While not everyone likes eating olives, they’re a healthy and nutritious fruit for humans. That’s why you might be wondering whether you can include olives in your parrot’s diet.
Parrots shouldn’t be fed olives regularly. While they’re not dangerous or toxic, they’re high in fat and sodium chloride, leading to weight gain and high blood pressure. If your parrot eats 1-2 olives occasionally, it shouldn’t experience any adverse effects. Olives are a good source of vitamin E, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants.
Do Parrots Eat Olives in The Wild?
Olives are part of the same stone family as mangoes and cherries. They’re cultivated worldwide, including areas that parrots are native to, including 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-tasting. That’s because they contain a bitter-tasting compound called oleuropein.
The traditional brining process used to make raw olives edible breaks this compound down, giving them a more pleasant flavor. Consequently, parrots tend to eat whole olives to bypass the bitter flavor.
Black olives are ripe and taste far less bitter, so they’re more palatable.
Are Olives Bad for Parrots?
Olives are unhealthy for parrots for the following reasons:
Olives are high in sodium (salt) because they’re cured in brine or saltwater. As a result, there’s about 0.5 g salt in every 5 olives your parrot eats.
Excessive sodium consumption can adversely affect a parrot’s body in these ways:
Polydipsia And Polyuria
Polydipsia is where a parrot develops an abnormal level of thirst. Sodium builds up in the blood, causing the parrot to drink more water to dilute the sodium and excrete it from its system.
Polyuria goes hand in hand with polydipsia. As explained, too much sodium causes the parrot to drink more water to remove the sodium via its urine. This increases the liquid component of their droppings.
Hypernatremia is a high concentration of sodium in the bloodstream. It negatively impacts the entire body and harms the muscles. Symptoms include:
- Balance loss
As described by the Journal of Nutritional Science, green olives contain 15% fat, while black olives contain 30% fat. As olives mature, the water content decreases and the fat content increases. That’s why black olives contain more fat. It’s mostly monounsaturated fat, but there is some saturated fat.
Too many olives will increase a parrot’s body fat. Weight gain can quickly lead 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, so captive parrots shouldn’t eat too many olives.
Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is inextricably linked to weight gain and obesity. The leading cause is a high-fat diet, which causes fat to accumulate around the liver, compromising the detoxification process. The symptoms of fatty liver disease include:
- Overgrown beak
- Black spots around the beak and toenails
- Enlarged liver
- Poor feather quality
- Appetite loss
- Labored breathing
Are Olives Good for Parrots?
Even though olives aren’t the healthiest food for parrots, they do have some benefits:
Olives are high in calcium. Because parrots can’t digest lactose efficiently, they can’t get calcium through dairy products, so they must eat a wide range of calcium-rich foods instead.
Calcium prevents seizures and muscle contractions. It can also prevent heart disorders, repetitive behaviors, and stress. According to Vin, African grey parrots are prone to calcium deficiencies, so they need more calcium than other birds.
Olives are a good source of fiber, which keeps the digestive system moving efficiently by forcing the gut to work harder. This encourages healthy stools and digestion while keeping parrots feeling fuller for longer.
Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so it must be consumed daily. It interacts with other nutrients, such as selenium, antioxidants, vitamin C, and some amino acids. Vitamin E 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
- Enhances fertility
Olives are a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
There are two main types of antioxidants found in olives: hydroxytyrosol and oleanolic acid. These have been shown to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of arthritis and other joint conditions.
Oleanolic acid promotes good liver health and regulates fat levels in the parrot’s blood.
Black Olives Vs. Green Olives
For comparison purposes, unripe olives are green, while black olives are fully ripe.
As discussed, black olives have a higher concentration of fat than green olives. However, there are very few nutritional differences between black and green olives.
While black olives contain more fat, green olives are far saltier. They also have a more bitter taste, which many parrots will dislike.
Can You Give Parrots Olive Oil?
There’s no added sodium in olive oil, and the beneficial polyphenols that protect against disease are preserved during the grinding process. Olive oil is also a rich source of:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
However, olive oil contains far more fat and has less fiber than whole olives. If consumed in moderation, a parrot shouldn’t experience any adverse health effects.
Alternatives To Olives
If you’re looking to improve your parrot’s nutritional intake, some of the options include:
- Dried tomatoes. These have the same nutrients as fresh tomatoes without the acidity.
- Capers. These are high in vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants.
If your parrot eats a couple of olives a week, it’s unlikely to experience any negative consequences. In fact, the occasional olive contains some vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Problems, such as weight gain and high blood pressure (hypertension), are more likely to arise when you regularly feed your parrot olives.