Fresh fruit & vegetables are an important part of your conure's daily diet. In the wild, conures subsist primarily on fruit & vegetables, so your conure's body is designed to need and absorb nutrients from this kind of food. There are certain vitamins and minerals that conures can only get from fresh foods, so in order to keep your bird healthy and thriving, you should offer a variety of fruit & vegetables every day.
When Should I Offer Them?
Offer your conure a dish of freshly cut fruit & vegetables - the more variety the better - first thing in the morning. This is when your conure is hungriest, and is most likely to try new foods as well as eat the ones that are most important to his diet. You might also try mixing in some cooked whole-wheat pasta, rice, or beans at the same time.
If you can, remove any uneaten fresh food from your conure's cage within a few hours, or at the very least, as soon as you get home from work. This will prevent harmful bacteria or fungi from growing and harming your bird, as well as reducing the chance of attracting fruit flies.
How Should I Offer Them?
Be sure to wash all fruit & vegetables thoroughly, to remove any pesticide residue or dirt. Then, how you offer them depends on what your conure likes to eat and what textures are appealing to him - and how much he'll eat. Try serving vegetables raw at first. If your bird has never eaten fruit or vegetables before, you may want to try cutting the pieces up quite small at first - a more familiar sized food (ie. a little larger than the pellets) may be more enticing. As your conure gets used to eating fruit and vegetables, gradually increase the size. Most conures have no trouble at all holding a whole grape in one foot while chowing down! Whole baby carrots are also an acceptable size for some of the larger conures.
If your conure seems to be turning up his nose at chopped fruit and vegetables, you might try another route - mash, puree, cook or juice the food until you find something your bird enjoys. Some birds are even know to prefer their foods to be cut in a certain shape - if your conure says "no" to cubed pieces, try cutting them julienne!
Yes, it is a trial and error process, and it could take awhile. The key is in not giving up. If your conure doesn't eat the fresh fruit & vegetables you offer on the first day, try again the next day. And if day two fails as well, offer more the next day. If by the end of the week he's still not eating them, don't give up! Try one of the different serving options discussed above, and keep offering them. Eventually, he'll become curious enough to try... you just have to be persistent.
What Should I Offer?
Here is a list of some fruit & vegetables that conures are known to enjoy:
- apples (typically red)
- berries (all types): blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries
- citrus (only a few times a week, due to acidity)
- figs (fresh)
- melons (all types)
- watermelon (as a treat, as it has very little nutritional value)
When you serve fruit with seeds or pits - such as cherries, peaches, apricots, apples, and watermelon - remove all seeds before offering the fruit to your bird. These seeds can be harmful or even deadly to your conure. If you're not sure whether the seeds in a certain fruit should be removed, take them out - it's better to be extra cautious than potentially risk the life of your conure. However, you don't need to peel the fruit - the skin or rind provides a convenient handle for your conure to securely hold the fruit while munching.
Don't have enough fresh fruit handy one morning? Conures also enjoy dried fruit, so don't be afraid about offering some raisins, dried papaya, or dried apricot to your bird. In fact, dried fruit makes a great alternative 'treat' - but dried fruit should never replace fresh fruit as a regular part of the daily diet.
If you're feeling very generous, or are particularly impressed with your conure's efforts during a trick training session, why not offer one of those little, single-serving size boxes of raisins? Your conure will have a great time tearing through the cardboard exterior... and will be thrilled to find the tasty surprise inside!
- brussels sprouts
- celery (only very small pieces of the stem - the long, stringy pieces may otherwise get lodged in the crop and cause your bird to choke)
- corn (raw; on the cob is fun for some birds)
- jalapeno peppers
- peppers (red, green & yellow)
- potato (cooked)
- romaine lettuce
- sprouts (bean & seed)
- string beans
- sweet potato (cooked)
Though most birds will prefer fruit over vegetables, veggies are an extremely important part of a conure's diet - and certain vegetables in particular. Some scientific data suggests that broccoli helps to control a condition referred to as 'conure bleeding syndrome', which is brought on by a Vitamin K deficiency. Other dark green and orange vegetables contain Vitamin A and calcium, both essential for your conure's health. Vitamin A helps to keep the immune system strong, as well as maintain good eyesight, feathers, and skin.
If you find yourself in a pinch one morning, and don't seem to have enough fresh vegetables on hand, you can serve frozen vegetables to your conure. Some may not be willing to eat them - the slightly mushy texture of defrosted vegetables isn't appealing to some conures - while others won't mind. To defrost them, simply use warm water or the microwave, and check to make sure there are no "hot spots" before serving them (you don't want your bird to burn his tongue!).
A less appealing option is canned food, which should only be used in emergencies, and even then sparingly. Most canned vegetables are very high in sodium, which is even worse for your bird's health than it is for humans. Canned vegetables also lose much of their nutritional value during the canning process, so only offer them when there is absolutely nothing else.
Another thing to consider is lettuce: iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value and has a high water content, so there is no point serving it to your conure. Romaine and other dark varieties of lettuce, however, are a great source of Vitamin A - but it can be cumbersome to place in a dish of veggies. Instead, try weaving some washed, wet lettuce through the cage bars, or clip them to the side with a wooden clothespin. Many conures enjoy "bathing" in wet lettuce - plus, it makes a fun 'toy' to tear apart, absorbing nutrients in the process!
Anything Else I Should Know?
Yes! In fact, fruit & vegetables have caused more than one near heart attack in conure owners before - why? Because some strongly colored vegetables - such as beets, blueberries, or even asparagus - will cause your bird's droppings to appear very dark, or even bloody! A diligent conure owner examines his bird's droppings regularly for any signs of illness - however, before panicking and calling the vet, think about what your conure has recently eaten. If the morning's breakfast contained any of these strongly-colored fruits or vegetables, there's no need to panic. The discoloration should disappear shortly after the food has been digested and passed through the system (though some bird owners have reported that beets can cause reddish/bloody-looking droppings for up to a day). Has it been awhile, and you're not sure if it's still something he ate? Call your avian vet - better to be safe than sorry.