Blackberries are well-known as a superfood of the fruit world. Fruits and vegetables should make up around 30% of your parrot’s diet, so blackberries can easily fit into your bird’s dietary requirements.
Blackberries are a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are essential to your parrot’s health. You can also feed your parrot blackberry juice and jam, although the latter should be homemade. Be careful not to overfeed blackberries, though. They’re relatively high in natural sugars and can cause obesity.
There’s no harm in giving your parrot some blackberries to try. If your parrot enjoys the taste, they can be incorporated into a balanced diet to provide the nutrients and vitamins that parrots are commonly deficient in.
Can You Feed Parrots Blackberries?
Blackberries are safe for parrots to eat and are an excellent addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
However, you shouldn’t feed your parrot too much fruit of any kind. It’s relatively high in natural sugar, although lower than many other types of fruits, and too much can cause nutritional deficiencies. Pellets should make up the bulk of your parrot’s diet, followed by greens and vegetables, then small amounts of fruit as a treat.
That being said, blackberries make a tasty, nutritious treat that can be fed alongside various fruits for nutritional balance. You can also use them to:
- Train using positive reinforcement methods
- Reward the parrot for good behavior
- Strengthen your bond
Do Parrots Like Blackberries?
Blackberries aren’t naturally grown in areas that parrots live in the wild, so the taste of blackberries is completely new to most captive parrots.
Blackberries have a distinctive sharp and tangy flavor. Not all parrots enjoy the taste – some prefer sweeter fruits, like strawberries and grapes. However, many parrots like blackberries. It all comes down to the individual bird’s taste preference.
A journal by Functional Ecology describes how parrots use color to detect the antioxidant value of fruit by its color. As blackberries are dark, there’s evidence that parrots eat them because they’re rich in anthocyanins.
Parrots commonly eat with their eyes, which tells them whether something is healthy or poisonous.
Are Blackberries Good For Parrots?
Blackberries are an excellent source of nutrition for parrots. Though blackberries are small, they’re packed with a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to keep your parrot healthy.
They also regulate blood sugar levels and keep parrots feeling full for longer as the body slowly absorbs them. As well as this, these are a range of other health benefits blackberries provide, including:
Blackberries contain high levels of antioxidants that help protect against the effect of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable atoms that damage cells and cause severe illnesses, including cancer.
Antioxidants also strengthen the immune system and improve insulin levels, preventing energy spikes and slumps.
A study by Avian Research found that long-lived birds had high levels of antioxidants in their bodies. Blackberries can, therefore, help parrots live longer, healthier lives, but only when fed in moderation.
Blackberries contain high levels of fiber, which is essential for digestion and good gut health. Fiber moves slowly through the body, keeping parrots full. This means that parrots are less likely to overeat as a result.
Fiber also helps parrots pass hard, painful stools. If they’re watery or the parrot has recently suffered from diarrhea, fiber bulks them out, again, making the stools easier to pass.
There is around 31.5 mg in a standard cup of raw blackberries. Vitamin C is essential for:
- Boosting the immune system
- Lowering blood pressure
- Regulating cholesterol
- Healing wounds
- Preventing cancer and bad cells from forming
- Regulating blood sugar
- Preventing kidney diseases
Vitamin C can also reduce the effects of stress in parrots. Parrots get all the vitamin C their bodies need from a healthy diet, so incorporating healthy amounts of blackberries into their weekly fruit allowance is an excellent way to maintain good vitamin C levels.
Vitamin A is one of the most common parrot vitamin deficiencies. It’s essential for bone growth, as well as the normal secretion of secretory glands. Vitamin A also keeps the reproductive organs healthy.
Red and yellow birds, such as Amazon parrots, become paler in color when deficient in vitamin A. That’s because their plumage is derived from beta-carotene pigments provided by vitamin A.
The recommended levels of vitamin A for Psittaciformes are 8000–11 000 IU/kg each day. As described by Niles Animal Hospital, birds on all-seed diets are commonly devoid of the vitamin, so blackberries are a good way to boost the amount found in the body.
Blackberries contain antioxidant flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. They can help with:
- Stomach ulcers
- Joint pain
- Immune system weakness
- Heart disease
If you have a parrot with movement issues, start incorporating blackberries into its diet to see if things improve. A parrot’s joints are vitally important, particularly as parrots spend most of the day standing. Many parrots stand on one leg to rest the other leg.
Poor foot and leg joints could cause all sorts of issues for parrots as they rely so heavily on them.
Blackberries contain polyphenol, which helps to protect the brain. When combined with the antioxidants found in blackberries, polyphenol balances the hormones responsible for brain disease. Keeping these chemicals at stable levels reduces the risk of brain conditions.
Blackberries can also improve a parrot’s cognitive brain function, helping them move and think more efficiently. They also become more alert and responsive to environmental stimuli.
