Rich Diet = Naughty Bird

One of our faithful viewers had a number of questions regarding diet for the Parrot Whisperer.

Q: Hi there!! I have a yellow naped Amazon, female. I am very interested in learning more about the diet you feed your birds.  How do you prepare the food and how do you get your birds to eat raw vegetables. My bird likes hers cooked.  She also gets a nut, seed and pellet mixture.  She rarely eats the pellets. Should I limit the seeds and nuts?

A: Thank you for writing in. You are asking the questions that a responsible, caring parrot owner asks.

Understanding that diet is one of the biggest factors that determines how a parrot behaves brings us closer to understanding this animal better entirely.

First, let’s look at what parrots do without humans involved.

Any parrots natural habitat will have a season when the region’s flora produces bountiful food resources such as fruit, seed, and nuts. That region’s animal life, including parrots, will gorge themselves on these resources to stock up as many calories as they can claim. When this happens, a parrots drive to mate becomes much stronger. The parrots body is responding to the instinct to bear young when resources are plentiful. They become aggressive because they need to fight off competitors and find a mate.

For the remainder of the year when fruit, seed and nuts are not available, a wild parrot will have to rely on vegetable plant life for sustenance. As food resources become scarce, a parrots body knows that bearing young and keeping them fed will be too difficult. As a result, the parrots desire to mate decreases.

When a parrot in a domestic setting gets too many rich calories, (oils from seed & nuts and sugars from fruits) they are aggressive, combative, demanding, needy, neurotic, etc…

Ultimately, their diet should be mostly vegetable and pellets. Fruit is ok, but it must be balanced with the vegetables. Parrots should get more vegetables then fruit. We will also talk about beans (as a non-rich source of protein).

I understand that it can be challenging to provide a variety of fresh veggies on a daily basis, but fresh would be much better then frozen or cooked. Frozen always has extra sodium and cooked has lost many of it’s nutrients.

Raw veggies are the cobblestones on the road to a happy, healthy parrot. Raw broccoli, (for example) has N-acetyl-Cysteine. That’s an amino acid used to treat people afflicted with trichotillomania, which is the human version of feather plucking.

Recommended veggies; Green beans, cauliflower, broccoli (crown and stem), yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, radishes, celery.

Beans; Add kidney beans, lima beans, lentils for non-rich protein. Beans should be served al dente, not mushy.

NO soybeans. They are estrogenic (promoting or producing estrus).

Recommended fruits; banana, grapes, blueberries, apple, orange. Again;  fruit must be served in moderate amounts. Vegetables must far outweigh the fruit.

Too much of the seed mix is a problem. If they get too much of the mix, they will satisfy themselves on the seed exclusively and disregard the pellets. Pellets are very important. Often a lack of key vitamins and minerals can set a parrots mental and emotional state off balance. The pellets will provide those vital nutrients.

Pellets should usually be accessible. ZooPreem is good. I recommend always having a bowl of ZooPreem medium/large sixed pellets in her cage, on her stand, wherever…

Calcium is important. A trick I learned some time ago is that calcium antacids make a nice treat. Make sure that calcium carbonate is the only active ingredient. Get fruit flavored and give her 3-6 a week…

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