Thursday, 26 August 2010

Cleaning Naturally

All responsible parrot owners are aware that most cleaning solutions, like bleach for example are harmful to parrots. On top of that, using any sort of synthetic air-freshners or something like Febreeze can even kill them. So how can you keep your house clean, smelling nice and your parrot healthy and happy? I have complied a list of natural solutions which at times do a better job than store-bought chemical products.
White Distilled Vinegar:
1. For general use make up a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar to clean bathrooms and kitchens. To add a fresh fragrance add a couple of drops of pure non-toxic essential oils. Lemon, orange or rosemary will work well.
2. To disinfect a smelly dishwasher put a small bowl of vinegar on the bottom rack and run through an empty cycle
3. To remove limescale from your kettle pour in a mixture of half vinegar, half water. Boil it up and leave overnight. In the morning tip out the mixture and boil again with fresh water to clear the vinegar residue.
4. To clean shower heads, pour vinegar into a small plastic bag, knot the handles over the shower head, secure with a rubber band and leave overnight. Rinse with water in the morning to reveal lime-scale free shower head.
5. To unblock a drain put two Alka Seltzer tablets down it, followed by a cup of vinegar. After 10 minutes pour down hot water. The chemical reaction between Alka Seltze and vinegar should shift the blockage.
6. To remove perspiration stains from clothes soak them in warm water and distilled vinegar. Test first on a small piece of fabric if soaking deeply coloured items.
7. To wash windows make up a solution of equal parts of white vinegar and water. Soak a piece of crumpled newspaper in the solution and apply the solution to the windows  in circular motion. If desired wipe it clean with a squeegee.
8. To polish leather sofas mix one part white wine vinegar and 2 parts cheap olive oil. Apply with a soft cloth, leave for 10 minutes and then buff with a clean duster.
Bicarbonate of Soda
1. For clothes washing add 50g of Soda Crystals to your detergent in the washing machine to shift grease, blood, ink, tea and coffee stains from cotton an linen. To shift difficult stains pre-soak in a strong soda crystals solution first.
2. To soften water in the hard-water areas add about 25-50g of soda directly to the detergent drawer and add detergent at level recommended for soft-water areas. Check for colour-fastness first.
3. To clean burnt-on food soak pans, ovens dishes, etc. in a strong, hot solution. (Strong solution is 1 pint/500ml of water to 1 cup of soda)
4. To remove grease from work-tops, floor or wall tiles, oven hobs and hoods make up a mild solution of soda crystals and warm water. Spread the solution on the surfaces with a sponge, let it stand for a few minutes and then rinse. (Mild solution is 1 pint/500ml of water to 1 tablespoon/20grams of soda
5. To keep drains clean put about 500g of soda crystals down the drain, then sluice down with boiling water. (from personal experience: I had bad smells coming from the kitchen drains for awhile and no amount of bleach helped. After putting soda down the drains 2 or 3 times the smells were gone and haven't reappeared!)
7. To get rid of grease on oven doors, make up a paste of 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and a small amount of water. Scrub the doors using a sponge and the paste.
8.To remove stains on teacups, spoons etc. put 1 teaspoon of soda in each cup, add water and leave to soak. If cleaning spoons, just drop them in the cups too. Rinse once soaked. If stains still remain just give a little scrub with the hard side of the sponge.
9. To get rid of smells in the fridge put a cup or a small bowl filled with soda crystals at the bottom of the fridge.
10. Sprinkle a little bicarbonate of soda in trainers to get rid of smells.
11. To remove smells from the carpets and sofa's fabric sprinkle with soda crystals and vaccum as normal
12. To remove crayon stains off the walls make up a paste of equal parts of bicarbonate of soda and water. Rub them on the marks and then wipe with a clean cloth. This method works best for white or light-coloured walls.


Lemons
1. Put half a lemon in your dishwasher to give dishes an extra shine and nice smell.
2. To clean chopping boards and remove unwanted smells rub them with a halved lemon. To tackle stronger smells and stains, squeeze the juice over the boards and leave for 20 minutes. Rinse.
3. To make a simple air-freshner mix lemon juice and water in a spray bottle
4. For a natural wood furniture polish combine 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts olive oil. Rub it in with soft cloth.
5. To get rid of bad smells in a microwave, wipe any stains first with clean water or vinegar solution. Then put half a lemon in and microwave it for 30 seconds. Discard the lemon.


