Should We Share Table Food With Our Birds?

Hyacinth macaw

Q: Is it okay to feed my new blue and gold macaw the same foods as I eat at dinner?
– Devin B., Bethesda, MD

A: Yes. And no. Most of the foods we eat are good for parrots: fruits, vegetables, pastas, grains, fish and small amounts of  lean cooked meats. The term table food generally is used in reference to our preparation of these foods, at which time they begin to get unhealthy.We add salt, sugar, butter, sour cream, and dressings to make the foods more palatable and enjoyable for us. These additions are not good for birds for all the same reasons they are not good for us.

We have about 10.000 taste buds in our mouths – a bird has less than 100. My discovery over the years is that a bird will eat squash that has not been doctored up to make it taste better, so why add anything?  It just raises calories that a caged bird will have trouble expending. The best food for a parrot is in its most natural form.

When you are cooking for yourself, simply separate your bird’s portion from your own before you add those things which are unhealthy for a bird.



Be aware that you can develop bad eating habits in your bird very easily. Even with their scant 100 taste buds, a bird is able to detect and differentiate flavors and will know if something he has grown to like is missing. This may cause him to turn away from the more healthy version of the same food. This is why it might be best that he never learns how good maple syrup is on the whole wheat waffle he now enjoys without it.

Start your bird off right by introducing him to a diet that is healthy and free from human culinary taste preferences.

Check out our third cookbook in our 3-cookbook set Sharing the Table With Your Bird for fun meals you can make and share safely with your feathered friends.

 

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

72 comments

Thea

My African Grey gets excited, dances, flaps his wings whenever he THINKS we are about to eat something…if we even open the cupboard door, pantry door, refrigerator….he is sooo funny….he LOVES peanut butter so we give him a tiny bit but not before he does a trick…he has to work for it!

Thea
Prasanna

My Wild parrot sweetie n Tweetie likes to eat uncooked noodles. Might be it likes the crunchiness of the noodles. They love Guava and Sunflower seeds.

Prasanna
Bridget Davidtsz

My African Grey is perhaps one of the most loved birds on the planet! He has a diet that will rival that of kings…paw paw pips, paw paw, orange (and loves the skin), nartjie, granadilla, grapes (particulatry fond of cabernet and malbec), brussel sprouts, pomegranate, organic dried cranberries, rasins, turkish apricots, pumpkin seeds, guava, organic egg (every two weeks), organic kidney beans, peas, chick peas, barley, brocolli, sugar snap peas, fresh chillies, organic wheat free pasta, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroot, spinach, lychees, potatoes, wild and brown rice etc…he really loves steamed prawns with fresh Chilli sauce and lamb chops (trimmed of excess fat) and fresh fish and of course some cousin (chicken)… NO SUNFLOWER / PEANUTS! Enjoys some canary seed and millet. Gets 1/2 an organic pecan nut every evening for which he will do just about anything! I do not cook with salt / sugar/ butter so I hope that herbs won’t hurt him? Does anyone know?

Bridget Davidtsz
Kathie Mintzmyer

Thank-You for your imfo. I feed my parrots just about everything but mainly fruit, vegies, breads, crackers, and lean cooked meat. Also peanuts, but they just won’t eat other nuts for some reason. I never gave them fish for I was afraid it would be like a poisen to sicken them. They are going to be happy that you clued me in that they can have fish now. My husband and I go around and around about feeding the dogs pork, for I know it is not good for them. Is it alright for parrots though,,,like bacon? Again thank-you for the new lesson today.

Kathie Mintzmyer
Marjorie Hoppas

i have a cockateil named Binky, who loves to eat with me when I eat breakfast. He always enjoys the food that I have. but if there is something there that he doesn’t like, he won’t even try it. He doesn’t like bananas, or any other type of fruit. He does like veggies and pasta, and cheese, and chips. I try to make sure that he gets some type of balanced food. LOL Binky knows when I am fixing food because he can smell it. He always starts to squawk whenever he is in his cage and I am fixing a meal. Whenever he is out, he flies onto my shoulder and watches me fix food. He is quite the character.

Marjorie Hoppas
Roger Leclercq

My 26yr old African Gray goes nuts over Cheteos also loves corn on the cob,brocolly,chicken steak and steamed crabs as well as her pellets and seed.

Roger Leclercq
Gary

People food is just as bad for people as it is for birds. Today my 8 macaws dined on cream corn and sunflower seeds. Variety.

Gary
Maddie Wingett

I cook a mish mash of food for Newbie, freeze it in small containers and he gets that for breakfast and supper…Before he gets his cooked food for supper I give him some of my fresh salad first (without the dressing) so he gets more fresh veggies that way,… At noon I give him fresh peas from the pod or steamed yams, steamed frozen corn or peas..etc… He gets any kind of fresh fruit, especially pomagranate which he loves, Once in a while I give him a small bit of junk food… He has an enormous appetite for a small parrot..I leave pellets for him and then I also give him a handful of bird seeds/treats when I leave the house. He eats better than I do.LOL .I feel like it’s a he eats and I clean deal all day long but he is active, healthy and happy..

Maddie Wingett
Valery

I catch my jenday conure, Marley trying to steal cokes. If you leave one somewhere he’ll try to push it out of sight so he can lick the top. He has even knocked one over to get to the coke inside. He knows he is not allowed to drink it and will throw a fit when I take it from him. I have to be extra careful about turning my back on him when there is a coke in the room!

