How To Discover Your Parrots Favourite Treats For Training

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

Every parrot will have a few favourite treats that they enjoy working for.

Their preferred treats are a primary motivator for them to engage in training activities.

Without proper motivation, your bird will likely not want to engage in whatever you’re trying to teach them.

If you don’t have what they want, they won’t do what you want.

So, what treats do your birds want for training?

This article aims to help you discover your parrot’s favourite treats so you can encourage them to engage in foraging activities and training sessions.

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Typical Favourite Treats For Different Birds

Each species of bird will usually have different treat preferences.

For example, a budgie might enjoy training for millet spray but a cockatoo might prefer a walnut as their treat.

(Image Credit: Unsplash)

Below is a list of commonly preferred training treats for different parrot species.


Common treats for training a cockatiel:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Millet spray
  • Regular seed mix
  • Spinach


Common training treats for budgies:

  • Millet spray
  • Seed mix
  • Leafy greens

African Grey Parrots

Common treats for training African greys:

  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Almond pieces
  • Berries
  • Fruit


Common favourite treats of large macaws:

  • Walnuts
  • Whole almonds
  • Large pellets
  • Pine nuts

Healthy Parrot Treats For Training

  • Carrot slices
  • Spinach
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Small berries
  • Pellets

Of course, these are all just typical favourites for these birds.

Each individual bird will have their own unique treat preferences.

Just because one budgie likes fruit, doesn’t mean another one will.

It is up to you to discover your bird’s favourite treats for training.

So how do you do that?

Discovering Your Birds Favourite Treats

To find out what treats motivate your bird, you need to present a range of different foods to them and see which ones they get excited about.

My cockatiel gets very excited when he notices sunflower seeds in my hand.

As soon as he spots it, he’ll lean so far to get them that he almost falls off the perch, he doesn’t do this with any other foods.

That’s how I learned sunflower seeds are his favourite treats.

(Low-quality image of Arthur eating a sunflower seed)

However, bringing out a bunch of treats and showing them to your birds one by one is impractical.

It’s probably the slowest way to discover their favourite treat.

Here’s a better way to do this:

Lay out all of the different treats you have in front of your bird and see which one they eat first.

You could set out a platter of treats or simply put them all in a bowl.

Parrots will eat the food in order of personal preference.

The treats that they eat first will be their favourite and likely motivation for them to train.

The second and third treat they go for should also be noted and used for training.

Birds can definitely have more than 1 favourite treat.

To ensure that the treat remains valuable to your bird, it should only be used for training rather than regularly added to the food bowl.

This way, your parrot will be more motivated when training for their favourite treats.

Tasty foods that are rarely offered are valued more.

Discovering Healthy Treats For Training

Although it’s rare, some birds actually prefer healthy snacks for training instead of high-fat seeds like millet or sunflower seeds.

If you have one of these birds, you’re lucky.

Not only will you be mentally stimulating your bird through training, but you’ll also be providing good nutrition through healthy treats.

bird treats for training
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

To discover healthy training treats for your parrot, present a large mix of different fruits and vegetables in a bowl or on a platter.

Again, whatever they eat first is their preferred food out of the mix.

If they always go for the carrot, you should try using it as a treat to see if your bird will work for it.

It’s good to find at least one healthy food that they’re motivated to work for so you can train them with it.

Too many fatty treats aren’t good for bird health.

Portioning Training Treats

Before using them for training, you should portion the treats into bite-sized pieces, especially with high-fat treats such as sunflower seeds, millet, and walnuts.

This will help prevent your bird from consuming too much fat from just one treat.

Most nuts and seeds can be divided in half or into multiple bite-sized pieces.

For example, sunflower seeds can be divided in half while almonds can be chopped up into about 10 different pieces.

parrot treats for training

The smaller the treat, the better.

Making the treat smaller also boosts training productivity as the bird is taking less time to consume the treat.

What To Do When Their Treat Preferences Change

Your parrot may not favour the same treat forever.

They may become bored of it, which is when you’ll need to rediscover their favourite treat in order to keep up their motivation to train.

There are many reasons why a bird would get bored of their training treat.

One of the more common reasons is because they’re being fed the treat too often.

Overusing the treat is a good way to make them invaluable, especially if they’re offered outside of training sessions.

Why would the bird work for a treat if they know they’ll get it during mealtime?

parrot treats for training
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

You can tell they’ve changed their preference when they’re no longer willing to work for their previously preferred treats.

When you start noticing a lack of motivation, it’s probably time to rediscover their treat.

Again, offer a mix of different treats and watch for which one the bird chooses to eat first.

Once you know their new favourite treat, you’ll be able to continue teaching your bird:

  • Any other tricks you’re trying to teach

The above links lead to beginner-friendly guides on teaching the highlighted tricks.

Good luck training your bird!


Categories: Training


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