Miscellaneous
1. If your dish bubbles over in the oven or on a stove sprinkle salt all over the spill to soak it up. Once the surface is cool just wipe off the soap.
2. To clean crumbs and small bits and pieces off the bath or other small mats glide a lint roller or a wad of masking or sticky tape over them.
3. To give your clothes a fresh smell soak them for a couple of hours in a solution of half a bucket of water and 2 aspirin tablets.
4. To remove red wine spills off the carpet apply a dab of shaving cream on the stain and then rinse with cold water.
5. To remove watermarks and scratches off the wooden furniture rub them with a halved Brazil nut.


Where to buy: All of the above mentioned products are available from most supermarkets.
White/distilled vinegar is available from oil/vinegar aisles.

Soda Crystals can be found in the detergents aisle of the supermarkets and the bicarbonate of soda - in the baking section.
I have been using DP Soda Crystals, which cost £0.91 from Tesco for 1kg bag. It is a wonderful and very versatile product which is safe to use around birds (just keep them away from ingesting it of course!)

Dri-Pak has a few other products which can be used safely an easily around your birds. For more info see http://www.dri-pak.co.uk/index.html

Patricia Sund's "Chop"

 have recently discovered  a great blog called Parrot Nation written by Patricia Sund (the link to the blog can be found in the blogroll on the left of this page). There I have found a recipe for parrot food called "Chop" which Patricia cooks for her African Greys. Looking at those guys I thought "we will have what they are having!" and got down to writing a shopping list for the Chop ingredients.
It combines a number of super-heathy and nutritious ingredients: plenty of vegetables rich in all sorts of vitamins and minerals, seeds, like hemp seed, which is rich in essential fatty acids and has a high protein content, seaweed, which is rich in calcium, magnesium,  iodine and Patricia also notes that it is high in essential omega fatty acids too. On top of that, it has got pulses and grains, which also provide some protein, complex carbohydrates, many vitamins of B group and other nutrients.
So, with a shopping list I went to my favourite heath food shop and purchased some ingredients for my Chop:
Carrots, Squash, Sweet Potatoe, Broccoli, Wild Rocket, Parsley, Apples, Pears, Kiwi, Chinese Cabbage and Bell Pepper
Hemp seed, Golden Linseed, Fennel Seed, Dill Seed, Millet Grain and Jumbo Oats
Seaweed (Nori, Dulce, Sea Lettuce) and Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea (50% of each) 
And I already had some grains and lentils on hand
I chopped all of the veg in the food processor, starting with carrots, sweet potatoe and broccoli stem. Note this gorgeous red carrot, I think it looks lovely!
Next I washed and dried Wild Rocket and some Parsley in a salad spinner
Added some broccoli and chopped
Then I added that big orange Squash, Apple and Bell Pepper to the food processor, leaving out the squash seeds and adding them later to the mix
Then I added some cooked lentils to the mix
Separately from the vegetables I have chopped in the fruit processor Kiwi and Pears.
Due to this fruit being very juicy I mixed them together with Jumbo Oats and the Oats absorbed the moisture. Then it was also added to the main mix.
Hemp seed, Dill seed, Fennel seed and Golden Linseed, cooked millet are added
Then I soaked some Seaweed, drained and added that to the mix, along with some Peas, Cranberries, Rosehips and Hibiscus, cooked Wheat and Amaranth
So this is the mix ready. I didn't add any pulses because I cooked and froze a batch only a couple of days ago, so these will be added to the Chop mix right before feeding.
While I popped out of the kitchen to check the instructions on Chop Digby managed to jump right in the bowl so tempting it looked for him!
After the picture was taken, I retrieved him from the bowl and he continued to enjoy his Chop sitting on the edge of the bowl, somehow this seems more hygienic to me!
My bunny wasn't left out and got a large plate of greens which were used in the Chop recipe
My budgie got a helping too later in the day and picked a few bits. Tomorrow I will mix it with a little bit more of her seed and see if she feels more tempted to try it that way.
While my animals were enjoying their healthy, beautiful food, full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, I was snacking on this:
YUM!

Parrot Crunchy Biscuits

Parrot Crunchy Biscuit Recipe
These biscuits make a great and healthy treat, which is also easy to use in foraging toys as it is quite dry and can keep all day in a toy without spoiling. It is also a good way to introduce pellets to finicky parrots, including smaller birds, like budgies.
You will need:
1 cup of pellet crumble (I use Roudybush Crumble but any pellet can be used)

1 handful of almonds
1 handful of hazelnuts
1 handful of mixed nuts (walnuts, brazils)
1 small handful of unhulled sunflower seeds

1 small handfull of mixed small seeds, like millet,flax and oats
1 tbsp of water
1 egg
Directions:
Put all nuts in a plastic bag and put it on a soft towel. Bash with a rolling pin to break the nuts up, but be careful not to burst the bag.

