Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday, treat your feathered friends to a festive batch of pumpkin spice bird bread. The bright orange bread is rich in Vitamin A, which The Bird Clinic identifies as one of the most common deficiencies in pet birds, thanks to a generous dose of pumpkin puree.
I like to use assorted toppings and mix-ins to add a variety of textures and colors to my re-homed green-wing macaw’s homemade treats. Whether he nibbles indiscriminately at the bird bread, picks out a single veggie chunk, or simply pulverizes the treats into a crumbly mess, he does so while making gleeful murmurs interspersed with excited yelps that echo through his food dish.
One batch makes approximately 6 cupcake-size bird treats and 18 minis. Both sizes are foot-friendly and easy to handle because the pumpkin spice bread is somewhat denser than pound cake.
Pumpkin Spice Bird Bread Recipe
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon oil, preferably organic coconut oil
- 1/2 cup fresh cooked OR canned pumpkin puree
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup all-purpose OR whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground flax seed
- 1/4 cup mix-ins, see tips below
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Use a fork to combine egg, oil, water, and pumpkin puree. Set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and flax seed in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the pumpkin puree mixture. Stir until combined. Add mix-ins and stir to disperse.
For birdie bites, use a mini muffin pan or baking sheet. Lightly coat the pan with vegetable oil. Fill the muffin cavities about 1/2 full OR drop the batter by the spoonful about an inch apart on the sheet pan. Bake until slightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.
For larger discs, use a standard muffin pan. Lightly coat the pan with oil. Fill cups about 2/3 full. Bake until slightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Store prepared pumpkin spice birdie bread in the fridge or freezer to maintain freshness. Allow chilled treats to reach room temperature before serving.
Pumpkin Spice Bird Bread Recipe Tips
The mix-ins are a great opportunity to boost your bird’s veggie intake and sneak in foods he is hesitant to try. You can forage a variety of unseasoned veggies from your Thanksgiving pantry. Diced bell peppers, cooked black beans, peas, green beans, and corn work well in this recipe.
If you prefer, use a bit of chopped apple in your mix-ins to add a touch of sweetness.
Use fresh, organic ingredients whenever possible. If using canned veggies, choose those without added salt.
You’ve probably seen this same tip on every pumpkin recipe ever written, but it is worth repeating; canned pumpkin puree is different than canned pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie mix usually includes a blend of sugar, spices, salt, and flavorings.
For added texture, sprinkle the batter with millet or sesame seeds before baking.
Should parrots eat turkey? Of course, as long it’s a Thanksgiving turkey topper made from veggies. Cut a large, flat slice from the side of a bell pepper. Use a mini turkey cookie cutter to cut through the pepper. Place the pepper on top of the batter and press gently before baking. Alternatively, you can use a paring knife to cut freehand shapes.
To create fluffier birdie bread, replace half the baking powder with baking soda.
Tips for Cooking for Birds
The basic list of no-no’s includes salt, caffeine, chocolate, avocado, dairy, apple seeds (a source of cyanide), fruit pits (stone fruit pits contain amygdalin), garlic, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, alcohol, tobacco, junk food, and sugar. BirdChannel.com cautions against feeding celery to birds because the stringy component may cause health issues such as crop impaction.
The Bird Clinic’s list of diet hazards includes acidic foods such as oranges, Granny Smith apples, raspberries, and pineapple because they change the crop’s pH and inhibit or stop the crop’s normal function.
Since metals such as aluminum are toxic to birds, it is important to avoid foil paper when preparing and storing this homemade bird treat. Why take a risk that an errant piece will stick to the pumpkin spice bread?
Use aluminum-free baking powder. It costs a little more than its traditional counterpart-maybe an extra quarter-and is widely available from brands such as Rumford and Bob’s Red Mill.
At extreme temperatures, non-stick bakeware and Teflon-coated surfaces can release toxic fumes that are lethal to birds. Birdkeepers should avoid these materials.