What do parrots eat?

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red parrot
Polly would gladly trade a cracker for a helping of nutritious vittles
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The question of what do parrots eat is one with a natural answer

Polly wants a cracker? Not really. A cracker-crunching parrot probably is not desirous of the artificial flavors and the flimsy fiber found in the common soda cracker. Polly may only be after the salty bang. More likely, a parrot wants a little something from the produce aisle—well washed vegetables, fruits, nuts and leafy greens—or some of today’s excellent bagged or pouched parrot foods. It is diversity and vitamins that ensure good health. That goes for all birds in the species Psittaciformes—a species with more than 300 varieties—cockatoos, macaws, lovebirds, parakeets and more. When it comes to the question of what do parrots eat, the answer is: a lot of different things. They’re also cunningly adept at eating—if given the chance—some things they shouldn’t.

A diverse diet is required by parrots. These pet birds, some of which live many decades, require a lot of attention. Diet is a major factor in their upkeep. Companionship from the owner is important. Roomy, well equipped parrot cages are a priority. But what do parrots eat when they are in those cages? They have no way of jetting off to the corner store to purchase their preferred vittles. They are dependent upon their owners for every aspect of their care and safety. And they can be helped—or harmed—by many things.

What are some healthy foods?

Consider wheatgrass. Proponents of a healthy lifestyle for humans and pets urge parrot owners to incorporate wheatgrass into their bird’s diet. Wheatgrass can be grown at home. Online sources for wheatgrass also are plentiful. It resembles a patch of healthy, green lawn. Humans drink wheatgrass juice—available at various health food stores—for increased vim and vigor but parrots enjoy chomping on the real thing, the tender blades of grass.

Chlorophyll is the main component of wheatgrass, whose attributes relate to neutralizing toxins and promoting proper digestion. What do parrots eat? If they’re really healthy, chances are wheatgrass is a part of their diet. Longevity is the goal and anyone coping with the loss of a pet—whether a parrot, a pig or a pug—needs to do everything possible to guarantee good health in the pets left behind or those acquired in the future.

Consider quinoa. The grain from South America—pronounced “keen-wha”—that entered the American diet consciousness not long ago also is a source of great nutrition for parrots. What do parrots eat? If they are given grain mixes incorporating raw, cooked or sprouted quinoa, they’ll surely benefit. Quinoa soaked in water will sprout quickly. Look for the little tails on the grains. Those are the freshly sprouted roots. Try a mix of quinoa, chopped yams, raisins and dried apples. What do parrots eat? Substitute just about any vegetable into this mix and watch the bird’s delight.

Consider beans and seeds. The quest to find an answer to the question about what do parrots eat has to arrive eventually at beans and seeds. Daily feedings should always incorporate lots of varieties of vegetables—corn, peppers, carrots, broccoli and the like. Beans and seeds can be daily offerings, too. Grains such as quinoa and rice are valuable, especially if one sprouts them by soaking in water.

A few times each week, beautiful fresh fruits can be offered. Apples, grapes and bananas are healthy foods for parrots. Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts can be an occasional treat. And yogurt can add valuable calcium. But never let food bowls of yogurt or cooked foods remain in the cage too long; bacteria could breed there.

What can harm a parrot?

What do parrots eat? Parrots will nibble on anything they can find. Make sure that what they eat is indeed a healthy food item. Literature relates much about parrots that have died from blockages caused by ingesting string—commonly used to suspend toys in bird cages. They have died from lead poisoning from gnawing on cages finished with lead paint. And it is finally fairly well known that they will die from fumes emitted by cooking pans coated with Teflon. Parrot homes are Teflon-free homes.

Parrots that are allowed time out of the cage for play time surely will find and eat many forms of human debris—safety pins, beads from a long-ago broken necklace, pine-scented air fresheners, toilet tissue and potpourri. When it comes to the question—what do parrots eat—the answer often is: whatever they can find.

A pet owner’s diligence can never be relaxed. One must be on alert at all times, for like a rambunctious child, a parrot can get into trouble with lightning speed. What do parrots eat?” The parrot’s response—if it had its way—probably would be, “Anything I want. Please pass the string.”

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