Psittacosis was once known as parrot fever.
The first thing you’ll notice about Grammies Goodies™ Muffin Bites is that they’re so cute! From the little drawstring mill cloth bag the mix is packed in, to the tiny paper muffin cups, they’re adorable! But, however cute we might think they are, the ultimate test is pet bird appeal, and these nutritious treats have it!
Formulated more than four years ago by Diane Lazicki (co-founded with her husband, Steve) of Lazicki’s Bird House and Rescue, the original purpose of the muffins was to encourage the birds to eat more healthy foods. “So many birds come in malnourished or on inadequate diets that improving the diet is first thing we work on [in the rescue],” said Lazicki. “One [muffin] blend contains two different pellets, and this is geared toward getting birds to accept a formulated diet. The chamomile blend has calming effects, and African greys and cockatoos seem to like the jalapeno blend. Once a bird adjusts to muffins, just grind up anything you need to [and add them to] the mix, such as broccoli, carrots or other nutritious foods.”
The base mix is a low-sugar, corn and wheat blend. To this, Lazicki adds myriad ingredients to create the various muffin blends. The human-grade ingredients are packaged separately along with instructions and helpful hints inside the cloth bags. For instance, the new Goji Berry blend includes chopped walnuts, wheat germ and puffed millet along with goji berries and low-sugar corn meal. Nutritional information is also included. Lazicki said that part of the fun of these muffins is that you can get creative. “Use pineapple juice in the Hawaiian blend, or low-salt V-8 or tomato juice in Italian blends,” she suggested. You can also use plain water in the mixture. Directions call for one egg (or equivalent amount of egg substitute) and a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
It took me less time to mix the muffin ingredients, than it took to pre-heat the oven. I set 40 tiny muffin cups on a cookie sheet and filled each halfway using a tablespoon. You can hasten the process by using a pastry tube or, as advised in one of Lazicki’s helpful hints: “Transfer the batter into a Ziploc® or similar type bag. Zip the bag closed, and cut one bottom corner and squeeze the batter into the cups.”
Nine minutes later, the little muffins were ready to come out of the oven, and the pet birds were waiting. I let the muffins cool, then cut some in half and distributed them to my Amazon and African grey parrots. Bert, my big African grey, ignored the new treat, but Bobo, the smaller one, grabbed a muffin, still in its paper cup, and began to eat with gusto! My quartet of Amazon parrots accepted the Muffin Bites quickly, leaving only small crumbs in their dishes. I tried a muffin too, and it was quite pleasant, so if your bird covets what you eat, let it observe you tasting one as well! All muffins, except Munchin’ Muffins (which contain pulverized pellets), are people pleasing!
Lazicki suggested leaving the paper on muffins to encourage pet birds to forage. “They’ll peel the paper off and eat the muffin. Crumble the muffins for small birds.” She also recommends using the cloth bag to recycle toys. “Fill the bag with toy parts and perhaps a few treats,” she instructed. “Let your bird forage and rip the bag apart. If necessary, snip some holes in the bag to encourage the bird to forage and play.”
Muffins are intended as a treat or supplement, not as a total diet. One muffin is a perfect portion for medium-sized birds. Consult your avian veterinarian before introducing a new food.
Lazicki’s Bird House & Rescue began in 1996 and has been a non-profit organization since 2004. Various bird food and supplies, including the full line of muffin mixes are sold there. Visit the website to order the muffin mix or cookbook or for further information.