Put all the dry ingredients into the bowl, including broken up nuts

Then add all your wet ingredients, mix well and let the mix stand for a few minutes to allow the pellets to absorb the moisture.
Take a baking sheet, layer a piece of baking parchment on it. Then, with two spoons shape the mixture into a biscuit shape. Alternatively you can roll the mix into small balls. Lay them out on the baking tray and bake in the oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes.
Here is the final result:

And here is my chief tester enjoying his biscuit

PS: If you have only large pellets, like Harrison's Coarse, just pulse them in a food processor or bash them with the rolling pin, just like you did with the nuts earlier. Alternatively, just add a bit more water and let the mix stand for a bit longer for pellets to go soft and mushy, but don't overdo on water, you still want the biscuits to be crunchy and not soft, like muffins.

Harrison's Bird Bread

Recently I have purchased two bags of Harrisons Bird Bread in the attempt to try and introduce more variety into my budgie's diet. Digby loves all sorts of bird breads so I knew he will enjoy it too.
I have bought two different varieties: Millet & Flax and Hot Pepper

The Ingredient list reads:
Millet & Flax reads: Harrison's Bird Foods, Grey Millet, Brown Flax Seed, Baking Powder (aluminum-free) calcium carbonate.
Hot Pepper: Harrison's Bird Foods, Grey Millet, Sweet Corn, Cayenne Pepper, Baking Powder (aluminum-free) calcium carbonate.
Baking Instructions:
You'll Need:
1 bag Harrison's Bird Bread Mix
2 whole eggs (no shells)
1 cup water
1 Tbsp HEALx Sunshine Factor or vegetable oil

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180C). Pour contents of bag into medium mixing bowl.

Add rest of ingredients.

Mix thoroughly and pour into greased bread pan or muffing tin. I sprinkled some Harrison's High Potency Fine Pellets on top

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Once ready, cut into small squares (I get about 30 squares per loaf) and freeze.

This is the squares of Millet & Flax Bread I baked, cut and froze earlier.

For my budgie I prefer to put a square of bread on a skewer. She seems to enjoy shredding it more than eating it but I am sure something gets inside! Digby loves it and eats with pleasure!
A few more words about Harrison's Bird Bread taken from Handbook for a Healthier Bird created by Harrison's Bird Foods®:
  • It provides a healthy alternative for bird owners who choose to prepare their own bird food or those who give regular treats to their birds.
  • Can be offered instead of table food to birds that like to eat at family mealtimes.
  • Can be used to assist in converting birds to a formulated diet.
  • Can be hidden as a foraging reward
  • Can be used as a vehicle for administering liquid medication
  • Provides an easy-to-use transition for hospitalized or boarding birds until acceptance of the appropriate formulated diet.
  • Can be moistened and offered to birds that are feeding chicks as a soft food.
  • Can be used as a weaning food to transition to a formulated diet.
Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude protein (min.) 15%, crude fat (min.) 8%, crude fiber (max) 6.5%, moisture (max.) 10%
Our verdict: Harrison's Bird Bread is certainly worth trying!

Fats And EFA

Fats are an essential component of any diet. They are needed for nutrient absorption (including such fat-soluble vitamins as A and D), maintenance of cell membranes, nerve transmission, bile flow, proper brain function and many many other processes in the body. However not all fats are beneficial for our bodies. Fats can be roughly divided into good and bad. The group of good fats is comprised of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds. The bad fats are made up of saturated fats and trans-fats.
The Bad Fats:
Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products, such as meat and dairy, but also in small quantities in nuts and palm oil. Saturated fats are linked to increased cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Trans-fats are not found in nature but were created by the scientists. Because our (or our parrots') body doesn't know what trans-fats are they are not processed or removed from the system but continue to circulate in the arteries and potentially form plaques which contribute to coronary heart disease. Heart disease is not only the leading cause of deaths in humans but also is on the increase in parrots. Moreover consumption of transfats increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity and liver dysfunction in humans. If they have such a profound and negative effect on humans' health, then they are almost certainly can cause all these illnesses and more in our companion parrots. For this reason please never feed your parrot any junk food, including crisps, tortilla chips, commercially produced pop corn, ice-cream, cakes, sausages etc.
General guidelines is to avoid feeding our parrots any "Bad Fats"
The Good Fats:
Let's now talk about the good fats, essential for our health. The good unsaturated fats are a source of essential fatty acids called Omega 3 and Omega 6 . They are called essential because every cell in the body needs these fats to function but they can't be produced by the body so must come from food. These fatty acids have a range of health benefits, including improved function of cardiovascular system, reduce the risk of cancers, and even are able to alleviate depression and improve the brain function.
The best sources of good fats and EFA are:
Rich in Omega 3:
Flaxseed oil (flaxseed oil has the highest linolenic (Omega 3) content of any food), flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.), wheat germ oil.

