What your Parrot Wants to Eat
Your bird wants to eat whatever you’re eating. That bowl of whatever that is on the kitchen table. The cereal in the canister over there. Those bananas, hanging on that banana hanger. Those shiny apples on the counter left to dry after you washed them. What’s that you’re chopping? Yes. That. What your parrot wants to eat is what your parrot first wants to sample. Feeding a parrot is easy. Feeding a parrot without a mess is not. Eating yourself, and not feeding your parrot, is impossible.
Parrots are foraging foodies. This doesn’t mean they’ll actually eat any of it, though. It means they will actually forage that apple bit into mush while letting it fall from their foot and beak. Unless your parrot enjoys eating apples. What your parrot wants to eat is an ongoing laboratory of test drives and clean ups on aisle four. What your parrot wants to eat will change weekly. It’ll change daily as well. Every parrot is different. Their personal food opinions won’t match the lists and mandates you’ll find all over the internet. Parrots can smell. They know the difference between cheese wrappers and brussel sprout bags. In this, they are like dogs. Unlike dogs, they aren’t going to show up ‘just to make sure’. No parrot wastes valuable parrot time. Butters, our blue and gold macaw, can identify cheese within one minute of my opening said wrapper. She only shows up for the Swiss stuff. This is saying something because I am a cheese lover and have at least four types of cheese available at all times.
Parrots want what you’re having. They want what you’re eating more than they want to have an opinion about it. Because parrot flocks forage together. Whether you’re eating at a refined table setting that includes all the forks, or scarfing a McDonald’s on paper plates, they want what you’re having. The way a parrot sees it, you are foraging. Move over. You’re doing it wrong.
Bowls are a perfect way to throw out food. Stirring is an enjoyable pastime, and parrots aren’t concerned with the implications of that action so much as how much fun it is to do it. There are no bowls in the wilds. Parrots have to work for their food out there. The easier food is to get to, the less work there is to do. What your parrot wants to eat is also how your parrot wants to eat. Foraging is not a bowl. It’s searching, collecting, collating, crushing, tasting, rejecting, gorging, napping, then eating. It’s messy. If you’re doing it right, it’s got to be messy.
Texture, temperature, and shape mean something different to every parrot. Butters won’t eat cubed cooked sweet potato. She will eat mashed sweet potato. The cockatiels will eat anything in their foraging pie plates at the bottom of their cage. PRO TIP: Cockatiels, parrotlets, grasskeets, and budgies are ground foragers. They prefer eating on the ground. Do them and yourself a huge plus one, and get a low edged glass pie plate or casserole dish, and put their food in that, as well as small things to play with and dig through. Add fresh timothy hay.
Parrots don’t eat their feelings. If your bird isn’t eating, there’s a problem. Stress or illness.
Parrots can’t overeat. Their crop is literally a measuring cup. Parrots can eat too much of one thing, just like a human. If your parrot is a vegetable junkie, lucky you! There is no eating too much of that category.
Foods that will make your parrot sick.
- Uncooked onions*
- Caffeine (Felix gets a sip of my coffee in the morning, but it’s 3/4 oat milk, so true coffee lovers may cry foul on calling it coffee. He takes three little slurp sounds and is convinced he’s King Farouk)
- I would add sugar to the list as most lists have it listed. But most parrot pellet and food mixes have sugar in the ingredients list. There are currently 61 named types of sugar in food manufacturing. And a rose by any other name is still sugar. Honey is sugar, if that’s new news for you. Food hypocrisy lives wild in the parrot food world, just like the human world.
*Consult your parrot. Kirby, our Indian Ringneck Parakeet, loved raw Vidalia onions. If I was chopping one for a spaghetti, he was on my shoulder making aggressive demands with my earlobe. I’d chop a small wedge and place it on his foraging plate on top of his favorite eating platform. He buzzy-buzz celebrated with a full mouth. Onion juice spray everywhere. He'd leave room later for spaghetti, eating the cooked onion bits first.
Food is as personal for them as it is for us. It is their employment. Their joy. Their comfort. Their memory. Did I mention parrots have memories, and call on them to look forward to eating events? They do. Theirs are as strong a pull as any carnival food memory that sits in the heads of all the lucky people who ate themselves into a food coma during summer. Or is that just me?
Parrots are foodies. They are foodies for more than a few reasons. Their wild side drives them to forage. Explore. Find. Celebrate. And nap after a great meal. Parrots want to eat the good things, while doing fun things, while sharing all the things with us.
I fully agree with every thing you’ve said today! The first 10-11 years of Thor’s life was spent in my house on the Canadian West coast. He had 2 cages, and 2 giant swings with toys, and food, or water dishes. One of his favs was to throw toys, food, and poop onto the floor so he could help me sweep, and wash up the floors again and again! My hubby and I always fed him 1st, and sat with him while the 3 of us all ate together. We hoomans almost never dropped food on the floor, or furniture. After we received our fully grown young Macaw, he actually helped us to eat way more veggies, and fruits,+ more healthy cereals. I love Thor unconditionally, but at the age of 11, he came to Saskatchewan to live with our son. He had to buy his own house, and good job after University. I missed Thor desperately, and still do. We moved to Sask. as well so we could be close to our 2 grown kids. I occasionally got to birdie sit Thor at my new home. Thor has a travel cage, and I had a big parrot cage here to have Thor over a weekend sometimes. I don’t have the cage anymore because our son too the cage, and made space in their travel trailer to take Thor with them on stay overs. I accidentally got bitten a couple of times, hurt a lot, but I knew that Thor didn’t do it on purpose. I had a tetanus shot, and a round of antibiotics just in case from my doctor. I’ve always talked, and sung with, and played silly games with Thor, and he used to talk with me all the time. He doesn’t seem to do very much talking now. He’s 17 1/2 now, and his birthday is on Apr. 16th…our daughter’s birthday! I really enjoyed reading the above!