Please use the list of Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen to help you feed your feathered friends the best diet possible. Information from

Eat fruits and vegetables!

The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.

For the second year, we have expanded the Dirty Dozen™ with a Plus category to highlight two crops – domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards. These crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.

Though the Environmental Protection Agency has been restricting the uses of the most toxic pesticides, they are still detected on some foods. For example, green beans were on last year's Plus list because they were often contaminated with two highly toxic organophosphates. Those pesticides are being withdrawn from agriculture. But leafy greens still show residues of organophosphates and other risky pesticides. That's why they are on the Plus list for 2013.

Tests in 2008 found that some domestically-grown summer squash – zucchini and yellow crookneck squash -- contained residues of harmful organochlorine pesticides that were phased out of agriculture in the 1970s and 1980s but that linger on some farm fields.

Genetically modified plants, or GMOs, are not often found in the produce section of grocery stores. Field corn, nearly all of which is produced with genetically modified seeds, is used to make tortillas, chips, corn syrup, animal feed and biofuels. Because it is not sold as a fresh vegetable, it is not included in EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Nor is soy, another heavily GMO crop that makes its way into processed food.

The genetically modified crops likely to be found in produce aisles of American supermarkets are zucchini, Hawaiian papaya and some varieties of sweet corn. Most Hawaiian papaya is a GMO. Only a small fraction of zucchini and sweet corn are GMO. Since U.S. law does not require labeling of GMO produce, EWG advises people who want to avoid it to purchase the organically-grown versions of these items.




 Cherry tomatoes



 Hot peppers

 Nectarines - imported





 Sweet bell peppers

 Kale / collard greens +

 Summer squash +




CLEAN FIFTEENTM Asparagus Avocados Cabbage Cantaloupe Sweet Corn Eggplant Grapefruit







 Sweet peas - frozen

 Sweet potatoes



We believe very strongly in the phrase "what you eat is what you are" and believe strongly that this also relates to birds and all living creatures as well. In this world of toxicity, we believe it is very important to feed our feathered friends as non-toxic of a diet as possible.  

We also believe it is very important to feed straight from "nature" with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies. Below we will try to immulate our "typical diet" that we feed on a daily basis. Please read this knowing that we don't feed the same fruits and veggies daily--- we feed depending on what is actually available seasonally... in other words as the seasons change so does our birds diet, This is the way they would eat in the wild. We do use the freezer as well as a food dehydrator to "add to" what fresh foods we can purchase", but fresh is always BEST.

The scope of this article is not to go in depth to teach you how to serve a balanced diet, but to just explain to you the diet that we feed and believe strongly in. We strongly encourage you to go to a yahoo group called feedingfeathers and read about Shauna's Mash recipe/ guidelines. This is more in depth information on how to make sure that the food you feed your parrot is providing a very balanced nutrition. You can also check out a youtube video made by Patricia Sund. She makes a "Chop" recipe that is very wholesome. We do encourage fresh food but this is just another way to make sure the birds get plenty of fruits, veggies and grains into their diets.

A typical day at the Haven would be:

carrots, sweet potatoes, brocolli, cawliflower, beets and beet greens, bell peppers (yellow, orange, red and green), jalapeno peppers, mustard greens, blueberries, apples.  The goal is to try to feed "the rainbow" of colors each day when you feed. Something red, something green, something orange... etc. We also always add at least 2 different fruits to each days meal. Because some of our birds thrive on berries in the wild we always make berries one of our fruit choices. We also use apples, peaches, cherries, pears, melons, pomegranate, grapes, kiwi..... and more. Please do not feed fruit seeds from apples, cherries, peaches, etc  to the birds. They are toxic.  Also be sure and read the "clean 15 and dirty dozen" list article on our website. We try to feed organic when possible but if not... there are definitely some traditional fruits and veggies  that are not safe to feed unless they are organic. Become aware of these foods and avoid them if you can't always buy organic. I have a friend from another rescue who said that a volunteer had brought in non-organic grapes and passed them out among the flock. Within minutes birds were getting sick. Many of them died. These grapes were from either Chili or Mexico (can't remember) and had toxic chemicals sprayed on them.

