Friday, August 07, 2009

A parrot diet of pellets . . . and pizza?

When it comes to chowing down, variety is the spice of life and everyone wants a change of taste, including the feathered members of the family. “Pet birds can be allowed to eat the same food you might prepare for yourself, and in fact, prefer such food, and it can be healthy for them”, says Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, a veterinarian who specializes in birds at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. “It's usually okay to give birds what you might be eating at the time.”

Of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are the healthiest (for them and for us!), but eggs, cheese, pasta, rice, potatoes, noodles, bits of meat or fish and other people foods are okay for your bird to ingest. "In general, foods that are rich in protein, vitamins and calcium are good for birds," Blue-McLendon says.

However, there are some foods that can be detrimental to the bird’s long-term health and should be given in moderation—like those containing a high sugar content. Most foods with sugar are perfectly safe for birds to have a bite or even two, but the quantities should be limited to a very small amount and only on rare occasions rather than daily. Parrots seem to love sweets and can become little junk food junkies if allowed.

Foods high in salt aren’t good for most people or for birds, either; since parrots are so much smaller, a little bit goes a long way. Some foods can simply be taken out of the preparation cycle before salt is added so the parrot can enjoy a safe serving. If your parrot goes nuts over cooked veggies and you salt your food, then give them their serving before adding the seasoning. Unsalted crackers and other processed foods low on sodium can be can safely shared with the flock.

Any food that has a high fat content should likewise be limited. In the wild, parrots eat very little fat; what they do eat is mainly from bugs and other protein sources. Certain parrot species, particularly Amazons and cockatoos, can become obese and suffer from food- related issues like us. "Some birds need a low-fat diet. Too much cholesterol may contribute to heart disease. Also, many types of birds are prone to get hardening of the arteries much the same way as it occurs in people," Blue-McLendon notes.

There are a few things that can actually kill your parrot as far as human food goes, ones they should never, ever, be allowed to sample. These absolute no-no’s include avocadoes, chocolate, alcoholic beverages, seeds of any fruit, raw meat, uncooked eggs, or any food that are moldy or have spoiled.

Most everything else that you eat can be shared with your parrot. The more variety your bird eats, the better its health will be, the more vibrant the feather colors and the happier it will be. But remember to always use some common sense and dole out the delectable tidbits in small, bird-sized portions.

No comments: