Rosella parrot eating outside from foraging plate filled with chopped vegetables.

Considerations for Parrot Food and Feeding

Considerations for Parrot Food and Feeding

Food is personal, very personal. So, let's approach healthy feeding practices along the same lines as any other companion animal lifestyle subject, with facts and ideas that allow personal viewpoints and choices.

What every parrot has in common in the wild they have in common in the companion setting.

Food is not only about eating but about employment.

  • There are no bowls in the wild.
  • There are no chopped anything waiting for easy consumption.
  • One of the lost arts (maybe it was never really an art) is feeding our companions for employment's sake.
  • Remember that companion parrots enjoy the process of eating and discovering things to eat. It's in their DNA as much as flight.

Chop is an interesting idea.

Chop delivers in the parental satisfaction category. Who wouldn't be proud and feel good about serving chop to their parrots? It's full of nutrition and delicious. Chop is a great idea all in all. Chop completely bypasses the need for a parrot to work for their dinner, though. Chop confuses texture, flavor, and identity of foods as well. Most chop failures occur because of these points.

The finer the chop, the harder it is to identify what is being offered. Flavors mix to create one profile of pulps, which can turn off some parrots. Apple doesn't taste like apple and romaine doesn't taste like romaine. And yes, parrots taste food.

Chop that is frozen and thawed, will immediately begin to degrade and breakdown. The nutritional values and structure loss speeds up in the decomp processes once it hits the oxygen in the air. If they don't get in it or on it within the hour things get mushy. That's great if a parrot likes mush, but if not, all that frozen chop just lost its appeal.

Extreme chop, with many components tend to create a situation where the odds go up in rejection because the reject-able items were increased. And you'll never know what the offense was because of the mixed flavor, texture and item profile. So many variables to turn a parrot off are there and so many are left to cypher for the parent.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying chop is bad. I am saying chop, like any other companion idea has it's good and bad points to consider. The best practice for chop.

Keep it simple and under 4 items.

  1. Keeping the items short listed allows you to cypher what wasn't working and remove that one offender.
  2. Limit the chop to a family of foods, lettuces, fruits, green veggies etc. Again, this will allow a taste profile that is easily cyphered.
  3. Keep it fresh and created the day of serving.
  4. The very definition of chop, food being chopped up, makes freezing it's Achilles' heel.

What of pellets?

I like to keep our pellet ratio at less than 20% offered, which, after rejection to the floor leaves about 10% consumed. Read the label. Consider how you will offset what the pellets aren't giving your bird with wholefoods. I lean heavy on whole foods, dried fruits, raw nuts, high value seeds, then pellet mixes. And yes, we share our dinners as well.

Foraging and dinner time.

  • Skewering fruits and veggies on stainless steel or bamboo parrot skewers.
  • Placing bowls of foods in different places (some hidden)
  • Wrapping morsels in foraging papers, boxes, and toys.
  • Handing over morsels, sharing a moment.
    • Cucumber
    • Mandarin orange
    • Apple 
    • Summer squash, winter squash etc.
    • Smaller parrots need smaller options, cut in half, quarter, or mini sized.
    • Whole sweet peppers with seeds intact.

    The Plus of Planning these Considerations.

    • You do not have to spend hundreds of dollars and hours of time to successfully nurture and feed your companion parrots.
    • You do not have to stress and worry about food origin if you keep it simple, fresh and local.
    • Don't ever feel you aren't living up to your parrot's food needs because you can't afford the time or money for kale or quinoa. Good old broccoli, apples, almonds and flax seeds, veggie pasta and such get the job done just as well.
    • Food and feeding our parrots should be enjoyable and gratifying and a shared moment of kindness.
    Simple, balanced and informed leaves lots of time for happy moments your parrot grabs the food right off your fork or chooses to share their morsel with you by dropping it on your head or down your shirt. I find that very gratifying.
    Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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