Firstly I need to address the “peanuts are bad for parrots” urban legend.
If you leave a pizza on the kitchen counter for two days it will get fungus.
Cheese in the best of circumstances will grow fungus in the refrigerator after about a week.
Parrot food that gets wet from say, splashed bathwater, can get fungus pretty rapidly.
Fungus will grow on peanuts if they are not stored properly as in perfectly dry.
Let’s look at the largest producer of peanuts in the world, South America.
South America also has the largest population of parrots, in the world – why are parrots not falling out of the sky all over South America?
Because the peanuts they eat are fresh.
It’s all about storage – peanuts bought in sealed bags with air removed from name brand parrot food manufacturers are just fine (says the guy who sells 20,000 pounds of bird food a month).
Hagen, the largest producer of pet supplies on the planet offers Hagen bird and parrot food in three lines – Living World (seeds), Tropimix (blend of seed nuts, fruit with pellets) and Tropican.
Hagen Tropimix and Tropican parrot foods contain peanuts.
Hagen is distributed in 70 countries.
I know the folks at Hagen and the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute.
They have close to 250 pairs of of parrots they’ve cared for over the last 30 years.
They have three full-time on-site avian veterinarians as well as veterinarian techs.
They work closely with Ontario Veterinary College at University of Guelph to produce world class bird food CONTAINING PEANUTS!
I hope that sets the record straight.
Moving on to answer your original question about almonds, almonds are fine raw or roasted just not salted for birds (or old guys with high blood pressure:-).
You’ll find almonds in the shell, in better parrot food blends like the aforementioned Hagen Tropimix and Higgins Safflower Gold parrot foods
Peaches our Senegal parrot, loves almonds.
We give her both shelled and unshelled.
If I see a almond in the shell she got bored with on the cage floor or a play area, I keep nutcrackers close by, and will start a crack in the shell which she’ll then be happy to finish.
Walnuts are another great nut, big birds from African grays to cockatoos to the big macaws can probably crack them easily while holding it in their zygodactyl foot.
For a Senegal parrot it’s beak is too small to start a crack in the shell, so I do and spread the pieces over over her forging boxes and foraging Frisbees.
Sunflower seeds are also a great treat.
Some birds are fed too many but in moderation they are fine.
Sunflowers can come in both shelled and unshelled versions.
I like the out of shell version for both training (it can be eaten quickly without having to wait for her to remove the shell) and filling her business card forging boxes.
I use small boxes that may be a smart phone or Harry’s razor blades came in or some other small electronics.
I fill the boxes with business cards and then pour sunflower kernels in between all the business cards so that she has to move or remove the cards in order to reward herself with the sunflower kernels.
Some bird food blends like Higgins Safflower Gold have no sunflower and use safflower seeds instead.
The difference in fat content between the two is not that different, but the decision is yours.
Other nuts to consider serving your parrot are
- Brazil nuts
- pine nuts
We keep all of our bird treats in canning jars and always throw in a packet of desiccant in the jar to keep the vessel moisture free.
Peanuts are actually legumes, almonds and pistachios are fruits and pine nuts as well as Brazil nuts are considered seeds, but nuts in general are pure energy for your bird.
Catherine and I have been on the KETO diet for over three months now.
I bring this up because ironically the diet is closer to something birds would eat than mammals.
Because the diet is close to zero sugar and very low-carb while introducing high protein foods I find myself sharing unsalted almonds with Peaches.
I enjoy all of her treat food nuts too.
Putting this in perspective we always recommend a well-rounded commercial bird food diet that is available 24/7 in your bird’s cage.
Combining nuts which are great for essential fatty acids still do not provide enough protein for a parrot’s metabolism.
A large parrot like an African grey can have upwards of 8000 feathers on its body.
It will replace these feathers every 1 to 2 years by molting.
Feathers are formed from amino acids and amino acids are derived from protein.
You will find precise protein values on the backs of the bags of any commercial bird food blends so you don’t have to guess about what to feed your bird.
Please remember because healthy human food doesn’t necessarily make it healthy for your bird.
You are a mammal, your parrot has a totally different set of respiratory, cardio, integumentary, muscle and nervous systems that need to be respected for what they are.
From Wikipedia we learn:
Mammals are the vertebrates within the class Mammalia (/məˈmeɪliə/ from Latin mamma “breast”), a clade of endothermic amniotes distinguished from reptiles (including birds) by the possession of a neocortex (a region of the brain), hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands. Females of all mammal species nurse their young with milk, secreted from the mammary glands.
Parrots, also known as psittacines /ˈsɪtəsaɪnz/, are birds of the roughly 393 species in 92 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea (“true” parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots). Parrots have a generally pantropical distribution with several species inhabiting temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere, as well. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia.
The point I’m trying to make is that as much as we try to impart our human values on our birds, they don’t get it because of their 99 million years of instinctual expectations.
An example, I was speaking with a woman on the phone the other day who recently rescued a 12-year-old Congo African gray.
The bird had begun to show signs of feather plucking, not too severe but the first time she and her husband left home with the bird locked in the cage, the grey had plucked out all but one or two tail feathers.
We talked at length about the importance of having more than three toys in the cage irrespective of all the other activities the bird was privy to throughout the home.
This included 6000 ft.² of what the woman thought would be her African grey parrot’s perfect environment.
One of the biggest challenges that I face is helping people understand that as far as the bird is concerned flying over a 6000 ft.² house is two wing flaps.
Parrots in the wild have access to dozens of not hundreds of square miles to explore during the day.
Various safe areas to spend the night.
Another way of saying, what satisfies us humans, does not necessarily satisfy the instinctual expectations of your bird.
Circling back to the original question (me, sidetracked)?
Let’s just not offer nuts to our birds for the sake of offering high-value treats.
Make your parrot work to find these tasty high-fat morsels among foraging opportunities.
Sunflower seeds are to birds what McDonald’s French fries are to humans, make them available proportionately.
Above all, weigh your bird at least monthly.
Rapid weight changes are signals of potential ill health.
You have the tools, now use them.
quora answer written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
Also published on Medium.