Parrots Forever
Sanctuary & Rescue Foundation
 
PARROT CARE GUIDE                 
                                                 
                                                    
 
FEEDING                 
 
In order to ensure the health and well-being of your parrot, a varied and nutritionally complete diet must be provided.  A diet consisting solely or primarily of seeds is a very poor diet for a bird! Sunflower seeds and peanuts should be offered sparingly or only as special treats, NOT as staple foods, as they are nutritionally deficient and high in fat!  In fact, we feel that there are significant health benefits to be gained by eliminating seed altogether and offering nutritionally complete, natural pellets and a variety of vitamin rich fresh and cooked foods. Parrots have dietary requirements very similar to that of people, and should be frequently offered the same foods that are considered healthy and nutritious for people. Share your food with your bird!
 
•Proper feeding of your bird should consist of 70 – 80% fresh vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes, 20 – 30% nutritionally complete pellets and no more than 10% seeds.
 
Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes – A variety of fruits and vegetables should be offered daily.  Frozen vegetables like corn, peas, beans and broccoli are convenient to have on hand, and to warm and serve in a pinch.  Cooked squash, carrots and corn on the cob are also well loved by many parrots.  Some other suggestions are as follows:
 
sweet potatoes                                   apples
red cabbage                                        pears
cucumber                                           grapes
lima beans                                          bananas
cherry tomatoes                                 mango
kale                                                    oranges
spinach                                               papaya
beets & beet greens                             strawberries
celery                                                  blueberries
kidney beans                                       cantaloupe
 
Grains, Pastas, Rice and Cereals -  These foods should be offered several times a week.  Mixing cooked rice or pasta with chopped vegetables or fruit makes a great meal for parrots.  Whole grain toast or specially prepared “birdie breads” are loved by many birds.  Parrots relish warm, mushy foods like oatmeal ( Maypo is a great choice as it is vitamin fortified), Cream of Wheat, or Farina.  Baby cereal will also be accepted with enthusiasm.
 
Meat – Many parrots love meat.  Because meats are a good source of protein and iron, and a beneficial compound called L-carnitine which can benefit cardiovascular health,  small portions may be offered once each week.
 
Dairy – Parrots are unable to digest lactose, therefore dairy foods should not be offered frequently.  Cheese can be offered occasionally as a special treat.  Also, many parrots love yogurt, which has beneficial cultures and can be periodically offered as a treat.  Soy based products like soy yogurt and soy milk are often relished by birds!
 
Vitamin A – This vitamin is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy skin and feathers, and important for immunity functions.  However, it is not uncommon for parrots to suffer from chronic vitamin A deficiencies.  High doses of vitamin A can be toxic, therefore this should not be given as a supplement unless prescribed by a vet.  But many natural foods are rich in vitamin A and should be regularly offered to parrots.  Vitamin A rich foods include sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, carrots, kale, mangos, spinach, papaya…
 
Vitamin E - This vitamin is a powerful anti-oxidant.  It can be found in foods like eggs, pasta and whole nuts like walnuts, almonds and pistachios.  If seed is eliminated from a parrots diet, we do recommend that whole nuts continue to be offered.
 
Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids – These are vital nutrients for heart health!  We are seeing more frequent instances of captive parrot deaths due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease!  Heart health support, especially in older parrots is an essential part of parrot care.  Fish oils are high in Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids.  Many parrots, however, tend not to care for the taste of fish oil. Alternatively, Flax oil, milled flaxseed (available in the cereal section of most supermarkets) and hemp oil all are excellent choices.  These can be “hidden” in various food recipes.
 
FOODS TO AVOID
 
Fats, Salts and Sugars – While often accepted quite happily by your parrot, foods high in fat, salt and sugar content are as good for your bird as they are for you.  Just like with people, some fat and salt are essential in our diets, but excesses of these can lead to obesity, hypertension, heart disease and premature death.  Don’t allow your beloved bird to be a junk food addict.  Offer treats  only in moderation.
 
