Q: I know we are supposed feed our birds fruits and vegetables, but which is better for them?
– Elena B., Modesto, CA
A: The most important things to understand about your parrot’s diet are the needs for variety and moderation in EVERYTHING you feed them. Let me explain why…
Fruits and vegetables each have different nutritional values. They are all great in their own way, but they all have something unique to offer the overall diet. When compared, two veggies might both be high in vitamins C and A, which are essential to good health. However, one might be higher in calcium, the other higher in potassium – which is why it is important to include both in the diet. It is the variety in what you serve – day to day, week to week, that assures us that they get the proper balance of ALL the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Varying the diet also prevents us from providng too much or too little in any particular area of need. As strange as it sounds, the diet can be too heavy in certain nutrients and, in some cases, it can be as detrimental to good health as a deficiency.You should always look to avoid extremes and lean towards the moderation of foods with your parrot. If you are doing things the right way, you are offering a little bit of everything from the important food groups.
You asked which should be served with more regularity. The answer is vegetables – hands down. It isn’t that fruits are bad, they have wonderfully healthy ingredients, but they contain a lot water and sugars. Water doesn’t benefit your bird nutritionally. It doesn’t make sense to let your bird fill up on something without value. Fruits also contain a great deal of sugar, which, in excess, can cause health and weight issues.
Vegetables offer more complete and varied nutrition without those detrimental side issues. Taking all things into consideration, vegetables benefit your bird in more ways than fruits.
I don’t want anyone to think I am suggesting that you eliminate fruit from the diet. That is absolutely not what you should do. Instead, limit it. I offer fruits to my birds as treats (it is sweet, after all), or in feedings later in the day once they have eaten their veggies from their morning meal.
TEN FUN FRUIT AND VEGGIE FACTS!
- Fruits with a lot of vitamin C, like oranges, will help your cuts heal faster.
- Olive trees can live for more than 1,500 years
- Pineapples are berries, just like strawberries and blueberries.
- Strawberries are a member of the rose family and all it’s seeds are on the outside.
- There are over 7,000 different types of apples in the world.
- Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing.
- Lettuce is a member of the sunflower family.
- Pumpkins are 90% water.
- Eating an apple is equivalent to drinking a cup of coffee. Although apples do not have caffeine, the processing of apple carbohydrates gives the body a boost more powerful than caffeine.
- California oranges contain more natural sugar than Florida oranges.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.