Jessie, a red-bellied parrot that shares his home with New York resident Terri Pakula, “loves ice cream.”
“I realized it when I offered him some on a spoon,” Pakula said. “He doesn’t get it often, and the most at one time is about half a teaspoonful. Of course, I don’t let him have chocolate flavored.” Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to birds and other pets.
New York resident Elise Negrin’s blue-and-gold macaw, Pokey, came to her with an established love for ice cream. “Shortly after he came to live with me, I was eating a vanilla cone,” Negrin said. “Pokey began to scream, and I wasn’t sure what he wanted. I offered him my cone and nearly lost my fingers as he tried to steal the whole scoop. He always screamed when he saw vanilla ice cream but never reacted that way for chocolate.”
In Texas, Nancy Merritt used ice cream as a taming and training tool. “George, my 30-plus-year-old double yellow-headed Amazon, loves ice cream and anything that resembles it,” Merritt explained.
“In order to tame George, I would sit his cage on the floor at my feet and let him out while I was doing needlework or watching TV. He would get on top of his cage, just sit there and watch me,” she said. “One evening, I got a bowl of ice cream and sat down. He made a beeline for the couch and headed straight for my bowl. I offered him a little ice cream on a spoon, and he dove right in making ‘yum-yum’ noises. I am not sure how he knew what I had, but I began to use little bits of it as a treat to help tame him.”
Linda LaFleur of New York opts for a healthier alternative for her birds. “I occasionally buy sorbets that contain all fruit with no cream and sugar added for my macaws,” she said. “They love it in the summer, and I can get it in the fruit flavors they love like coconut and mango. When the cold first touches their beaks, they shake their heads and the sorbet goes flying all over the room.”
Some birds seem to have a fondness for ice cubes, especially African greys. “Our Congo African grey, Rocky, loves ice,” said Joe Daniels of New York. “We realized it when he picked up a piece of ice that had fallen onto the table. We’ve haven’t experienced any problems as a result, but we don’t allow it to be a habit. We don’t want his toes to get frostbite from holding the ice.”
BIRD TALK reader Sandy Lamboy of Wisconsin recalled, “When I lived in Florida, I placed ice cubes in my African grey, Missy’s, water to keep it cool. For some reason, this would often encourage her to bathe in her water.
“She also likes to hold ice cubes and eat little chips off them. I have never seen any adverse reactions from this. I generally don’t give her any other frozen foods, because I’m concerned about health risks from ice cream products. An exception might be a small portion of a frozen fruit bar.”
African grey parrot Charlie “absolutely loves soft ice cream,” according to New York resident Joan Napolitano. “He also likes vanilla yogurt. He would eat the whole cup if I let him.” Loki, Napolitano’s cockatoo “wouldn’t eat ice cream if you tied him up and tried to force feed him. He looks at it like its going to take a bite out of him,” Napolitano said. “Both Charlie and Loki enjoy an occasional ice cube on hot days.”
BoBo, my African grey parrot, enjoys ice cubes as well. She’ll pick a cube out of a dish, hold it in her foot and delicately drink the melting water. I don’t give her cubes directly from the freezer when they’re stick-to-your-tongue cold. I allow them to melt until the surface is slippery and wet.
My Amazon parrot enjoys an occasional taste of vanilla ice cream.