To Peel or Not To Peel: Parrots & Natural Living Foods

by Monica Gonzalez
Published 8/26/01. rev. 6/15/03





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Date last edited:  06/20/12








There could be many reasons why a parrot does not eat a particular fruit or vegetable. Birds, when on a proper diet, instinctively know which vitamins and minerals their body requires. A good example is a bird eating the stem of Kale and then ripping apart the leaves. Kale, Broccoli, Mustard Greens are just a few of the vegetables having increased nutritional values in the stem. Some root vegetables have combined nutrition. An example would be Dandelions. The Dandelion Greens and Root as a whole plant have more complete nutritional benefits.

There are various reasons why a bird may not eat that piece of papaya you are longing for him to try.  Abby heartily eating a Mustard GreenThe fruit could be out of season and donít think for one second that your avian friend does not know this!

Keep the FAITH! If once you do not succeed, try, try, try again! Things that can influence whether your bird eats that particular piece of produce or not.

  • Is the fruit ripened? Some birds do prefer some fruits just before they ripen. Some like them sweet and juicy.

  • Is the fruit expired? Parrots know if the fruit is not good or not

  • Is the fruit out of season?

  • Is your bird a "clean beakie" bird? Your bird might be dying to try that sweet piece of Cantaloupe but he sees the juice is dripping down and he is thinking "Too messy for my taste". Yes there are finicky eaters out there, so we have to find the means to make them all happy.

  • Hot and Spicy. Does your bird love chili peppers? Try adding dried chili peppers to cooked sweet potatoes. This may encourage your feathered companion to taste test a healthy vegetable.

  • Sweet and Tangy. Does your bird love tart apples? Shred up some Granny Smith Apples and sprinkle them over another fruit you want them to try. They will love to find the surprise underneath the apples!

  • For the Garlic Lover. Mince up some garlic and add it to your broccoli. Stand back and watch your bird ravage it!

  • Slice, Dice & Chunks. There are those little rascals who prefer their fruit or vegetables cut a certain way. Here are some tips on fitting the "cut" with your birdís persona.

    • Julienne: Great for birds who use their talons to eat.

    • Chunks: What else, other than for the hearty eaters.

    • Diced: Ideal for those who like petite bites. Bite size pieces is also helpful in attaining less waste.

    • Shredded: Nice alternative for those who might like a certain vegetable/fruit but are afraid to try it (Try it with carrots or apples).

  • Warm vs. Cold. If your feathered friend does not enjoy a particular vegetable, try offering it steamed. You can also puree it in the food processor till it is a "pudding" consistency. Often times parrots will enjoy a specific produce item served warm on a spoon. Consider it quality time spent for you and your avian companion.

    Particular items I have explored with my flock and have been successful are: Yams, Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash and Zucchini. It is an inventive way of aiding your feathered friend in eating specific vegetables with high nutritional values.

    Note: Some parrots have an extraordinary sensitive beak which may cause them to dislike warm foods. I would recommend you observe your pet parrot and watch their eating habits. This will help you to understand the individual needs of your pet bird.

Fun Tip: Be sure to include your bird in the preparation process of chopping your fruits and vegetables. Feel free to offer them a piece. You soon will see how excited they become in anticipation of the good things to come.

Clean your fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove pesticides from the skin. Avicine (bird safe disinfectant) or GSE are two good products to try. Although I personally peel most fruits, I opt to leave a few items with the peel on. Birds have a natural ability to peel anything and everything because of the unique shape of their beaks. Most of the time, they just shred up the peel for the fun of it. Let them enjoy a slice of papaya with the seeds.

If there is a significant portion of the fruit or vegetable that is leftover, you can throw the unused portion in the food processor for later use.

Useful Tips for Birds and Humans:

    • Crushed Ice added to ground up fruit ~ makes for a refreshing Fruit Shake! Try it with Papaya, Mango or Pineapple.

    • Left over Broccoli or Carrots. Steam it with some fresh lemon juice and serve. Steam it and chop it up in food processor, add half and half and you have Cream of Broccoli soup! (Note: Cream of Broccoli notation is meant for human consumption only)

    • Grind up leftover fruits and vegetables and add them to your favorite birdie bread recipe!

    • Try to use some fruits and vegetables which your family will also enjoy during your meals. Meal planning at its best.

    • Fruity Oatmeal. Add a teaspoon of ground up papaya or apple to some warm oatmeal. Your bird will love to try it. (Note: Replace milk with either water or Soy Milk. Birdís bodies cannot process the lactose in milk. Also measure the temperature, a birdís crop can be burned if the temperature is too high. Keep it under 105 degrees.).

    • The ideas are endless!!!

Variety, Variety, VARIETY! I cannot express enough the importance of giving your birds a good variety. Just think if you had to eat the same food day in and day out ~ it becomes quite boring rather quickly

Fruits are an essential part to an avian diet. Even though some fruits contain a high water content, they excel in providing your avian companion with protein, carbohydrates, Vitamins A, C and B. Many fruits even contain fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, and natural fructose to support their energy level. The natural sugars in fruit are absorbed through the oral cavity providing an immediate energy boost and may aid in re-hydration.

A variety of vegetables provide minerals that are not available in some fruits.

Optimal health starts with a nutritionally enriched diet. We all need to realize the positive impact natural live foods can have on our feathered companionsí lives.



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