parrot nutrition | BirdTricks | Parrot Training Blog - Part 2

Looking At Average Bird Weights And Body Condition Of Birds

 February 20th, 2013
Posted By:
Dori and Lori

My Rainbow Lorikeets. Dori is on the left, Lori is on the right. Almost identical they can be hard to tell apart if you don't know them.


The textbook average weight for a Rainbow Lorikeet is approximately 130 grams and they don’t tend to fluctuate much more than 5 grams away from their personal average weight unless there is something wrong. So if I were to tell you that my Rainbow Lorikeet “Lori” weighs 120 grams, would you think that’s something to worry about? Or how about my other Rainbow Lorikeet “Dori”? She weighs 155grams. Is she fat?


On paper, it looks like I have one underweight and one overweight bird. In reality, they live in the same aviary so they get exactly the same amount of exercise. They are both on the same (very healthy) diet. If you look at them, they’re extremely difficult to tell apart. Their body condition and size is pretty much identical. Neither of them have fluctuated more than 3 grams from those weights in over 2 years. Neither one of them is showing any signs of illness. Their current weights do not concern me at all, even though they’re both significantly different from their species’ average. Textbooks are a guide only they don’t always get it right.


Lori and baby Dori

Lori is on the left, Dori is on the right. Dori came to me unweaned, Lori adopted her. Even as a juvenile (why her colour is different) Dori quickly exceeded Lori's weight.


It’s important to realise that average species weight is quite possibly very different to your own bird’s healthy average weight. Many things can influence what a bird’s healthy weight might be. Different sexes, different sub species and different breeding lines may all have different average weights. A bird that had health issues when it was young may not have developed to be the same size as one who didn’t have issues. We’ve talked before about why weighing your bird could save your bird’s life. When weight dramatically changes, it’s one of the easiest ways to tell if something is wrong with your bird. It’s a good reason to make sure you’re aware of your own bird’s average and aren’t relying on generalised species weights to tell you when something is wrong.


So how do you tell if your bird is a healthy average weight? The answer isn’t necessarily actually found on the scales. The scales are mostly there to monitor changes in weight to help expose a hidden illness. The answer to whether or not your bird is a healthy average weight can be found in your bird’s body condition. The easiest way to do this is to look at the shape of your bird’s chest around its keel bone.


Bird body condition transverses

Transverse sections of a bird’s chest/pectoral muscles for 5 different body conditions: 1 - The chest is concave is shape 2 - The chest is has a flat contour line 3 - The chest is convex in shape 4 - The chest is semi-circular in shape 5 – The muscles extend beyond the keel bone


The keel bone runs down the centre of a bird’s chest and is represented in the above pictures by the black line in the centre of each picture.  A parrot that is a healthy weight should have a curved chest.  In terms of the pictures above most healthy parrots should be somewhere around or between body conditions 3 and 4.  Condition 5 is common enough in pet birds, but it is an overweight condition and poses some serious health risks.  Conditions 1 and 2 are underweight and if it were my bird I’d be very worried that the bird is either malnourished or has some sort of illness that is preventing the bird from gaining/holding its weight.



Some estimates say that a male Eclectus should average 430g. Pepi is one of the larger subspecies and consequently weighs a lot more than that estimate. His body condition would rank as a high 4 in the above pictures.


At a checkup a vet would assess a bird’s body condition by examining the birds chest as described above.  The first step to solving weight issues is usually to get the bird’s diet right.  If you’re looking for help with that, check out the natural feeding course.  If your bird’s diet is healthy and you’re still concerned about your bird’s body condition I wouldn’t hesitate to take it to a vet and have the bird checked for illness or some advice on how to resolve any issues.


Merlin Nemo

I have 4 galahs in my flock. Their weights range from 350g - 460g. Nemo (upper bird) weighs 40 grams less than Merlin (lower bird). Yet they look almost the same.


It definitely helps if you have kept a journal of weights and to take it with you to any vet appointment so that the vet doesn’t have to compare to a generalisation. It wouldn’t hurt to keep a record of your bird’s body condition score (1-5) too.

Less Common Fruits And Vegetables That You Can Feed Your Birds

 August 21st, 2012
Posted By:


When I wrote a blog post on cleaning tips, I mentioned the incredible staining ability of a red Dragonfruit. A few people commented wanting to know what a Dragonfruit was. I could relate to those questions as I could remember a time when I had no idea either. The questions have inspired me to share some of the weirder things that end up in my birds’ food bowls.