Valery
Patty PV

Our blue and gold macaw loves garbanzo beans. Better if I make them from a package of dried beans, but she will eat canned beans (which I rinse) as well as no-salt snack garbanzos with chili and lime. She LOVES those. And dried veggies. Good to have on hand to supplement the fresh fruits and veggies.

Patty PV
Wendy Middleton

I have been sharing my fresh local strawberries with my Quaker for the past two weeks and he absolute loves them. He also likes blueberries and mango and to a lesser extent raspberries. With the other berries, he will eat yogurt and cheerios, but with the strawberries in the picture, he ignores the other food mostly. I really hope that I haven’t caused him any harm by introducing him to strawberries. They are probably out of season now locally. Last year I remember that he adored fresh peaches, which we will be getting soon. I haven’t had avocado in the house (even though I love it) since I brought Mickey home, nearly two years ago, so I don’t know how he would react to it.

Wendy Middleton
rayray

humans should learn to eat the way their bird does … and eat what their bird eats!!!!! NEVER,NEVER let a quaker eat table ’’scraps’’ … quakers have a genetic abnormality that causes accumulation of lipids and cholesterol and>>>>>FATTY LIVER>>>>> EARLY DEATH…. TRY NOT TO ALLOW YOUR BIRD TO EAT SIMPLE CARBS— empty calories… RATHER THAN nutritious fruits, vegies, nuts, grains… halapenios[sic] and if seasoning is necessary a touch of ‘’salsa…’’

rayray
Tom Ross

Our Blue and Gold and Greenwing will eat just about anything with zest, especially pasta and pizza. We allow them to have what they want and monitor their droppings. We feed them a pellet and when the droppings change color from the pellet droppings brownish color to another color, they don’t get any more table food until they get back to the pellet They will try to “wait you out” for the good stuff and not eat pellet if you allow them.

Tom Ross
Dawn

My blue & gold Macaw LOVES pancakes (no syrup), eggs & his eyes really get big when I give him peanut butter crackers. He only gets about 1 or 2 a week. He gets plain crackers often. When we eat he always says bite I wanna bite. If he gets no bite, we get no peace. His screams cut like a knife.

Dawn
Jeff

our 6yr old Cockatiel loves to eat rice (brown or white) just plain, and spagittie, but our Cherry pie Conure ( which is a sun conure; cherry head mix ) only like bowtie pasta and spagittie type pasta. they both also like Cheerios; with out milk. The Cherrypie Conure is 3yrs old.

Jeff
Maddy C.

Mine adores any kind of pasta, especially curly noodles. She also loves pizza, chicken legs and adores beef but we don’t eat that very often. She will get a very rare jelly bean (drives her nuts just to see them). She does like edame in the pod and yogurt. She gets parrot food for a supplement. I’ve had her for 19 years and she stays healthy. Oh yeah, she likes 1/4 of a whole grain blueberry waffle for breakfast and 3 almonds before bed. She’s a yellow naped amazon.

Maddy C.
rob

Nell Matthews you shouldnt let your conure near avacado……berries are fine for conures

rob
D. Becnel

Our Yellow Nape is hooked on boiled crawfish and american cheese. He loves the crawfish claws and when we start putting it on the table – he starts yelling “What About Les”? (his name is Lester) until you give him claws. He will practically leap off his cage for cheese. He eats everything except chocolate and avocado.

D. Becnel
Misty

Our ruby and miligold macaws make that yummy sound (“MMMMMM!”) when they get something they like, even if they have never had it before. The only bird we have that won’t eat any people food is our umbrella cockatoo, she will only eat oranges other than pellets.

Misty
Laurilee

My Bluefronted Amazon, Jerry is a carbaholic…just like me…but we are working on better healthier choices. I hate to admit it but he even likes some chicken and turkey!

Laurilee
Brian Englehutt

Our grey ( Telus ) shares what we usually eat, but I didn’t think they wre allowed to eat fish or meat. He loves to eat spicy. Likes mashed potatoes, pastas with tomato sauce nearly all green vegies. Cantalope, blue berries ( messy ) banana and corn on the cob he goes crazy hardly anything left when he is finished.He goes bizerk when I give him a little piece of licorice but I don’t know if it is good for him, maybe someone can tell me. It is the best treat I have found to make him do just about anything.

Brian Englehutt
Carole

Our Grey loves corn right off the cob. Has fun chewing up the cob after the kernels are gone. I

Carole
Rich Smithlin

My first bird,a 30 yr old African grey in poor health was given to me. Long story short the birds diet was nothing but seed. Upon taking this bird to a very highly recognized aviary vet I was informed of how diverse a diet these birds really need. I was told that the bird should eat whatever I do. Now there are some dangerous foods out there so this should be checked out before feeding your bird, avacodos and other foods can kill your bird.so google up a check list of what not to feed them. My grey got much healther after it diversified it’s eating habit.

Rich Smithlin
Karen Robbins

someone said something about avocados…. they are toxic aren’t they? Please don’t give any bird or dog avocado.

Karen Robbins
Don

My Severe Macaw eats most vegies and loves lean meat. He is allowed a bowl of “people food” while we eat our dinner, but his is in his cage. He loves to have corn on the cob. Once he finishes the corn, he uses the cob as a “distroy toy” and there is nothing left of it except small chunks.

Don

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