I used to think the proper diet for a parrot was mainly organic pellets such as Harrison’s or Feed Your Flock with supplements of fruits, vegetables and properly cooked meats (chicken, fish, beef). Was I ever wrong!
I started taking notice to birds healthier than mine and sought to find out what they were eating. My rose breasted cockatoo (known as a galah) began doing some toned down versions of “toe tapping”. This is what made me realize I was doing it all wrong and luckily, I did it right with my Congo African Grey.
My entire flock is now on mainly real foods with access to an organic pellet diet as well (I use Harrison’s). I feed them the healthiest foods first – which is mainly greens like green beans, spinach, and so on. Yams, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and more are also very nutritious. My flock members are especially large fans of corn and peas as well as mashed up berries (all kinds). Grapes, apples, oranges and more are also big hits in my flock. Each member has their favorite.
It’s important when feeding real foods to stay away from foods that are high in saturated fat, sodium and sugar. I used cream corn to wean my galah onto real corn kernels. She only needed the creamed stuff for a few days before she was eating the real good stuff. So “temporary transition foods” are okay because they are just that, temporary, and are used to get your bird onto the healthiest foods possible.
Seeds, millet, and other fatty foods such as seeds and nuts should be given in moderation or (what I do) is use them for training purposes. Seeds to birds are like candy to kids. The hard part about feeding your pet parrot right is that the big pet store chains do not sell any organic pellet diets. So, you have to find them elsewhere (I get mine from my vet) or order online. The other hard part is preparing the fresh foods every day. I do this once a week by preparing seven separate containers full of fresh foods for my birds and storing them. They are labeled by day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and split between my flock. This makes it easy to grab a container and empty it into their cage in the morning and at night. They have other dishes (such as berry dishes) that are for everyone throughout the day.
Each bird has their favorites… my military macaw loves pastas, rice and basically carbohydrates! Bondi the galah loves berries and constantly has a pink and purple looking beak, while Cressi the Grey loves all the healthy stuff (I lucked out!) then there’s my toucan Fiji who is all about the melons. You will figure out which foods are your bird’s favorites in no time. Making your own meal around what your bird can eat can help as well. If you’re having oatmeal in the morning, make a little extra for your bird (plain, of course) and let them enjoy it with you (make sure you let it cool off first, otherwise it has the potential to burn your bird’s crop). If you have potatoes with dinner, throw in an extra plain one for your bird and if you prepare a nice salad, give your bird his or her own without the dressing!
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.