Nutrition & Treats

I purchased my first Amazon parrot 34 years ago from the previous owner in Tucson, Arizona.  It was a  Double Yellow Head Amazon, an adult that had been originally imported to the USA thru a quarantine station. As a child I’d had parakeets and ducks and was totally mesmerized by this new large, brightly colored parrot with flashing orange-red eyes.  Boy, was I in for a learning experience. From a pet shop I purchased a cage; a bag of seeds, a bag of oyster shells, and a book on parrots.  They wished me well and sent me on my way.  When I reflect on all that I have learned from reading books, listening to other bird fanciers, hobbyists, breeders and avian vets since then is amazing.   Now, I have people telling me that I should write a book about training.

From that initial experience I have become much more involved with birds and continue to learn on a daily basis.  I now raise Amazons, Cockatoos, African Greys, Macaws, several species of Conures and Cockatiels.  What I and the avian community have learned about nutrition and diet since then has been instrumental in all of our birds living longer, healthier lives. It has also resulted in the ability to raise these wonderful creatures in sufficient numbers  so that our Arizona Parrots Bird Ranch can be counted as one of the Breeding facilities that helps to reduce the need for taking birds from the wild so  importation of parrots is no longer necessary.

In My Opinion

Talk to six different bird breeders and you’ll get six different ideas on what constitutes good nutrition. So please realize that what I feed my birds is a direct result of what has proven to me, to be the formula that works best. If something else is working for you by all means stick with it. If you are purchasing a bird from me, I want you to keep it on the diet that it is familiar with for a period of at least two weeks. After that you can start the conversion process to change it over to a diet that suits your particular situation. You can walk into any store that sells bird supplies and still find the sunflower, corn and hot pepper mix that was the standard 36 years ago.

I feed all my birds a seed and pellet mix. My reasons for choosing that diet are numerous and if you would like to know more email me and I will be glad to tell you. All my birds get fresh clean water daily. I do not put vitamins in the water because I am comfortable with the vitamin supplementation in the pellets. I give fresh fruits and vegetables to the birds, depending on the season. My favorite vegetables to feed the parrots are Yams, Carrots, Spinach and Broccoli.

I do not feed grit/gravel and have not had any problems. The house birds (pets) get some people food but almost no meat (it should be lean and well cooked if it is given. We like to cook for our birds and make wonderful rice, bean, and veggie mixes (available at the pet store). Go ahead, spoil them, that’s why we have them. My list of foods that are not good for birds follows:

NO Avocados
NO Chocolate
NO Caffeine (sodas or coffee)
NO Apple seeds
NO Peach pits
MINIMAL (as in a little doesn’t hurt) salt, sugar or fat

Now having been in the bird business for over 36 years, I have heard all the stories; the birds eat chocolate, drink coffee, beer or other alcoholic beverages, etc. but it is my opinion that bird owners should not allow this to happen.  I don’t oppose giving birds a little bit of Sunflower seeds or peanuts as a treat or reward, but I only give them as a treat since I want them to have  pellets and seeds as the main diet. If there is a special treat that your bird likes, use it as a reward for good behavior. Things that my birds are very fond of are: apples, sweet potatoes, corn, broccoli, carrots, hard boiled eggs (chopped up very finely with the shell), a bit of toast with peanut butter.