My favourite vegetable shopping experience was when a cash register operator held up a very long yellow chilli, looked at me blankly and said: “Banana?” in a very hopeful voice. At the time, I was horrified that someone didn’t know what a banana or a chilli was, but if you haven’t been exposed to it, how are you going to know what it is?


Blue and Gold Macaw eating a piece of banana.

Well for those who haven’t noticed, I have a definite evil streak in my personality. It’s a real character flaw but I find it amusing to buy the weirdest vegetables and fruits on the planet and wait and see how creative the cash register person is going to be when they try to work out what it is.

This has led me to spend hours researching the properties of different fruits and vegetables just to see what I can do with these weird and wonderful things when I happen to find them. Naturally, it led me to investigate what was safe or good for my birds too.

The end results? My fruit bowl looks like it escaped from a science fiction movie and cash register operators tend to suddenly decide they’re “on break” when they see me coming. As for my birds, their reactions to my weird food obsession may have inadvertently reinforced my evil streak as they constantly have me laughing.


A plate of fruit and vegetables that I'm about to hide in some foraging drawers for my macaw and eclectus parrots. This plate includes squash, capsicum, passionfruit and grapefruit - the more 'boring' things I give my birds!


I’ve compiled a list of some fruits and vegetables that not everyone will be familiar with. I serve them on occasion as an addition to my birds’ core diet; as one more way of adding variety to their daily lives. Like anything, moderation is best – so they’re in addition to the balanced diet that a good natural feeding system provides.


Interior and exterior of a Longan. Photo: Tom Jacka.


Rambutans, Lychees and Longans are three Asian fruits that my birds love. They vary in sweetness and speaking as an incurable chocoholic – I love sweet things. Longans are therefore my favourite of the three. Like peaches, apricots and other ‘stone fruits’ they come with a warning. I remove the pits, as there are studies that say the pit is slightly toxic. (A small slit with a paring knife and a quick squeeze gets the single seed out of the centre.) The fruits themselves are perfectly safe and a great refreshing treat in the summer months (when they are in season). If you’re lucky you can sometimes even find them for sale still attached to branches, making them an excellent foraging opportunity.


My Blue and Gold Macaw Fid enjoying some Longans. Ever asked yourself what's the first thing you'd do with a new bird on its arrival at your house? This is Fid in his first 10 minutes at my house. He happened to arrive on a day when I had a huge fresh supply of Longans. and the second he saw them hanging in his quarantine cage he cared about nothing else in his surroundings.


I can still remember my Rainbow lorikeets’ reactions to seeing a Rambutan for the first time. Dori looked in the food bowl and promptly fell off her perch. What followed was excited lorikeet chatter between Dori and Lori on the opposite side of the cage to the scary looking food. I’ll never know exactly what they were saying but it sounded very much like:

“Did you see what the crazy witch put in the food bowl this time?!??”
“I know!!! It has HAIR!!!!”
“Do you think it can eat us?”
“I don’t know – you check it out!”
“Why me? YOU can check it out!!!!”


Rambuttan. Photo by Tom Jacka.


Then they started head butting each other until Dori finally grabbed Lori by the tail and swung her into the food bowl where she screamed and fell to the ground knocking the weird hairy thing out in the process. They then spent the next 4 hours sneaking up to it, nudging it and then running away again until one finally discovered that a Rambutan can be picked up by the ‘hair’ and thrown at the other bird and a weird game of Rambutan soccer developed from there.


Dragonfruit halves (the white flesh variety)


There are some fruits and vegetables that should come with the word MESSY firmly embedded into their skin as a warning. There are two types of Dragonfruit. One has red flesh and the other has white. They’re basically identical from the outside (bright pink). The red flesh variety is the messy one. This stuff can dye anything pink! Dragonfruit reminds me a bit of a kiwi fruit. It has these small seeds throughout its flesh and a similar sort of sweet taste. My eclectus Pepi spends hours picking the seeds out and creating this lovely smeared mess over every possible surface within his cage.

Chunks of Dragonfruit (the messy pink flesh variety!)


Again they’re usually more easily found in the warmer months and make a great refreshing treat. They contain a lot of water (they come from a cactus plant), so great for keeping a bird hydrated in a heatwave!




