Natural Anti-Inflammatories

Usually we think of certain foods as “vegetables” or “spices” or “seasonings.” Sometimes, we tend to categorize them according to taste, rather than what they bring to the table in terms of nutrients.

We use a combination of organic spices – organic cayenne powder, organic Ceylon cinnamon, organic turmeric, organic fine-ground black pepper, and organic ground celery seeds – to help birds who are experiencing inflammation like arthritis, or even some illnesses. We’ve found it to be quite effective, and the risk of adverse effects is very low, unlike manufactured anti-inflammatory drugs.

We now offer this as “Magic Powder Plus” – a combination of natural spices you can shake on to fresh food, add to baked goods like birdie bread and casseroles, or even add to dry food by coating it in a very small amount of a healthy oil. We use a 50/50 mix of virgin (unrefined) coconut oil and red palm fruit oil. Both melt at a very low temperature, so don’t use too much heat. Melt them gently and add just enough to very lightly coat the dry foods (seeds, nuts, or other dry food mix). Then sprinkle with enough of the powder to lightly coat the food completely.

Add a couple of tablespoons to a 13 x 9 pan, sprinkled over a mix of healthy grains and maybe even some veggies like diced sweet potato or squash.

Bake up some birdie bread using your favorite cornbread recipe or mix – as long as it’s a healthy one – and add a cup of diced hot peppers and a tablespoon of the Magic Powder Plus for a spicy cornbread.We often use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread mix, and substitute flax-eggs (1 Tbsp Flax and 3 Tbsp water) for the eggs, as well as using half coconut oil and half applesauce for the “oil” in the recipe, for a lower fat content.

The “flax-eggs” are easy enough, and if you want to save on dishes, you don’t even have to “make” the “eggs” – you can simply add the number of tablespoons of ground flaxseed equal to the number of eggs called for in the recipe, mixed right in with dry ingredients, and remember to add THREE tablespoons PER EGG of extra liquid (juice, water, almond milk, etc) to the liquid called for in the recipe. I have made cornbread both ways and there was absolutely no difference between making the “flax-eggs” ahead – and letting them “jell”, and the method I prefer – mixing the ground flax seeds with the dry ingredients and the water with the liquid ingredients. Both turned out exactly the same – spicy and delicious!



Eating healthy means eating “clean” – foods that are free of chemical pesticides and other harmful toxins used in commercial farming. Sometimes it’s hard to find food you can feel good about eating from a supplier you can trust.

Since September of last year, we have been buying a lot of the food for the birds from a company called Azure Standard, or just Azure. Recently we found they have an affiliate program that allows us to share a link that lets us earn credit on our account towards future orders.

Would I recommend this company if we weren’t an “affiliate”? Absolutely, and I have recommended them to friends. It’s a great way to shop, because their system of “drops” saves SO much on shipping. With many companies, the shipping costs – especially of perishable foods – can rival the cost of the products. This is NOT the case with Azure. They have monthly delivery routes with drops, and they are expanding in to more and more areas. If you have your items shipped to a “drop” you are splitting the cost of the shipping with all the other folks along the route! This brings the shipping costs WAY down!

We add green peas to the pigeons’ dry food mix.

For example, our recent order has 8 bags, well over 100 lbs. of products, and the shipping cost was just $18.03. You read that right – LESS than 20 dollars to ship over 100 lbs of products from Oregon to North Carolina! We order once per month, and about a week later, we meet up with the others in our “drop” at a predetermined location to unload our products from a semi-truck. It’s easy and saves us SO much money.

They have so much to choose from including all kinds of grains, fresh ingredients like flours, flavorings, pastas, rice, oils, and much more. They have frozen foods, fresh produce and even eggs! There’s no membership fee, sign-up is simple, they don’t spam you or sell your information, and there’s no contract or minimum to buy.

Use this link: https://www.azurestandard.com/?a_aid=99cbf30cad to shop for healthy food AND help us earn food for the birds here at Marden’s Ark!

If you want to source CLEAN and HEALTHY foods for your family, have them delivered to your door – or to a drop to save even more money – AND help Marden’s Ark earn credit toward the foods they purchase for the birds, use this link:

We will appreciate your support, and your body and your health will appreciate the clean foods you get! from Azure! Definitely check out their “About” page to understand who they are and why we trust them to provide some of the healthiest and freshest foods we can find for the birds.

