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BirdTricks Blog | Parrot Training

Should We Share Table Food With Our Birds?


Hyacinth macaw

Q: Is it okay to feed my new blue and gold macaw the same foods as I eat at dinner?
– Devin B., Bethesda, MD

A: Yes. And no. Most of the foods we eat are good for parrots: fruits, vegetables, pastas, grains, fish and small amounts of  lean cooked meats. The term table food generally is used in reference to our preparation of these foods, at which time they begin to get unhealthy.We add salt, sugar, butter, sour cream, and dressings to make the foods more palatable ...

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Should We Share Table Food With Our Birds?

Hyacinth macaw

Q: Is it okay to feed my new blue and gold macaw the same foods as I eat at dinner?
– Devin B., Bethesda, MD

A: Yes. And no. Most of the foods we eat are good for parrots: fruits, vegetables, pastas, grains, fish and small amounts of  lean cooked meats. The term table food generally is used in reference to our preparation of these foods, at which time they begin to get unhealthy.We add salt, sugar, butter, sour cream, and dressings to make the foods more palatable and enjoyable for us. These additions are not good for birds for all the same reasons they are not good for us.

We have about 10.000 taste buds in our mouths – a bird has less than 100. My discovery over the years is that a bird will eat squash that has not been doctored up to make it taste better, so why add anything?  It just raises calories that a caged bird will have trouble expending. The best food for a parrot is in its most natural form.

When you are cooking for yourself, simply separate your bird’s portion from your own before you add those things which are unhealthy for a bird.



Be aware that you can develop bad eating habits in your bird very easily. Even with their scant 100 taste buds, a bird is able to detect and differentiate flavors and will know if something he has grown to like is missing. This may cause him to turn away from the more healthy version of the same food. This is why it might be best that he never learns how good maple syrup is on the whole wheat waffle he now enjoys without it.

Start your bird off right by introducing him to a diet that is healthy and free from human culinary taste preferences.

Check out our third cookbook in our 3-cookbook set Sharing the Table With Your Bird for fun meals you can make and share safely with your feathered friends.

 

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

71 comments


  • @ Lynn,
    I am late in responding to this, but you raised such good questions! First, here is a link to a post that speaks in part about foods that are “questionable”. In other words, those that are not unsafe, but have properties to them that have cause some birds minor problems. This is an opinion based post, citing my experience with my own flock and that of friends.: http://www.birdtricks.com/blog/unsafe-foods-for-parrots/.
    The best way to avoid problems with certain foods like garlic, a wonderfully healthy food which can be unhealthy if served too frequently, is to use moderation and be observant of your bird’s reaction to it. The very best parrot diet is very varied. Doing this sees that all the nutritional bases are covered and it forces moderation in certain foods. It also makes the general diet more interesting and appealing to your bird. If you are having good luck with your bird’s current diet, and he is healthy, stick to it. Other birds, with different needs and preferences, may eat differently.

    Patty on

  • when i come down to breakfast the minute Sky my Amazon Blue sees me put the kettle on thats it squawks till he gets his toast and i dare not eat anything in front of him he just brings the house down till i give him some !!!!

    jennifer andrews on

  • I am so confused. Every time I read these comments I see people giving their birds things that I have been told not to feed mine and on the other hand I feed my bird things that people here say should not be fed to them.. I have an African Grey, Martha, which I purchased here in Nigeria where they come from and have raised her since nine months and she is now almost 5..We love her dearly and have always tried to feed healthy foods that she might eat in the wild since that is where she came from. She was raised on peanuts which is what they give them before you buy them, she has never had any problem with them at all to date, also she eats fresh tomatoes everyday and the same applies. She absoutely loves garlic, but when I seen someone on here say that it was not good for her I stopped giving it to her.. She has a large variety of foods, including mango, bananna, potatoes(raw), celery leaves, cucumber, okra, green beans, and fresh peas. She loves fresh lime, and orange, (not too often) because of the acid, pineapple, guava, corn-boiled and roasted. She is crazy for cashews (fresh-unsalted) which grow here and most other nuts. She doesn’t seem to like seeds much unless they in a plant or something. I had my husband buy her the local millet seed with some other little seeds in it as well and she will only eat a few and toss the rest in her cup on the ground, but the seeds tossed grew up into plants; in the rich African soil; and she loves the millet that has grown on the plants.
    Until recently I did not feed her any milk products at all but since Chet mentioned that a little once in awhile wouldn’t hurt them I have now started giving her a little cheese on occasion and the odd touch of icecream both which she loves. Peanutbutter is another story, if she hears me opening the jar she is there like a dirty shirt and will pester me till I give her some.. but that not too often. As far as the other folks that said they have the world’s most spoiled bird int he world, NO that would be mine, she is like a dog and follows us everywhere, in and out of the house.. she is never caged except at night. In fact she is sitting with me; on my lap right now and if I don’t pay attention to her while I am typing she will pinch me,, little bugger. I forgot to mention that she also has a steady diet of electrical cords etc. another computer mouse bit the dirt last night.. she has this obsession with chewing anything that has a cord attached to it. Oh Boy!!! I am in trouble with my husband again:::::: BUT WE LOVE HER… ANYWAY!!!

    Lynn on

  • My 2yr old Too just loves Mac and cheese! He eats almost everything we eat just blander. Don’t expect to get it back once he gets it. Give him something he don’t like and you better duck because he will throw it at you! lol

    Mike-MTech on

  • There is a yellow necked amazon at our local pet store that a woman brought in approximately 4-5 yrs ago. His name is Norman and he’s 25 yrs old. She raised him from a baby and for some unknown reason he attacked, and she ended up with 18 stitches in her face, so she gave him to the pet store and he’s been caged since. Does anyone know of a bird sanctuary that knows what to do in a situation like this. It seems a cruelty for Norman to spend the rest of his life caged when he had freedom for 20 plus yrs. He is definitely a woman’s bird. I live in Washington, so if you know of anyone please contact me at wolfsrule57@yahoo.com Thanks.

    Dianna on

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