Avocado – Avocado is poisonous to parrots.  No guacamole for birds.
 
Chocolate – Also poisonous to birds.
 
Peanuts/Sunflower Seeds – High in fat and low in nutritional value, peanuts are the “potato ship” of the parrot world a poor choice of food for your parrot.  Also, the shells of peanuts are often laden with molds and pesticides that are harmful to birds.  Many parrots, however, love peanuts.  If your parrot craves peanuts, offer organically grown peanuts, if possible, and limit peanuts to one or two a day. Sunflower seeds, while often relished by birds and found abundantly in commercial parrot food mixes, can become addictive to the exclusion of other healthy choices and should never comprise the basis of your bird’s diet.  Moderation is key!
 
Alcohol – I should not even have had to include alcohol on this list, as it goes without saying.  Anyone who would offer alcohol to a parrot – or to any animal – is unfit to care for animals.
 
FLIGHT
                                                                                
                                                                                            This incredible photograph of a parakeet in flight was taken by 
                                                                                                         Providence Raptor Photographer, Peter Green
 
Every fiber of your bird’s body was evolved for flight.  Your bird’s feathers, wings, eyes, skin, lungs, heart and brain were all developed to accommodate this extraordinary gift.  Because captive birds typically eat diets high in fat while living sedentary lives in cages and on perches, we frequently see captivity related diseases like fatty liver disease, fatty tumors, reproductive diseases and atherosclerosis (heart disease/hardening of the arteries).
 
We encourage people to keep their birds flighted and to accommodate flight if this can safely be done (minimum chance of escape).  Flighted birds benefit from increased cardiovascular, muscular and bone health while their risk of obesity and obesity related diseases is greatly reduced.  Flight also has a tremendous impact on a parrot’s level of self-confidence,  as a bird’s identity and “sense of self” is linked to what her wings were meant to do!  Because flight is a “learned skill” that must be practiced in order to be honed, parrots who are allowed to fly learn to navigate their environments expertly!
 
CAGING
 
There is no such thing as too big a cage.  Birds were meant to fly.  They don’t belong in cages.  When deciding on the best cage to purchase for your parrot, you should follow
these two rules:
 
Buy the biggest cage you cage possibly afford – The cage should, at very least, accommodate the full wing span of your bird.  It should offer plenty of room for a variety of toys,
and allow your bird room enough to climb, swing and play.  A better choice would be to dedicate an entire room to your bird(s) or to build a large enclosure in the corner of a room.
Cage your Parrot as infrequently as possible – Your bird should be able to live outside of his cage for the greater portion of each day.  Accommodate his need to be free, play and make choices by keeping an open cage policy as often as possible.  Make sure you buy a cage that is outfitted with a “play top”.  Suspend “hanging play frames” from your ceiling close to the cage top so that your bird can climb, swing and exercise.
 
TOYS
Your parrot is SMART!  Because he is so intelligent, he needs toys and activities in order to keep his mind stimulated and to keep him from growing bored.  Make sure your bird has a variety of colorful toys to play with and to chew on.
 

Wooden Chew Toys – Wooden chew toys should be made of untreated wood like pine.  Be very careful not to offer toys made of pressure treated wood, or wood that is stained or painted.  Wood toys that are dyed bright colors with natural vegetable based dyes are excellent choices for birds.  Remember that your parrot takes great pleasure in shredding, splintering and destroying wood.  Toys made of hard woods are less appealing to parrots, though they may be easier on our wallets.
 
Plastic/Acrylic Toys – Although they look pretty and come in exciting colors, acrylic toys tend to be largely ignored by parrots, as they are able to derive no chewing, shredding or destructive pleasure from hard plastic toys.  However, parrots love puzzles!  Some plastic toys offer puzzle challenges or invite strategic thinking.  When choosing a toy for your parrot, look for toys that require activity, manipulation and thinking.
 