About Azure: https://www.azurestandard.com/healthy-living/about-us/

Their history: https://www.azurestandard.com/healthy-living/about-us/history-of-azure/

Their core values: https://www.azurestandard.com/healthy-living/about-us/azure-core-values-abundant-living/

Their product standards: https://www.azurestandard.com/healthy-living/about-us/azure-product-standards/

Once you check out their website, we are sure you will see why they are one of our favorite vendors and why we trust them to provide ingredients for foods we feed the birds at Marden’s Ark and ingredients that go in to our Littles Grassland Blend.


But I Don’t Have the TIME!

One of the arguments we often hear for resorting to manufactured foods is “But I don’t have the TIME to do all that food prep and cooking for my birds!” We get it. People have jobs, lives and many other responsibilities that weigh heavy on how they divide their time. As I have said in earlier articles, it’s not easy to provide a wide variety of nutrients – but it’s VERY worth it in the end. So when you have to make choices based on available time to prepare your birds’ diet, what can you do?

Diced vegetables
Chop or dice and freeze the extra.

Many people advocate preparing a week’s worth of “chop” (diced or chopped fresh produce) and storing it in the freezer. We don’t use that method because we have some picky beaks here that won’t eat the food once it’s thawed. Some vegetables freeze well, some don’t. So we prepare our fresh produce weekly and by using good aseptic technique in preparation, it lasts and is still fresh by the time we run out.

One good way to save time is to buy food you can keep on hand, that stores well and is quick to prepare and serve. We recommend http://www.texasnaturalfreezedried.com . They have a WIDE variety of products, including pre-made “chop” you can serve dry alone or as a topper to other foods, or re-hydrate by adding a small amount of water, fruit juice or fresh fruit like pomegranate and tossing it until moistened. Many birds really enjoy the crunch, though, and feeding it dry is not only fast and convenient, but nutritious.

A wide variety of freshly prepared produce goes into each batch of Texas Freeze Dried Naturals chop!
Once it’s freeze dried, the chop looks just as colorful and delicious as it did when it was prepared!

The chop has a very wide variety of ingredient for optimal nutrition. You can see by the beautiful colors that your bird is getting a literal rainbow of nutrients in a product that’s as simple as opening a bag and pouring it into their bowl. Why is this better than a manufactured diet? Because this doesn’t contain artificial nutrients, added chemical preservatives or any artificial colors. It’s wholesome nutrition, straight from nature.

You can buy the mixed chop and serve it as a daily meal, and you can also purchase separate fruits and vegetables if your bird has certain foods they absolutely love. There are so many options to choose from and you won’t have to spend all your time in the kitchen chopping, dicing and portioning the healthy foods your bird will love. You can shop their varieties of chop HERE.

The best foods are those that derive their nutrients from nature, not from a laboratory. And feeding a variety is the best way to be sure your bird is offered a broad nutritional spectrum.

For more information on their products and the nutrition they offer, you can check out their website

There are lots of choices so you can spoil your feathered family members with their favorites when you want to give them a healthy treat.


There are many people who find sprouting intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sprouts are a healthy option for your birds’ diet and are easy to prepare with a little bit of knowledge and a few easy tricks. Why are sprouts healthy? Sprouted seed is more nutritious because of enzyme activity, which breaks down the stored proteins and starches in the seed into amino acids and other simple carbohydrates the seed needs to begin building (growing) a new plant. Basically the seed digests its own proteins and starch to form amino acids. So sprouted seeds and legumes are actually easier to digest and more nutritious because the sprouting process is doing the first part of the digesting for you.

Sprouts are living food, a vital part of good nutrition –

Dee Hicks, RN – Head Dietician – Marden’s Ark Avian Refuge

A good sprouter can make things easier. This particular one is one we’ve used for years.

If you’ve never sprouted before, here is a good place to start. This site has a lot of good information in an easy-to-understand format. If you follow their advice, you will be feeding your birds fresh, healthy sprouts in no time.

Another good resource for help with sprouting is the Facebook group Avian Raw Whole Food Nutrition. Not only do they have helpful information in their files section on sprouting, but they have many members who are experienced and will offer help and advice. You must join to see posts and participate. Be sure you use the “search” to make sure the same questions haven’t already been answered! The group is moderated to be on topic, with all posts only relating to feeding a raw, whole food diet. Though we advocate other options (such as breads, and casseroles made especially for your birds) we still find this group to be full of good, solid information and a great place to go for help. The group was founded and run by Dr. Jason Crean, who holds a PhD in biology and who has a lot of experience with raising birds, specifically Green Aracaris.

