Q: Is it safe to let my parrot eat fruit seeds?
A: Whenever you question whether or not something is safe for your bird, it is always best to opt against using it until you know for certain. My philosophy is: when in doubt, don’t. Fruit is wonderful for your parrot but the seeds cause a lot of confusion because some are bad and others are not. Here is a list use can use a guideline:
The seeds of apples and the pits of cherries, peaches, plums, pears, apricots and nectarines are all unsafe to give to your birds. They contain varying levels of a cyanide compound that can cause death. In humans, it would take many, many apple seeds to cause us to feel the effects of the poison, but, of course, parrots would succumb much more quickly to a smaller amount. If your bird gets a hold of a couple of apple seeds, it really isn’t a big deal, and you don’t need to rush him to the vet.
Keep in mind that the larger the seed or pit, the higher the amount of toxins they contain. Chewing them releases amounts of poison that might otherwise remain locked inside the hull and pass through the system without causing much harm. Unfortunately, birds chew everything, and if given the opportunity to chew open a pit, they will.
The seeds contained in grapes, cantaloupe, cranberries, watermelon and pomegranates are all safe for birds to eat as well as the seeds of citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons. While they are not fruits, the seeds from squashes and pumpkins are also safe. Sometimes giving these seedy portions of fruits and vegetables will entice a bird to eat the flesh around them.
The pomegranate is a most interesting fruit. The only thing edible about it is the seed portion. The seeds are surrounded by a foam-like textured flesh covered in a tough rind. This is a great foraging toy for a bird and I serve it as pictured above.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.