ARTICLES | Parrot Diet

Help! My parrot is a picky eater

Many parrots are extremely conservative regarding new foods. This is normal. However, responsible owners who want their birds’ diet to be healthy and varied with loads of fresh produce can be driven to distraction by obstinate seed eaters. There is good news. With a few tricks and some patience any bird can be convinced to try new foods. I would like to share the methods that I successfully use with our rescue birds.

Method 1. The puree trick

Start with approximately ten percent by volume – compared to the total amount in the food bowl - of the new food that you want your bird to get used to. Puree this very finely and mix it thoroughly with your bird’s regular food. This way he will get a little taste of the new food into his beak without being put off right away.

If your birds does not accept this mixture, start out with an even smaller amount, say five percent. Give your birds some time to get used to this. When they accept the mixture well, you may gradually increase the amount of new food mixed in with your birds’ regular food. Be sure to wait between increases in the amount of new food, until your bird eats the new level of unfamiliar food mixed in without problems whatsoever.

Once you have accomplished that your bird eats large proportions of the puree mixed in with his regular food, you can start to gradually increase the particle size. Thus, you go gradually from a very fine puree, to a coarser one, until eventually you can feed chunks. Again, with each step you must make sure that the previous one has been fully accepted by your bird.

Method 2. Clicker Training? Yes, Clicker Training! 😄

You may train your parrots to try new foods with the help of clicker training. To do so, you may use either target stick or shaping methods. Essentially, the bird is rewarded for increasing interaction with the new food. For example, you may start by rewarding the bird for glancing at it, initially. Build on this in baby steps, until your bird beaks and ultimately even eats the new food.

How to Start Clicker Training

Learn how to do clicker training easily and correctly. Done right it is great fun for you and your bird. Build trust and  relationship while learning basic exercises.


Please click image for more information and look-inside-the-book

Method 3. The food-is-a-toy trick

There are many ways in which food may be offered as a toy. This will lead to your bird getting accustomed to new tastes, as he plays. Eventually he will start eating some of these “toys”.

One method to offer food as a toy is to use the skewers available in pet stores which you can fill with pieces of vegetables and fruit. But you can also find other was of offering food as a toy. You can use cable ties to fix large pieces of vegetable or fruit to the cage bars. Another possibility is to wrap healthy treats into clean paper like a candy or to hide them in little containers made of plastic or cardboard. There are no limits to what your imagination might come up with. 😉

Method 4. The we-are-a-flock trick

Parrots are highly sociable flock animals. You can utilize this by eating together with your birds. Be very enthusiastic about eating foods you would like your birds to get used to. Usually, quite soon, they will want to try what you think is so great. Of course, you should only eat parrot healthy foods during this exercise. Thus, nothing containing salt, no animal proteins, no avocadoes, no chocolate and no alcohol.

Of course, the flock trick also works amongst parrots as a flock. When put with a partner or group who are adventurous eaters, parrots quickly learn the others’ eating habits. This is of course one more argument for never keeping a parrot alone, but always with at least one same species, opposite sex partner. 😉