If I’m going to talk messy, I should mention beetroot. That’s what we call it in Australia, but some of you may know it as ‘red beet’. It is an absolute nightmare to clean up after the birds have had a go at this stuff. It even turns a bird’s poo pink, which is a definite down side as it can disguise an illness that might be diagnosed through the colour of a bird’s dropping. It’s the root part of this vegetable that I serve (although the foliage is safe) and I usually serve it raw. I’ve read some really interesting research on how beetroot assists with liver problems, particularly in relation to liver disease. From personal experience I’ve found that slightly ill birds have seemed to gain more energy after a round of dying my white tiles a pretty shade of pink and I doubt that’s a coincidence!




Still on the messy side of things, I should mention pomegranate. Most of you will know what a pomegranate is, but just in case you haven’t discovered the joys of scraping it off your ceiling – I thought I’d bring it up. The weird thing for me with pomegranate is its presentation. Kind of like an apple from the outside, it has bright red kernels on the inside that remind me of corn. Weird in presentation for me because my galahs absolutely hate it when I give them a chunk, but if I serve loose kernels they love it. On the flip side, the rest of my birds seem to prefer the fun of digging the kernels out of the fruit themselves. It pays to mix up the presentation if you have picky eaters.

Mangosteens are one of my personal favourites. I think it’s because I used to think they were a fictional fruit. I must admit, I first heard of them in the computer game the “Sims”. Mangosteens seemed to have almost magical properties in that game; if eaten by a character, they restored health and energy and made them that bit stronger. In one version of the game they even made characters glow in the dark. It never even remotely occurred to me that they could be real. Seeing one in the supermarket for the first time was a bit like randomly coming across a unicorn. A few people did look at me a little weirdly when they witnessed my excited reaction. Mum said she hates shopping with me!




Interestingly, there are a lot of peer-reviewed studies out there based on Mangosteen. If even half of the studies are true, they really do have some amazing health benefits. Aside from that, the birds love them. The smaller birds need some help getting past the skin, but the larger birds chew through the skin and get to the flesh inside quite easily. They are a particular favourite of Fid, my Blue and Gold Macaw, who holds them in his claws and munches on them as if they’re an apple. The inside flesh is very soft – so very easy for a small bird to get into.




Star Fruit remind me of capsicum in their texture but they’re way more fun to cut up! High in Vitamin C and antioxidants they definitely have some health benefits in their makeup. The birds seem to love them. There is a lot of water in them, so again they are a nice option to help keep a bird hydrated. Don’t overdo it though, or you’ll end up with some very watery bird poo!




Feijoas are a bit like what I’d imagine a cross between a fig and a melon would be. They’re actually a type of guava and the birds love them. I don’t often even bother chopping them up for my larger birds as they quite happily hold them and chew through the skin (which isn’t that tough). Smaller birds may need help getting through to the pulp though.




Another favourite is the Tamarillo. Every time I’ve tried to buy one of these the cash register operator has looked at me and hopefully said “Tomato???” They look and feel similar but are very sweet to taste. My birds love these almost as much as pomegranate – which is really saying something!!! Again they’re a nice source of vitamins, antioxidants and even a little bit of calcium. The best bit though, they don’t dye the entire environment pink like some of their other favourites!!!!

Custard Apple


If you have birds that like to chew and destroy anything wooden (cockatoo owners????) you might want to look into Custard Apples. I personally can’t imagine ever trying to eat one raw, as cutting one in half is a bit like sticking a knife into a boulder. It wouldn’t be that hard to break a tooth! Even so, I cut them in half and remove seeds before giving them to my birds. I then usually skewer them on a stainless steel fruit stick and leave the birds to do the rest. Admittedly I do use a rubber mallet to smack the pin of my fruit sticks through the fruit. It’s not something I recommend doing in front of a guest. (“I asked for coffee?!?? You don’t need to pull out a hammer on me!!!”) My galahs in particular love chipping away at custard apples, but then they’d eat the house if I let them!



This list could be substantially longer, but I’m going to end it with Persimmon, which seems to be the current favourite at my house. It’s another one that gets hopefully labelled as a ‘tomato’ by bemused grocery store staff. I guess it looks similar to yellow-orange tomato, but it’s a lot crunchier when you bite into it. My birds all seem to love sweet things – so that is possibly why persimmons are so popular. It’s a nice mix of crunch (so fun to destroy) with a sweet tang to its taste. The only problem that I have is with sharing them with the birds because I happen to like them too!!!

To learn how to provide a healthy and balanced diet for your bird 365 days a year, click here: Natural Feeding System.