Sprouts add a great nutritional boost to any healthy meal!

Don’t let the mystery of sprouting intimidate you into giving up. There’s lots of help and advice and with a few easy tips and the right equipment, your birds can be eating even healthier in no time! Freshly sprouted greens and microgreens (tender young plants slightly older than sprouts) are an excellent and natural food source for your feathered family members.


What about “Pet Food”?

In years past, the concept of what to feed a companion parrot was typically limited to bags of “bird seed” mixes of dubious ingredients and quality. Most were “animal feed” grade offerings, designed to maximize profits for the companies that sold them. Then came “pellets” –   kibble-like products that are touted by manufactures as an “optimal diet.”  But are most of them made with “human grade” ingredients?  The likely answer is no.

The difference between “animal feed” grade diets, and “human grade” food is immense. There are very few  impartial articles relating to avian or exotic commercially-available diets, however there are many good articles as the terms relate (legally) to the production of “pet” foods – mostly for dogs and cats.

Here is an excellent article on the difference between “feed” and “food” —


While this article primarily relates to manufacture of dog and cat foods, the takeaway for families with birds is this: if you are buying your “feed” at a pet store, the regulations regarding it’s manufacturing and packaging DO NOT MEET HUMAN FOOD STANDARDS. In the aforementioned link to Susan Thixton’s article, you see:

” …“CPG Sec. 675.200 Diversion of Adulterated Food to Acceptable Animal Feed Use” states “The *Center* will consider the requests for diversion of food considered adulterated for human use in all situations where the diverted food will be acceptable for its intended animal food use. Such situations may include:
a. Pesticide contamination in excess of the permitted tolerance or action level.
b. Pesticide contamination where the pesticide involved is unapproved for use on a food or feed commodity.
c. Contamination by industrial chemicals.
d. Contamination by natural toxicants.
e. Contamination by filth.
f. Microbiological contamination.
g. Over tolerance or unpermitted drug residues.

Diversion means THE WASTE (unallowable, contaminated foods) from HUMAN FOOD processing is used (DIVERSION) for “animal food use.” So things like “pesticide contamination in excess of permitted (FOR HUMANS) tolerance” or “contamination” by chemicals, toxins, FILTH, MICROBIOLOGICAL (germs!) and DRUG RESIDUES  — ARE — allowed in “pet foods” aka “animal feed” grade food ingredients.

So these same STANDARDS govern what goes into ANY “animal feed” grade foods – be it a can of wet cat food, any of the dry kibbled/pelleted foods, or even seed and grain mixes. Aflatoxin levels permitted in HUMAN food are held to 20ppb (parts per billion) as opposed to 300ppb that is allowed in “animal feed” for feed lot cattle. (Note that lower allowances are made for immature animals). Information on the action level for aflatoxin contamination is here:

Do you want to trust your bird’s health to ingredients that are UNFIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION? Avoid foods that are not human grade. If it’s prepared by standards that make is SAFE for us to eat, then it’s going to be SAFE for them to eat.


Keep it clean!

Clean hands for health!

Let’s start out by discussing aseptic technique. What is that? Well, it means, without germs. Aseptic technique eliminates as many pathogens (illness-causing organisms) as possible. Why is that important? When you are serving fresh food (food you aren’t going to cook), it’s very important to reduce the amount of germs.
– Keeping pathogens out of the food helps it last longer.
– Bacteria and fungi are designed to break down food so that it can be recycled back into the soil. The less bacteria, the more nutrition is retained.
– Food is SAFER when you reduce the amount of organisms.
How? By:
– Cleaning work surfaces
– Using clean utensils, bowls and storage containers
– THOROUGHLY washing hands and/or using disposable gloves when handling foods
– Avoiding contamination while working – don’t touch dirty surfaces with clean or gloved hands! If you do, wash hands again and change gloves.
– Clean the food and remove pathogens by soaking, washing and rinsing (vinegar soak technique shown below)
We prepare anywhere between 75 – 150 lbs of fresh produce at a time. We set up the work area and disinfect the surfaces with a mild bleach solution (1:100 bleach/water). This is a weak solution but will disinfect most surfaces. Do not spray or mist near birds – use a bucket or dishpan and rag.
Once surfaces are prepped, allow them to dry over a couple of minutes. You should use enough solution for the area to remain wet for at least three to five minutes. Do not rinse, just allow to air dry.
We never place food directly on counters or tables. We always use cutting boards that have been sanitized in the dishwasher.
First we rinse and scrub any visible dirt from the produce. Then we will a fill clean, sanitized container with vinegar and water 1:3 mixture – one part vinegar to 3 parts water. We then soak the produce in this for 5 minutes contact time. In scientific tests done by researchers at Cooks Illustrated, it was proven that using a soak or spray of this solution, you can eliminate 98% of pathogens on your produce. This is even more effective that scrubbing with a brush. (https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14540742) You can use a sprayer bottle, and we do with some of the more delicate produce.
After soaking or spraying, rinse very thoroughly. Be careful to handle the produce only with very clean or gloved hands once it is wash to avoid re-introducing pathogens. We use disposable nitrile gloves.



