Nuts for your birds

Citron Cockatoo
Male Gang Gang Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Almonds are the favorite nut of many parrots and are a significant source of calcium. Almonds are a good "food toy" because parrots enjoy chipping away at the shell to reach the tasty treasure inside. Almonds have good amounts of protein, calcium, magnesium, and niacin. Almonds contain 165 calories and 6 grams of protein per ounce.



The kernel is white, oily, and rich tasting. Brazil nuts are extremely rich in the antioxidant, selenium. Brazil nuts are a good source of calcium, an excellent source of magnesium, and a particularly good source of selenium. Brazil nuts contain 184 calories and four grams of protein per ounce.


Cashews have about 45 grams of fat per 100 gram serving. They are an excellent energy food. They are very high in magnesium, having only slightly less than almonds. Cashews contain 165 calories and 4 grams of protein per ounce.

Chestnuts have the lowest fat content of all major nuts (only 4-6%). Parrots enjoy them raw and I feed them plentifully in the fall when they become available. They spoil quickly after harvest, so they should be refrigerated and used quickly. Chestnuts contain a record low 70 calories per ounce. They contain one gram of protein per ounce.



Also known as filberts, hazelnuts are mild and sweet tasting and are rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin E. They are low in sodium and sugar and like most other tree nuts, contain no cholesterol. The larger parrots can crack the shells to eat the tasty ovoid nut inside, but shelled hazelnuts can be purchased during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. They can be frozen for later use. Over 80% of the total fat in hazelnuts is monounsaturated. Hazelnuts contain 179 calories and four grams of protein per ounce.

The hickory nut has an extremely hard shell that most parrots cannot crack so they rarely are fed to birds. They are small and have a rich flavor due to their high fat content. They usually are sold unshelled and contain good amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Hickory nuts contain 187 calories and 3 grams of protein per ounce.




The fresh unprocessed nuts are delicious, but very difficult to open! A hammer or vise will crack them and it is best to wrap the nuts in a towel. Macadamia nuts contain 199 calories and two grams of protein per ounce.

Peanuts contain 167 calories and seven grams of protein per ounce.

Pecans have hard, thin, brown shells and a rich, sweet flavor relished by parrots. They should always be refrigerated or frozen if kept for longer than a couple weeks due to the risk of the high oil content becoming rancid. Pecans are low in sodium, high in protein and unsaturated fats, have no cholesterol, and are a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Researchers have found pecans to be a good source of oleic acid, a fatty acid found in abundance in olive oil and other monounsaturated fats. Although 90 percent of the calories in pecans comes from fats, almost all of the fat is unsaturated. Pecans contain 200 calories and three grams of protein per ounce.


Not actually a nut, but a seed from the cones of pine trees, birds love pine nuts! Medium and large parrots enjoy unshelled pine nuts, but great care must be taken to offer only those that have been stored properly. Each batch should be checked by cracking several of the nuts and checking for freshness.  Pine nuts contain 146 calories and six grams of protein.



Pistachios are available year-round shelled and unshelled. When buying unshelled pistachios the shells should be partially open; closed shells are an indication that the nutmeat is immature. Pistachio nuts have a delicate, subtle flavor that parrots enjoy almost as much as they enjoy picking the nutmeat out of the shell, making it a healthy form of entertainment. However, it is difficult to find unsalted pistachios outside health food stores, and if one cannot find natural, unsalted pistachios, it would be better not to feed this nut to parrots. Pistachios contain 170 calories and six grams of protein per ounce.

The two most popular varieties of walnut are the English and the Black walnut. English walnuts are more widely available and can be purchased year-round. The easily extracted kernel is about 15% protein, 65% fats, and 16% carbohydrate. The kernel has about 100mg of calcium per 100mg kernel. They also are a reasonable source of B1, and thiamin. Walnuts are a good source of calcium--100mg per 100grams--important to the health of parrots who readily eat this nut. Black walnuts are rarely fed to parrots due to the difficulty of cracking the hard shells. English walnuts contain 180 calories per ounce and black walnuts contain 170 calories per ounce.