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by Diane Burroughs October 01, 2021 5 min read

Bird treats are a great way to bond with your bird. And, using bird treats for training is an excellent way to support positive  bird behavior and improve your pets self-confidence. Read on to learn about good bird treats, healthy bird treats, treats for different sized Birds, and how to use bird treats for training.

What is a good treat for birds?

In my opinion, some of the best bird treats are natural, healthy bird treats. You might want to separate your bird treats out. For instance, you might want to use certain bird treats just to let your bird know you love it. Then reserve your bird's favorite bird treats for training purposes.

Fresh healthy plant-based treats are my preference. But it's not always easy to find and store fresh foods. So another option is to purchase bird safe freeze-dried vegetable and fruit  bird treats. You want to make sure that the manufacturer doesn't use any unsafe preservatives in the manufacturing process.Some excellent resources for freeze dried bird treats are shown below.

Healthy Bird Treats

Infographic by Diane Burroughs, LCSW

Different birds enjoy different treats just like not all children like the same type of candy.  The best way to find out what your bird's favorite treats are  is to gather up a variety of bird treat products and place them on a spoon or paper plate, and then watch 4 which one's your bird goes for first! Here’s a video on how to use this method.

What can I give my bird as a treat? 

As a rule of thumb, I like to choose treats that are bird specific.  I also prefer to use treats that are manufactured in the USA or are made by name brand bird food manufacturers. This is because I tend to be cautious about the use of preservatives and dyes in my bird treats. 

Birds enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts as treats. Keep in mind that smaller birds and ground dwelling birds often prefer tasty seeds.  Try to stick with healthy, protein-based seeds as opposed to fatty seeds like sunflower seeds.

If you find that your bird really goes for the fatty and sugary treats make sure that you're using them sparingly. You, of course, want the majority of your pet's diet to be healthy foods like premium pellets and a full range of nutrient dense plant-based foods.

For more information on feeding your bird a healthy diet check out these books byKarmen Budai.These books are especially helpful if you like to make homemade treats for your bird.

 

What is the easiest way to train a bird?

Clicker training is one of the easiest ways to train a bird.  clicker training is one of the most effective ways to train a bird, too!

It relies on positive reinforcement to elicit desired behaviors. So, finding a treat that your bird loves is imperative when using this positive bird training method.

Often, if a bird prefers fatty and sugary treats, can cut them off little pieces and use them for bird training purposes.  The idea is that you can repeat the clicking and treating over and over again in a 5 to 10 minute training session. 

If you were to give your bird a chunk of food, versus a tiny piece, your  bird would spend the majority of the training session eating the food rather than practicing the behavior. The goal is to be able to administer the tree too quickly and have it consumed quickly so that you can keep up the positive momentum

The idea of offering favorite treats with clicker training  is to make the treat so enticing that your bird is willing to actually stop and think about what behavior it needs to perform in order to get the treat.

In other words, say you want to use bird treats to teach your bird to step up on your finger. The first behavior that you want to shape it's just simply having your bird pick up one foot.  You'd only “click and treat” when your bird picks up its foot.

 

What does target training do for birds?

Target Training for birds is a concept where you teach a bird to touch a target stick with its beak. With this method oh, you're essentially showing your bird more of what you want it to do and taking the guesswork out of  much of the training. You want your bird to willingly go to the target and never be afraid of it.

9 nutritious bird treats for birds

  • Diced Papaya - Papaya is a juicy tropical fruit with a high count of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a vital source of vitamin A, which is excellent news for you and your bird. Diced papaya is an ideal tasty treat for your bird that is available year-round and can be used as a daily treat for your bird to nibble on.

  • Grapes  - Grapes and their seeds are an excellent form of fiber for your bird. While the skin should be washed to remove bacteria and pesticides, your bird will enjoy foraging for the seed inside the grape. One or two grapes make a refreshing treat for your bird. Cut up fresh grapes into tiny pieces to use as bird training treats.

  • Sweet Potatoes (Yams) - Sweet potatoes are another great source of beta-carotene and can convert quickly tovitamin A. Any natural source of beta-carotene is known for helping to keep a bird's eyes healthy and it helps to build resistances against heart and cardiac problems. Your bird will love munching on chunks of sweet potato, and an added bonus is that sweet potato is full of fiber.

  • Pepitas – Pumpkin Seeds Pepitas also known as pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc and can be made into treats for your pet bird. You can add in the flesh of the pumpkin to provide your bird with a natural treat that he or she will thank you for.

  • Pine Nuts In Shell  - These fun to crack nuts build on your bird’s energy resources and nuts are a great source of healthy fat for your bird. Fat converts into energy and fat is required to convert some vitamins into energy. Therefore, pine nuts are a healthy choice for the occasional treat for your bird. Hide pine nuts in foraging toys for fun enrichment.
  • Oranges – squeeze juice from an orange onto your bird’s food to keep it moist and to maintain a healthy pH. balance. This will also help to keep flies away from leftover food.

  • Cherries – while seasonal, cherries combat Gout which birds do suffer from. Gout can cripple a bird and budgies suffer. Keep gout away from your little bird and prolong their vibrancy for as long as you can.

  • Cooked beans – any type of cooked bean is good for your bird. There is a range of bean mixes available for a bird tasty treat.

  • Brown Rice – Cook and cooled – brown rice is a great source of fiber.


Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

TAGS: #BirdTreats #BirdTreatsTraining #BirdBehavior

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