Rich in Omega 6:
Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds,  pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds (raw), olive oil, olives, borage oil, evening primrose oil, sunflower seeds and unrefined sunflower oil, safflower seeds and unrefined safflower oil.

It is important to remember that all foods high in fat are also high in calories. 1 gram of carbohydrates and proteins provide around 4 calories, whereas 1gram of fat provides 9 calories. Keeping that in mind all high-fat foods, like nuts and high-fat seeds must be given to parrots in moderation.
Daily ratio of nuts and seeds per parrot of about 450g per day:
1 walnut or
3 hazelnuts or
5 pine nuts or
4-5 pumpkin seeds or
10 sunflower seeds
If combining different types of nuts and seeds reduce the amount of each nut/seed type accordingly.
Another way to supplement the diet with EFAs is by serving a small amount, just a couple of drops, of unrefined flaxseed oil or so-called Omega blend.
One of the best and well-balanced brands of unrefined oils on the market is Udo's Choice Oil Blend.

To learn more about the product and find your local stockist please follow the link http://www.udoerasmus.com/products/oil_blend_en.htm
If using unrefined oils, including unrefined palm fruit extract, it is important to reduce the amount of nuts and seeds given proportionally. It is also beneficial to mix and match different ingredients for optimum results and to keep things interesting. Offer a couple of nuts and seeds on one day, on the other day stick to offering the seeds and a couple of drops of unrefined oil, the next day serve a small amount of palm fruit extract and a couple of nuts, but no high-fat seeds at all.
When choosing foods high in oil, like nuts or extra virgin seed/nut oils it is very important to make sure that they are fresh and are not damaged by heat, light or oxygen and have not gone rancid, because this would mean not only a decrease in palatability of the product but also decrease in vitamins and appearance of toxic compounds which are even linked to causing some types of cancers.
Never purchase nuts and seeds loose in petshops. It is important to purchase only human-grade nuts (or in fact any other ingredients you intend to feed to your parrot) because they are aflatoxin tested and are usually of a much higher quality than those intended for animal consumption. However even human-grade nuts must be examined for any signs of mold or rancidity and throw away if any are present before feeding them to a parrot.
To make sure nuts, seeds and unrefined oils don't go rancid nuts and seeds can be stored in the freezer or fridge and unrefined oils must be kept in the fridge.

Four Components Of Parrot Diet. Cooked Foods

Cooked foods, when served warm, are not only nutritious but also comforting, especially for ailing or young birds. Cooking for parrots can be a lot of fun and you can be as inventive as you want. I feed my African Grey a mix of cooked grains and legumes, plus sprouted grains and legumes and a variety of vegetables and berries daily. This time of food is often referred to as the Mash Diet. It is quite easy to prepare and you can vary ingredients from one batch to another.

My TAG Digby enjoying his Mash
To cook a batch of nutritious mash mix 1 parts of legumes to 2 parts of grains (choose at least 2 different types of legumes and 2 types of grains from the lists below). Soak the legumes overnight. In the morning, cover the legumes with double the amount of water. Boil rapidly for about 20 minutes. Top up water if needed. Add the grains. Boil for another 15-20 minutes. It is best to ensure that when the mix is cooked no water is left. The water in which the mix is cooked contains some of the nutrients from the legumes and grains, and if drained, those nutrients are lost.

Another batch of the Mash
Once the legumes/grains mix is ready, add an equal amount of any chopped or minced vegetables (some vegetables, like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, parsnips etc. can be added cooked, and others can be raw, especially leafy greens, like dandelion, cress, kale etc.) and a small amount of fruit.  Divide into portions and freeze. Defrost as needed in the fridge overnight. Serve at room temperature or warmed up in a microwave. This type of food can be served for breakfast and dinner and the pellets can be provided during the rest of the day.