Fid snatching a piece of Persimmon

Help! I Don’t Have An Avian Veterinarian!

 July 28th, 2012
Posted By:

Dr. Brian Speer photo from

Q: The closest avian veterinarian is three hours away! What should I do if my parrot gets sick?
Brandi V, Chattanooga, TN

 Why an “avian” veterinarian?

A: There is a very good reason for all the fuss about avian veterinarians. Dogs, cats and other mammals have physiology that is entirely different than that of birds. There are diseases which confront only avian species and the medications for an illness must be geared specifically toward the treatment of birds.

Even the most routine examination of a parrot requires proper handling, the right questions asked and the knowledge of what abnormalities to look for in order to diagnosis illness and devise a treatment plan.

The avian veterinarian has this knowledge as well as a broad understanding of avian behavior and their environmental and dietary needs, which, as we know, are altogether different from those of mammals.

Dr. Greg Rich photo from

Having the long distance support of an avian veterinarian

Avian medical practice is growing in accordance with the popularity of birds as pets, but there are still relatively few avian veterinarians at hand. I know people who have to cross a few state lines to transport their bird to an avian vet. However, if there is a medical emergency with your parrot, you will not want to be traveling to a vet that is hours away.

Your bird is currently in good health and can withstand the long trip to your nearest avian vet. Make an appointment for a “new bird exam”. During this check up, the vet will examine your bird physically, take blood and a fecal sample, as well as other cultures, to arrive at what is called a “baseline”.

As your bird is determined healthy, the weight and the test results go on record as that which is appropriate for your bird. Should your bird deviate from the baseline, your avain vet will know that something is not right.

Avian vet photo from

Be sure to make your avian vet aware of your circumstances and let him know that his assistance and advice might be required in the event of an emergency. It isn’t the perfect arrangement, but with Skype and cell phones that now take great photos and video, it’s the next best thing in an emergency.

For those of you who live near a university, check to see if they have a veterinary department that deals with exotic pets. This could present a great option as an alternative to a local avian veterinarian.

Prevention is the very best medicine!

Even if your vet is just a few miles away, you can count on it being an expensive trip – and the cost rises with the severity of your bird’s condition.

Keeping your home bird-proofed and the cage and bird dishes clean will go a long way in preventing disease and accidents, but the most important contribution you can make to your bird’s health is by providing a great diet.

The vast majority of illnesses can be traced back to a poor diet. Nutritional deficiency is one of the most common ailments faced by companion parrots today. If it goes undetected for any length of time, as it ususally does, the organs that have been struggling to do their jobs without the support of vitamins and minerals begin to deteriorate and lose function.

Malnutrition is the leading cause of premature death in parrots. When many people hear the term “malnutrition” they think the sufferer has not been fed enough, that malnutrition comes from a lack of food. Practically speaking, unless you are simply not feeding your bird, the latin definition of  mal is “bad”, so malnutrition refers to poor or inadequate nutrition.

I was once put in contact with lady who had brought her quaker parrot to the vet where several  problems were diagnosed as caused by malnutrition. Like so many small birds, it had been raised on a seed-only diet. The bird’s coloring was dull and rough, its skin was dry and it had begun plucking its upper chest and beneath its wings. Most concerning were the signs of liver disease determined during testing.

The vet, completely derelict in his duties, had allowed her to leave from the follow-up visit with medications but none of the vital instruction she should have received on proper diet. In her mind, malnutrition equaled starvation and, to her, the obvious solution was to beef up her bird’s existing diet with an array of snacks. It was no big surprise that her quaker’s condition continued to worsen.

quaker parrot

After a lot of discussion, we outlined a dietary plan that slowly phased out the old foods and replaced them with new, healthy foods. One of the most important steps of that plan was in offering them in an inspiring way to ensure they would be eaten. Within about six weeks, the change in her bird’s health was visually apparent. The plucking had completely stopped and the plumage was restored to the vibrant green of a healthy quaker parrot and its activity level had increased enormously.

I introduced her to my avian veterinarian and tests showed a marked improvement in liver function. With the proper diet, her quaker went on to make a full recovery. There is no doubt that her bird would not have survived the failings of the previous diet. The good health of any bird is reliant on nutrition.

Feeding your bird right has been made complicated by all the conflicting information found online. We have watched a lot of conscientious owners struggle trying to find answers to their questions about food safety and preparation. Since diet is the most important aspect of the care you give your bird, it shouldn’t be a struggle.