We feed the different colors because each of these different colors provide different vitamins necessary to make the diet balanced. This above makes up about 50%- 60% of our birds diet. To this we add legumes and grains- alternating between sprouted and cooked. We always have a jar of sprouts sprouting- and then feed the cooked grain/legume mix  any time sprouts aren't ready yet. This usually works out to sprouting about 4 days a week and cooked mix about 3 days a week. We purchase our sprouts from a few different places- depending on the availability. You can find sprouting blends at or or others. The grains/legumes make up about 25 %of the birds diet.

The rest is varied from day to day. We feed organic eggs about once a week. We also feed a few pieces of nuts daily as well as a natural organic pellet. Our pellet of choice is Totally Organics. We are retailers for this wonderful product so we can make it available to to our customers.

Anytime our "mash" or "chop" is a bit too moist we will add varied dried foods to the mix to absorb the excess liquid. We use things such as whole grain pasta, rolled oats and dried sometimes dried fruits that we have dried ourselves. It is very important to not use any dried fruits that have been sweetened or had added preservatives used on them. Variety is the "spice of life- even for the birds.:)

- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

Over the years there has been much controversy over the best diet for birds. We know that the diet choice makes the difference between a bird living a long healthy life and one that dies early because of nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional needs vary from bird to bird, just as they do from person to person. For this reason, the below information is not meant to be taken as a set-in-stone rule for the feeding of all birds. Be sure to do your homework on the particular species of bird you own.

In general, just remember that birds need a variety. You should also try to feed them as close to nature as you can. You don't find pellets growing on a tree in the wild, do you? Pellets can be offered as a supplement, but please do not make this the main portion of your birds diet. Seeds are also fine, in a limited quantity. All birds usually love seeds and would eat that above most other foods if given that option but this is not healthy for them, so please limit the amount you give them. Sprouted seeds are always a better choice than dry seed, since the sprouted seed is actually "live food."

Since we are a rescue, we have birds of all types, sizes and health conditions living here at the Haven. Each bird is fed according to what we believe he/she needs for their particular situation. When a bird is first brought to us, they are usually accustomed to an all seed or all pellet diet. Our number one goal at this point is to convert them over to a more "balanced" diet. We continue adding the pellets or seeds in large enough quantity so that we know they are getting enough to eat, but they have to "dig" to find it. Therefore, while digging to find the food they are accustomed to they will inadvertently taste some of the new, more healthy choices that we know they need. We will then start a slow "weaning" process, by removing a little more of their favorite food each day, until such time they are eating the balanced diet at their own will.

There are dietary differences among birds

Feeding pet birds the right foods is important for their health. A balanced diet based on sound bird nutrition recommendations is the key. Balancing a parrot's diet from the beginning will prevent many health and behavior problems. But it's never too late to get your pet bird on a sound nutritional footing. It is something you will want to do since an unbalanced diet is the main cause of disease and early death in pet birds. Malnutrition is a human-made disease. Fortunately, it is also preventable. When feeding pet birds, we must realize that the species of birds we have as companion pets do not all have the same dietary needs. Just as our North American wild birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds do not eat the same foods, neither do our companion birds. In general, parrot diets can be classified according to their normal diets. Most psittacines (members of the parrot family) are florivores, meaning the main portion of their diet is obtained from plants. Among florivores, there are granivores (birds that eat grain and seed), and frugivores (birds with diets based on fruits). Some pet birds are omnivores, whose diet can consist of both plant and animal components. There is a special class of florivores called nectarivores, who eat mostly nectar.