Once rinsed, the produce is ready to be processed either by hand or mechanically. Alternately, you can offer some produce whole as a foraging opportunity.

Once processed, the food should be minimally handled and stored in containers that have been sanitized in a dishwasher. Food processed using aseptic technique will be safer and last longer than conventionally prepared produce. Don’t believe me? Try doing the “sniff test.” Do a small batch of diced food by hand without the washing and soaking, then do the rest using aseptic technique. Fill two small bowls with each and leave on the counter for 4-5 hours at room temperature. When you return, the bowl that was not washed and soaked will have a distinctly “sour” smell. If cleaned thoroughly, the other bowl will usually have little to no smell.


It’s a lot of work, but worth it both in the happiness and health of your feathered companions.




In Season?

What do we mean when we say we feed “in season”? It means we focus on what it ripe now, locally. All spring and summer long, we feed what’s currently ripening as our supplier, Double B Farm, brings us literally just-picked fresh food directly from their farm.

There are some advantages to this. One is that you are feeding a varied diet. While that mysterious “pellet tree” seems to provide the same old pellets with the same old ingredients year round, real food is never that boring. Spring brings baby greens, young, tender peas – packed with protein and iron – and the tenderest young roots of beets and radishes will be a delight to the palate. Summer brings tender summer squashes, kohlrabi, sweet berries and melons of all sizes and flavors. Fall brings us the hard squashes and pumpkins – rich in vitamin A and Vitamin K – as well as potassium-rich parsnips, rutabagas, apples and pears, and much more. While winter offerings are more sparse, you can often find huge stalks of Brussels sprouts which are a healthy foraging delight!

Feeding seasonal has another very big advantage. The more produce you offer from the seasonal fare, the more you can source as locally as possible. That means the food is fresher and retains more of it’s flavor and nutrients.

Figs are in season right now, and we were blessed with some very tasty figs from one of the wonderful families that adopted their bird from us. We also found some lovely black figs at Sprouts, so I got enough to share in the bounty because fresh figs are a seasonal delight that I relish as much as the birds do! They are so healthy and a good way to get calcium into your bird’s diet. Each fresh fig has 35mg of calcium. If you’ve never eaten a fresh fig, they are really not like the dried ones, less sticky sweet and with a light, fruity taste.

Fresh ripe figs

Dried figs, because of the concentration effect caused by removing water, have a much higher amount per serving but remember that feeding dried fruits also means the concentration effect means the sugars are more concentrated because the food is now lighter due to the lack of water. It’s all about proportions, and when you reduce the amount of water, every other nutrient is more concentrated in proportion. This is not to say that feeding dried foods is bad – on the contrary. Just keep in mind that a serving of fruit should be equal to the amount of a serving that isn’t dried. In other words – two slices of banana will contain the same amount of sugar whether dried or fresh, but the dried ones will be much smaller and lighter and you may be tempted to toss in a few more to make up a “serving” – when in reality you should feed the same number of slices, regardless. It will look like your bird is getting a lot less but really they will be getting the exact same nutrition.

To be continued….. watch this space for MORE….


Buyer Beware – for the sake of your birds

(Author’s note: This blog entry was originally published on March 20, 2017 on our standalone WordPress blog at avianrefuge.wordpress.com – link here – however since launching our new website, we have integrated blogging into the site itself and will no longer be updating the blog at avianrefuge.wordpress.com. We will be porting some of the articles over to this blog on our new website, as time allows.)

In the world of social media you are bombarded by information from many sources. A wise friend once told me in a tone of absolute sarcasm: “On the Internet, everyone is an expert. Just ask them.” How is a person seeking answers supposed to sort through it all to find true, accurate information? One of the best rules to follow first, when sifting through information: consider the source.