This mix is only suitable for cooking, because it contains some types of beans which must never be served raw.
Suggested legumes list
  • Aduki bean
  • Borlotti bean*
  • Butter bean*
  • Chickpea
  • Haricot*
  • Kidney bean*
  • Mung bean
  • Pinto bean*
  • Soya bean*
  • Peas
  • Lentils (any variety)
* these beans must be soaked for 8-12 hours or overnight, drained, rinsed and boiled for at least 40 minutes to deactivate toxic compounds found in these types of beans.
Suggested grains list:
  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Kamut
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
Another popular food for birds is Birdie Bread. It is easy to prepare, easy to store (in the freezer) and parrots love it!
There are a few types of birdie bread you can make. One is just based on all sorts of flours, with the addition of vegetables, cooked grains, legumes, and eggs. Or Pellet Birdie Bread made almost entirely out of pellets. Or you can just mix and match so to say.
All Natural Birdie Bread
1/4 cup of wholewheat flour
1/4 cup of corn meal/flour (not white corn flour used for thickening sauces, but the yellow kind, also referred to as polenta)
1/4 cup of buckwheat flour*
1/4 cup of chickpea flour*
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of minced assorted vegetables or fruit or 2 jars of sugar/salt/dairy free baby food
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of palm fruit oil or extra virgin olive oil
100 ml of water (add last to be able to adjust the consistency depending on the amount and variety of vegetables)
Mix all ingredients together, adding water last. The consistency of the batter should be similar to that of the cake batter.
Pour into a cake or bread tin and bake in the oven at 180-190C (gas mark 5) for around 30 - 40 minutes. The bread is done once the skewer inserted in the centre of the bread comes out clean.
Cool on the rack, slice into squares and freeze. Defrost as needed.
* If you can't find buckwheat or chickpea flours you can replace them with any other flour of your choice. Avoid using white flour or rye flour.
Pellet Birdie Bread
1 cup of pellets ground up into flour (I found that Hagen pellets and Zupreem make for a very nice loaf)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of palm fruit oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
100ml of water.
Mix "pellet flour" with baking powder. Crack in the eggs, add oil and mix thoroughly. Add water, mix again and let it stand for a few minutes. The pellets will absorb the water and the batter will be quite thick but airy and easy to roll. Roll into small balls, place in a row on a baking tray/cooking sheet and bake at 180-190C (gas mark 5) for about 15 minutes. Cool and freeze. Defrost as needed.

Once you are familiar with how to make a loaf of birdie bread you can experiment with the ingredients, by adding almost anything you want to the mix.
Table/Human-type foods
Avoid feeding your parrot foods which contain any amount of salt or sugar. You can offer a small amount of foods you eat if they are prepared without salt. If you know your parrot is going to have dinner with you just omit adding salt to such things as pasta (best wholegrain or spelt varieties), rice or potatoes. You can always add salt once your food is on your dish for yourself. Alternatively, remove a small amount of food once it is cooked to a plate for your parrot and then add salt to the rest of the dish.
Salt is an unnecessary and dangerous for parrots. It is toxic and can lead to serious health problems, like kidney failure and even death, even if given on occasion. Therefore any human foods, containing salt, like crisps, chips, pretzels, nachos, etc. must be avoided.
Sugar is another product which must not be present in any parrot's diet in its refined form. Sugar can promote yeast growth in the gut and lead to a range of other health problems. For more info clickhere.
However, you can spice up your bird's food by adding such spices as cinnamon, chilli flakes, whole dry chillies, turmeric, dried parsley, oregano, rosemary or thyme when cooking.
Many parrot owners feel the need to feed their parrots chicken, chicken bones and other animal protein. Parrots in the wild don't consume any animal protein. During the breeding season some types of parrots allegedly snack on insects and larvae but it is not the same as eating chicken or chicken bones. Animal protein can lead to a number of health and behavioural problems. Excess of protein-rich foods prepares the body for breeding and therefore can cause hormonal behaviours, including aggression, screaming and feather-plucking. Furthermore, animal protein is generally high in methionine, an amino acid, which releases a toxic by-product called homocysteine when metabolised in the body. It is the liver and kidneys which have to remove the toxic compounds out of the body, and consequently an extra burden is placed on these organs, which appear to be quite weak (or not so well adjusted) in parrots as it is. There is nothing in meat which a well-balanced vegetarian diet can't provide in terms of nutrition for the parrot, so to avoid any health problems, do not feed your parrot meet!
Dairy products is another controversial subject. Parrots should never be given milk as they can't digest it properly and consumption of milk can lead to diarrhoea. However, such dairy products as low-fat unflavoured plain yoghurt or cottage cheese can be served once a week in the amount of about 1 teaspoon for a medium-sized parrot without any ill effects.
Further reading:
The Mash Diet
Recipes from ParrotHouse.com
Recipes from HolisticBirds.com

Four Components Of Parrot Diet. Fresh Foods

Fresh foods is a very broad category.
The most important part of it is fresh vegetables and leafy greens. These should be served daily and make up a large proportion of the parrots' diet (around 20-30%). It is best to buy organic and seasonal fresh produce when possible. You can serve vegetables in all sorts of ways: whole or in chunks on skewers, chopped in large chunks or into small sunflower seed size pieces. You can serve vegetables raw or steamed/boiled.
Steaming is the best way to cook any vegetables as it allows the veg to retain most of its nutrients, whereas they can leak out into the water during boiling.

