Ask the Experts: Grey Cheek Cuisine
by Gail Worth
Q. Our grey-cheeked parakeet's diet consists almost exclusively of vanilla wafers. We offer him various seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, but all he really seems to eat are the wafers, which we realize are not a healthy diet. Could you please tell us how to get our picky eater to eat better?
A. Grey-cheeked parakeets definitely have a sweet tooth! Years ago, when I cared for several imported groups of baby grey cheeks, I discovered that they loved baked sweet potatoes or yams, platano bananas (the large, cooking bananas) and fresh papaya. The young, just-weaning grey cheeks ate these foods with gusto! As the birds weaned, I introduced budgie or cockatiel seed mix, spray millet, sliced apples, grapes and a variety of chopped fresh vegetables, including green beans, broccoli, yellow and green squash, and cucumbers. They ate everything in sight!
The problem you have with your grey cheek is that you are allowing the bird to dictate what it will and will not eat. Who's in charge here? You wouldn't allow a child to eat only cake and ice cream three times a day, would you? Take the vanilla wafers out of your bird's diet, and offer a variety of the goods mentioned above. Give the fruits and vegetables in the morning, and change them daily. Sprinkle a vitamin and mineral powder on your bird's soft foods, and vary the selection to keep your bird interested. Other foods, such as brown rice, boiled red wheat and lentils, and occasional tidbits of healthy table food, may interest your grey cheek. Finally, offer its seed mix in a separate dish.
Remember that avocado can be lethal to parrots, so don't offer guacamole to your pet. Keep it away from chocolate and other sweets, as well. Your bird should receive enough natural sugar in its new diet to satisfy its sweet tooth.
Article originally appeared in the September 1992 issue of Bird Talk. This is copyrighted material, reprinted with the author's permission. This article may not be reprinted without written consent from the author.