In the early days of my years in college, we neophytes were duly cautioned about gleaning information from the Internet when doing research for our papers. Of course, Wikipedia was absolutely verboten. As one professor said, “Anyone can put anything on Wikipedia whether it’s true, accurate, or not.” But there were other caveats offered. The most important one was always “Consider the source.” Unreliable sources were discounted as much as if you hadn’t provided a source at all.

What are we considering? First – does the source have an agenda? Do they have some underlying motivation to twist, distort, spin or hide the truth? Do they have something to gain by presenting “information” that casts them, or a product or service they offer, in a favorable light? Then always be suspect. For example, if you are looking for information on a particular remedy, you don’t go to the manufacturer’s website expecting unbiased information. Secondly, does the source appear to conduct themselves in an ethical or an unethical manner? Have you heard other customers complain about unethical behavior? Things like making false claims, or bait-and-switch (when they advertise or show pictures of a superior product but are delivering something other than what they are showing or describing).

On the other hand, just because someone is selling something does not necessarily make them unethical. We work with many vendors who are honest and ethical and value customer satisfaction as well as the health and safety of your bird. But we’ve also found several who absolutely are not ethical nor trustworthy. When you catch someone lying to you or engaging in shady business practices such as “bait-and-switch,” then nothing they say can be trusted and especially if what they are saying directly benefits them.

Here is a good example. We once purchased a supplement containing a ‘natural’ ingredient, Pau d’Arco, that was touted on the product’s listing as having “no known adverse effects or toxicity.” This information came directly from the page where this item was being sold by a third party “bird store” website and was mirrored from the manufacturers own website. After buying the product, we consulted with our veterinarian – who is also a certified veterinary herbalist. She recommended AGAINST this particular product because it can interfere with blood clotting ability, which can cause hemorrhage. We contacted the manufacturer, who initially ignored our email, which was then copied verbatim into a second email and resent. They then claimed they got the first email but had no way to respond — even though it came through exactly the same email account and they were easily able to respond to the second email. I explained what we’d found about the product and suggested that they remove the wording “no known adverse effects” from their site as risk of uncontrollable bleeding IS a significant adverse effect – one that can prove DEADLY. I understand adverse effects very well. I got straight A’s in pharmacology.

Adorable conure picture for attention! Who wouldn’t trust a face like this?

I’m a registered nurse, and currently studying to become a certified master herbalist. I can tell you that many herbal and OTC “natural” remedies are being sold over-the-counter and touted as completely safe, but one thing that MUST be stressed is that a drug is a drug – REGARDLESS of whether it is a naturally occurring drug or one made in a lab. An adverse effect like interfering with clotting is most definitely an “adverse effect” and should be listed as such. While searching for “Pau d’Arco” returned – not surprisingly due to the very commercial bias of the Internet – glowing testimonials on its use from websites selling it, adding the word “bleeding” to the search returned FAR different results – with warnings on this clearly labeled “adverse effect” from legitimate websites including informative articles from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Drugs.com. Each of these links show risk of bleeding as well as other adverse effects like “Nausea, vomiting, urine discoloration” and “animal studies reported anemia, and reproductive and chromosomal abnormalities.” (From the MSKCC article, under “Side Effects”)

We followed our vet’s advice and did not use this substance. Neither the seller or company was willing to make up for the purchase. The seller would have issued a refund but shipping the product back would have cost nearly as much as the cost of the item. The manufacturer was in complete denial insisting the product was used by “lots of cockatiel breeders” without any problems. Lesson learned: just because something is published on a web page on the Internet does not mean it is accurate or true ESPECIALLY IF THE WEB PAGE IS PROMOTING SALES OF SAID SUBSTANCE.

If you are looking for information on bird care, please take the time to filter through the background noise of all the companies vying for your dollars. Most of the *best* and most accurate information is going to come from people who aren’t trying to make money by selling whatever they can to bird owners – whether it’s good for your birds or not. There are unscrupulous companies out there that will disseminate “information” that is really just an advertisement to convince you to buy things for your bird that may not be in the bird’s best interest. Look at all the websites that will offer things like toxic “bird protectors” that are really just mothballs in a can (active ingredient – paradichlorobenzen) – with instructions to COVER THE CAGE so your poor bird is forced to breath in CONCENTRATED toxic fumes! These sites will often claim they are just supplying a consumer demand (for a profit, of course) but anyone who truly knows about and cares about the health of birds would not sell a clearly hazardous and toxic product.