Try to provide a variety of different vegetables daily and not to overfeed with just one type of a vegetable. Many parrots love peas and corn, but if given the choice they will fill up on these and will ignore or will consume less of any other, often more nutritious vegetable, berry or fruit.
Suggested vegetable list:
  • Beetroot
  • Beet greens
  • Boy choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Carrot Tops
  • Cavolo Nero
  • Celery
  • Celeriac
  • Chard
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Courgette
  • Cress
  • Cucumber
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • French Beans
  • Greater Plantain (Plantago major)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (dark green varieties)
  • Mange Tout
  • Okra
  • Parsnip
  • Pea
  • Pepper (Bell, Jalapeno, Chilli etc.)
  • Pumpkin
  • Rocket
  • Squash (Butternut, Winter and other varieties)
  • Spinach
  • Swede
  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Potatoe
  • Tatsoi
  • Tomatoe
  • Turnip
  • Turnip greens
Berries is a very nutritious addition to the diet and a much loved too. Apart from vitamins all sorts of berries contain different antioxidants, phytochemicals and polyphenols. Berries, together with fruit, can make up to 10% of the diet
Suggested berry list:
  • Blackberry
  • Blackcurrant
  • Bilberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Cranberry
  • Elderberry
  • Gooseberry
  • Hawthorn berry
  • Loganberry
  • Mulberry
  • Raspberry
  • Rose-hips
  • Rowan berry
  • Sea-buckthorn
Contrary to popular belief fruit should be served more as a treat rather than a large part of the diet. Fruit are very high in sugar and low in mineral/vitamin content. However they are still an important part and provide a range of beneficial nutrients.

Suggested fruit list:
  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Clementine
  • Coconut
  • Date
  • Damson
  • Fig
  • Grape
  • Greengage
  • Orange
  • Kiwi
  • Lychee
  • Mandarin
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Papaya
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Persimmon
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate
  • Tangerine
Herbs can make a nice addition to a parrots diet and most of the herbs have one or another health promoting quality. Use herbs the same you would use them for yourself - to garnish your parrot's meal (sprinkled on cooked food, fresh chopped veggies and mixed with sprouted grains/pulses). All herbs are very rich in essential oils and some of them can have adverse effect if consumed in large quantities. If used sparingly they don't pose any problems.
Suggested herbs list:
  • Basil
  • Calendula
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Garlic can be given to parrots in small quantities (1/10 of a clove, not bulb!) a couple of times a week without any problems. It can be beneficial for boosting the immune system and it possesses strong anti-bacterial properties too.
Another very important addition to the parrot's diet is grains and legumes. These can be cooked and some types of grains and legumes can be sprouted too. Grains and legumes are a very good source of carbohydrates and proteins. Legumes contain on average 20-25% of protein by weight. To balance out the amino acid profile to achieve complete protein aim to serve 2 parts grains to 1 part legumes in each meal containing these ingredients. Beans are  a good source of dietary fiber, iron, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folic acid.
Sprouted seeds and legumes is a very nutritious food, full of live enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytochemicals. Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and E,  calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc.
Not all beans can be sprouted. Some beans, like kidney beans and soya beans for example, contain enzyme inhibitors which can cause severe indigestion, vomiting and diarrhoea. However these toxic compounds are destroyed during proper soaking and cooking time at high temperatures (boiling) for a prolong (around 40 minutes) period of time.
Suggested list of grains and legumes for sprouting:
  • Aduki beans
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Corn (dry, pop corn type)
  • Kamut
  • Lentils (any varieties)
  • Millet
  • Oats (whole and not porridge oats)
  • Quinoa
  • Peas (whole, not split)
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
Additionally, hulled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, alfalfa seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds can be added to the sprouting mix.
Click here to read more on how to go about sprouting. Don't be afraid to start, it is very easy and even after 24 hour germination process dry grains and legumes turn into a nutritional powerhouse which your parrot will love!
NEVER give your parrot avocado, rhubarb, chocolate or coffee!

