African grey parrot


One Way to Get a Parrot to Eat Healthy Foods
by Sally Blanchard

Several years ago, an avian veterinarian referred a couple to me because their 2-year-old African grey was having hypocalcaemic seizures from a severe calcium deficiency. The bird had been weaned to nothing but a seed mix (mostly sunflower) and the couple hadn’t been able to get the bird to eat anything else. Once I was at their home, it was clear to me that the man was the favored person and the woman was the tolerated person ... greys often bond to a couple in this manner whether it is one person or another in the family. Once I gave it some thought, I set up a scenario where the couple sat at the dining room table with the grey on a stand between them at the corner.

When a described my idea, the couple thought they would feel a little silly doing what I outlined for them to do over the next week. I had them place a variety of healthy foods such as steamed carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli plus almonds and some apple slices in a bowl on the table. The wife picked up a food morsel, commented how yummy it was and then reached over and fed it to her husband who also mentioned how yummy the food was. The first day, the bird seemed as if he could care less. The next day he seemed curious. Then I had the husband take the piece of food from his wife’s hand before she put it in his mouth and instead of eating it he held it up for the bird. At that point, the grey started imploring the husband to share the food. He didn’t share right away and ate it himself. Then I advised the man to go ahead and give the bird a piece of food. At first, the grey threw it down but eventually started to eat the food his best buddy gave him. It took a couple of more days after that but the grey actually accepted the food and actually ate it.

Within a week, the grey was eating almost anything that the man hand-fed him. A few days later the couple started placing the food in a bowl for the bird to eat and the bird started eating the healthy foods out of the bowl in his cage. It took a couple of weeks of teaching their parrot in this manner, but it made a major difference in his health and his life. When the caregiver called me to discuss their success, he was very happy that the bird was eating healthy food but ended the conversation saying that he wasn’t very happy about the results. I was surprised because the grey was eating almost everything they fed him. He laughed and added that he was disappointed that his wife no longer hand-fed him any food.




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