Photo by Sally Location: Lacey, WA Eating a whole broccoli: Senegal Parrot "George"
I use to spend hours upon hours dicing and slicing up fruits, veggies and more into small pieces so my birds could eat it. Then one day while we were on the road in Oregon, my mom bought a seedless watermelon for my toucan to eat. We were staying at a hotel and had nothing to cut open and slice the watermelon with. I was in a panic of how to exactly give it to her.
“How do you think they eat fruit in the wild?” my dad asked. “Just give her the watermelon; she will know what to do.”
So, I did. I actually got it to break in half and then I gave her one half. Needless to say when we came back and looked inside the bathroom… she had eaten it though most of it looked like it was on the mirror, floor, bath tub and more! Watermelon was everywhere! Sure enough, my dad had been right and she had gotten into it for herself and eaten a ton of melon. It then dawned on me that I didn’t need to cut up all these fruits into tiny pieces for any of my birds. In fact, it’s better for them if they tear into it themselves because they spend 80% of their time in the wild foraging for food and it’s not cut up and diced just right for them there.
I stopped cutting anything into small pieces. I started serving fruits and veggies where they had to do the work to get the good stuff out of them – even down to pulling the grapes off the branches!
So save some time in your day and give them larger pieces they need to really get into and tear the good part off themselves – it’s good for them and it saves you some time in the mornings and evenings. Plus, it can be a blast watching how much fun they have doing it (even if it’s a much bigger mess!)
Oh, and same goes for nuts in your bird’s diet – don’t get the shelled nuts. Birds are designed to get into seeds and nuts so let them use their assets and do so! It’s much more rewarding for them to earn a nut than have it given to them. Foraging is a huge part of their life – we need to provide it for them wherever possible.
Some examples to get you started:
- Don’t peel the next banana.
- Don’t pull the grapes off the branches.
- Don’t provide your birds with already un-shelled nuts or seeds.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.