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Cooking for parrots

It isn’t necessary but it’s so much fun. Most parrot owners I know do it – whether or not they’re gourmet cooks.

African grey food recipes

Chop and Mash

Making chop and freezing it has become a popular way to feed parrots. The idea of chop is that you cook various healthy grains, add vegetables, fruit, nuts, herbs and spices and freeze sufficient quantities in individual sachets for several weeks or even months.

Chop recipes abound they’re similar to birdie bread. Here is a simple one. They seem fussy at first but with practice they become easy and are great fun.

Bean and vegetable mix for freezing

Mustard seeds: 2 tablespoons
Cumin: 1 teaspoon
Garlic: 2-4 cloves
Ginger: 1 cm chopped root or one teaspoon
Chilli powder: 1 teaspoon
Selection of cooked beans: 250-400 grams per bean
Black beans
Mung beans
If you have no time to soak and cook beans you can use tinned, drained beans.


Use 500-1 kg of whatever is in season. Try to include carrots, cooked sweet potato, peas, sweet corn off the cob and green leafy vegetables.


Pop the mustard seeds in a tablespoon of oil. Add the other spices and cook gently for a few minutes until combined.

Add the beans and fresh vegetables. Only let it warm through, don’t cook the mixture. Top with cinnamon, poppy or sesame seeds. Let it cool and freeze in meal size portions.

This recipe will provide between 2/3 kg of chop. You can use smaller quantities for a single bird. With my flock, the greys’, goffins and macaws enjoy this recipe.

Birdy Bread

Parrot cooks have their favourite, here’s mine. It’s not for daily use as it’s too rich and calorific. So only feed it as an occasional treat. It also contains eggs, so do not feed if you avoid animal products.

Organic flour spelt, kamut or rye: 250 grams
Rapeseed oil: 4 tablespoons
Coconut sugar: 4 tablespoons
Apple sauce: 200 ml
Eggs: 3
Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon
Topping: Poppy seeds or flaked almonds
I mix the flour, oil and sugar till smooth then add the eggs, apple sauce and cinnamon. I bake in a bread tin for 35 minutes at 180 C.

This recipe is not ideal for birds but has the advantage that people can enjoy it too. You can also add 150 grams of grated beetroot into the mix if you are feeling adventurous.

Dot’s mash

To make a mash you soak seeds and legumes for 12/24 hours and allow them to sprout. Then cook those along with various grains. Afterwards add finely chopped fruit and vegetables, cooked or raw, and freeze in individual portions.

When serving an unfrozen portion, you might sprinkle something like spirulina, sesame seeds or flaxseed oil.

100 grams cooked grains (brown rice or buckwheat)
100 grams cooked quinoa
100 grams cooked beans
Lightly steamed sweet potato or an organic potato
1.5 kg of fresh vegetables
Fresh vegetables include carrots, cabbage, broccoli, celery, spinach, pumpkin, courgettes, green and red peppers, and corn cobs – whatever is in season.

I used to chop fresh vegetables but now use the blender so that the macaws cannot pick out their favourites and throw the rest on the aviary floor.

When vegetables are in short supply, I use frozen, and I regularly use frozen peas and tinned sweetcorn. Herbs and spices vary for each mix – cinnamon, turmeric, star anise, coriander, etc.

Parrot insists on sharing your food

You’ve been told countless times that fried food, crisps, chips, pizza, tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate and avocado are forbidden and can even be fatal for birds.

So, you have two choices: first – you never let your bird out of its cage when humans are eating.

A hard one because my pet birds enjoy actively socialising with visitors who may be eating and drinking unsuitable items.

Second – only serve and eat healthy foods. Since we eat mainly vegetarian, this is easier than it seems at first. And good for our health because fried food, fats and too much sugar give me indigestion.

Artha as a young bird had the habit of swooping down to the family tea table and swooping off clutching a LARGE slice of cake. She was caught and allowed a few crumbs.


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