Posts Tagged ‘Parrot Chop’

I don’t know why this occurred to me, but it did. I was thinking about zip-loc bags and the integral part of they play in storing Chop. This innocent little sandwich bag has become a big part of my life. And from the email I get, it seems to have become a staple in the lives of many other people and their birds.

Chop in Snack-sized bags

As I was thinking about how to title this post, the phrase, “Zip-loc Life” kept coming  back and with it, the song, “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” from the Musical, “Annie” which shows you the direction my brain wanders every once in a while. So, seeing as we just went down Bizarre Boulevard, let’s take look in a few of the windows shall we?

First of all, I felt compelled to rewrite the first few stanzas of the song, and God forbid, if you want to sing along, here’s the link to music from the original song: Annie: The Musical

It’s the Zip-Loc Life

It’s the Zip-loc life for us!

It’s the Zip-loc life for us!

 ‘Steada Dicin’’
We unzip!

 We get kisses,

 They got no lips!

 It’s the Zip-loc life!

Got no woes to speak of, so,

It’s the Zip-loc row we know!

 Lotsa choices,

 It’s no bull!

 Comfy Bellies

 Aways full!

 It’s the Zip-loc life!

After getting that out of my system, I began thinking about some questions I’ve gotten regarding packaging Chop for the freezer.

I happen to have three Greys, so it’s easy enough to store their meals in a regular zip-loc. But I got an interesting question from a reader who has little, tiny, eensie weensie birds and only a couple of them. What is she to do when she is packaging up little tiny amounts of Chop for her mini-flock?

I ruminated about this and came up with a solution: 2×2 zip-lock storage bags:

You can find these bags at the  “Scrap Rack”

I think they would be perfect for small amounts of Chop and of course they are reusable if you wash and rinse them out, allowing them to dry thoroughly.  Of course, there are other sizes available as well, so you can not only tailor your Chop, you can modify the way you want to package it to suit your particular needs.

I guess what it comes down to is options. And the one thing you always have with Chop, are options- how to make it, what to put in it, how to package it and how to store it. If it works for you, then the more likely you are to continue making it and feeding it to your birds.

I’ve said before that Chop is a solution to the problem Liz Wilson pointed out at one time or another; that people simply have a difficult time managing their schedules to prepare fresh food for their flock twice a day, every day for decades. Chop is more of a response to a behavioral issue of humans. Yes, it’s great for the birds. But the real beauty of it lies in the fact that it sets up the environment for success. It’s difficult for most people to feed fresh food to the flock twice a day. And while making Chop is no walk in the woods, it’s easier in the day-to-day.

You may call me "Small Batch"

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Bob’s Chop! Gorgeous!

Robert is a bird person in a big way. What I mean by that is that he has big birds. Here is Bob’s bio that he wrote and sent along to me for the post:

“Robert is not exactly a newcomer to aviculture, he has been in its midst for over 30 years. Robert’s passion first took off when he saw the Dr. Dolittle’s companion, a Blue and Gold Macaw named Polynesia in the famous film starring Rex Harrison. From that point, there was no looking back. In Bob’s pre-teen years his parents bought him a cockatiel from a bird studio in the Chicago Old Town area. The store, Sedgewick Studios was owned by an older gentleman from Germany named Erlang—Erlang became a model of what Bob wanted to become. Later on, Bob saw his first Hyacinth and that species became the Macaw he wanted to have one day.

His passion took him through having budgies, cockatiels, Amazons, conures, cockatoos, and finally to his true passion—macaws. Bob currently shares his life with a Hyacinth Macaw named Miss Maggie:

a Greenwing Macaw named Blaze:

and a Blue-front Amazon named Popeye:

Typical of many bird people, Bob’s birds eat a more balanced diet than he does and striving to find a perfect diet for his flock brought him to Chop.  As we all know, getting our birds to eat a variety of foods is difficult and in his opinion, it is even more difficult for those with Hyacinths. In order to maintain these magnificent psitticines we must offer a variety that is packed with healthy nutrients and fats and to ensure that it is done efficiently. Every mouthful has to count.

After reading Patricia Sund’s blog, and discussing Chop with her, he made his first batch. Bob’s Hyacinth picked through it and Chop made her more inquisitive compared to other foods. Now, she will take other foods without them being chopped, but Bob believes Chop initiated her curiosity towards other foods.

Robert is a graphic designer by profession and education, but his true passion is parrots.”

