Some of my flock have great, healthy appetites. Some, not so much. We have to come up with some pretty clever ways to outsmart the picky eaters for their own good. Determine what your parrot’s favorite foods are, and then make some variations to the recipe.
Remember, be very sneaky! Cut the veggies very small and use them sparingly at first. In this battle to good health, you are using his favorite foods as coercion. You don’t want him to get suspicious and walk away from them. His love for these foods must live on, so you can use them against him another day! As he makes the adjustment, you can increase the amount. Here are some suggestions:
- Parrots LOVE waffles. Try adding some pureed fruit on top as the “syrup”. This was a suggestion a friend made years ago and it really works.
- Add a bit of minced veggies or mashed squashes to oatmeal, brown rice, cooked millet or quinoa. You can either cook the grains with the vegetables included, or add them after the cooking is completed. Experiment with both ways and serve warm.
- Make whole wheat pancakes and add minced veggies to the mix. Once you have had some success with this, gradually increase the amount of veggies. Give your large parrots a whole pancake to rip apart.
- Add minced veggies to scrambled eggs. This is something you can do about once a week. Start with just a small amount of veggies and cook them with the eggs. Also try serving the eggs on a bed of greens, like turnip or mustard greens.
- Use leafy vegetables to make foraging toys with nuts or Nutriberries inside. Make sure they can see you put the treat in. Wrap it up in front of them and seal the edges with toothpicks. A quick foraging toy is the unwaxed dixie cup. If I am in a hurry in the morning, I enclose treats in several crinkled up cups and toss them into the cage (I also throw in some that contain nothing just to keep things interesting). Once they have the hang of this, wrap the treat in part of a leaf of kale and stuff that into the cup. They will have to chew through the kale to get to the treat.
- Put nuts into a halved head of cabbage, push some deeper inside than the others. Cabbages make great shredder toys and some is usually eaten.
- Birdy breads are simple to make, and just about ANYTHING can go into them. Experiment with adding dried fruits or minced vegetables. If your bird is having trouble converting to a pelleted diet, add pellets to the mix as well.
- If your parrot will only eat bananas, serve them mashed with some cooked mashed sweet potato mixed in.
A really good way to get your bird interested in new foods is to eat them yourself. Anything that you are enjoying, and NOT SHARING is of interest to your parrot. Reluctantly volunteer some of your treasure. Serve these foods first to your birds that you know are going to dive into them, so that Mr. Fussypants can see that they are something valued.
There are no rules in this game. In fact, the more devious you are in getting your parrot onto a healthy diet, the higher you score, and everybody wins!
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.