Pet Bird Dietary Classification/Primary Diet/Species

Florivore: Seeds, fruits, nuts, bark, roots, berries (Military macaw, Blue and gold macaw, Red-faced parrot)

Granivore: Grains, seeds (Budgerigar, cockatiel, Hyacinth macaw) Frugivore: Mostly fruit and flowers; some nuts and seeds (Blue-throated macaw; Green-winged macaw)

Omnivore: Seeds, fruits, insects, invertebrates (Sulphur-crested cockatoo, Red-tailed amazon)

Nectarivore: Nectar, pollen; some insects and seeds (Lorikeet, lory) From the above list, you can see that even among related birds, such as macaws, diets differ. Additionally, among each bird classification there will be different nutrition recommendations. For instance, even though both are considered granivores, in the wild, Hyacinth macaws eat mostly palm nuts, while budgies eat mostly seeds. See "birdy personalities for more information on what each different type of bird needs as his/her diet.

The "4" Nutrient Groups for Excellent Avian Nutrition

Eggs--white and yolk should be scrambled or hard-boiled and grated Cooked Chicken--small bits are ocassionally okay
Cooked Legumes
Soy Products such as soybeans, tofu--use sparingly as some birds have experienced
digestive problems with tofu
*No red meats, pork or shellfish should be given.
Cooked Pasta (preferably whole grain)
Cooked Rice (preferably brown)
Cooked potatoes

Fat Sources:
Seed mixture dependent on species (little to no sunflower seeds)
Nuts high in fat--use only dependent on species of bird
*Use NO dairy or cheese products. Birds can't break down the lactose and
it can cause obstructive disorders or inflammation.

There are hundreds of vitamins and minerals a body needs and the sources of foods in which to find them. Two of the biggest deficiencies facing exotic bird species are: Vitamin A. Suggestions of high Vitamin A content are: carrots, sweet potatoes, jalapeno peppers, kale, chard, spinach, squash- butternut, dandelion greens, sweet red peppers. Vitamin A found in the above products is one of the most common deficiencies in pet birds diets, especially in South American species (amazons, conures, macaws). At least one of these foods should be fed to your bird daily. Remember, birds can discern color and texture, as well as taste, so changing the form and presentation of the food can make a big difference in whether the bird will or will not accept the new food. There is an instinctive fear of new foods, especially in older birds. This is a protective mechanism against being poisoned in the wild, so offer new foods often and in the same manner before attempting a new method. Alternative methods to try are hanging food on the side of the cage or preparing foods in different ways such as peeled, or unpeeled, cooked or raw, and placing multiple foods on the same dish. Most birds usually take upwards of 2 weeks seeing a new food every day before first investigating and/or playing with the food and then actually trying to eat it. Above all, be patient with your pet bird when it comes to new foods!

Suggestions of high calcium content are: turnip greens, green cabbage, chinese cabbage, mustard greens, watercress, kohlrabi, chard Calcium is the predominant mineral in the body and yet is the most common mineral deficiency found in pet birds diet. Calcium is used by the bird for bone formation, blood clotting, and egg shell production. Calcium also affects heart, muscle, and nerve function as well as enzyme systems in the body. As expected, most of the calcium is stored in the bird's skeleton. All birds are susceptible to long term deficiencies if fed inadequate diets. "Grit" sold in the pet trade is not a decent source of calcium. DO NOT SERVE YOUR BIRD GRIT. A safe source of calcium for smaller species is the backbone from the cuttlefish "cuttlebone" mineral blocks, or ground oyster shell. Larger species can be offered cooked chicken bone in small amounts or mineral blocks. Some birds, such as conures and African Grey parrots, are more sensitive to calcium deficiency, but do not need extra supplementation if placed on a well- balanced diet. Also, like humans, as some birds age their calcium demand increases. The foods listed above are only to be used as indicators of Ca: P supply, however no single food is bad when evaluated in an entire dietary management program created by you and your avian veterinarian. Above all, always offer your bird a calcium source.

Remember: A good balanced diet can extend the life of your bird by 50% or better compared to a diet of only commercial type products. Always offer a variety and try to keep their foods as close to nature as you can.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a $2 donation to benefit the birds at Wings of Love Bird Haven by clicking the button below.


- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

You talk to many bird owners and you will hear such things as "I've fed my bird nuts and seeds for 15 years and he is healthy so far..." or "My bird was healthy--just died one day all of a sudden for no reason at all."