Birdtricks has produced a book called Cooking For Parrots so that bird owners would have a single source to reference for all those looming questions. It is essentially a course about proper feeding. It includes 73 original recipes (and pictures!) which are all bird tested and avian veterinarian approved. And it’s packed with feeding tips and practical nutritional information:

  • How to use diet to overcome medical conditions
  • How to avoid nutritional deficiencies
  • How the different foods effect the many parts of the body
  • How to tailor the diet to your bird’s individual needs

When the Womach’s galah, Bondi, was diagnosed with fatty liver disease, we used our diet to completely reverse the condition. We share all of our secrets to great nutrition so you won’t find yourself on a first name basis with the reception staff at your vet’s office. Click on this link to learn more:

Does A Good Diet Improve Parrot Behavior?

 July 15th, 2012
Posted By:

Military macaw

Q: I have had a problem with my macaw lunging at me since I got her 4 years ago. I recently switched her onto a better diet and the lunging has stopped. Is it possible that the new diet is responsible for the change in her personality?  

A: It’s not only possible, it is probable.

There isn’t any area of your bird’s life that isn’t touched by its diet. Aside from being the largest contributing factor in your bird’s overall physical health, it comes as a huge surprise to most people to learn that their bird’s cranky disposition and unwillingness to socialize can be a result of improper diet.

It’s true. Your bird’s feistiness or disinterest in you, biting and/or screaming could all be clues that your bird’s diet is inadequate. The impact of diet on breeding behaviors has been widely recognized for years and, more recently, people are considering the effect diet has on all parrot behavior.

Consider how different foods make you feel after eating them. Certain foods might make you feel sluggish and others can bring about bursts of restlessness and nervousness.

The parrot that is on a high fat diet of nuts and seed who doesn’t have the means to expend that excess energy might become edgy and unpredictable.

These foods might also interfere with normal sleep cycles, effecting behavior further. The lethargic parrot will be less likely to willingly interact.

Eventually, though, a poor diet will be more than just the disruptive cause of highs and lows in mood and energy. Actual illness will set in having a devastating effect on the body’s different systems including the liver, kidneys and heart.

Alexandrine parrot

When you stop to think about it for a moment, it makes perfect sense that behavior is tied into diet. When we don’t feel well, we respond to others in one of two ways: we lash out impatiently or we withdraw, preferring solitude. You might initially start out feeling a little tired and irritable, but as your health declines, your behavior will certainly change for the worse. You can expect the same from your parrot.

Parrots are outgoing, gregarious and social creatures. By nature, they want to interact and have a peaceful and trusting relationship with their human flock mates. To be constantly on the defensive requires a lot of energy expenditure, and to separate from “their flock” goes against the safety protocols a parrot has in place innately.

Sun conure

Parrot Diet and Behavior Are Connected!

If your parrot is either aggressive or withdrawn, something is wrong. Yes, it might be nothing more than behavioral in origin, such as the emotional result of bad experiences with humans. But before you can deal with behavioral issues you must always first rule out medical possibilities for aberant behavior.

If illness is present, you will have to consider the part that diet has played in causing it and move forward with an improved diet. If the illness is unrelated to diet, you must ask yourself what part diet will play in the cure.

If there are no overt medical reasons justifying behavioral issues, you have to take into consideration how the current diet might be affecting mood and make the appropriate changes. In short, there is simply no way to avoid the impact of diet in your parrot’s life.

Are you seeing any of these behaviors in your bird?

  • biting or lunging without provocation
  • pacing nervously in the cage
  • unwilling to interact with the flock or family

These could all be caused by the foods you are feeding your bird. Proper parrot diet is a simple and inexpensive solution to some problems that were formerly assumed to be behavioral.

The Good Parrot Diet Right At Your Fingertips!

What isn’t as easy is knowing how and what to feed your parrot. We put together a cookbook that is a step-by-step guide to parrot nutrition which details a simple and natural feeding system for the time-pressed parrot owner. It includes over 100 additional recipes that are quick and easy to make, and have been bird tested and veterinarian approved!

Cooking for Parrots virtually eliminates all the excuses we humans can come up with for not feeding our parrots well every day. It even shows you how to overcome the objections your parrot might have to a new, healthier diet, which means they won’t have any excuses either!

With good health comes more predictable and desirable parrots behavior – something that both you and your bird will benefit from!

