Pamperedpeeps Parrot Mash

Click here to see a very young Jessie taking her mash to her breeder pairs.



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I have had enough requests for our parrot mash recipe that I am sending this out just as "food for thought." Our birds are all in beautiful feather and health. In other words, it has worked for us, so it would take some hard convincing to change it.  

To some of you that are waiting for a baby from us, I am sending this out so you can see that it is WORK to care for these gorgeous creatures and to prewarn you of what you are committing to. Yes, they bring a great source of joy into the home, but they do bring work also :) 

I do add a squirt of apple cider vinegar to everyone's water 5 times per week. Even the baby parrots get it in their hand feeding formula. I attached one article on it, but there are a ton more articles out there.

Before I list our mash, I want to emphasize that feeding LIVE foods is highly desirable. This includes sprouts and fresh branches. Click here to read more about how to prepare sprouts. When growing them, you need to be really careful that your sprouts don't grow mold or fungus on them. One breeder I know puts one tiny bit of a special iodine on hers to keep this from happening. I put GSE or one drop of bleach in my soak water to keep this from happening. Others put ACV in the presoak. I begin them in the evening. I soak in water and 1 tiny droplet of anti -fungal (GSE or bleach) overnight. Then the next morning, they go in a strainer, and they get rinsed about 3 times per day. I rinse them generously. You want to feed to your birds as soon as the tiny tails emerge. They have more nutrients at that point than when they get actual long, green sprouts on them.

Now for our mash.....

The "Parrot Mash" is always different here at our house. It reflects what is on sale at the grocery, but there is always some basics. I begin at night by plumping corn (I use deer corn from Cabelas, but you could use popcorn) and by soaking  Royal Racing Pigeon Food (from the feed store and this is also what I soak to sprout). This stuff expands as you soak it, so be careful about the size pot you begin in. For those of you in the Phx area, you can also buy "Don's Pigeon Mix" from Mike Miller Feeds. I also soak whatever bean mixes I may have collected for our next mash-making day. You do need to make sure that you soak and cook all beans when feeding parrots.

Note the "manager's special" price tag on the bag to the right. I am always thinking of the parrots while shopping and buy good deals in quantities.

How do I plump corn?. I take corn kernels (use popcorn if it is for a few pets or use "deer corn" found at hunting supply stores if you need big quantities) and soak them overnight. The next day, I simmer them on the stove until they are about 4-5 times their size. This can take a few hours. Or I crockpot the corn overnight. This is an easy way to plump it, but make sure you add a ton of water. The corn absorbs so much water during this plumping process. I feed this to every Hookbill from the cute little Green Cheeks up to our big Eclectus. The pigeon mix and corn together make up about 1/5 of my mash mixture. When trying out new foods on your birds, don't give up.  It can take up to 6 months before they get brave enough to try something....and you thought it was tough getting a 5 year old child to eat mushrooms??? 
I ALWAYS add steamed yams. Steaming these, and carrots, enhances vitamin A absorption and we bird people are always trying to figure out how to get more vitamin A into our birdies. They require it and it actually helps them fend off many diseases (i.e. Aspergillosis). So now, I add the yam to the drained corn and pigeon mix. 

Next I cheat and add mixed frozen veggies, plus an extra bag of straight corn. Click here to read an article about the healthiness of Frozen Veggies by The American Frozen Food Institute and the Natl

Then comes the fresh veggies...this all depends on what is in season. I try to always add broccoli, red chiles (high vitamin A content) but then I use zucchini, and they love yellow, orange, red and green peppers. I have added whatever is in season though and chop it all up fairly small. Remember that orange, red and dark green veggies carry the vitamin A and calcium. Remember that  avocado is poisonous and can kill parrots.

If you buy fresh veggies in quantity with the intent of freezing them, wash very well, blanch them (place in boiling water for 10 seconds), drain them and then freeze.

Then for some starches, I either undercook whole grain pasta, brown rice and add that to the mix. Another time, I will add a pot of COOKED 10-mix bean combination.

Beans are excellent also for providing proteins and carbohydrates, but I always cook them. Certain UNCOOKED beans contain enzymes which inhibit protein assimilation. Thus, they are called "proteolytic enzyme inhibitors."  When a parrot eats these inhibitors, their body loses its ability to use certain substances (trypsin and chymotrypsin) and a nutritional deficiency is the result. 


Lima beans, Kidney beans and Soybeans are all proteolytic enzyme inhibitors. But, when cooked, the enzyme inhibitors is destroyed. Because in the midst of making mash, I donít tend to remember which bean needs to be cooked and which are fine to feed raw, I just am sure to cook them all. Some dried beans do not appear to contain these enzyme inhibitors, or if present, are in low concentrations.  Don't ever feed your parrot uncooked beans, and I would stay completely away from fava beans."

Mash-making does not have to be exact. Just think in the terms of lots of veggies, grains, pastas, beans....and mix them all together. To the right is a pot of split peas, couscous, rice and noodles that I am going to throw into my pots.

Finally, we grind up flax seed in our coffee bean grinder. I sprinkle this into the mash too. Every other batch, I add a teaspoon of Red Palm Oil to the mash. I also add Coconut oil at other times. The key to all of this is lots of variety!

It is the season for citrus and we are feeding tangelos, lemons and oranges. I also have been adding the sliced citrus to the mash for I have read that it will help it last longer in the cages. Bacteria does not grow as quickly in an acidic environment.

All is stirred together. Feeding this much variety helps the birds for they need appropriate amounts of certain vitamins and minerals in order to absorb other vitamins or minerals. An example of this is the relationship of calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D. As you can see, we make a lot of mash. This is our great helping foreign exchange student mixing for me, as my math-working daughter looks on.


