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Parrot Treats: Reality check

To eat only healthy foods is boring. Thus, many parrot owners love giving their birds treats to show their affection. Often these treats are not all that healthy. But since treats are only small amounts, they think it is acceptable? But is it?
Which amounts of what treat are truly acceptable and won’t harm our beloved feathered companions?

At this point the is no general answer to this question. No research has been conducted that establishes the effects on our parrots that certain quantities of a particular treat over a certain amount of time will have. In the absence of science based statements regarding the permissible quantities of treats, we can still conduct a reality check ourselves.

Do you recall math classes when you were a kid? Specifically do you recall the “rule of three” calculation? I know – for many of us this was a long time ago. However, we will use this method to get some perspective on treats. The question we pose is: How much of a given treat would you have to eat to equivalate the amount of treat you are giving your birds? Common sense will then tell you, if the amount is outrageous or not.

Example 1.

Let us use a 500g (approx. 1.1lb) parrot as an example. This is the approximate weight of an african grey or an amazon. Let us assume that the owner is a human who weighs 50 kg (110lb). Next we calculate how many times by weight the 500g bird will fit into the respective human. Thus, a 500g bird fits 100 times into a 50kg human. You calculate this by dividing the weight of the human through the weight of the parrot. First you need to convert the weights into the same units. Otherwise your decimals will be way off:

50kg converted into grams is: 50kg * 1000g/kg
the kg cancel out and you are left with 50 * 1000g = 50000g

Next you figure out how many times the parrot fits into the human:
50000g human / 500g parrot = 100 times

Thus, to consume the same relative amount of a treat than her parrot, the 50 kg human would have to consume 100 times that amount.

Of course you will have to adjust this calculation for your weight and your bird. Here is another example:

Example 2.

Assume you have a greenwing macaw that weighs 1.3 kg and you weigh 75 kg. Note how both weights are already in the same unit – kg. So you do not have to convert the units.

Thus: 75kg human / 1.3kg macaw = 57.69 times

Example 3.

For a 30 g budgerigar with a 100 kg human the calculation is:

100kg * 1000g/kg / 30g = 3333 times

We really are an awful lot bigger than our parrots. I think this is the reason why we so often misjudge a small treat for our parrots. The treat is small for us, but definitely not for our bird.

I have met parrot owners who tell me that their bird receives one egg per week. They think it is healthy for a well rounded diet. Looking at our examples above, this would be equal to the following amount of eggs per week for the human:

Example 1: 100 eggs per week

Example 2: 58 eggs per week

Example 3: 3333 eggs per week

Shelves with gouda cheese, Photo: Kevin Connors

Cheese is another example of a food we may be giving our parrots way too much ofPhoto: Kevin Connors

I cannot conceive of anybody who would deem that amount of eggs healthy. Shocking, isn’t it? But that is exactly what such reality checks are for. They put things into perspective so that we can understand and assess them better.

Let’s do another check. How about a teaspoon of ice cream or peanut butter? One teaspoon (tsp) contains 15ml of liquid. Based on our examples this is:

Example 1: 1500ml of ice cream or peanutbutter (that is more than three US pints!)

Example 2: 870ml (still almost two pints)

Example 3: 50000ml (that is more than thirteen US gallons)

I think you get my point. 🙂

Have fun calculating and feel free to leave a comment, if you need clarification.