Compare these comments to what we might hear said about someone's ancestors... "My ancestors always ate meat and did fine" or "My grandfather lived 55 years on an all meat diet". Have you heard this one...My father at 50 was the picture of health until he died of a heart attack." How healthy were they really?

Let's take a look at the three main areas of nutrition in an all seed/nut diet: total fat levels, calcium and phosphorus levels and Vitamin A content. Total Fat levels... current nutritional research suggests that most psittacines need no more than 15% total fat in their diet. Safflower seeds represent the lowest fat level in all seeds and they have a fat content of 38.40%. This exceeds the maximum levels by 250%. Calcium (Ca), Phosphorus (P) and Ca:P ratio...Pssitacine research seems to mirror that of poultry findings showing that a diet should contain 0.50% calcium for maintenance and 1% for proper bone development. Using 100 gms of any given food, this would equate to 0.5 - 1 gm (500-1000 mg) of calcium to contain adequate levels for maintenance and growth. The highest levels of calcium in seeds/nuts is demonstrated by almonds at 266 mg, barely 50% of the levels necessary for maintenance and only 27% of the calcium needed for growth. High-fat diets may further exacerbate the situation by forming insoluble calcium soups thereby preventing calcium uptake in the small intestines which would result in even less percent.

Ca:P ratio analyzed in bone approximates 2:1. Any given diet should deliver this ratio of calcium to phosphorus to maintain equilibrium within the body. The best level to be achieved with seeds and nuts is represented on the chart by macadamia at 1:1.94, delivering 4 times higher phosphorus levels compared to calcium. The kidneys must excrete this excess phosphorus from the body and when they do, they also excrete calcium. This process further magnifies the overall calcium depletion within the body of the bird.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is crucial to cellular function in many parts of the body including the formation of mucous membranes and epithelial surfaces, for growth, vision, development of the vascular system, production of adrenal hormones, formation of red and orange pigments in feathers and many other functions. A concentration of 5000 IU/pound of food is required to prevent eventual signs of Vitamin A deficiency. For a 100 gm portion of food, there must be 1100 IU of vitamin A to meet these requirements. The highest level on the chart for nuts and seeds is represented by pumpkin seeds at 380 IU/100 gm wt...barely 1/3 of the level necessary for sustaining avian health.

Profiling these three nutritional categories of seeds and nuts should clearly demonstrate how a diet exclusive of any supplementation will eventually lead a bird to multiple nutritional deficiencies and a shortened life span. The deficiencies are masked for an extended period of time due to each organs reserve capacity. For example, the kidneys can perform 100% of their function with only 30% of their total mass. This is why people can donate a kidney and still live normally. The liver can perform 100% of its function in some species with only 10% of its total mass. The same has also been seen in psittacine birds. Once this threshold is crossed the clinical symptoms are not only obvious, but usually severe and often life threatening. It has been said many times that "ignorance is bliss", but as it relates to one's health we know that this is not true. A diet for a pet bird must contain ALL nutritional groups (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) in the right proportions to support each bird's genetics for maximum life expectancy.

One last comment. The claim that supplementing a seed diet with fruits and vegetables will make the diet "complete" is not an accurate statement. Supplementation solves some of the problems, but tends to create others. Science does not have all of the answers, but much progress has been made in the last several years. Blood tests are now available and often required to determine the current nutritional condition of a bird and serve as a guide to demonstrate improvement once nutritional therapy is instituted. Ask your veterinarian to help you plan the proper nutrition for your specific species of pet bird. If you don't won't know. Approximately 94% of the birds tested at most clinics have some form of nutritional imbalances. The bird is the result of what it eats. Please feed a large variety of foods STARTING WITH veggies and sprouts, then add pellets, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, et cetera to "round out" and complete the diet.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a $2 donation to benefit the birds at Wings of Love Bird Haven by clicking the button below.


- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

Cheese and dairy products should never be given to pet birds! Contrary to much misinformation regarding the safety of dairy ingestion, the avian digestive tract is incapable of digesting the lactose contained in most dairy products, thereby causing severe allergic reactions, obstructive disease, or even death.