Bob lives in the Chicago area and is very devoted to his flock. So devoted in fact, that for their sake, he did this to his kitchen making Chop:

Compared to what my kitchen looks like Après Chop, this is actually quite neat. My kitchen on the other hand, looks like the inside of a dumpster after I’m done making a batch. I never could get the hang of that “clean up as you go” concept. However, I can assure you, it’s worth it. But I digress…

Bob did some research and settled on making Chop for his crew. The results were astounding as you will see. Bob made about 20 pounds which, even with his crew of jetliner birds, will last for quite a while. Bob chose a nice array of vegetables that seemed to work well together in terms of color and nutrition balance.  He also chose to add beans right in with his Chop instead of making a separate bean mix which is just fine.

Jacqueline Johnson, the Parrot Garden Manager at Best Friends does the same thing. But you can always mix things up with an assortment of toppings to get more of a taste variety.

Bob used kale, collards and other greens, a very nutritious and important part of Chop.  He selected brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain pasta as his starches and carbs; all excellent choices.

His other vegetables included carrots, zucchini, broccoli, red and green peppers and cooked pumpkin. This batch is dead on for a nice smack of Vitamin A and calcium!

Bob also did something I used to do and is still a good alternative if you like what you see. He used 2 five pound bags of mixed frozen vegetables. He used cinnamon as a spice which works with the pumpkin addition:

Some carrots for the crowd:

All in all, Bob did a great job with his Chop and I believe that he’s gotten the hang of making it in short order. Sometimes people have an issue with getting it dry enough to freeze fresh. If it’s too moist, it has a tendency to thaw out with a mushy texture; something you don’t want. So undercook the rice, quinoa or pastas a bit so they can readily sop up some of the moisture from the vegetables.

I’m curious to find out how long Bob’s Chop is going to last. Which reminds me, I’m getting a little low myself. So soon it’ll be time to haul out my big-ass stock pot and make another batch. Stay tuned! Many thanks to Bob for allowing me to profile his Chop making efforts.

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My friend Lisa and I shot a video demonstration of how to make “Chop.” Many of my “Bleaders,” (Blog Readers)  wanted more detail on the process, so here you go! I hope you get a kick out of it and perhaps will try this way of feeding your birds. Thanks Lisa, and thanks to all of you for your interest in a great way to feed your birds that isn’t just great for your birds, but very convenient for you. Giving your birds a nutritious  meal day after day  doesn’t have to be a painstaking process. A little shopping, chopping and packaging and you are good for months. I’ve always maintained that if something is easy and convenient for you to do, then you’ll probably do it. Making “Chop” every few months is easier then standing at a cutting board twice a day and even if I had the time to do that, There is no way I could get the consistent variety of ingredients you find in “Chop” into their bowls even in a week. The waste would be tremendous and the amount of time you’d spend shopping would eat up your week. By making “Chop” every few months, it’s easier on you and far better for your birds. You’re less likely to give up and slide back to the dried food rut.

Here are some of the more unusual ingredients I used and some nutritional information. Correction: I identified a pepper in the video as a habanero pepper. It is a poblano pepper.


Amaranth contain large amounts of protein and essential amino acids, such as lysine. Amaranth grains grow quickly and their large seedheads can weigh up to 1 kilogram, containing a half-million seeds. Amaranthus species can have a 30% higher protein value than cereals, such as rice, wheat flour, oats, and rye. it’s also high in iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. It’s low in gluten and sodium. Amaranth has the highest lysine content of all the grains. Quinoa comes in a close second.


Spelt contains 15 – 21% protein; much higher than wheat. It’s also higher than wheat in complex carbohydrates, iron, potassium and the B Vitamins. Spelt is rich in protein. These proteins contain all of the eight essential amino acids needed by the human body. These amino acids are called “essential” because the body cannot manufacture them. You need to get them from food. Spelt is very high in the “bioavailability” department, meaning that the nutrients it contains are easily and quickly accessible to the body. It’s easily and rapidly broken down and used without much effort.


Red peppers have very high levels of vitamin C and yellow and green peppers have nearly as much. The red varieties are also rich in beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A.  Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, boosts the immune system, and aids in night blindness. They have high antioxidant properties.


Kale is known as a “Superfood.” It is an amazing source of an easily absorbed calcium, which is one of the many factors that may help prevent osteoporosis. It also provides fairly decent amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium.

Dandelion Greens

Dandelions are nature’s richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created, and the third richest source of Vitamin A of all foods. African Greys need high amounts of Vitamin A, so dandelion greens are right up their alley as a standard food for them. Dandelion greens are also rich in micronutrients such as copper, cobalt, zinc, boron, and molybdenum, as well as Vitamin D.

