Ringneck parrot throwing food and making a mess

Why Do Parrots Waste So Much Food?

Wastefulness is a common trait among all parrots. And whether you like it or not, this is something you cannot train them not to do. You also cannot explain to your parrot the effort you put into preparing their meals or the fact that food costs money. 

However, you can make arrangements to make cleaning up the mess less of a worry. But why are parrots so ungrateful for their food? 

Parrots drop their food mostly because of their clumsy eating habits. If a parrot purposely flings its food, it could be playing around or just does not like the food. Scientists explain this behavior in wild parrots as an ecological benefit. The food they drop can be eaten by other ground-dwelling animals, which is good for the environment. However, it still does not clearly explain why they do it.

Why Do Parrots Throw Their Food?

According to a study published in Scientific Reports, there are various behavioral as well as ecological reasons why parrots waste food. The study delved into this peculiar behavior and learned that it seems to be a common phenomenon across all species of parrots.

The team of ornithologists studied this behavior in 103 species of parrot in both wild and captivity. This study found that parrots often waste their food, like fruits and seeds which seemed to serve the environment advantageously, but whether they do it on purpose or by accident is still not clear.

Food Dispersal In The Ecosystem

There seems to be a great ecological benefit of food-wasting behavior among parrots. The researcher of the study tracked how much food was left under the trees where parrots had been dropping their food. They found that there were about 53 fruits and 42 seeds wasted on average under each tree. 

However, what’s interesting to know is that the food that parrots wasted wasn’t actually going to waste. Many different animals including birds, mammals, reptiles, and ants fed on those dropped seeds and fruits.

It was also found that several species of those animals further dispersed the food in the environment. These were usually ants and other insects. They carried fruits and seeds to different places which helped new plants grow. 

Clumsy Eaters

When a parrot drops its food, it is not necessarily throwing it away. Sometimes, they genuinely drop their food, kind of like a clumsy baby who’s just learned to use a spoon. 

Even though parrots are quite adept in using their beak and feet for eating, there are some anatomical limitations that make it hard for them to eat correctly.

Because of the design of their beaks, parrots naturally cannot take a bite without dropping some food on the floor. When a parrot bites into a fruit, some of it sticks to the outside of its beak. To get rid of the food, they often shake their head which litters the place around them with small bits.

Removing Unwanted Bits

Parrots are smart enough to know what they should and should not eat. They can pick out unneeded parts of their food like the seeds hulls and fruit seeds. They also throw out bits of food that don’t taste good to them or that are of poor quality. 

Parrots also might not always like what you serve them. Sometimes, they can be a little finicky about their food. If you serve your parrots something they don’t like they will eat their favorite bits and toss out the rest.

Playing With Food

Parrots can abuse the food in front of them if they’re not hungry. If you leave copious amounts of food for your parrot, it may find satisfaction in walking over it or flinging it around.

Boredom can be one reason for your parrot playing with its food. If your parrot feels bored constantly, it will toss around its food for stimulation. It can also be their way to get your attention.

Dislikes The Food

We serve a variety of food options to our parrots, which can make them more of a picky eater. Some people believe parrots get rid of their least favorite foods to let us know what foods they like the most.

This can give helpful insights into your parrot’s preferences, and help reduce wastage, as they’re less likely to throw the food they like.

However, that does not mean you should only serve your parrot’s favorites. Parrots can be very much like children when it comes to eating healthy. If you occasionally spoil them with junk food, chances are they will crave that. 

They also have a taste for seeds, which are quite high in fat and calories. So you should modify your parrot’s meal but also pay attention to maintaining the right balance.  

Hormonal Behavior

Another reason why parrots might intentionally throw their food is due to hormonal changes. Parrots can experience hormonal shifts, particularly during springtime.

These shifts can affect their behavior, at times drastically. They may react differently to things around them and may become more picky with their food. 

If your parrot is hormonal, it might occasionally flip its food bowl as a way of expressing its restlessness and anger.

How To Deal With Your Parrot Wasting Their Food?

Some level of food wastage is natural for parrots. As discussed, there are many reasons why parrots are wasteful of their food, and you cannot blame them. Fortunately, there are a few ways to deal with this behavior. Although you cannot keep your parrot from wasting food, you can set up their cage in a way that you will be able to minimize the mess.

Appropriately Sized Food Portions 

What most parrot owners often get wrong when feeding their birds, is the food quantities. Parrots are small creatures and do not need a lot of food on their plate at one time.

Most parrots will eat twice a day with a couple of snacks in the time between. So it does not make sense to pile up their food bowl, especially when you know they’re going to waste most of it.

Ideally, you should practice portion control for them. It not only avoids wastage of food but also keeps your parrot from overeating. 

To determine how much food you need to serve to your parrot, you need to consider their size. Food quantities will differ for small, medium, and large parrots. There is no definite amount of food that a parrot eats. There are days when your parrot might significantly eat more.

Ideally, you should determine this amount through trial and error. Observe how much you give to your parrot and how much of that food goes to waste. This will help you determine the exact food portions you need to give to your parrot. 

Install A Seed Catcher

Even with the right amount of food, there will be some waste. But don’t worry that can be taken care of with the help of a seed catcher.

A seed catcher is just used for feeding wild birds. It is like a skirt that is fitted around the bottom of a birdcage. It catches seeds or other food that might fall out. It’s attached to the cage and stops the mess from spreading on the floor. 

It simply makes it easier to clean up later. So it can make your life easier by you not having to clean after your parrot every single time they eat. It is also quite useful if you have a pest problem in your house. The food that your parrot drops can also attract, insects and other pests. A seed catcher can solve that for you as well. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

Articles: 240

Leave a Reply

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