Veggies for Beaks ...

There are too many vegetables to list on a single page so we will provide some of our 'go to' favorites. Before serving anything, always check first if it's safe for parrots and second, check the nutritional value.

 

Why? Well, because birds don't consume a large amount, volume-wise so what you give them needs to be the most nutritious you can provide. You also need to make sure the vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and amino acids are balanced and sufficient to sustain critical bodily function.

Raw is usually preferred because heat can alter nutritional values. Sometimes nutrients become more bioavailable with cooking. One thing to remember... if they don't/won't eat it then it doesn't matter how nutritious it is so there, THAT's the challenge! Let's see what we can figure out.

Let's Talk Chop:

The idea of making a chop salad for birds started with the thought that if you cut vegetables up into very small pieces, your bird couldn't easily pick out her favorites and leave the rest. This works okay for SOME birds but there are other birds who prefer large chunks of food that they can hold and crunch into, so chop is the first experiment you need to undertake. 

Chop Ingredients:

I like to start with a base of dark greens. The favorites here are Kale, Dandelion Greens, Beet Greens, Chard and so forth. A word of caution when it comes to dark greens; some have oxalates that can affect the absorption of calcium from the meal. Typically these are the greens with the highest levels of calcium which is something you CAN ingest too much of.

The main consequence of vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, weakness, frequent urination and kidney problems also may occur. Treatment includes the stopping of excessive vitamin D intake. It is recommended you limit these ingredients but never exclude them altogether. 

Many parrots suffer from hypocalcemia (low calcium) that can manifest itself in barbering (feather snipping). To determine if your bird has low calcium you need a blood test.  Since low calcium is prevalent in many pet birds, be sure to offer a variety of calcium-rich foods. It's likely most of them will also contain oxalates but you have to find the proper balance for your birds.

To my chop I also add broccoli, cauliflower, beets, sweet potato, corn, carrots, Brussels sprouts, baby field greens, and arugula.

NUTRITION INFO FOR VEGGIE GROUPS

 

I make mine fresh every couple of days because I believe fresh is best. In addition to natural sources of vitamins and minerals, birds also get hydration and fiber from fresh plant matter.

 

I also try to feed organic and raw when I can, but some vegetables (those with beta-carotene) are actually better to feed cooked, so carrots and sweet potatoes (orange veggies) are better because cooking makes the beta-carotene more bio available. Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) loose their thyroid-inhibiting qualities when heated; I prefer to lightly steam these veggies to maintain the most nutrition possible.

Birds will enjoy the crunch and freshness of vegetables, but they may not recognize these items as food at first, especially if they've been on a seed/pellet diet.  Stick with it and they will come to learn this is an awesome food source. Mix it up with sizes and textures, provide a colorful presentation and see what your birds prefer. Be prepared for a change in their poop when moving them to a fresh diet. Check out our blog on the subject of 'output' from this process.

 

Chop should be a daily staple of the diet. Try not to leave moist chop out for too long. Depending on the temperature of your home 2-4 hrs is maximum. Take your veggie base and add in some fruit ...

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