Does it seem like your parrot rejects every healthy thing you try to feed them?
Do you know what the key is to a picky parrot? PERSISTENCE!
Did you know that parrots can distinguish sweet, sour, bitter and salt, much like we can. However they have about 350 taste buds, whereas humans have about 9000. Since they have a poor sense of taste (they're known to prefer bitter foods after all) , it is thought that parrots select foods to eat based on their texture and how they look. So, varying the WAYS we present foods to them can be just as important as varying the TYPES of foods we present.
We have one not-so-picky bird in the house and two VERY picky ones. Here are some of the things we've done to get our picky parrot to accept different fresh foods.
1. Be persistent. Don't give up! Keep trying! I think you get the point. :)
2. Serve foods in all different textures. One of my birds likes cooked veggies and grains that are cut up very small. The other likes large raw chunks. So try serving foods all different ways. Chopped, Sliced, Shredded, Mashed, big pieces, small pieces, or even a combination of some of the above.
3. Serve foods cooked to different degrees...from raw, to steamed, cooked and even dried.
4. Add his usual food, or something you know he loves, on top of the new food (this worked for our picky/raw eater, Baby). We sprinkle a bit of seed mix on top of the veggies and she has started to eat raw carrots and broccoli!
5. Eat it yourself (or pretend to), in front of your bird. Make sure to act like it's amazing and keep saying "yum" out loud. Just be sure not to feed your bird food you've actually eaten off of because the bacteria in our mouths can make them sick. You can also make him part of your "flock" by arranging for him to eat at the same time you and your family do. Be sure your bird can see you at the table. You can also bring him to the table and have a few pieces of parrot-friendly food on it. He may think he's being all sneaky trying to get something he's not supposed to have.
6. Try feeding at different times of the day. Parrots are usually hungriest in the AM, so start there and then try a little later in the day.
7. Have one of your healthy eaters be in view of your picky eater when they eat.
8. Entice them with a hint of sweet! Add a little fruit mash throughout the dish (wet ones like oranges and apples work, or ones that mush well like banana). Or you can add a bit of low-sugar juice (orange, grape or apple) to their food.
9. Bake grains and chopped up veggies into a Birdy Bread.
10. Change-up the delivery method. For example you could:
a. Hang individual foods around the cage, like full leaves of lettuce or kale.
b. Use a bowl or a low dish
c. Use a treat cage
d. Feed by hand
e. Serve it on, or in, a favorite toy.
11. Try sprouts! Works well with seed eaters because the sprouts still look very much like seeds.
12. Serve a variety of foods.
a. Look at the colors and textures of what you're serving.
b. Serve food with skin and without, with seeds and without.
c. Serve foods warm (not hot!)
Even though it can be discouraging to find wasted food in the bowl or at the bottom of the cage, try to expect it. Think of it like an enrichment toy that gets shredded. They still got some value out of it.
And remember, keep trying! Your birds health depends on it.
Get the expanded version of this article that has a parrot-safe food list and prep tips for parrot chop by joining our mailing list. Just enter your email at the bottom of the page.