Four Components of Parrot Diet. Pellets

A Healthy parrot diet can be divided into four components: pellets, fresh foods, cooked foods, dry seed and nuts.
Let's start with pellets.
There are many different views on pelleted diets, some people love them, some hate them, but the majority agrees that a pelleted diet must form the basis of any parrot's diet, apart perhaps from smaller species, like budgies and cockatiels who do better on a diet, with a larger proportion of seed mix compared to that of pellets.
Pellets is a very convenient food to feed. It is dry, so don't spoil easily. It is uniform so the picking is eliminated. It doesn't have hulls, so there is little waste. For these reasons, it is easy to leave the daily ratio of pellets in a bowl for a parrot during the day to snack on, unlike fresh foods, which have to be removed in 2 - 3 hours to prevent a parrot consuming spoilt foods.
Pellets come in all shapes and sizes, and even colours. It is best to stick to the natural, uncoloured pellets to avoid any possible allergies or other problems the dyes in pellets can cause. Artificial preservatives is another thing which you don't want to find in the ingredient list for the pellets you feed your bird. Choose the size appropriate for your bird.
Pellets should make up around 50% of your parrot's diet. Once your parrot accepts a pelleted diet, no vitamin/mineral supplementation is going to be required, and in fact, can cause more harm than good, because such fat-soluble vitamins as A, D, K and E can build up in liver if consumed in excess amounts and cause liver toxicity.
Conversion methods. The problem which many parrot owners face is the reluctance of their beloved birds to try pelleted foods, especially if they are trying to convert an adult parrot who was raised on a seed mix.
There are a few different conversion methods which are well worth trying. But before you start, remember, that you don't want to starve your parrot, you just want him/her to get a little hungry to actually go and try the new food you are offering. If possible, weigh your parrot on digital scales the day before conversion and then continue to weigh him/her daily to make sure the bird is not loosing much weight. Slight weight loss is possible, but no drastic weight loss should occur. If it does, return to feeding a regular diet and try the conversion again when the weight has gone back to normal.
Don't try to convert an ill parrot to a pelleted diet or in fact any new diet, before consulting your avian vet!
So here are some methods to try:
1. First thing in the morning place a bowl with a regular seed mix in the cage and let your parrot have some of the seed. Remove the bowl with the seed mix in about an hour and replace it with a bowl with pellets. Start by placing just about a tablespoon of pellets in the bowl. No need to fill the bowl up to the brim with pellets just to throw it all away later on when it is left uneaten. Remove the bowl with the pellets late afternoon and return already familiar food, like seed mix, back to the cage. Repeat until you see your parrot sampling and nibbling on his pellets. Once the process has began, increase the amount of time the bowl with pellets is left in the cage. Gradually eliminate the bowl with seeds completely. However, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't give a seed mix to your parrot ever again. More about it later.
2. Start by mixing already familiar seed mix with an equal amount of pellets in one bowl. Serve a mix of 50% pellets and 50% seeds for a week. If you notice that your parrot started nibbling on pellets, gradually increase the proportion of pellets and reduce that of the seed down to 0%. This conversion can take anywhere from a week or two to a couple of months.
3. Crush pellets with a rolling pin into smaller chunks, mix them with your parrot's favourite fresh wet foods, like corn kernels, peas, pomegranate seeds, etc. and serve. The pellet crumbs should get stuck to the wet foods and hopefully the parrot will try them this way and get to enjoy them with time.
4. Soak a tablespoon of pellets in a small amount of warm water or unsweetened apple or orange juice. Serve from a spoon or in a bowl. Remove from the cage in about 2 - 3 hours. Once the parrot starts eating soft moist pellets, just before serving, mix them with a few dry pellets. If the parrot is picking out only moist soft pellets leaving dry ones behind, pulverise dry pellets in a coffee grinder and mix dry crumbs into moist mixture. Continue offering a mix of moist and dry pellets until your parrot starts eating the dry pellets well. Then gradually eliminate the moist pellets replacing them with the dry ones.
5. Eat the pellets in front of your parrot. As weird as it sounds, this is something which might just work. Your bird doesn't recognise pellets as a food straightaway, especially if he/she never saw them before. You should be the one who will show him/her that pellets is a type of food and a tasty one too (yes, you will have to act it out here, but it is worth it!).
6. If no other method works after a month or so, try offering a different brand of pellets. Different brands have different textures, flavours and colour variations, even if they don't contain any artificial dyes, which might just be more attractive to your bird, than the brand tried before.
No matter which method you choose have patience and stick with it for at least a few weeks. If you see that it is not working at all even after a couple of weeks then move on to another method.
Below you will find a list of recommended pellets and what to expect when you open a bag of pellets (African Grey/Amazon parrot size):
Harrison's lifetime coarse


Hard square shapes of brown-grey colour. They don't really have any smell or taste and are quite bland, therefore not very eagerly accepted by the majority of parrots.


