While not everyone loves olives, they’re a healthy and nutritious fruit. That’s why you might be wondering whether you can include olives in your parrot’s diet.
Olives aren’t suitable for parrots to eat. While they’re not dangerous, they contain lots of fat and sodium, leading to weight gain, obesity, and fatty liver disease. However, if your parrot eats 1-2 olives, it shouldn’t experience any side effects. In fact, olives are a good source of vitamin E, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants.
Can You Give Parrots Olives?
Unfortunately, as mentioned, olives aren’t good for parrots. While they’re not toxic, they’re unhealthy and can harm your parrot in the long run. Confusingly, there are many different types of olives available, but they all share the same properties that cause issues for parrots. Olives are:
- High in fat
- High in sodium
- Contribute to weight gain and obesity
- Bitter taste
If you’re looking to add more vitamins, minerals, and healthy nutrients into your parrot’s diet, make sure 10-15% of your parrot’s diet is made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as:
This will give it the nutrients it needs without the risk of health issues developing.
Do Parrots Like Olives?
Whether parrots enjoy olives or not depends on the individual bird and how hungry it is. For wild birds, olives are an essential source of sustenance. Outside of the forest’s rainy season, there’s less food available. As a result, some parrots eat olives purely for nutritional reasons, while others are partial to the taste.
Similarly, with captive parrots, some are happy to eat the olives you share with it, while others turn their beaks up because they don’t like the taste. Because olives aren’t the healthiest food for parrots, you shouldn’t allow your bird to grow accustomed to the taste.
Do Parrots Eat Olives in The Wild?
Olives grow on trees and are part of the same stone family as mangoes and cherries. They’re cultivated worldwide, which includes areas that parrots are native to, such as South Africa, Chile, Peru, Australia, and New Zealand.
While some parrot species, such as Quakers and parakeets, have ample opportunity to eat olives, raw green olives are unpleasant. That’s because they contain a compound called oleuropein, which gives them their bitter taste.
The traditional brining process used to make raw olives edible breaks this compound down, giving them a more pleasant flavor. As a result, parrots tend to eat olives whole to bypass the bitter flavor. By swallowing olives whole, they’re unlikely to detect much of the taste but still get the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy in the wild.
However, black olives are already ripe and taste far less bitter. Parrots are more likely to feast on those in the wild.
Olives Nutritional Information
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 g of olives contain the following nutrients:
|Nutritional Content||Amount Per Serving|
|Vitamin A||20 µg|
|Vitamin E||3.81 mg|
|Vitamin K||1.4 µg|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||510 µg|
Are Olives Bad for Parrots?
As we’ve established, olives aren’t suitable for birds. While they do have health benefits, the potential issues are too significant and can cause your parrot physical harm. Instead, opt for low-fat fruits and vegetables alongside pellets to provide the nutrients your parrot needs. Olives are problematic because of the following reasons:
Olives are high in salt because they’re cured or processed using brine or saltwater. As a result, there’s approximately 0.5 g salt for every five olives your parrot eats. Sodium can have serious effects on a parrot’s body and causes:
Polydipsia is where a parrot develops an abnormal thirst. It’s a common symptom in parrots that eat olives. After doing so, sodium builds up in the blood, causing the body to thin it to dilute the salt. As a result, parrots drink more water to flush the sodium out of their system.
Polyuria goes hand in hand with polydipsia. As explained, too much sodium causes the parrot to drink more water in order to remove the salt. The body then excretes it out through urine.
While it’s not a problem for sodium to be in your parrot’s urine, its urine production will eventually reduce. This will affect the kidneys, preventing them from being able to expel the excess sodium.
Hypernatremia is a high concentration of sodium in the blood. It affects the entire body and damages the muscles with symptoms like tremors. Other problems include:
- Balance loss
As described by the Journal of Nutritional Science, green olives contain about 15% fat, while black olives have 30%. As olives mature and the water content decreases, the fat content increases. This is why black olives contain more fat.
In humans, this is healthy. However, parrots are much smaller than we are, and too many olives are likely to significantly increase their fat levels – to the point where they start to put on too much weight. Weight gain quickly leads to obesity, especially if you don’t monitor your parrot’s olive intake. Obesity causes:
- Joint problems
- Bone damage
- Reduced liver and kidney function
- High cholesterol
- Fatty lipomas
- Reproductive failure
- Blocked arteries
Weight gain is a significant problem for birds, which is why parrots shouldn’t eat fatty olives.
Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is linked to weight gain and obesity. If you regularly feed your parrot olives, it’s at risk of developing the condition. The leading cause is a high-fat diet, which causes harmful fat to build-up around the liver, preventing it from functioning properly. It also compromises the detoxification process, causing the bird to feel extremely unwell. Symptoms of fatty liver disease include:
- An overgrown beak
- Black spots around the beak and toenails
- An enlarged liver
- Poor feather quality
- Appetite loss
- Labored breathing
Fatty liver disease is a serious condition, especially when the bird enters the advanced stages.
Are Olives Good for Parrots?
Even though olives aren’t the best food for parrots to eat, accidentally giving one to your bird isn’t going to kill it. In fact, it might even benefit from the olive. That’s because they contain:
Olives contain a surprisingly high amount of calcium. Because parrots can’t digest lactose, they can’t get calcium through dairy products, so they must eat a wide range of calcium-rich fruits and vegetables instead.
Calcium prevents seizures and muscle contractions. It can also help prevent heart disorders, repetitive behaviors, and stress. According to Vin, African grey parrots are prone to calcium deficiencies, so they need more calcium than most.
Olives are a good source of fiber, which keeps the digestive system running efficiently by forcing the gut to work harder. This encourages healthy stools and good digestion while keeping parrots feeling fuller for longer.
Olives are high in vitamin E and contain more of it than any other vitamin. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so parrots must eat foods that have it every day. It’s an important vitamin because it interacts with other nutrients, such as selenium, antioxidants, vitamin C, and some amino acids, to keep the parrot healthy. It also:
- Protects cell membranes
- Prevents vitamin A and fats from being destroyed by free radicals
- Maintains the immune system’s defenses
- Improves the parrot’s response to stress
- Improves fertility
Because olives aren’t recommended, parrots can get vitamin E through:
- Whole grains
Similarly, vitamin E deficiencies are rarely seen in parts on an all-seed diet.
Olives are an excellent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. There are two main types of antioxidants in olives: hydroxytyrosol and oleanolic acid. These have been shown to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of arthritis and other painful conditions.
Oleanolic acid promotes good liver health and regulates fat levels in the parrot’s blood. While we wouldn’t encourage feeding olives to parrots as a regular part of its diet, the occasional one could benefit it in the long run, particularly if your bird suffers from poor health.
Do Parrots Eat Black Olives?
As mentioned, black olives have higher concentrations of fat than green olives. This makes them even more problematic than the green kind, and the fat and sodium outweigh any nutritional benefits they have.
Black olives are also oilier (which explains the additional fat content), causing your parrot to put on weight more quickly than if it were to eat green olives. However, when it comes to black olives vs. green, there are few nutritional differences between them, aside from the additional fat content.
Overall, despite their nutritional value, black olives aren’t healthy for parrots and do more harm than good. As a result, keep them out of your bird’s diet.
Can Parrots Eat Green Olives?
While black olives contain more fat, green olives are far saltier. They also have a more bitter taste, which many parrots won’t enjoy. For comparison purposes, unripe olives are green, while black olives are fully ripe. This means green olives aren’t a good addition to your bird’s diet.
Can You Give Parrots Olive Oil?
While whole olives aren’t suitable for parrots, olive oil is safe for them to eat. It’s also as healthy for birds as it is for humans. That’s because there’s little sodium in olive oil, and the beneficial polyphenols that protect against disease are preserved during the grinding process. Olive oil is also an excellent source of:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
However, olive oil contains far more fat than whole olives. It also contains little fiber, so parrots should only have a small amount every now and then.
Can Parrots Eat Oily Food?
Oily foods tend to be junk food, which parrots shouldn’t have. Not only are oily foods packed with empty calories and saturated fat, but it teaches parrots bad habits and encourages them to reject their healthy pellets in favor of something tastier.
Are There Any Healthy Alternatives To Olives?
If you’re looking to improve your bird’s nutritional intake with some healthy parrot-safe foods, there are a few dried food options that you can add to its diet. While parrots shouldn’t have them too often, the following foods offer many vitamins and minerals your parrot needs:
- Dried tomatoes. These have the same nutrients as fresh tomatoes without the acidity
- Capers, which are high in vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants
- Artichokes, a rich source of antioxidants, protein, carbs, and vitamins C and K.
If your parrot eats a couple of olives, it’s unlikely that anything bad will happen. In fact, the occasional olive is healthy. The problem arises when you regularly feed your parrot olives. If your parrot develops worrying systems after eating olives, take it to your avian vet to get checked over.