Birds benefit from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Birds should be offered a size-appropriate serving of fresh, washed fruit or vegetables each day, along with their species-specific, nutritionally balanced pellets. Eating is a form of entertainment and enrichment for domestic birds. Once birds are familiar with and accepting of certain fruits and vegetables, they will enjoy eating and handling many fruits and vegetables.
Introducing Fruits and Vegetables
Birds can be picky eaters and might not try a food they have never seen or smelled. To introduce birds to new foods, give them the same food repeatedly until they become accustomed to it. Try to entice your birds to try new foods by hanging the food from their perches, tasting it in their presence, making a big fuss over how delicious it is, playing games or coming up with other ways to make the food desirable. Before you change your bird's diet, make sure she is healthy. In her article, "20 Things You Must Know About Nutrition," Dr. Margaret A. Wissman says to take your bird to an avian veterinarian for an examination and discuss recommendations for a diet based on your bird's specific needs.
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Variety and Entertainment for Birds
Birds love variety and will have fun searching for pieces of food that you have hidden in boxes or tubes. Present the food with different shapes, sizes and textures. Add to their interest by giving your birds vegetables and fruits that are peeled and unpeeled, soft and hard or placed on skewers. Working to obtain their food as they would in the wild, might bring out their foraging instinct. Without mental challenges and stimulation of their senses, birds can develop bad habits to counteract the boredom. Introduce challenging foods, such as broccoli, corn on the cob and oranges. These foods require effort and provide enjoyable diversions.
Fresh fruit is more nutritious than frozen or canned fruit. After thoroughly washing it, you can cut up fruit ahead of time and refrigerate the pieces in sealed plastic bags or containers. Suggested fruits include cantaloupe, pears, bananas, mango and papaya, kiwi, pineapple that has been dethorned, pomegranate, grapes and persimmons. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and lemons are acidic and should be given in moderation and in small portions. Stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries and plums are fine to give birds but never let your birds chew on the pits, which contain cyanide, as do apple seeds.
Berries of All Types
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries and other berries are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They are favorite fruits among wild and domesticated birds. Many species, such as those in the diverse order of parrots, which includes parrotlets, lovebirds, lorikeets, cockatoos, Amazons, African grays and macaws, search for and eat berries in their natural habitats.
Vegetables: Colorful and Healthy
Vegetables should be served fresh and can be prepared in advance. After thoroughly washing them, cut up some vegetables, put the pieces in airtight containers or sealed plastic bags and refrigerate them. Frozen and thawed vegetables are acceptable, but not as nutritious as those that are fresh. It is not necessary to cut vegetables into small pieces, because eating larger chunks is an activity for birds, who need enrichment and enjoy having something entertaining to do, according to "Fruits and Vegetables in Bird Diets", a veterinary information handout by Dr. Rick Axelson of The Links Road Animal & Bird Clinic in Toronto, Canada. Recommended vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, pumpkin, squashes, kale, turnips, green, red, yellow and hot peppers, corn and mustard greens.
Legumes, Carrots and Potatoes
Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils. Birds can eat cooked beans -- kidney, red, lima, navy and soy -- and lentils of all varieties. Some birds enjoy raw green beans and peas that they can remove from the pods. Green beans come in many varieties and are a good source of fiber. Carrots are a very healthy vegetable choice, because they contain more beta-carotene than any other vegetable, and beta-carotene produces vitamin A, which many birds lack. Sweet potatoes are full of calcium, beta-carotene, potassium and vitamins A, B, C and E. They are also high in carbohydrates, so they should be given to birds only as a special treat.