Parrots are a lot like kids. In fact, avian vet Dr. Crystal Shropshire compares hook bill birds to 5-year-old children in personality as well as nutritional needs. Although your parrot will enjoy a lot of the same foods you do, some can be unsafe for him to eat.
Fruits and Vegetables
You would think all fruits and vegetables would be safe to feed your bird, considering its an omnivore, but that isn't the case. Avocados top the list of unsafe foods for birds. They are toxic to your parrot and, if eaten, operate like a slow-acting poison in his system. Keep avocados, their pits and any food made with avocados out of your parrot's reach. Other fruits and vegetables that aren't good for your parrot include rhubarb, asparagus, olives, eggplant and raw onions. Cooked onions in very small amounts are okay if they happen to be in something you're eating and your parrot wants a nibble. Most fruits are okay, but if you feed your parrot dried fruit, make sure it's free of sulfides and sulfates. And when feeding him fruits, don't let your bird eat the seeds or pits of apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches or plums.
Because you should avoid feeding your parrot foods that have a high fat content, you should limit the amount of dairy products your feathered pal consumes. Dairy items like butter, milk or cream and cheese aren't considered toxic but are considered unhealthy' feed them to your bird sparingly and on occasion.
Drinks and Miscellaneous Foods
Your parrot enjoys being with you, mimicking you and doing the things you do. So when you take have a drink of anything, be prepared for him to want to have a taste of it. Water and fruit juice that don't have added sugar are perfect beverages for your parrot on a regular basis. Don't let him have alcoholic, caffeinated or carbonated drinks, though, or tea that has theobromine on the ingredients list. Other foods you should avoid include chocolate and cocoa, and any food that has a high sugar or salt content. An occasional cookie or piece of hard candy won't hurt your bird, but you will be putting his health at risk by supplying him with these types of foods on a daily basis.
Healthy, Balanced Diet
Each type of parrot has specific dietary needs; a macaw, for instance, requires a different diet than a quaker or an eclectus. You should consult your avian veterinarian for the best diet for your bird based on what type of parrot he is. Even so, there are nutritional needs that all birds have in common and there are recommended foods that can be fed to your bird no matter what variety he is.
Basing your parrot's diet in either a seed or pellet food you can get at a pet supply store is a good place to start, but remember that his tastes are a lot like yours. You wouldn't want to eat the same thing day after day with no variety. Supplement your parrot's pellets or seeds with treats like unsalted, unbuttered air-popped popcorn; seed sticks; coconut chips; and nuts like pecans, almonds and peanuts. Let him join in eating what you're having for dinner, especially if it includes corn, carrots, broccoli, bell peppers or peas. Just make sure all fruits and vegetables you feed him have been washed thoroughly to remove pesticides or other chemicals.
- Avian Web: Safe Food for Your Birds
- Parrot and Conure World: Toxic or Unhealthy Bird Foods
- "Parrots for Dummies"; Nikki Moustaki
- Crystal Shropshire, D.V.M.; Alameda Pet Hospital; Pocatello, Idaho
- Avian Web: Macaw Food
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images