Seafood In The Parrot’s Diet

Posted by Bird Tricks on

Q: Is fish safe for my bird?
-Sangita T., Pembroke, MA

A: Yes! There is such controversy surrounding fish these days!  Can pregnant women eat it?? Should children eat it??  What about mercury??!  I wish everyone would just dial it back a bit. Fish is a great food.

Seafood is a great source of protein and is low in fat, unlike many animal proteins. It contains Riboflavin (B2), Omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus and many minerals. These are present in higher amounts than in meats. Eating fish promotes heart health, reduces blood pressure, and promotes brain function, to name a few of the benefits, which far outweigh the risks.

That said, let’s talk about the risks. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal and pretty much all fish are going to contain some level of it. Mercury, is found in our waters both naturally occurring and as a result of industrial pollution (technically a form of mercury called methylmercury). The larger, longer lived, small fish-eaters such as the sharks, some tuna, and swordfish are those found to carry the higher levels.

High mercury levels are accumulated over time. The longer a fish lives, the longer it is around to absorb mercury and the higher their content will be. Mercury found in humans that eat these fish is based on their level of consumption. For those who eat less of it, the  risks are negligible.

Offering these fish to our parrots in moderation will not cause them harm, but there are other types of fish which present less concern such as salmon, catfish, cod, pollack and canned tuna (only use water packed tuna). Shellfish such as crab, shrimp, scallops, and clams are also considered to be in the lower mercury group and are safe to enjoy. Fish should be baked, poached, broiled, or steamed when intended for our parrot’s dining pleasure.

It is important to widely vary your parrot’s diet. If you are doing that, then the frequency with which they receive any type of food is moderated. This raises the probability that we aren’t offering too much of any one particular food. Keep this in mind when you serve fish or meat and you will ensure that the overall diet is healthy, well rounded and safe.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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  • My Parrot will eat chicken, egg & fish and watever i eat like other Non veg items, can any body let me know is there any side effects if a parrot consumes non-veg ?

    Sathish on
  • I have an umbrella Too and he likes to have whatever I am having.. he loves icecream I didn’t think he would eat it because of the cold so I let him stay in my lap while I had some he wanted more but I was afraid of it…also I would like to know about strawberries, black berries, and other fruits of this type I haven’t given them to him because of the seed… I love your

    Pat Cook on
  • Hi Casey,
    There are no ignorant questions here! This blog is all about learning and education, so never feel bad about asking a question.
    Parrots are technically omnivores because, apart from being plant eaters, some species also eat insects and their larva. However, meat and fish is not a natural part of their diet. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that very little of what we feed them is part of their “natural” diet. The foods that we have available to offer are often not found in their natural habitats. Avian science has determined what a parrot needs to thrive nutritionally, and we make do with what is available. It seems to get the job done.
    Meats are fatty, fish less so, but both are tolerated by the avian system when offered in moderation. It is an option available to offer variety from a nutritional standpoint and to occasionally spice up a boring diet. Always use lean meats and fish and prepare them by broiling, baking, steaming or poaching. Fried foods are not good for our parrots or ourselves.

    Patty on
  • Hi Tobi,
    The dinner table is often where birds learn to experiment with new foods. A little spoiled? Who cares! Your bird is now eating a healthy diet! Good job!

    Patty on
  • Hi Julie,
    I am not seeing the comment about grapes and olives, but grapes are fine and very much enjoyed by parrots. They contain more sugar and water than some other fruits making them of lesser nutritional value, but there are no other reasons not to offer them. Olives are very healthy and reduce bad cholesterol, the only problem with them are that they are salty and oily (although olive oil is also very healthy in moderation). The green olives are saltier than the black ones and most are preserved in brine. There are some organic brands that are packed in water. Keeping these things in mind, they are safe when served infrequently.

    Patty on

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