Ingredients: Ground Yellow Corn, Ground Hulless Barley, Ground Soybeans, Ground Shelled Peanuts, Ground Shelled Sunflower Seeds, Ground Lentils, Ground Green Peas, Ground Rice, Ground Toasted Oat Groats, Sun Dried Alfalfa, Calcium Carbonate, Psyllium, Montmorillonite Clay, Spirulina, Ground Dried Sea Kelp, Vitamin E Supplement, Sea Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, d-Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Sodium Selenite. CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENT
Benefits: All organic ingredients, no artificial colours or preservatives.

Hagen
Round granules of brown and green-ish colour with a pleasant bubble gum type of smell (from banana and orange oil, no artificial flavourings are added). These granules are much smaller than Harrison's so easier to eat for slightly smaller parrots, like Timneh Greys for example. They are quite hard too.


Ingredients: Fruits - Orange oil, banana oil (for flavour) - Seeds - Corn, wheat, rice, sunflower kernal, flaxseed, oat groats - Vegetables - Tomato - Legumes - Soybean, peanut kernal - Others - Spirulina, rosemary extract, vitamins and minerals.
Benefits: No artificial colours or preservatives, each batch is tested for quality, often well accepted.
Zupreem
An oval-shaped pellet, hard, slightly textured. Zupreem pellets come in different varieties including coloured pellets, which have a strong smell (of fruit if using FruitBlend, or veggies if using AvianEntrees).


Ingredients (for Zupreem Avian Maintenance): Ground corn, soybean meal, cracked wheat, wheat germ meal, vegetable oil, sucrose, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, iodized salt, DL-Methionine, choline chloride, ascorbic acid, natural and artificial colors, artificial flavors, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, vitamin a supplement, vitamin e supplement, vitamin d3 supplement, vitamin b12, thiamine, niacin, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin.
Benefits: no artificial colours or preservatives, generally well-accepted.
Totally Organic Pellets


These look like elongated green sticks, smell and taste of herbs and of a softer, crumblier texture than the pellets mentioned above. Made of entirely natural ingredients with no artificial colours, preservatives or even synthetic vitamins/minerals added. The only drawback is that they don't contain vitamin D, so if the bird does not go outside for a regular dose of sunlight, then it is best to mix them with any other brand of pellets.


Ingredients: rice, barley, sunflower seeds hulled, alfalfa leaf, sesame seeds unhulled, amaranth whole, quinoa whole, buckwheat hulled, millet hulled, dandelion leaf powder, carrot powder, spinach leaf powder, purple dulse, rose hips powder, rose hips crushed, orange peel powder, lemon peel powder, rosemary whole leaf, cayenne ground, crushed red chili peppers, wheat grass powder, barley grass powder.
Benefits: all natural, no artificial colours, preservatives, salts or sugar. Don't contain soya, peanuts or corn which can cause sensitivity issues and allergies, especially in eclectus parrots.
Roudybush


Elongated, brownish sticks, soft and crumbly without any special smell.


Ingredients: ground corn, ground wheat, peanut meal, soy oil, soy meal, calcium carbonate, sodium lignin sulfonate, dicalcium phosphate, salt, L-Lysine hydrochloride, DL-Methionine, Yeast Cell Wall Extract, Niacin, Mixed Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Lecithin, Silicon Dioxide, Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Yucca Shidigen extract, Biotin, Calcium Panthothenate, Zinc Oxide, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Cyanocobalamin, Sodium Selenite, Propionic Acid, Ammonioum Hydroxide, Acetic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Tartaric Acid, and natural apple flavouring.
Benefits: no artificial colours or preservatives, softer texture, well-accepted and well-researched pellet.
All the above mentioned pellet brands laid out together for comparison:


Left to Right: Totally Organics, Zupreem Fruity, Zupreem Natural, Harrisons (top), Hagen (bottom), Roudybush
There is no need to stick with just one brand of pellets. You can mix a few different types for variety, or feed one brand for a couple of months and then gradually switch to another brand. If your bird will eat only one certain brand then just stick with it. You can get a different brand of pellet and bake a loaf of birdie bread with it for variety.
The brands I do NOT recommend:
Pretty Bird. Contains BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene), a preservative which has almost been eliminated from human foods industry and is believed to increase the risk of cancer and can produce hyperactivity in children.
Kaytee pellets and hand-feeding formulas contain Ethoxyquin, a commonly used preservative in pet foods which is believed to cause a range of health problem, including liver damage.

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