Member Login



Auto-login for future visits

Join or Renew Today!

Membership Benefits:

Close Button

Browse options for Parrots

Expert Question

Hi. I’d like to provide my parrots (especially Basil, my female Goffin’s cockatoo who chews her feathers) with fresh browse as a form of enrichment. I have a crabapple tree and an apple tree in my backyard (neither have ever been sprayed with pesticides). Is it safe to give my birds branches (including the leaves) from these trees? From what I’ve been able to find online, the branches look safe, but I don’t seem to be able to find out anything about the safety of the leaves (which I think Basil would love to shred). Also, I’ve read varying suggestions on ensuring the cleanliness of browse - ranging from simply washing it with water to using diluted bleach.

What’s the best approach? Many thanks!


Expert Answer

Dear Debbie, Both crabapple and regular apple are safe trees. In fact, most temperate fruit tree foliage we have found are not toxic in moderate amounts, including plum, peach and cherry. A great time to feed crabapple and other trees is during and after first fruit set when tiny flowers and buds and green fruit starts make nutritious fare for psittacines.

Cleaning of foliage involves a brief visual inspection to make sure leaves are fairly free of wild bird droppings. Pluck or prune any suspect twigs or leaves. You can either hose the branch off in the yard or put it under your bath shower for a few minutes on warm. Boughs collected near considerable automobile traffic should also be rinsed for dust, etc. There is no need to bleach or sterilize tree chewing material.

Here is a picture of Chen, our hawkhead parrot, learning to eat in the apple tree!

Cheers, EB

EB Cravens
About EB Cravens

“If we TRULY believe our captive-raised hookbills are important to world parrot conservation, we must work ceaselessly to ensure that these same psittacines retain as much of their wild instinctual behavior as is possible,” affirms avicultural writer and hobby breeder EB Cravens, from his small organic farm on the slopes of the Big Island Hawaii.

“Our goal is to birth and raise only a few baby parrots who know that they are parrots, but choose to befriend humans, because humans are nice to them… feed them… and are fun to be with!”

EB has bred, trained, raised, kept and rehabilitated more than 75 species of psittacines during the past twenty plus years both at his home and while managing the notable exotic bird shoppe, Feathered Friends of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His emphasis on natural environments for birds, the urging of babies to fully fledge during the extended weaning process, and the leaving of chicks for many weeks inside the nest box with their parents in order that they may learn the many intangibles of their species, have succeeded in changing for the better the lives of so many captive parrots.

A science writer by training, he was for years a regular contributor for AFA’s Watchbird Magazine and the Companion Parrot Quarterly. EB currently writes a monthly column entitled “The Complete Psittacine” in PARROTS Magazine out of England; and another, “The Hookbill Hobbyist” down under in the well-regarded Australian Birdkeeper. His monthly series of articles “Birdkeeping Naturally,” is sent out to bird clubs and individuals around the U.S.

“As devastating pressures continue upon avian species in the wilds,” he says, “it is critical that those keeping birds in captivity do so with responsibility and foresight.”