Another website purports to be a place for “expert” advice on parrots, yet the site also sells a concoction that is a witches brew of medicinal herbs – including wormwood – many of which are hepatotoxic or nephrotoxic or neurotoxic at high doses. What’s a high dose for a bird? No one knows, because as my vet says, there has been no safe dose established for many of these “homeopathic” remedies that really aren’t homeopathic nor a remedy at all. Here’s what Drugs.com has to say about wormwood: “Toxicology: Wormwood is classified as an unsafe herb by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the neurotoxic potential of thujone and its derivatives. The safety of wormwood is poorly documented despite its long history as a food additive. Convulsions, dermatitis, and renal failure have been documented.” Does this sound like something you want your bird to have?

Beware of those who claim to practice herbal medicine without any training. Herbs ARE drugs – just in non-standardized doses. Adverse effects are absolutely a risk of taking an herbal supplement. St. John’s Wort has produced documented cases of a life-threatening rise in serotonin levels, called serotonin syndrome, when taken with a “SSRI” (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor – a class of prescription anti-depression medications). Taken by itself, at high enough doses, it can have the same effect. It has a mechanism of action that is nearly identical to pharmaceutical SSRIs and is actually widely prescribed for depression in Germany. Just because something is “natural” and not made in a factory does NOT mean it cannot have adverse effects. We recommend you ALWAYS consult an AVIAN vet before administering ANY herbal product to your bird. If your vet is unfamiliar with herbal medication, find one who is.

It’s truly a world of buyer beware and when it comes to your bird’s health, you must be extra-cautious about filtering through the greed-motivated offerings to find the best value in both savings and SAFETY for your little feathered one!



Help! My bird won’t eat fresh foods!

We hear this quite often from those who have tried feeding fresh food only to have it completely ignored. Our first answer is: “Don’t give up!” Persistence is important, but probably even more important is analyzing how you are presenting the fresh food to your feathered picky eater.

So maybe you watched a video on how to make “chop” and you bought a huge variety of gorgeous produce and spent an afternoon dicing and chopping and mixing and adding ingredients until you had an entire freezer full of single-serve packages of ready-to-thaw-and-serve fresh goodness! Alas, upon serving the first bowl, not much interest was shown. Or perhaps the food was accepted the first time, but when that next bag came out of the freezer, it was met with disdain. This is actually what we went through with Megan, costing us several batches of “chop” before we came to the conclusion that it was better for us to make it up fresh a week at a time and never freeze it.

The wreath in the aviary comes alive with fresh, living greens.

Marden had no problems accepting new menu items. He never met a food he didn’t like and approached every offering with great delight and enjoyment. His mother, Ife, is the same way. And following her lead, her mate Adom tries whatever he sees her eat. Social eating is part of being a flock and in the wild that’s how the young birds learn what is safe and what is not. If you see another flock member eating it, and they aren’t dropping off their perch, then obviously it’s not poison, right? This behavior is important because you can often get your bird to try new things by joining them in a meal and eating the healthy food with them. By sharing a dish of fresh, healthy food, you are showing them that the food is safe for them. We all know how our birds are obsessed with sampling whatever they see us enjoying when it comes to eating our own food. It’s because they are social eaters and if we are eating something, they are naturally inclined to want to join in. This sets up a perfect opportunity for getting them to try those new foods.

These muffins contain not only healthy grains like flaxseed and quinoa, but they also contain an array of chopped fresh peppers – sweet bell along with hot varieties!

Think outside the bowl. You don’t have to chop, slice and dice that broccoli, or those Brussels sprouts. Hang them, instead! That bell pepper can be skewered and stuffed with other goodies for foraging fun. Hang items in wire baskets, place whole squash or small pumpkins in a large dish or tray and watch the messy fun begin. Grapevine wreaths make excellent places to hang greens or veggies for foraging opportunities.

An entire stalk of Brussels sprouts hangs in the aviary. In a matter of days, there will be nothing but a bare stick left.

If your bird doesn’t like a food one day, they may eat it the next. Birds’ tastes can change quickly. Remember that in the wild, they must move quickly between food sources, and what was available yesterday may or may not be available today. So like wild birds, our companions are wired to eat in season, following the crops that are available at given times. This means they may crave something this week, but next week it’s time to move on to something else.

Conures foraging on the “wreath of plenty” strung with fresh veggies, fruits and millet sprays.

I’ve seen birds who completely ignored their fresh food for months and even years, and then one day, they decided to give it a try and discovered how wonderful it is. Many of them are now our best eaters. But this only worked out because we never give up

More to come… stay tuned!.