We had our last taste of "new" winter yesterday- snow! I say new because even an inch or two of snow was formerly an occasion down here, and now we have snow (not a lot, but still) at the end of March! When will we all get serious about climate change? I mean really. Anyway, despite the chill now in the air (just a bit over a week ago it was in the 70s,which seems closer to normal to me, instead of today's 45) spring is here. The daffodils are out all over the place, in all the shades of the sun, the violets are peaking from under the magnolia, the fruit trees are out in all their legendary glory of pink and white, and the trees in the woods are rushing all their energy into the leaf buds on the tips of their branches; first small barely noticeable and now just beginning to unfurl. While birds are present year round here, their spring exuberance makes their numbers seem to grow far beyond any migration. They seem to be everywhere, always busy, and the flicker reminds us hourly that this part of Virginia, in particular, is his. The air often has that unmistakable odor of the grey and brown waking up, starting to become green. The same delightful scent, by the way, that is already bring on my allergies. Ignoring that, (and learning to ignore that is an ongoing process) it is a lovely time of year!
This Ode to Spring does actually have a correlation with parrots, and a very important one at that! With warm weather comes farmers markets, and farmers markets are the best place to find local, hopefully organic or even better, unsprayed, produce. Not only can you support local farmers by buying their produce, you will be getting food that is far healthier than that which is in the store, as it is fresh. Fruits and veggies loose their nutrients rapidly after being picked, and since many foods, particularly fruits and tomatoes, are picked green to ripen on the way to the store, they will never have the important enzymes available in food picked when ripe. And besides the health reasons to get the freshest (and hopefully organic) food, I also think it is lots of fun to watch the seasons change in the food available, and to get a sampling of all the different foods so you can run home and try to find recipes to use them in. And don't worry if you aren't quite known as a fabulous chef- even simple salads are raised to new heights with fresh ( both literally and figuratively) flavors!
Your parrots will also appreciate the fresh foods. I find my parrots are picky about how "old" their food is, and a parrot that may have formerly shunned a store-bought food like, say, kale, will not be able to resist when it is fresh and crisp, just picked that morning, and hung from the side of the cage or on a skewer. Really, it can make all the difference. And if it doesn't for your parrot, well, don't blame me, please!
Another wonderful edible that makes an appearance in spring is flowers, for either your parrot or you! Obviously, make sure they are not only safe for consumption and not poisonous (trees and flowers), but also 100% free from all pesticides or any other chemical residue (this means anything picked beside a road, for instance, probably isn't a good idea.) Fresh flowers are a great foraging treat for my parrots, some, like Claudia and Frank, devour them, while some just like shredding them to little pieces, and throwing all those little pieces to the wind. I haven't quite decided whether the latter is just same-old same-old parrot behavior, or some form of parrot perfuming.
And finally, just in case anyone needs any inspiration in the food and recipe category (or even if you don't), I am going to link to my review of the always fabulous Phoenix Landing Cookbook. It really is wonderful. I think it is a great human cookbook to, but then, I have a different diet than much of the U.S. public! Even factoring that, I think anyone will find recipes for both their parrots and themselves in it, so I highly recommend it!