We bag up our mash in ziploc bags to thaw out as needed. Freezing does not harm the nutritional values.

I do feed 1-3 orange slice per day to the birds, plus 2-4 other fruits. I believe in one orange piece per day. Mango and cantaloupe are good carriers of Vitamin A. Grapes and apples are more useless for nutrition, but are very enjoyed by all. 

Then the dish is topped with sprouts and broccoli greens, romaine, kale or cilantro. Spinach and parsley, in excess, is to be avoided for it can bind calcium. 

Vitamin A is critical to  your Parrot!

Desirable Food


IU Per 100 Grams


Broccoli leaves 77,000
Beef liver 45,000
Red chili peppers (fresh) 21,000
Red chili peppers (dried) 6,000
Dandelion greens 14,000
Carrots (pureed) 10,000
Sweet potatoes 9,000
Spinach 8,000
Turnip leaves 7,500
Collards 6,500
Mango 5,000
Cantaloupe 4,000
Endive 3,500
Broccoli flowers 3,000
Egg yolks 3,000
Papaya 2,000

Vitamin A is an important component of your bird's diet. As you prepare the mash described above, add foods that are high in Vitamin A. Feeding fresh foods high in Vit A would include feeding of: cantaloupe, papaya, chili peppers, broccoli leaves and flowers, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnip leaves, collards, endive, butter, liver, egg yolks, beets, dandelion greens and spinach.  I am an advocate of fresh raw foods for your birds. I know many breeders how use supplements galore, and I have had them tell me negative consequences as a result of overdosing and not knowing what they were doing. The following is a chart that shows Vitamin A Content in various foods.

Because it is a fat soluble Vitamin, you must also feed proteins (dietary fats) for this to be absorbed. This is why I emphasize a diet with variety and choices. Don't just feed a seed diet or what is on your dinner plate. Strive to feed a daily variety.

Foods low in Vitamin A include: Grapes, Corn, Bananas, Summer Squash, Apples, Oranges, and Lettuce. 

Birds with Vit A deficiency are most commonly effected in their respiratory systems. Symptoms include: sneezing, wheezing, nasal discharge, crusted or plugged nostrils, lethargy, depression, diarrhea, tail-bobbing, thinness, poor feather color, swollen eyes, ocular discharge, lack of appetite, gagging, foul-smelling breath and "slimy mouth".  Vitamin A also boosts the immune system and aids in preventing aspergillosis in birds.  a site that tells it of the  importance of adding Vitamin A to your bird's diet.


"Help! My bird is not eating the mash!" What do I tell new owners?? We put a dish daily into every cage faithfully whether the birds eat it or not. I often get emails and calls back from new bird owners saying, "my bird is not eating the fresh foods." When a bird first comes home, they may not eat the fresh goodies due to it being in a new location or in a new dish. The young parrots usually get over this and start eating right away. The other main thing to remember is that all parrots tend to eat seasonally and I cannot predict their seasons. In other words, they will chow down on the romaine one week and leave the mangos....but over the next few weeks, they ignore the romaine, pick at the mango, but really concentrate on the yams. I have no idea if  I am right or wrong, but I am guessing that in their wild environments, they are forced to eat seasonally due to what is available...or they know instinctively what their bodies need and eat accordingly. I do believe it is important for we bird owners to keep offering a huge variety of foods daily. 


NEVER GIVE UP on offering fresh foods. Never give up on offering fresh veggies, fruits, sprouts and grains.  If you reduce your birdís diet to just pellets and seeds, his immune system and health will be compromised. There are many creative ways to offer fresh foods. Try a shish kabob, try birdie breads, try eating it with him and making exaggerated "yummy" noises the whole time.

Remember just how important it is to feed your bird live foods! That includes sprouts, fresh forage and edible flowers.

And if you feel guilty about not making Birdie Bread....Don't!!  In birdie bread. It has been heated high enough  and long enough to destroy some of the vitamins and enzymes of the great stuff you put in it. Bird bread is dead food. It is baked or cooked just like pellets can be. If it is made with something like spelt flour, added grains, added veggies without adding salt, baking powder, corn meal, and egg  shell-it can be used on occasion or as a treat. It is not a recommended replacement of a meal.  Why not make it easier on yourself and just chop up the great, fresh whole  foods and feed?

Please don't feed raw honey because of some of the contaminants, such as bacteria, that can cause problems in small animals.  Raw honey is not recommended for human babies for this reason, and is not recommended in hummingbird feeders for this reason.


Your Parrot's Taste Buds

Some Like it HOT! 

Lisaís Grey loves Guacamaya! (NOT guacamole....but Guacamaya). In fact, Liberty loves all spicy Mexican food, as do our Eclectus and Green cheeks. Guacamaya is a hot sauce (kind of like a tasty Tabasco) favored here in the Southwestern deserts. Spicy red chile peppers are an excellent nutritious food for your birds due to its vitamin A content, but you wonder how they can eat those hot foods. 

Humans are said to have 9000 taste buds. Birds have considerably fewer than other animals. I read that a chicken only has 24 taste buds. A Bullfinch has 46 taste buds. Picky eaters they are not. However, it is known too that some species prefer certain tastes over others. A classic example is the Hummingbird who loves sugar water.

There are 300-400 taste buds in a parrotís mouth. 

I always emphasize that just because your bird rejects a food the first time it is offered, donít give up and stop offering it, if you know it is nutritious. Many times your parrot is rejecting the food due to its color, or where it is offered in the cage, or what dish it is put into. Be consistent on offering nutritious foods and donít give up!



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