Jamie Gilardi is the Executive Director of the World Parrot Trust. He wrote an excellent article, Sprouting for Parrots, in the November 2012 issue of PsittaScene Magazine. This is a wonderful magazine about parrot conservation work published by the World Parrot Trust. More information on the Trust can be found at www.parrots.org. Below is a synopsis of the Sprouting Seeds article.
The Author recommends raw, organic beans, seeds and lentils from a health food store or co-op, purchased in bulk. Dry beans in plastic bags from the grocery store are not recommended. Avoid “treated” (i.e. roasted or otherwise cooked or processed) seeds and beans, as they are more difficult to or simply will not sprout. Look for “raw” “untreated” organic oats, rice, grains/cereal grains, peas, beans, lentils and other legume (pea) groups. Avoid seeds or beans that appear broken or in bits, as these are less likely to sprout.
Soaking and rinsing starts the germination process and encourages healthy growth. Fill an 8oz glass jar 1/4 full of seed. Each jar will hold only one type of seed. Fill the jar with water and swirl to wash. Discard the water and repeat. Rinsing them well increases the quality and longevity of the sprouts. When seeds are clean, fill the jar 3/4 full with water, and let them soak overnight. Some beans will soak up a lot of water and swell, while most seeds will not. Filling the jars 1/4 full of seeds allows them room to expand during soaking and sprouting.
The next day, begin rinsing your seeds. Pour out the water left over after their overnight soak, rinse once more, drain, and leave them on your counter. Rinse and drain them twice daily. Some seeds will sprout very quickly, in as little as 24 hours. Others may take several days. Sometimes, you will encounter a seed that does not sprout at all. If this happens, avoid that type of seed or find a different source to try next time. The Author keeps the jars at room temperature and feeds sprouts from the jars. No refrigeration to extend the life of the sprouts should be used for safety reasons.
If your bird ignores the sprouts, continue to offer them and they will eventually become interested, especially if they see you eating or “pretending” to eat them and making a big fuss about it. The Author also suggests increasing palatability for stubborn birds by adding a small amount of coconut or red palm oil to the sprouts. Sprouted sunflower seeds may be more easily accepted. Red beans can also be a favorite.
The changes that a seed undergoes from the dry “dormant” phase to the moist, living “sprouted” phase can help to add substantial quality nutrition to a bird’s diet, especially for birds who are difficult to convert to pellets, or simply those who enjoy variety. We hope this handout gives you the tools you need to try this fun, interactive and nutritious treat at home. Enjoy and good luck!
Dr. David Kersting