Blackberries contain chemical compounds that act as mood-enhancers. Berries have similar effects as valproic acid, which helps to stabilize the mood and regulate emotions.
Therefore, blackberries can help improve your parrot’s mood, particularly if it’s feeling stressed or under the weather. Parrots are prone to mental issues, just like mammals and other animals.
Nutritional Information of Blackberries
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup (150g) of raw blackberries contains the following nutrients:
|Nutrient or Mineral||Amount|
|Vitamin C||31.5 milligrams|
|Vitamin B-6||0.045 milligrams|
|Vitamin A||16.5 µg|
Are Blackberries Bad For Parrots?
Blackberries are safe for parrots to eat. They’re nutritious and packed with flavor that many parrots enjoy. However, there are a couple of health issues to watch out for that may cause your parrot problems. This includes:
Too much fruit isn’t always a good thing for parrots. Fruit is quite high in natural sugar. While it’s healthier than refined sugar, too much can cause weight gain and obesity. It can also cause:
- Stomach problems
- Sugar addiction
- Lack of appetite
When fed in small, treat-sized quantities, parrots experience the full nutritional benefits of blackberries. But too much increases sugar consumption, making the parrot more suspectable to avoidable health conditions, such as:
- Joint problems
- Weakened joints
- Mineral imbalances and deficiencies
Therefore, feed blackberries in moderation alongside a varied diet of other fruits, vegetables, and pellets.
One of the most significant issues with blackberries is that they’re difficult to clean thoroughly. This is because they’re rough and course. It’s also difficult to clean between the drupelets. As a result, blackberries are sometimes covered in pesticides and can be harmful to their health.
To protect your parrot from chemicals and pesticides, try to find blackberries from farms that don’t use chemicals to grow their fruit. Organic fruits are also a safe option as they’re usually free from pesticides.
Similarly, you can forage for wild blackberries that grow on blackberry bushes. These are unlikely to be affected by pesticides but are just as fresh and delicious.
Another thing to avoid is moldy, over-ripe blackberries. Mold growth is dangerous to all birds and can cause fungal infections if consumed.
If parrots fill up on too many blackberries, they’re missing out on nutrition from other foods, such as pellets, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. The parrot may also reject these foods in favor of sugary blackberries.
After a while, mineral and vitamin deficiencies can occur. Hypovitaminosis – vitamin A deficiency – is one of the most common deficiencies that parrots suffer from, significantly affecting African grey Parrots.
Similarly, parrots are at risk of vitamin overload when eating too many blackberries. This causes just as many problems as deficiencies, as the body doesn’t know what to do with the extra vitamins and minerals.
Can Parrots Eat Blackberry Jam?
Healthy homemade blackberry jam can be an easy way to feed your parrot blackberries. Blackberries make a mess and can stain your parrot’s feathers.
When made healthily, blackberry jam provides 70% of the nutrients raw blackberries contain. However, the longer the jam is stored, the more this level deteriorates. After 6 months, only 50% of the nutritional value remains.
When the jam is made, some of the blackberry’s vitamins and phytonutrients are lost due to heating, smashing, and sieving. Blackberry jam also requires high levels of jam sugar to make.
Store-bought blackberry jam is usually high in refined sugar levels, so it’s not recommended that this is a suitable replacement for raw blackberries.
Therefore, blackberry jam is okay on infrequent occasions, but to get the best out of blackberries, feed them raw.
Can Parrots Drink Blackberry Juice?
Blackberry juice can provide high levels of vitamin A. It also helps to hydrate parrots who struggle to drink water. Parrots are prone to dehydration, so adding juice to your bird’s diet encourages water consumption.
Instead of shop-bought juice containing high sugar levels, make your own blackberry juice by blitzing blueberries in a blender with water. Don’t add any sugar or flavorings that may cause your parrot harm.
By using raw blackberries, your parrot gets to enjoy the full range of health benefits that the fruit provides and has the opportunity to hydrate.
How To Prepare Blackberries For Parrots
As we’ve mentioned, thoroughly cleaning berries is essential before you give them to your parrot. Once you’ve found chemical-free blackberries, soak them in lukewarm water to remove bugs and nasty bacteria.
Adding one part of white vinegar to the water helps to draw out small bugs and insects. Soak for 20 minutes and then pat them dry with a clean towel. When feeding your bird blackberries, you can place them in a shallow dish inside the cage for your parrot to pick at.
For smaller parrots, place blackberries on skewers and allow them to put the fruit off themselves. This makes it easier for them to eat. Parrots, such as conures, hold blackberries like an apple and eat them while holding the fruit in their claws.
Blackberries are messy fruits and parrots are messy birds, so don’t be alarmed if you see red-purple stains around the cage. Wipe them off with a damp cloth.
Blackberries make an excellent addition to your parrot’s diet when provided in small quantities. Provide a range of other fruits so that your parrot gets to experience different flavors and textures.