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I've lived with Peachfront Conures Aratinga aurea for 30 years. I've bred 'em, trained 'em, even visited Bolivia to observe them in the wild. For more about me, click right here.

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1:06 p.m. 2012-04-20

making a meal of it

Peachfront's Note: Today's guest entry is courtesy of Rebecca K. O'Connor's Heckled by Parrots: Examining, Surviving and Loving life with Parrots. For great general parrot information and a stunning collection of parrot photographs, this blog can't be beat, so definitely check it out. After all, haven't we all been heckled by parrots? Rebecca's essay about food was inspired by her Gray, but I've had similar experiences with my Peachfront Conures. I think a lot of different parrot owners have been surprised at how much they learn about food once they bring a parrot into their life.

…I was told that animals had a learning window, a short period of time when they would try anything and maybe even learn to keep trying anything for the rest of their lives. I wanted Ty to eat well and live long. So I introduced my parrots to everything healthy and edible I could find and of course, I ate it too. I learned to steam fresh broccoli and asparagus. I discovered that baked sweet potatoes were delicious and that there were dozens of varieties of apples and pears all slightly different in texture and sweetness. The parrots learned to investigate everything resembling food in their cage. I had no idea the world was full of so many tastes and how much fun experimenting with food could be. Ty ate or at least tried everything.

While I'm grateful I discovered that exploring the world was tasty, I know the flavors weren't as important to Ty. According to Graham et al in Luescher's Manual of Parrot Behavior, parrots aren't well endowed in the taste bud department. Compared to mammals their sense of taste is pretty poor, depending on 300-400 taste buds compared our 9,000. Luckily for parrots however, they at least have more than the measly 200-250 taste buds a chicken sports. (Which means parrots don't taste like chicken at all. Hardy har har.)

Although parrots savor their food more than chicken and pigeons, tempting their palate was not really why I fell in love with feeding the birds. That was just a bonus. The best thing, the most important thing about meal time in my house is watching everyone play with their food. Eating is never a chore to a parrot; it's out and out fun. Food is for scooping, flinging, mixing, mashing and sharing. While I wouldn't trade my 9000 taste buds for anything, what I am most grateful for in my culinary evolution is the discovery that experimenting with your food is even better than eating it. I credit Ty for helping me develop a healthy relationship with my meals…

Peachfront's Postscript: To get the whole article, please click right here to visit Rebecca's beautiful site. You'll have a blast and maybe learn something too. Thanks, Rebecca.

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