I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Flying by the seat of your pants.” This essentially means that you make it up as you go along.
If you have a little skill in the kitchen and some imagination, you can come up with some really wonderful food for your birds that will excite and entice them. You just have to make a few adjustments to meet the dietary needs and avoid the junk food you don’t want them to have.
Variety is the spice of life. We love to try different foods and we don’t eat the same thing every day. Birds eat what is available and in season. Many of the food items in the wild bloom or become ripe and mature at different times. So there is always something different available at different times during the year.
While I believe in a good healthy diet for parrots which include lots of fresh greens, some nuts, healthy seed, sprouts, healthy grains, cooked beans and healthy table food, there are so many ways you can jazz up their diet if you give it some thought.
If you’re making a macaroni and cheese casserole, you can create a casserole for your birds using vegetable macaroni with some vegetables and a homemade vegetable broth without onion or just water. Cook it at the same time as your family’s casserole cooks and you’ll have a casserole for your flock with some left over for the next day using different toppings to change it up and some for the freezer for later on.
Making an apple pie? If you get some whole wheat wraps and cut the apples in smaller chunks, you can fill the wraps with the apples or any other fresh fruit and a little cinnamon, use an egg wash to seal the wraps and bake it in the oven along with your pie. Let them cool and serve to your flock.
I’ve even made soup for my birds using vegetarian broth and cut up fresh vegetables.
If you have a reluctant bird who simply wants seed, throw a few seeds in the lukewarm or cooled soup to get them interested in it. The liquid, the slight warmth and the seed might get their beaks in the bowl and get them started on vegetables. Sometimes a change in temperature, appearance, texture and taste will allow them to see the light.
I’ve had huge success with smoothies for my birds. They like to drink something other than water that has taste. You can jack up the nutrition of the smoothie by adding wheat germ, chia seed or flax seed powder and mixing that in. And again, if you have a bird that you are trying to convert off of an all-seed diet, throwing some seed into the smoothie will give him something he recognizes as food and get his beak in there. He’ll get the extra nutrition from the chia and wheat grass as well as the goodness of the fruit smoothie.
“Thinking Different” is what will get your chowhound plowing through the vegetables. It isn’t always easy to get birds who have never eaten a healthy meal of vegetables and sprouts eating these foods. But you have to keep trying to offer different things and different ways of serving food to see what they will accept at first.
When my African Grey Parker was very young, I began training him to do a few behaviors and tricks, the most difficult part of the process was finding something he considered a reward. He doesn’t like sunflower seeds mostly because I never fed them to him. They are high in fat and don’t have much nutrition. They are fine for wild birds flying miles and miles all day long. But for a parrot who lives in my living room and does only a little bit of flying and far less exercise than a wild Grey, this is not a good item to offer him. I finally tried almond bits and he loves them. He also loves walnuts, so those are what I use for reinforcements when he does something I ask him to do or when he is particularly well-mannered.
This continual offering of different food items in their menu will finally reveal something they love and something that is also good for them.
Use that as the tool to get them to try new and healthy things.