I have to tell you something that will seem unrelated to parakeets; I hate cooking. I’m really horrendous about kitchen stuff; sometimes an activity as easy as making a cup of tea is too much bother.
Where this impacts my budgies is chop and my utter failure to make it happen. Chop is basically the ideal parrot diet; you grab a ton of fresh veggies, fruits, grains and beans and then blend them up in a food processor. I love my budgies, I think a ton about their well-being and diet, and I cannot get myself either to the grocery store to procure these supplies or into the kitchen to prepare.
Here’s what I have managed to do, and what’s worked to get my budgies eating fruits and vegetables pretty reliably.
– small plate
– OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board
– OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Garlic Press (I got a separate one for bird stuff since garlic is a “no” for them)
– OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler
– Good Cook 4.5-Inch Vegetable Knife
– OXO Good Grips Grater
The plate is probably the most important piece of the puzzle, I realized after several weeks of reliably feeding fruits and veggies on one specific plate they were getting excited any time that plate came out of the cupboard. They so strongly associate that plate with food that they will try anything that shows up on it, even if they have never seen it before!
When I prep a veggie for them the doors of the cage are usually open, they become aware that I’m taking out the plate, and the cutting board etc, and get increasingly excited because they know something good is coming. They fly over to my shoulders and typically start walking down my arms which makes the whole process quite a bit longer, ensuring they are safe from getting cut.
I usually “sell” them what I’m preparing by eating little pieces of it and visibly enjoying them and even talking about what I’m doing. Sometimes I will let them try it off of my hand as a sneak peak.
They do prefer very small pieces or even puréed items, so instead of taking the time to mince things I run them through the garlic press or I grate them.
I also prefer to peel every fruit or veggie that isn’t organic, even though I wash them thoroughly I worry about pesticides. Apples are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits out there, so I try to buy organic at least for apples if not everything they eat.
So far, using the same-plate method they have tried, cucumber, peaches, oranges and grapes, to name a few, they also love any color pepper head, picking off the seeds and eating them is an hours-long project of pure pleasure.
Until I get my kitchen-hating self-motivated enough to make some chop they get a single fruit or vegetable per day offered up in a way that makes them feel it’s a treat. If not on their special plate then in their hanging foraging ball, like alfalfa sprouts or torn up dark greens or broccoli. We also offer hanging greens as a bath and those usually get eaten too!
I thought about writing a post about what fruits and veggies are safe, but other folks have done it all before and very well, so a quick google search of a specific item or a search for a list will suffice.
For a long time I felt discouraged about how to get my budgies to eat anything other than seed, pellets or millet, but by repeatedly offering them fruits and vegetables in a way that they grew accustomed to and a size of food bit that they felt comfortable with we have made some major progress. It is a total joy to watch them dig in to a new food without hesitation, and that makes it worth dragging myself into the dreaded kitchen!