Though the article focuses on parrots, the same foods may be offered to most seed-eating birds. The cooked beans can be mixed with cooked brown rice or whole wheat bread crumbs. For birds that eat their food whole — like doves — first grind the larger beans before mixing them with bread crumbs to form a granular meal.

By David Poole

A whole host of pulses are extremely good for providing excellent levels of protein and carbohydrate as well as fibre. However, they *must* be cooked because many contain enzymes which inhibit protein assimilation. I use the following on a daily basis and find that they are excellent dietary constituents: Haricot, Black-Eyed, Lima and Garbanzos, yellow and green Split peas, Lentils of any colour.

Most weekends I have a big ‘boil-up’, having soaked a cup of each overnight. The beans and peas are all cooked separately and if I feel so inclined, throw in a few chillis for flavouring. When the beans are tender, they are drained and allowed to cool before packing and storing in the deep freeze. My CAG gets a heaped teaspoon each, of any 3 of the above every day to which I add broccoli, carrot and frozen peas. The whole lot is nuked until piping hot and allowed to cool for around twenty minutes.

Occasionally a small piece (1cm.cube) of hard cheese is finely diced and sprinkled over the top and sometimes, finely diced chillis and/or ripe bell peppers are also added. As a especial treat, a teaspoon of low-salt, homemade tomato sauce which contains onions and garlic is poured over the top before nuking. This makes a very acceptable baked-bean ‘taste-a-like’ and my CAG goes wild over this. Fruit in some form is also available every day and of course constant supplies of pellets. I do not now offer any sunflower at all, but I do provide millet which contains the lysine that is missing from pulses.

Jalapenos are perfectly OK for all parrots that will eat them and you need have no worries about the ‘heat’ that we experience with chillis. The pinkest M2 that I’ve ever seen is given 2 or 3 hot chillis every day and his owner claims that they were the cause of the bird’s vivid colouration. After 15 years the bird is in rudest of health and has never plucked or bitten a single feather in all of that time.


  1. I eat a lot of beans and so does my Rosey Bourke. She was immediately attracted to pintos, and they remain her favorite, but she’s learned to also eat black beans, kidney, great northern and lentils. Most days, she’ll eat a couple pintos at a time, prob about as much as her crop can hold. If I don”t put a couple out to the side, she’ll try to climb onto my plate.
    The two other human foods she is attracted to are sweet potatoes and my home made whole wheat bread, tho’ she seems to be more interested in tearing the bread to pieces that actually eating much.

  2. Hi

    Its very interesting articles. Just wondering can we simply soak the seed for few hours (Around 6-8 hours) before giving them to the parrots??

    If not…. for how long we should boil the beans before giving them to the birds.

    Looking forward to hear from you


    1. “… the toxin Phytohaemagglutinin occurs naturally in several kinds of raw beans, including broad beans, white kidney beans, and red kidney beans. This toxin causes gastroenteritis, an unpleasant condition that sends most folks to the bathroom.

      Boiling beans
      The good news is that the toxin can be deactivated by simply boiling the raw beans for ten minutes. This temperature degrades the toxin without cooking the beans. The FDA also recommends soaking the beans for five hours to remove any residual toxins and then tossing the water out. Canned beans go through a pressurized canning process that makes them safe to eat, which explains why my salad didn’t give me gastrointestinal trouble.

      The dangers of raw beans
      The danger comes from eating raw beans or undercooked beans. Eating just four raw, soaked beans is enough to cause symptoms of foodborne illness. Crockpots are popular methods for cooking raw beans, but this method can yield dangerous results. Slow cooking raw beans normally requires hours of cooking on a low setting, but crockpot temperatures vary. If the low setting on a crockpot is below 180°F, then slow cooking the beans won’t make them safe to eat. In fact, undercooking beans increases the toxicity by five times. Yikes!

      The moral of the story is to eat beans from a can or to boil raw beans properly before cooking. For added safety, follow the FDA recommendation to soak beans for five hours before cooking them. Kidney beans may be toxic, but they’re easy to cure for good eating.”

  3. My Yellow-Naped Amazon developed a severe vitamin A deficiency. It was suggested from a pet owner to soak the miscellaneous beans overnight, cook for at least a half house drain, package and freeze. I have two other parrots an African Grey and a Caique. This timely but highly recommended. I am an Educator and love those parrots but would love to find beans that require less care. In a pinch is there a prepared cooked bean mix that can be purchase? If so, who sells it? Many, many, thanks.

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