From a common sense approach, avian species are not nursing animals. They develop from an egg with the yolk as their sole food source until they hatch. After hatching, the chick is fed food that the hen first ingests and then regurgitates the contents from her crop into the crop of the baby chick. There is no mammary tissue involved, as in mammals. Because of this, birds never evolved to produce lactase, the enzyme necessary to help digest lactose. Essentially, birds are highly "lactose" intolerant" species.

Why does my Bird like cheese?
Is everything that tastes good always safe? Of course not! Dogs and cats will eat antifreeze because it tastes sweet, but it kills many of them each year. Chocolate also causes many animals to visit emergency rooms. There are many products that taste good but aren't good for us. We must act as the "safety" guardian for our pets. Why didn't my bird get sick when I fed him cheese?

It depends on how much he ate, the type of cheese (and lactose concentration), the frequency and what other components are contained in the cheese that might worsen the effects. It is sort of like alcohol ingestion in people; a little will cause no visible effect, a little more will make you sleepy or drunk, and a lot can actually cause alcohol poisoning or death.

How does cheese and lactose affect my bird? Since the bird can't break down lactose, the bird's gastrointestinal tract initiates an allergic or inflammatory reaction to the product. This can lead to mild inflammation with no clinical signs, mild symptoms like diarrhea in moderate cases (laxative effect) or total blockage/enterotoxemia in severe cases. Mild symptoms are often missed or incorrectly diagnosed as just "oh, that is normal for this particular bird". As the frequency or quantity of ingeston increases, the inflammatory process can lead to secondary bacterial/fungal infections, decreased postrointestinal motility or complete functional/foreign body obstruction, toxemia and death.

What types of cheese have caused the most serious problems?
Mozzarella cheese is by far the worse offending cheese and the number one recovered surgically from birds during surgery. It is found in pizza, lasagna, and under other names such as "string-cheese." Because of the high gum content in mozzarella, this cheese has a very high risk of becoming obstructed in the intestinal tract and death within 48-72 hours.

Jack cheese and other soft "white" cheeses often cause proventriculitis (gastritis) with secondary bacterial/fungal infections. The prognosis is solely dependent on whether surgical intervention (clean-out) and medical therapy can control the inflammatory process and secondary toxemia that ensues.

Cottage Cheese/Feta Cheese has also caused this syndrome. One case noted was a bird with a history of diarrhea for several months and repeated treatments for bacterial enteritis. The bird eventually became lethargic, anorectic and unresponsive to antibiotics. Radiographs demonstrated an enlarged proventriculus with an obstructive process extending from the mid-proventriculus to the duodenum and a transit time of over 20 hours (normal 3-6 hours). In spite of surgical removal and intensive medical therapy this patient succumbed to toxemia.


If you found article useful, please considering making a $2 donation to benefit the birds at Wings of Love Bird Haven by clicking the button below.


- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

Sprouting for birds is one of the best ways to get live nutrition to the birds. Many birds love seeds, but the dry seeds that you buy in the pet store offer no nutritional value. Even a bird that is hooked on dry seed will not have any trouble getting accustomed to eating sprouts. Below are a few companies that sell sprout mixes for birds. There are others on the web as well.

How to Sprout

Depending on the size and number of birds you have you will have to decide how much you need to sprout at any one time. I typically use about 1/2 cup of dry sprouts for one serving for all the birds here at the Haven. However, you can do that many and just keep them refrigerated if you don't use them all the first serving. Don't try to store sprouts for more than 2 days at a time. They loose their nutritional value fairly quickly. First, cover sprouts with fresh water, preferable distilled or at least filtered. Add a drop or two of either apple cider vinegar or grapeseed extract. (make sure the cider vinegar is the type that is labeled on the bottle that it has the "MOTHER" still in the cider. This can usually only be obtained at health food stores. Soak seeds overnight. Drain the next morning and rinse well. Prop the jar (using a kerr jar with a plastic straining lid is the easiest for me--see picture at Tilt jar so that air can get into the jar so yet more water can drain throughout the day. I usually tilt it onto a kitchen towel in the corner of my window seal. Rinse seeds twice a day for 3 days.

