Many of us start the day with a bowl full of cereal. And if your bird is within earshot of the breakfast nook, he or she will certainly take notice, after all, what bird doesn’t like crunching? But before you hand over a frosted shredded wheat, take a look at the sugar content and then consider the fact that your bird’s body composition is measured in grams — that’s probably a lot of sugar for such a small body!
There are healthier ways for your bird to get his or her crunch on. If you want to go the cereal route, make it of the low-sugar, low-sodium variety, plain Cheerios vs. Honey Nut Cheerios, for example. And keep it to a couple of beak-sized pieces. Cereal, even the healthier variety, should not be your bird’s main meal.
This is another food with a big crunch appeal that your bird might be attracted to, especially if he/she catches you with a fistful. While popcorn can be a low-caloric snack, there is a difference between the microwaveable variety and popping your own kernels. Research has shown that a significant amount of ultra-fine particles are produced when people microwave popcorn. In fact, study results found that a bag of popcorn microwaved for three minutes resulted in ultra-fine particle emissions 560 greater than emissions from microwaving water.
A fun alternative to “people” popcorn is Lafeber’s Popcorn Nutri-Berrie Treats, which offer wholesome ingredients mixed with popcorn to make a delicious berry-shaped treat that is specifically designed to satisfy your bird’s natural desire to forage for food.
This seems like a healthy choice, after all, a traditional mix is infused with rolled oats, nuts and dried fruits — delicacies most parrots love. What you might not realize is that some granola mixes are packed with sugar and calories.
When shopping for granola, look for low-sugar, low calorie granola, which can also be found in bin-style in some avian retailers so your bird can have his/her own healthier version. If you do share yours with your bird, remember a beak-size taste is just that.
What can be wrong with dried fruits, aren’t they packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber? The answer is yes, but sulfur dioxide is a food preservative that finds its way into a variety of dried fruits like raisins, dried apricots and prunes to give it a longer shelf life and sugar is also sometimes added, especially for tart dried fruits like cranberries.
Opt for unsulfured and unsweetened varieties in health food stores. Parrot-friendly dried fruits are offered online and in avian specialty stores, and Lafeber offers naturally preserved dried fruits in its diets as well. Once beak pleaser is Fruit Delight Avi-Cakes.
Not all wheat bread is made the same. A common marketing strategy is to label products as “wheat,” which is especially common on bread and cracker packaging. “Wheat” can, in fact, also mean processed white bread with a smidge of wheat flour.
The words you want to see are “100-percent whole wheat,” and a minimum of 2 grams of fiber. Go ahead; break off a bit of unbuttered 100-percent whole wheat bread, toasted or fresh out of the bag, for your bird to enjoy!