Q: I know that we should give our birds lots of vegetables, but should they cooked or raw?
– Joseph B., Binghamton, NY
A: I give my birds both, but I definitely serve more raw vegetables than cooked. When I feed my birds, especially the more picky eaters, I want to maximize each meal.
Vegetables lose some of their nutritional value in the cooking process. The amount of loss depends on the cooking method used. For instance, of the many methods of cooking vegetables, boiling causes the most severe loss of nutrition. The reason for this is that Vitamin C and several B vitamins are water soluble and get washed into the cooking water which is discarded when the vegetables are drained. Also lost in the process of boiling are cancer fighting antioxidant phyto-chemicals.
Microwaving is also a good alternative to boiling. Since many vitamins are heat sensitive, vegetable nutrition fares better in situations where the duration of heat applied is kept to a minimum. The microwave cooks quickly and is for that reason another preferred method for cooking vegetables.
Even with the nutritional loss, I do serve cooked veggies to the birds once, sometimes twice a week. Sometimes I give a combination of both. I do this to keep variety on the menu and sometimes the weather just calls for a warm meal.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.