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Menu Ideas For Your Pet Bird

Learn what table foods are healthy for birds and cook up some of these healthy menus for your parrot.

Rebecca Sweat
Posted: July 10, 2013, 5:15 p.m. PDT

vasa parrot
Cooking for your bird can be fun, and expand her dietary choices.

California veterinarian, Tia Greenberg, DVM recommends an egg omelet, made with predominately whites rather than yolks, with some fresh vegetables folded in (such as broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes or green peppers). You could give your birds some of your French toast, pancakes or waffles — especially if it’s made with whole wheat or buckwheat — but leave off the maple syrup and butter. Whole-grain cereals that do not have a lot of sugar added to them (like Muselix, Wheaties, Corn Flakes, Cheerios and Cracklin Oat Bran), whole wheat toast and bagels (without butter or jam), and oatmeal (cooled to room temperature) are also good choices.

For dinner, you could stir fry some vegetables — such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions (use sparingly), bok choy, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, snow peas, celery and red bell peppers — in oil, along with some cashews or peanuts or dried red chile peppers, and serve this over brown rice.
Another parrot-friendly entree is pasta (e.g., whole wheat or spinach penne, mostaccoli, ziti, angel hair or fettucini) with cooked vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms (use sparingly) and/or zucchini) and either a marinara/tomato or pesto sauce (made with a little olive oil and spices). If you want to cut down your bird’s starch intake but still give it the thrill of slurping down "noodles,” cook up some spaghetti squash (sprayed with a very light coating of vegetable oil and cayenne or black pepper) and give that to your bird rather than traditional spaghetti

Cuban-style black beans and brown rice, cumin-spiced couscous with peas, chili con carne made with ground turkey, freshly cooked ground turkey patties on whole wheat hamburger rolls, grilled vegetable kabobs, chicken noodle soup, and bean burritoes in whole wheat flour shells (without the cheese or a very small amount of lowfat cheese) are also healthy, lowfat entrees.

To supplement the main dinner entree, you could offer your parrot steamed fresh vegetables (without butter or salt), tossed salad made of romaine lettuce and other fresh vegetables (without the salad dressing or bacon bits), or a whole-grain dinner roll (again, without the butter!).

As an alternative to cheese curls and potato chips, give your birds some of the low-salt or low-fat snacks available on the market. Try substituting fat-free pretzels or the low-fat baked potato chips instead of the higher fat versions. Give your bird a low-sodium cracker rather than the regular crackers, which are typically high in salt. Or offer your parrot of piece of a rice cake or some air-popped popcorn.

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Menu Ideas For Your Pet Bird

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Reader Comments
I firmly agree that this is terrible information and am surprised that Bird Channel has published it!
Sunny, Post Falls, ID
Posted: 7/17/2013 8:24:38 PM
Baby steps are for babies. Anyone who gets a bird should be educated ahead of time on its proper care. And that includes what is safe and what is dangerous to feed. This veterinarian has offered some seriously flawed suggestions and the problem is that people will take her words as the "gospel" because she has DVM after her name. I'm extremely disappointed that Bird Channel has published this.
Ellen, Denver, CO
Posted: 7/15/2013 11:32:56 AM
I understand that the goal of this article was probably to get people who are currently feeding their birds only seeds and/or junky table foods to offer healthier versions of table foods, but the previous commenters are absolutely correct that the article is written in a very irresponsible way, discussing these foods as if they are the end-goal of parrot nutrition.

The problem, then, is not that the article is discussing those foods, but the way in which it discussed them. There is absolutely a scientific basis for using "baby steps" - also called "approximations" - in the science of learning and behavior. Learners of all species cannot be expected to suddenly learn how to perform an end-goal behavior all at once. They must start at the closest thing they know how to do and work towards the end goal through the process of approximations, or baby steps.

Had the article been more responsibly written, it would have started by stating the end goal, then instructing people how to use the recommended foods as approximations towards the end goal. The article could very easily have been turned into an enormously helpful guide for the uneducated parrot owner by stating something like, "A healthy diet for most parrot species incorporates fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, cooked grains, and pellets, along with small amounts of egg or other kinds of table foods as occasional supplements and treats. However, if you have a bird who is currently addicted to only seeds and/or junk food or other human foods that are high in salt, fats, and sugars, here are some tips on ways to provide healthier versions of table foods that will help ease the transition into the fresh, healthy diet that is your long-term goal. You can also use these ideas to provide a fun, occasional treat for your bird." A simple, brief introductory paragraph like that would have changed the entire tone of the article, providing the baby steps that some uneducated bird owners need while still educating owners about the end goal diet that most parrot species really need to be eating. does owe it to its readers to be more careful about how it presents the information it does.
Emily, Austin, TX
Posted: 7/14/2013 10:01:54 PM
Please folks. DO NOT feed your birds pretzels, chips and other salty snacks. Even though they may be low fat or low sodium for US, we're humans and a lot larger than birds. What is low fat and low sodium for us can still be entirely too high for others. I really hope no one is taking their bird to this vet for nutritional advice because ALL of it is way off. Pasta and sauce could be a super rare treat for your bird but this is not what you should feed your bird on a regular basis. SO MANY wrong suggestions with this article. I am highly disappointed in Bird Channel for posting this horrible advice. Sure, there are worse things people feed their birds, but why encourage people to feed this stuff? People look up to Bird Channel for sound articles. There are some great, solid, nutrition groups on Facebook alone. One of them is called The Parrot's Pantry. That is where people can find nutritious AND delicious food that they can share with their birds. This article, though, shameful!
Christena, Riverside, OH
Posted: 7/14/2013 1:47:46 AM
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