Despite some dramatic size differences, diminutive budgies and lovebirds, showy cockatoos and majestic, multicolored macaws are all members of the parrot family, which encompasses some 350 species. All benefit from daily helpings of fruit in their diets, and almost all varieties that people find palatable are healthy for them too. The ideal ratio relative to other foods they eat varies depending upon the size and nutritional needs of each species, so for customized advice about the perfect fruit salad for your own feathered friends, check with an avian veterinarian.
Like people, birds may display individual preferences, but most of what you'd expect to find in the fruit section of a supermarket also qualifies as nutritious for your flybabies. Parrot-friendly fruits include coconut; apples with seeds and stems removed; apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, papaya and mangoes, all pitted; berries; grapes; kiwi; melons with rind removed; peeled pineapples; peeled bananas; pomegranates; star fruit; and seeded citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, tangerines, and grapefruit. Fresh fruits are best but dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries and currants, and fruits that have been frozen and thawed are also permissible.
Preparing and Storing Fruit
Wash all fruit thoroughly to remove any surface pesticides or chemicals before giving it to your bird and discard anything spoiled, moldy or past its prime. In general, any part of the fruit you wouldn't eat shouldn't be given to your bird either -- although for different reasons. Apple seeds, for instance, aren't toxic to people but are to parrots. Since the pits of cherries, peaches, pears and apricots contain traces of cyanide, pare away both those and the flesh surrounding them. For convenience, cut up fruit ahead of time and refrigerate portions in air-tight containers or sealed plastic bags.
Avoid Processed Fruits
Macaws and other members of the parrot family originate in tropical rain forests and in captivity, shouldn't eat substances that would be foreign to diets in their natural habitat. Canned fruits that contain added sugar or other sweetening agents such as high-fructose corn syrup aren't good for their delicate constitutions. Naturally-dried fruits are fine but many kinds intended for human consumption are treated with sulphur-based preservatives and may contain other potentially harmful additives, such as salt and vegetable oil. Read labels and when in doubt, don't risk feeding it to your bird. Steer clear of avocados, persimmons and rhubarb, which are toxic to parrots.
Fruit and Urine Changes
The fleshier the fruit, the more water it contains, so if you notice increases in your bird's urine output, or changes in its color, after he feasts on fruit, don't be alarmed. This condition, called polyuria, is natural and healthy and, even though it may also contribute to softer feces than usual, should not be confused with diarrhea.
- PetEducation.com: Bird Nutrition: Feeding Pet Birds, Parrot Diets, and Nutrition Recommendations
- National Geographic: Parrot
- Rutherford Animal Hospital Online: Birds
- Parrot Haven: Eclectus Diet
- Parrot Chronicles: Know Your Bird's Poop -- and Keep Him Healthy
- AllPetBirds.com: The Best Large Parrot Food
- African Grey Parrots: Toxic Foods for Your African Grey
- Reader's Digest Asia: Additives in Dried Fruit