In order to provide proper nutrition for our exotic parrots, you should find out where they get their food in the wild. Parrots are from areas near the equator. They thrive in warm, humid climates and eat the vegetation that grows in these regions. As you can expect, the vegetation in the jungles and rainforests of the world are much different that what you'll find at your local supermarket.
The vegetation that grows in these tropical regions has three main characteristics:
Parrots need their food to have little fat so that they can maintain their light body weight needed to fly miles a day.
It's not so much that you need to find the same exact foods that wild birds eat, but that you need to feed similar nutrients.
Birds that live in nature don’t need any "specialized diets." They eat the nutrients that their bodies actually need. As omnivores, birds are equipped with sharp beaks for cracking open seeds and tough stomachs for digesting nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables. The question is—why do wild parrots need so many colorful foods? It isn’t for aesthetics; it’s for nutrition.
Wild parrots eat brightly colored foods for good reason. Vibrant colors indicate natural sources of beta-carotene, which is one of several nutrients that work together to maintain healthy vision. Wild parrots who are serious about their health eat foods with varying hues—not just reds, yellows, and oranges but also purples, greens, blacks, browns, and grays.
Birds don’t do color mixing; they do color matching. In nature, birds would
get sick from eating dull filler foods like white rice or yellow corn because such staples lack nutrients essential to health.
(1) Birds need nutrient dense foods, not a lot of fillers. That said, there is some controversy over avian nutritionists recommending fruits and vegetables as part of bird diets.
The truth is in how you prepare them. Unprocessed fruits and veggies are extremely high in nutrients and fiber. Cooked foods are less nutrient rich and processed foods often contain unhealthy preservatives, dyes, and synthetic unnatural nutrients.
Wild parrots eat greens year-round but will switch to foods like berries and seeds during breeding season—this gives their chicks access to different proteins that offer additional brain support as well as growth benefits.
(2) Wild parrots also seek out different insects depending on seasonal availability. In other words, you don’t need to switch your pet bird’s diet every month or even year, but it is important to keep an eye on his dietary needs—and that includes keeping him active by playing with him daily or taking him outdoors to fly around in a secure space.
When considering parrot nutrition, it’s not enough to just know what they eat in nature; we also need to examine their eating habits closer up. What we often see is that birds will fly great distances to find a diverse range of fresh, ripe foods.
The key take-away here is variety. Serve your bird a rich variety of vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruits, grains, seeds, and sprouts every day. To accomplish in a timely manner, learn to make bird chop.
If your bird won't eat fresh produce at all, watch this video.
Start making up bird chop with about 1/3 of the mix being foods that your bird is already eating. Then, slowly introduce new foods. If you are switching to fresh vegetables, start by adding a little bit of those, just to get him used to it, then increase over time.
Clean your fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove pesticides from the skin before feeding them to your parrot. Use a bird safe vegetable cleaner or GSE to remove pesticides from the produce. You can also peel most fruits since parrots usually discard the peel any way.
Try leaving a few chunks of fruit with the peel on for the fun of it. Parrots have a natural ability to peel foods due to the unique shape of their beaks and tongues. Most parrots make a fun foraging game of shredding up fruit peel or picking at and tossing fruit seeds from fruits such as Papaya and Cantaloupe.
If there is a significant portion of the fruit or vegetable that is leftover, you can toss the unused portion in the food processor and freeze for later use.
Several things can influence whether or not your parrot eats a particular piece of produce or not. Keep the FAITH! If once you do not succeed, try, try, try again! Entice your parrot with creativity!
Crushed Ice Fruit Shake! Blend ice with tropical fruits such as Papaya, Mango or Pineapple.Fun Bird Recipes To Try:
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.
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