Cooking For Parrots nutrition course

5 Parrot Diets That Will Make Your Vet RICH

 July 14th, 2012
Posted By:

Scarlet macaw photo by Chris Padgett

I only want to take my birds to the vet once a year – for their annual well bird exam. Even with the excellent diet my parrots enjoy, things happen that are beyond my control that cause me to have to bring them in for unscheduled maintenance.

There was one year that I made a total of 16 visits to my vet in a nine month period with the same bird, over the same issue. I was still paying for those visits well into the next year. There are so few things in life that we can control, that it doesn’t make any sense to let the things we can influence slip through our fingers.

When we offer a great diet EVERY SINGLE DAY we can exercise control over the health of our birds. I try to be on top of these things because I want my birds to have the best possible quality of life and I don’t want to be the reason my vet drives a Mercedes.

Hawkheaded Parrot photo by Chris Padgett

The 5 all time worst parrot diets

An all seed diet – There is such a love/hate reltionship with seed in the parrot world. On the one hand, seed has merit. It is part of the wild parrot’s diet, especially the smaller birds, and it does have purpose nutritionally. It should be PART of the diet. (We like it to be the training reward part to keep its consumption under watchful moderation.)
On the other hand, it is incomplete dietarily. It can’t come close to sustaining a bird’s health on its own. And, sadly, in many homes, it is expected to do just that.
The bird that lives on seed has access to certain minerals and EFAs, but almost none of some of the vitamins that are essential to good health. On its own, it is a high fat diet that leads to obesity and other health issues.

An all pellet diet – Like the all seed diet, an all pellet diet is insufficient. Pellets are produced with the good intention of providing all the nutrients a parrot needs for good health, but most fall way short of the mark.
Heat in processing eradicates most of their useful nutrients (Feed Your flock pellets DO NOT use heat in their processing) making many pellet brands overestimated in value.
The different pellet brands, not designed with any particular species in mind, typically have too many of one nutrient and too few of another. And because of the nutritional inadequacies of an all pellet diet, liver disease is waiting in the wings, so to speak.

A human food diet – My birds turn into Stretch Armstrong trying to get a look at what’s on my dinner plate. I would love to share it with them but it is likely to have been prepared for human consumption with butter, salt, sugar or sauces.
Once you begin offering human foods, in all their buttery glory, you can never again expect your parrot to accept them raw and unadorned, the way nature intended them to be eaten.
Humans have deplorable dietary habits. It’s amazing we can keep ourselves alive to look after our birds.

A high fat/calorie diet – Whether its human food or parrot food you are giving your bird, you can count on health problem arising from the high fat diet.
Parrots, given their own choice, will go for the nuts, seeds, dried fruit and the packaged parrot snacks before the broccoli every time. Even if your bird has no qualms with broccoli, the pull of the seed is stronger and will always win.
Common sense will tell you not to give a child the choice between an apple or a Snickers bar for a snack. Same with birds. It is up to you to push the diet in a healthy direction.

A diet with only 1 or 2 types of food – Here’s one you may not expect: “My parrot LOVES carrots and would happily eat them all day long.” Good diet, right?
Sorry, no! Carrots are great. I love carrots. I love birds that love carrots. But they aren’t so great that they can do the job all by themselves.
Carrots are loaded with beta carotenes. The body coverts that to vitamin A which is essential for the good health of your parrot. That’s a wonderful and important benefit to the parrot diet. However, what about vitamin C? Or K? What about minerals? There is no one food that can guarantee your parrot good health on its own.

White bellied caique photo by Chris Padgett

So, what is a GOOD parrot diet??

The very best parrot diet is the one that is most widely varied and that includes foods from the different food groups that are applicable to parrots. There is a huge list of foods to choose from. Unfortunately, most people feel unsure of themselves and avoid them.

The Birdtricks facebook fans are a pretty savvy bunch when it comes to bird care, but every now and again, someone would post that they gave their bird a hot dog or something. Sometimes, Jamie and I would just look at each other and shake our heads in disbelief: is it possible that people are still that unaware about the parrot diet? The more we investigated, the more we found it to be true.

We realized that somehow the message was NOT getting out to bird owners. And with the types of questions we receive here at Birdtricks and on Facebook, it was evident that people were unsure of how to use the information that was getting through.

