To help you to identify dangerous foods which you should avoid feeding to your African grey parrot, we’ve compiled this handy list of unsafe foods for parrots for you.

The List Of Unsafe Foods For Parrots

Name

Alcohol

Any kind of alcohol is toxic for parrots

 

Any kind of alcoholic beverage.

 

Apple seeds

Apple seeds can produce toxic cyanide

Apple seeds contain amygdalin, a chemical compound that releases toxic cyanide when it reacts with water.  Humans would have to crack open and ingest quite large amounts of seed for this to have any negative effect on them but, owing to their much smaller size, parrots and other birds are at risk with far smaller quantities.

Apples should therefore be cored, or have their seeds removed, before being offered to your pet bird.

Apricot pips

Apricot pips can produce toxic cyanide when opened.

Apricot pips contain amygdalin, a compound that releases toxic cyanide when it reacts with water. African grey parrots have strong beaks that are easily capable of breaking open these pips and eating their contents.
Avocado

All parts of the avocado plant and fruit are toxic to parrots

All parts of the avocado plant are poisonous. This includes the stems, bark, leaves and the flesh, skin and seed of the fruit.

The source of the poison is a fungicidal toxin called persin, which is present in the plant.

The lowest concentration of the poison is in the pulp of the fruit, low enough so that it is considered harmless for humans.

Birds, however, appear to be especially sensitive to the toxin and acute breathing difficulty followed by death has been noted in birds that have consumed avocado. Captive birds seem to be more sensitive.

Beans (uncooked)

Uncooked beans are generally toxic for parrots

Uncooked beans contain lectins which are compounds found in many plant foods that we consume. Most are harmless, but the lectin called phytohemagglutinin (PHA), present in many raw beans, is toxic.

It is found in many different beans, but the highest concentration is in red kidney beans. Eating as few as 5 uncooked red kidney beans is enough to trigger toxicity in humans with can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea. Clearly, in a bird the size of a parrot, poisoning will occur a lot sooner.

Lectins in beans can be destroyed by cooking the beans thoroughly at boiling temperature (100° C / 212° F) for at least 30 minutes.

Caffeine

coffee contains caffeine which is toxic for birds

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate, and is toxic to parrots.

Consuming any of these can result in hyperactivity, raised and irregular heartbeat, seizures and cardiac arrest.

Limit the fluids that your parrot gets to clean water and the occasional sip of fruit juice.

Cherry pip

cherries without the pips are safe for parrots to eat

Cherry pips contain a compound that releases toxic cyanide when it reacts with water.

Parrots have strong beaks that are easily capable of breaking the pips open and eating their contents, therefore you should always remove the pips before feeding cherries to your parrot.

Chinese onion

Image Placeholder

Other names: Chinese scallion, glittering chive, Japanese scallion, Jiangxi scallion, Oriental onion.

Just like the common onion, Chinese onion contains a toxin that causes anemia in birds and other animals.

Chive

Image Placeholder

A member of the Allium group of plants which includes garlic and onion. Like those plants, chives contain a toxin which breaks down red blood cells and causes anemia.
Chinese scallion See Chinese onion.
Chocolate

Chocolate is poisonous for birds

Chocolate is highly toxic and should never be given to your parrot.

It can contain not one, but two toxins: theobromine and caffeine, both of which are from a group of stimulants know as methylxanthines.

It should not come as a surprise then, that the symptoms of toxicity by caffeine products and chocolate in birds are practically identical. These include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and even seizures and death.

All types of chocolate are poisonous, with baking chocolate, dark chocolate and cocoa powder having the highest toxicity level, and milk chocolate and white chocolate having the lowest.

Garlic

garlic is toxic to parrots

Garlic can cause anemia in animals and should not be given to your parrot to eat. It belongs to the same class of plants as onions, chives and leeks.
Glittering chive See Chinese onion.
Green onion See scallion
Japanese scallion See Chinese onion.
Jiangxi scallion See Chinese onion.
Leek

Leeks are poisonous for parrots

 

The leek is another member of the Allium group of onions and related plants and poses the same risk as onion does to your pet parrot. That means anemia as a result of damage to your bird’s red blood cells.
Mushroom

Some mushrooms could cause toxicity in your parrot.

Mushrooms that are safe for humans are supposed to be safe for parrots too.

