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Can Parrots Eat Corn? Vet-Approved Feeding Facts

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

Corn

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Parrots (Psittaciformes) in the wild have a natural inclination to fuel themselves with fresh vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, grasses, and other leafy vegetation. Your companion parrot’s diet will depend on their species but should consist primarily of nutritionally balanced pellets, along with many of the components of its wild counterpart’s diet. Unfortunately, not all fruits or vegetables are ideal for parrots. Where does corn fall into all of this?

Parrots can eat corn, and in fact, your pet’s wild counterparts likely do ingest corn in the wild. However, there are some things you should know about corn before giving some to your pet. Read on to learn more.

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Nutritional Benefits of Corn

Corn often gets a bad rap because it naturally contains a lot of sugar and carbohydrates. However, it has plenty of nutritional benefits that make it healthy for both you and your parrots in moderate amounts.

It contains many B vitamins and is a good source of vitamin C. Additionally, it contains minerals like iron, zinc, and copper.

close up pile of yellow corn
Image Credit: Wouter Supardi Salari, Unsplash

Vitamin Content

Corn contains vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), a nutrient important for growth. A deficiency in this vitamin is very rare but would result in retarded growth, convulsions, and hyperexcitability.

Vitamin C is necessary for forming elastic fibers and connective tissues, and it is also an excellent antioxidant. Only a handful of wild birds have a direct need for it, however. Parrots generally do not need vitamin C in their diets as it is produced from glucose in their livers. However, if a parrot has developed liver disease, they may require a dietary source of vitamin C.

Mineral Content

Iron is necessary for hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment found in red blood cells.

Zinc is a vital trace element for wound healing and enzymatic activities.

Copper is linked with iron in hemoglobin manufacturing and also plays a part in enzyme activity. It is necessary for the maintenance of the nervous system.

It’s important to keep in mind that the color of the corn you offer does matter. Plant pigments are where you’ll find phytonutrients that carry antioxidants. Certain corn varieties, such as white or yellow, will naturally contain fewer antioxidants than highly pigmented options like blue or purple.

corn cob
Image Credit: javallma, Pixabay

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How Can I Feed Corn to My Parrots?

Corn is best offered occasionally. Your parrot’s diet should consist primarily of pellets with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and greens to ensure all of their nutritional needs are being met. Feeding one food too often can cause dietary deficiencies.

It’s important to note that the specific dietary needs of your parrot will depend on their species, as well as their age, reproductive status and general health. We always advise consulting with your avian veterinarian to make sure that your pet is getting the correct balance of nutrients in their diet.

Your parrot can eat corn raw or cooked. If you choose to cook it, whether it is done in the microwave, oven, or grilled, do so without adding any salt or seasonings. Regardless of how you choose to serve it, it would be best if you washed the corn before serving it to remove any pesticides or other chemicals.

You can strip the corn off the cob and place it in your parrot’s bowl or even hang the cob in the cage, allowing your pet to peck at it at will. The latter will provide a long-lasting source of entertainment, but not all parrots enjoy eating it that way. Remove the leftovers after two hours to ensure no bacteria will begin to grow.

a bowl of sweet corn kernels on wooden table
Image Credit: Lifestyle Travel Photo, Shutterstock

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What Are the Risks of Corn?

There are two main concerns you should be aware of before you offer it to your bird. Know that corn grown and sold in the United States is subject to FDA checks and approval. If any corn is found to contain dangerous levels of toxins, it will be recalled.

Genetic Modifications

Corn is one of the most genetically modified crops in the entire world. Approximately 92% of the corn grown in the United States in 2016 was genetically modified. The effect of GMO corn on health is a highly debated topic in nutrition, and the truth is that research on the safety is still limited and conflicting.

Though there are no parrot-specific studies available, research shows that eating GMO corn can have toxic effects on the liver and kidneys in animals.

Mold and Toxins

Aflatoxins are a poisonous carcinogen produced by fungi found on various crops, including corn. The main culprits that produce these toxins are Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which can infect corn kernels both in the field and during storage. As you can imagine, aflatoxins can be harmful to both birds and humans.

corn
Image Credit: Piqsels

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Final Thoughts

Corn is an okay food to give your parrot occasionally as a special treat if they like it. It is important to keep in mind the risks of corn before choosing to offer it to your pet, however. Corn grown and sold in the United States is subject to FDA testing, so what you purchase from the store should be safe for consumption. It’s always good to be aware of the risks, however.

If you choose to offer it to your parrot, we recommend hanging the corn cob right in their cage, as it can act as both a food source and a source of entertainment.

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Featured Image Credit: Image Credit: keem1201, Pixabay

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