WINGTIPS ..... Feeding the Flock


'' what do you feed?"

Among aviculturists,

the proper diet for parrots is a topic as controversial as politics! There are as many opinions on diet and nutrition as there are parrot owners, and with good reason. Nutrition is the single most important factor in determining the health, vitality and longevity of parrots.

Since no one really knows what foods are consumed by parrots "in the wild," our feeding regimens are based on a combination of what we have read, heard, and observed in our birds' daily food preferences. There are some foods that are almost universally accepted as parrot food and others that are relatively new but beneficial in our quest to provide complete parrot nutrition. I would like to explore the nutritional and sometimes medicinal value of some of these foods.

One very good reason to feed a variety of foods is that they can be used as a natural preventive to healtl: problems.


Awe - In Florida, there is an aviary of 200 rescued parrots where slices of fresh aloe are served on a regular basis. Although these birds have come from a variety of circumstances with a large assortment of ailments, the owner attributes their current lack of health problems in large part to the healing effects of aloe. Parrots sometimes suffer digestive and intestinal disorders, and aloe is the most healing of all herbs for these problems. Add to that its beneficial effects on the immune system, and you may want to add pure aloe juice to their water every two or three days as a preventive medicine if you do not grow your own plants.

I feed thin slices of the largest stalks from my aloe plants several times a week. When a bird appears to be feeling unwell, a slice or two of fresh aloe or one part pure aloe juice to three parts drinking water can swiftly make a positive difference in the demeanor and activity level of the bird.

Aloe vera has been determined to contain substantial amounts of over 39 essential minerals and vitamins, and all of the amino acids.

Out of over 150,000 botanicals, Aloe vera is the only one that contains so many nutrients essential to man's existence. Aloe vera is a nutritionally complete food and has been approved by the FDA as a food substance.

Apples - Apples contain generous amounts of pectin, a soluble fiber important in the diet of parrots. Additionally, the anti-bacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties of apples make them more than just a delicious crunchy food that parrots will happily consume. Apples are one of


the foods that many aviculturists offer daily. However, they are one of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits, so choose organically grown apples whenever possible. Nearly all apples, even those grown organically, are routinely sprayed with wax, so it is a good idea to peel apples even though it would be preferable to leave the peel intact if the apples were untreated. It is thought that Granny Smith apples contain the least pesticide residue of all conventionally-grown apples.

Beans - High in fiber, beans are beneficial to the health of parrots. Beans combined with brown rice create a complete protein because the amino acids, building blocks of protein, that are missing in beans are supplied by the amino acids in brown rice. It is thought that this type of protein is more readily assimilated by parrots than is the protein of dairy products and meat. Parrots are unable to digest the lactose in dairy products because they do not produce the lactase enzyme.

Beans should be soaked overnight and thoroughly cooked before offering to parrots. Many species of parrots prefer garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas) over other kinds of beans.


Berries - Berries are thought to be a natural component of the diet of most parrots. It is doubtful that we can offer them the same berries that would be available in their natural environments, but they seem to enjoy many of those that are available to us. Blueberries are a favorite of many birds and they contain lutein, a substance highly beneficial to their eyes. Only organically grown strawberries should be fed to parrots. Nearly all growers of strawberries use large amounts of pesticides, particularly fungicides. The FDA detected 30 different pesticides on strawberries. If organically-grown berries cannot be obtained, it is best to substitute other berries or fruits.