At the point where the sprout shows only a 1/8" or so is when they are at the peek of nutrition. This is when you should feed them to your birds. Once they are ready refrigerate any left over for the next day's use.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a $2 donation to benefit the birds at Wings of Love Bird Haven by clicking the button below.


- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

Below is the recipe for Haven Mash that we feed our birds daily. Choose 3-5 items from the list below and mix them in a large stainless steel or glass container for storage. Make sure that all grains are whole grains, not processed. These items could be either cooked or sprouted. Be sure to alternate these grains, beans and veggies each time you make up a new batch of food. This will ensure that your bird is getting the largest variety of vitamins and minerals.

- wheat berries     - rye berries     - spelt berries     yummy haven mash - Copy
- quinoa                 - oat groats      - barley
- brown rice          - triticale           - buckwheat
- millet or any other whole grain

Add to the above approximately the same amount of 13-bean blend. Do not add the spices that come with the bean mix into the mixture. Mix all of the above together and store in an air tight container to use out of each time you make this mix. So, in the end, you should have a container with 13 different types of beans along with about 3-5 different types of grains. Each week when you make a new batch you will use out of this same container of dry beans/grains. I make two-three batchs of mix each week because we have so many birds. Each time you make up a new batch of dry mix, try to change the types of grains you use for the best variety of nutrition.

Suggestions of beans (for cooking, not sprouting) if you are mixing them yourself are:

- baby lima beans              - large lima beans     - garbanzo beans
- great northern beans     - kidney beans           - black-eyed peas
- yellow split peas              - green split peas      - navy beans
- pinto beans                      - red beans                 - black beans
- lentils

(NOTE: This is not the same list of beans as you would use to sprout. Only use peas and lentils for sprouting.) Put 2 cups of the above mixture in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Put on medium heat and cook with lid for exactly 30 minutes. After timer goes off, add one handful of oatmeal (not 5-minute oats) and one handful of any dried fruit that is not sweetened with extra sugar. Stir all together and let cool with lid off. While cooling, begin chopping veggies in a separate bowl.

Choose 6-10 veggies from the list below. Be sure you always include several different colors of vegetables. This way you can assure that you are getting the different types of vitamins in each batch. You can add other veggies not on the list if you desire. Do not include avocado, onion or rhubarb.

- romaine lettuce         - spinach                   - bell pepper
- chard                           - parsley                    - cilantro
- jalapeno peppers      - zucchini squash    - spring mix
- leaf lettuce                 - red leaf lettuce      - escarole
- endive                         - arugola                   - bib lettuce
- boston lettuce           - watercress              - green beans
- hubbard squash        - basil                        - dill
- cabbage                      - parsnips                 - grapefruit seed extract
- beet greens                - okra                         - thyme
- carrots                         - yellow squash       - ginger root
- pumpkin                     - sweet potatoes     - garlic
- jicama                          - collard greens       - mustard greens
- dandelion greens      - cauliflower             - broccoli
- leeks                            - fresh cinnamon    - bok choy
- corn                             - peas                        - butternut squash
- cranberries                 - oregano                 - tomatoes
- red cabbage               - turnips                   - schiazandra beans
- carrot greens             - rosemary               - tofu

Cut the veggies into fairly small pieces, depending on the type of bird you are feeding. I use a food processor and "pulse" the veggies until they are approximately pea size. Do not turn the machine on as this will make it become too liquid. The amount of veggies should be approximately equal to the amount of grains/beans mix that you've cooked. Once bean mix is cooled completely then mix the two together and refrigerate. I use a vacuum sealer, which extends the life of the ingredients; however, it will last about 1 week if you don't vacuum seal it. I feed out of this every morning, making the morning feeding fairly easy. In the evening, the birds get fruit, pellets and any seeds I might give them for a treat.

If you found article useful, please considering making a $2 donation to benefit the birds at Wings of Love Bird Haven by clicking the button below.