Commercially available parrot treats look very appealing, but unfortunately they are usually designed to appeal to the parrot owner more than to the parrot's nutritional needs. Very often they contain too much artificial colorings and preservatives.
But the good news is you don't have to depend on pet shop supplies to give your bird healthy, tasty treats.
Parrot treats can be very simple, like fresh millet, dried fruit on a skewer or pieces of fresh coconut hanging from the cage (don't overdo the coconut though as it is still a nut and as such contains more fat than fruits), or require a little more preparation. Here are some more elaborate ideas of homemade parrot food your pet bird will probably love:
Parrot treat recipes:
1. Fruity muffin
1 pack Hodgeson Mills Corn Muffin Mix with whole wheat flour (has lower sodium than Jiffy's)
3 eggs (with their shells)
1 mashed ripe banana
1 mashed and peeled yam
1 chopped and seeded apple
2 cups pitted fruit (peaches, apricots, papaya, nectarines)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup varied nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, ...)
1 jar of fruity baby food
Mix everything and bake on 350°F for about 30 to 40 minutes. Be careful to let it cool before feeding a piece to your parrot.
NOTE: You can use 2 cups of corn meal flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 tablespoon of baking powder instead of the muffin mix if you prefer.
2. Spicy muffin
1 pack Hodgeson Mills Corn Muffin Mix with whole wheat flour
3 eggs (with their shells) 1 mashed and peeled sweet potato
2 cups fresh vegetables: spinach, broccoli, green peppers, peas
1 grated carrot
1/4 cup seeded jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup carrot juice
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 jar of veggie baby food
Here again, mix everything and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes.
TIP: You can cut individual portions and freeze them and then thaw one daily or every other day.
Why a spicy muffin? Well, parrots have a less developed a sense of smell and taste than we do, so using spices in moderation can be a good little extra, and you have no doubt already noticed that your bird sometimes soaks some of his food in water to bring out the flavor. Chilies are also rich in vitamins A and C so it's healthy too not just tasty!
Fun and training
Part of the treat is the way to find the food: having your bird forage for it will make it just that much more fun. You can also make the treat playful: for instance romaine lettuce does not have a high nutritional value but can be used to wrap other foods for fun foraging rumps and to entice your bird to try new fruits or veg.
As its name implies, a treat is something out of the ordinary, a special extra not to be substituted to a regular diet. Which makes it great as a training reward. For training reinforcement you can use seeds (if your bird has a balanced parrot diet rather than mostly seeds), low fat cheese (many a parrot are cheese junkies, so that's a safe way to let them indulge from time to time), or pieces of spicy muffin.
Laurene Arroyo is a parrot enthusiast and author. You can learn more about what parrots eat and sign up for her FREE Parrot Care mini-course by visiting http://ParrotBirdCenter.com/parrot-diet/