Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Parrots like cheese

Why do birds like cheese? Right now all the birds are happily eating pieces of cheddar cheese. One of them is eating a piece almost as big as her head. When in nature would birds ever get cheese? Why do they all like it so much?

They are just like children. Or dogs. They love food that is bad for them. They snub the food that is good for them. If you don't know what parrots should eat, it is not solely bird seed. In the wild they eat natural things that grow on trees. They'll eat whatever is in season at that time. Some tree is in bloom so they'll eat all the flowers. Some tree is in fruit and they'll eat all the fruit. If they are ground feeders, they'll eat grasses, insects or grubs, or even seeds. Very few birds have seeds as their sole diet.

One thing I like to do is watch the crows throughout the year. When I see them feeding on some tree I look to see what it is they are after. Then I collect it as a special treat for my parrots. I've found pecan trees growing in town this way. Macadamias, too, although the crows don't eat them because you can't get them open without a hammer. One thing they like are the little red seeds inside the magnolia blossoms as they go to seed and fall off the tree. I have to wait for the crows to get tired of them before I can find the "cones" full of seeds. Ariel, our cockatoo, loves them.

It's important to watch what the wild birds do. There are some trees nearby that have these giant seed pods that fall into the street. I've never seen a crow eating these. So I don't even attempt to give them to the birds. We have avocado trees. Mammals eat the avocados but birds never do. It's important not to just give birds whatever looks like food. Make sure real birds eat it first.

I feed my parrots an artful bowl of food each morning. There is a mix that contains cooked noodles and whole grains with peas and carrots (Parrot Pilaf from Menagerie), some fruit, maybe some raw corn, possibly a cut up carrot with the greens, a special cookie (Coconutty Cookies from Menagerie), a nut (either a walnut, an almond or a pecan), a half-teaspoon of safflower seeds, a Nutriberry if we have them, a small quantity of extruded pellet food made for birds (I found some that doesn't have corn as the main ingredient) and whatever else might look good. The food is always good enough for me to eat, with the exception of the Nutriberries and extruded pellets.

Then there is the begging. Squeaky must have pieces of bagel and almond butter or flakes of cereal if that's what we're having for breakfast. Tony picks roses from the garden and when they fade, Squeaky eats them (we don't spray or use chemicals in the garden). Fergie like to beg for dinner. She'll eat nearly anything she can hold in her foot. Ariel doesn't like "people food". I guess she doesn't realize people eat passion fruits, apples and corn, too. These silly birds will drink wine if you let them. I'll let them have a sip but not too much.

My birds are 20 years old, 15, and 12, so I think I'm doing something right. Life with birds is always interesting. After all these years, I scarcely remember life without them.

1 comment:

  1. We have the same problem with our sulfur Crested-- he loves cheese! Let him on the fridge door & in a blink of the eye he's got the cheese tray door open & a hunk of cheese in his beak. He's flown in (with clipped wings)from a distance to land on my plate (while I'm carrying it) to get at the cheese.
    He likes wine too.