Shredding Toys – Parrots love to shred things.  Colorful rope or string Toys can provide long periods of activity for your parrot.  Shoe laces are a particular favorite, as shoe lace ends mimic feather sheaths.  Birds love to chew and break these ends.  Cardboard roll toys are also fun for birds, and inexpensive to buy.
 
SOCIAL NECESSITIES
 
The single most important thing you should know about your parrot is the fact that he is a highly social and interactive animal who requires companionship in order to be healthy, happy and thrive!  If you are unable to accommodate the demanding social requirements of a parrot, you should not adopt a parrot.
 
Involve your parrot in the life and activities of the family
Your parrot wants to be a part of the family ( his flock ).  If his cage is located in a separate room, make sure a hanging frame or play stand is located where most of your family’s activity occurs.  Let him be in the middle of all the action. Involve him in activities like preparing meals at the kitchen table (not near the stove) or watching TV on the couch.
Let your parrot eat with you – Parrots are social eaters and enjoy  eating as a part of a group.  Some people let their birds eat with them at the kitchen table.  Some parrots who are very picky eaters will accept greater varieties of foods if they are hand fed by you, or allowed to try the food that you are eating. A parrot in isolation is a tragedy – Never keep a parrot locked apart for long periods of time.  This is particularly cruel treatment towards a creature who is wired for social interaction and flocking behavior.  If you lack the time to give your parrot, consider bringing other parrots into your home to provide companionship…or consider finding a new home for your bird where he can enjoy social interaction and companionship.
 
ESSENTIAL HEALTH CARE
 
Your new parrot should undergo a full veterinary evaluation to ensure he is healthy, to detect any potential health issues or conditions, and to establish a base-line health history at the veterinary clinic you will be utilizing.  Because veterinary exams  can be extremely stressful to birds, we do not feel it is necessary to vet your healthy bird annually for “routine exams”, provided there has not been exposure to new birds or other health hazards.  However, it is extraordinarily important that you are thoroughly familiar with the normal, healthy behavior of your bird, and are able to identify changes in that behavior that might indicate a problem.  Generally speaking, by the time a parrot exhibits symptoms of illness, it is extremely sick and required immediate veterinary attention.  Signs of illness in your bird include:
 
•A consistent change in the quality of the droppings
•Loss of appetite
•Lethargy
•A fluffed-up appearance
•Tail bobbing
•Increased, visible or audible respiration
•Loss of balance or equilibrium
 
A Certified Avian Vet
Make sure you bring your parrot to a Certified Avian or Exotics veterinarian.  These vets have special training and knowledge in avian medicine that other veterinarians may lack.
 
DANGEROUS TO BIRDS
Teflon – We can not stress this enough:  If you have birds in your home, you must ban Teflon and ALL non-stick coated items from your home.  When overheated, Teflon emits an odorless, colorless, toxic fume that is instantly fatal to birds.  Don’t take chances.  Get rid of all Teflon coated cookware.  Non-stick Teflon coating can also be found on irons and coffee makers.
 
Self-Cleaning Ovens – utilize a non-stick coating.  Activating the self-cleaning feature of your oven will kill your birds.  We recommend that people who keep birds should replace their self-cleaning ovens.
 
Silicone Oven Mats – They are advertised as “silicone” not “Teflon”, but they are deadly!
 
**Foster Parrots, Ltd. & The New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary regularly receive phone calls and e-mails from devastated people who have lost their beloved parrots to any and all of the above “bird killers”.  Please take the threat seriously.  Parrots Forever Sanctuary & Rescue Foundation will not consider adopting birds to homes in which Teflon/non-stick items are present.
 
Chemicals – Beware of your use of chemicals and cleaning agents around your birds.  Chlorine, ammonia, fabric fresheners like Febreeze, oil based house paints and paint thinners are all examples of household chemicals that can pose a danger to your bird.
 
by Karen Windsor Foster Parrots, Ltd. & The New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary




© Parrots Forever Sanctuary and Rescue Foundation
2012-2019