Wheat Grass Powder

I haven’t tried using this before but I’ve done research and I know it won’t hurt my birds. Wheat grass is very rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfur, zinc, and protein.  And it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, phytonutrients and carotenoids.

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This is why Christina Decided To Throw a Chop Party!

Christina Giordano of Angels of Flight decided to take my suggestion of throwing a “Chop Party.” Her birds like Chop so much, she decided to get together with her friends with birds and make a huge batch to share with them.  When sending out invitations and announcements via email and Face Book, she referred to it as “…kinda like a Mary Kay Party, only with vegetables.”  I thought this was hilarious!

Before the party she emailed me the list of ingredients that were being utilized into the chop, and it was extensive. This is what she used:



Broccoli Florets        Sweet Peas           Sweet Corn          Butternut Squash                  Yams / Sweet Potato        Collard Greens       Zucchini

Tri-Colored Pepper Mix        Jalapenos Peppers           Kale                      Mustard Greens                    Cauliflower Florets         Asparagus          Carrots                      Celery          Romaine Lettuce            Spinach                  Yellow Squash              Parsley     Cilantro     Ginger Root     Dandelion Greens       Escarole            Endive          Arugula            Bell Pepper      Chard           Bib Lettuce           Bok Choy      Watercress      Cranberries      Basil      Oregano     Dill     Banana Pepper     Radish     Broccoli Slaw      Snap Peas      Cabbage   Red Cabbage     Parsnips     Turnip Greens      Okra      Rosemary      Thyme      Nori – Japanese Seaweed     Unsweetened Coconut

Grains, Seed and Pasta

Muesli    Celery Seed     Hemp Seed     Wheat Germ     Brown Flax Seed      Red Quinoa     Wild / Brown Rice     Spelt

Whole Grain Pasta Spirals     Higgins Leafy Greens & Herbs

It’s a very well-rounded list of ingredients and seems like quite a balanced selection of items. There is enough seed to keep them interested, yet it’s loaded with “good for them” green  and orange vegetables.

When the party started, they divided up the work into stations. Christina took some video:

This is a shot of some purple cabbage being added to other chopped vegetables:

010-1 finely chopped

Once they got the vegetables chopped, they were challenged with finding a container big enough to hold it all in order to mix it. Tamaran Scarborough of Georgia purchased a small Kiddy Pool to in which to mix her Chop. Christina had never made such a huge batch before, and as we were discussing it over the phone, it hit me. I told her to simply clean and disinfect the bathtub and use that to mix it. Then load the mixed chop back into the five gallon buckets, take it to the kitchen and begin packaging it there:

This is what it looked like before Christina got her hands on it:


They did just that and it worked beautifully. And there was a never-thought-of-before bonus: As as she was mixing it, the excess moisture from the Chop filtered out and down the tub drain. Bingo! It was perfect! Here is a video of Christina mixing the Chop in the bathtub. My friend Missi took the video:

At the end of the day, they had 1800 meals for 11 birds. While this was going on, I was on the phone with them sporadically, asking how it was going. As they were working, they were posting the photos and video on Facebook so everyone could see the progress. People were posting questions and I was fielding the questions and doing a “Play-by-play” if you will, on FB while they were assembling the Chop and putting up the shots and the video. It was a ton of fun for everyone and the Chop they made was gorgeous. Here they are packing the “Chop.” Yes, I am fully aware of what it “looks” like they packing, but I assure you it is “Chop!”:

018 Chop rollPatrick and Darrin painstakingly roll the bags of chop, squeezing the air out of the bag before sealing.

I hope this helps you understand “Chop” as a method of feeding your birds. It’s intense work for a short period of time, but then you are done for as long as the chop lasts. and it is incredibly good for your birds. In the end, all Christina had to do was rinse out the tub and wash her hands:

Chop HandsAnd yes, she washed her hands before mixing it!

I’m incredibly proud of Christina, Missi, Patrick and Darrin for taking the bull by the horns and throwing the world’s first “Chop Party.”  They did a fabulous job and from what I was able to tell by phone and by the photos and videos, they had a hell of a time. Naturally, it was a lot of work, but they are off the hook on making “Chop” for a few months. And in the end, it’s always worth it. Their birds just love the stuff. And if you make enough of it, after you have it packed, you can sit back, admire your mountain of “Chop” and bask in the knowledge that not only are you saving time in your day-to-day life, you are feeding your birds an incredibly healthy component of a well-rounded and nutritious diet.

And now, a Celebration for a great time, good Parrot Food and Congratulations on the world’s first “Chop Party!! Well done!

(Sorry, but i couldn’t embed the video…but you can still click on it and watch it on You Tube!)

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