We made a list of the problems being faced by the average bird owner and recognized the 5 biggest areas of concern in the parrot diet:

  1. What we can and should feed a parrot
  2. How to safely prepare these foods
  3. How to get a picky bird to try the different healthy foods
  4. What preventative measures to use to avoid potential health issues
  5. How to maximize the diet of a bird with an existing health problem

With the resolution to the Womach flock’s recent health problems fresh in our minds, we put together Cooking For Parrots which is a compilation of the information that every owner needs to have to feed their birds appropriately and safely.

We logged in hundreds of hours in the kitchen creating over 100 recipes for what started out as a book, but became a full blown course on diet and nutrition.

If you are having trouble with your parrot’s diet, whether it’s coming from your end or your bird’s, I urge you to get this book. Knowledge on proper diet is the most powerful tool you have in managing your bird’s health.

My Parrot Won’t Eat Vegetables!

 July 12th, 2012
Posted By:

At, we have daily contact with many bird owners and we listen to their complaints and concerns over their bird’s diet: “My parrot won’t eat vegetables!”

When we were putting together our cookbook, Cooking For Parrots, we took these concerns to heart and tried to find solutions to the biggest and most common parrot feeding problems. It became obvious that the list of concerns is neatly divided into two categories: human considerations, and our bird’s determination NOT to cooperate with our efforts.

In the end, it ALL comes down to us because, as caregivers, it is ultimately our responsibility to find a way to get the job done by helping our birds overcome their objections to a great diet.

Military macaw

No More Excuses From The Humans!

Let’s look at some of the things that might interfere with the average bird owner’s ability to provide an optimum diet:

  • “I don’t have time to cook!” – Most of us work and feel time-pressed to whip up a decent meal for our families, let alone our birds. We understand that this is a fact in most homes. But we also understand how imperative it is to offer proper diet to your birds and we came up with many solutions that are workable in any situation: fast and easy to prepare recipes, ways to cook for the family and the birds at the same time, and freezable meals that can be prepared ahead and thawed as needed.
  • “I don’t know what is safe to feed my bird.” – We have included a list of foods that are safe to feed everyday, we give clear explanation as to why some foods need to be offered in moderation, and provide a list of foods which must never be part of a parrot’s diet.
  • “I can’t get my bird to try new foods.” – Do you have one of those birds that has settled into an “okay” diet? He loves a few good foods but when you add something different to the menu he just stares at it like you served him a bowl of rocks? Variety is more than just the spice of life, it is the key to good health. All throughout the book are tips on how to expand your bird’s dietary horizons.
  • “I only have one bird.” – Many of you are aware that we at have multiple birds in our individual flocks. We know that many people have only a single, small bird and that you may feel that this book is not designed for your needs. But as we were creating the recipes, we made certain that the they are all easily halved or quartered, and most of the recipes freeze well, should you want to make the full batch. We know that your single cockatiel needs great nutrition just like the big guys, and, yes, this book is meant for your flock of one.

Greenwing macaw by Ben Coulson

No More Opposition From The Parrots Who “Won’t Eat Vegetables”!

So now that we have you fired up and ready to give your kitchen a work out, let’s go over the many ways our birds can derail our best intentions AND how the book will help you to get past it:

  • “My bird will only eat seed!” – This is the most common dietary problem with companion parrots. It is also the most dangerous. Birds that remain on a seed only diet will have years shaved off of their life span. In the book, you will learn the common set backs that people experience when converting birds from an all seed diet and how to use our recipes to give them a push towards the foods we know are best for them.
  • “My bird hates fruit and veggies.” – More likely, your bird has no idea what they are. We know that birds are curious by nature and feel the need explore everything with their beaks – we use this knowledge against them. You will learn how to be such a creative genius in your kitchen that even the most reluctant bird won’t be able to look away with disinterest.
  • “My bird won’t eat pellets.” – Usually, the bird that won’t eat pellets has never actually tried one. We give you many, many tips on how to sneak pellets into the diet of birds that flatly refuse them and how to bring them around to eating them by choice.
  • “My bird only like his food a made a certain way.” – A lot of  birds have texture and/or temperature preferences and there are several recipes in the book to satisfy that want. But since raw produce is the most nutritious (and most natural), we should encourage our birds in that direction. Many of our recipes are designed to do just that.

If you have encountered any of the above, you are exactly the person we had in mind when this book was written. And, of course, even the bird that is already eating like a champ will benefit from the fun variety Cooking For Parrots has to offer. With over 100 recipes, including our holiday recipe edition, even your culinary connoisseur conure will find something new to delight in. There is no such thing as too many options.

Cooking for Parrots