However, several sources say that mushrooms have been known to cause digestive problems in birds, and that stems and caps of mushrooms can cause liver failure. Practically all of these sources use either identical or similar wording which suggests that their information came from a single common source.

Unfortunately, we don’t know what that source is, so we’re unable to verify or confirm the claims.

We have never fed mushrooms to our parrot, Kokkie, and we do not plan to start now either. As usual, our advice is to err on the side of caution and simply avoid feeding a parrot mushrooms altogether.

It goes without saying that mushrooms known to be toxic to humans should never be fed to your pet.

Nectarine pip

Nectarine pips can produce cyanide and should be removed before feeding the fruit to parrots

As part of the peach family of fruit, the pips of nectarines can also release cyanide when opened.

African grey parrots can easily crack these pips open with their beaks so, even though the flesh of the nectarine is safe for a parrot to eat, the pip should be removed before it is offered to the bird.

Onion

Onion is toxic for your parrot, whether it is raw, cooked or dried

Onion, in any form, is toxic to birds. Whether the onion is raw, cooked or dried, the toxic ingredient remains present.

An African grey parrot of average weight can be poisoned by consuming as little as 2 to 3 grams of onion.

Onion contains compounds which damage the red blood cells of animals, leading to anemia.

Onions belong to the Allium plant family, which includes the equally toxic Chinese onion, chives, garlic, leek, shallot and scallion.

Oriental onion See Chinese onion.
Peach pip

Peach with the pip removed is safe for your parrot pet to eat

The pips of peaches can release cyanide when opened.

Although the flesh of the fruit is safe to eat, the pip should always be removed before the fruit is offered. African greys can easily crack these pips open with their powerful beaks.

Pear seeds

Pear seeds can produce toxic cyanide and should be removed before feeding pear to your parrot.

Pear seeds produce cyanide when the amygdalin inside the seeds reacts with water. For this reason, pear seeds should be removed before being fed to your parrot.
Plum pip

Remove the cyanide-producing pip from a plum before feeding the fruit to your bird.

The pips of plums contain a substance called amygdalin that reacts with water to produce the toxin cyanide when opened.

It’s not difficult for a parrot to open the pip. For that reason you should always remove it before offering the fruit to your pet bird.

Potato plant

Can be safely consumed by your grey parrot

As a member of the nightshade family of plants, the potato plant contains toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids. These are concentrated in the leaves, flowers, fruits and sprouts of the plant.

The lowest concentration is found in the tuber, at levels safe enough for your parrot to eat when the tuber is cooked.

Rhubarb leaves

Image Placeholder

Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which can lead to kidney failure when the leaves are eaten.

The stalks of the plant are a common and safe food source, however.

Scallion

Scallion belongs to the same plant family as onion and is poisonous to birds for the same reason.

Other names: green onion, spring onion.

Ingesting scallion can cause anemia in parrots and other birds. Scallion belongs to the same Allium plant family as onion.

Shallot

Shallots contain the same toxic compounds as onions and should not be fed to parrots.

Shallots are very closely related to onions and, like onions, can cause anemia and death in birds.
Spring onion See scallion
Tomato plant

Although the tomato fruit is safe for feeding to parrots in very limited quantity, the leaves and stems of the tomato plant are poisonous and should be avoided.

Tomato, when fed sparingly to a parrot, is safe, especially when cooked.

Too much can cause stomach ulcers, due to the acid levels in the tomato.

Although tomato is edible to a degree, the rest of the tomato plant, including leaves and stems, is toxic and should be avoided altogether. Be careful to remove all green caps  from tomato when offering it to your pet.

Xylitol

Image Placeholder

Although there is not much research into Xylitol’s effect on birds, it has been known to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver damage resulting in fatalities, in other animals.

Birds have a very high metabolism rate and are likely to be sensitive to the toxic effects of this artificial sweetener. Considering the relatively small size of a bird like an African grey parrot, even a small amount could have a big impact.

It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid giving your bird any food containing this substance.

 

2 Comments

  1. I’m used to those “Don’t feed the animals” signs when I visit zoos but I my thoughts around it was too simplistic like “they might choke” or something. This post enlightened me about an enormous problem that is to feed our pets with what WE think that’s good for them! Awesome post, precious information!

    1. You’re absolutely correct Daniel. All too often we feed our animals foods on the assumption that, “If it’s OK for us, it’s OK for them”, but this is often not the case.

      Thanks a lot for your feedback.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *