me to become so anxious. I would be afraid he would get burnt. I love your post. Thanks for sharing. Happy Thanks giving and I am grateful for you and your wonderful post. God Bless you.


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