Can Parrots Eat Popcorn?

Every parrot owner knows just how important it is to make sure you give your bird a range of nutritious foods.  In addition to a good pelleted bird diet to make sure your parrot gets a range of nutrition, variety is important. A range of vegetables and pallets should make up the bulk of your pet’s diet, supplemented with grains like cereal and pasta. Have you ever wondered if you can give your parrot popcorn as an occasional treat along with fruit like melon and blueberries? The answer may surprise you.

The answer to the question is yes. You can give parrots popcorn which is not sweetened or salted, as an occasional treat.  You can give your bird, popped or unpopped kernels. It is a good idea to boil kernels in water to soften them if they are tough. Never give your parrot microwavable, sweetened, highly flavored or salted popcorn. Popcorn with a high fat and salt content can be detrimental to your bird’s health. You can, however, flavor the popcorn with a bit of pure coconut if you wish.

Most bird seed mixtures do indeed include a percentage of cracked corn, but you must remember to incorporate popcorn into a well-balanced diet as parrots need a lot more nutrition than popcorn alone can provide.

Can popcorn benefit parrots?

Parrots love popcorn. The kernels are good for their beaks because they try to break them apart to get to the food, but it also a good source of nutrition. This is the chief reason it can be found in most bags of feed. The very fact that chicken can actually live on nothing but corn kernels shows that popcorn, if unsalted and unsweetened, is good for parrots and other birds.

The nutritional benefits of popcorn

Popcorn is full of antioxidants which are great for both parrots and humans. It is also a good source of whole grain so contains plenty of fiber. Its low calorie when it’s air-popped and has low sugar content. This is because high-fiber foods don’t contain as much digestible carbohydrate. In addition, popcorn has plenty of iron in it, a highly beneficial mineral.

Let’s see how various nutrients can benefit parrots when it’s air-popped.


The high fiber content will help ensure your bird’s digestive system remains healthy


The calcium in popcorn is essential for the healthy formation of bones. It also helps promote good feather health, aids blood clotting and keeps their reproductive system healthy.


Iron is essential in the production of hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen around the body in the bloodstream. However, in birds, there must be a balance. Too much iron and your parrot could develop iron storage disease, too little and it could develop anemia.


The high levels of carbohydrate in plain air-popped popcorn is a great source of energy for parrots.

Can parrots eat popcorn that has been popped?

You can, in fact, give parrots popcorn that has been popped. They have no difficulty eating or digesting it in this form.

Just be sure to avoid microwavable brands as they often add butter, salt and caramel to it, none of which are good for birds.

If you plan to cook popcorn yourself the best thing to use to cook it is vegetable oil as this will make sure that the oils will not negatively affect your pet. If you give your parrot popped popcorn regularly, you’ll want to ensure that you only ever used vegetable oil to prepare it.

Don’t salt it as birds can only process tiny amounts of salt.

Is it best to give your parrot stovetop, raw or microwave popcorn?

Microwave popcorn should not be given to your parrot because flavorings, chemicals and additives are often present which can be harmful to them. Also there are often high levels of both sugar and salt which can be detrimental to your bird’s health.

Giving your bird raw kernels is fine. Your parrot will be mentally stimulated as they try to crack open the kernels.

Preparing plain stovetop popcorn is also a good idea. You could share this treat with your parrot, which will help strengthen your bond with your pet, as parrots are highly social animals. They bond over sharing food, so it will help them identify you as a member of their flock.

How can I prepare stovetop popcorn?

When preparing popcorn for your parrot, use only vegetable oil, as other oils could be higher in fat, which is not good for them. To make it, put a pan on the heat, add a little vegetable oil, and the kernels of corn, then put the lid on. Wait until you hear the kernels start to pop then begin to shake the pan.  Then all you need to do is wait until its cool enough before you are free to share it with your feathery friend.

 What flavors of popcorn can I give my parrot?

Generally, it is best to give your parrot plain, unflavored, unsalted popcorn.

However, if your parrot likes it, you can use a little coconut oil to flavor it. This will not harm your bird.

Other flavors are best avoided, as they are often produced using chemicals and additives which could be in some way harmful to your pet.

Should I give my parrot more water after I give them popcorn?

It is generally a good idea to make sure you give your parrot a little extra water after giving them a treat, particularly if popcorn is flavored with a little coconut oil. Always make sure that your bird has access to a good supply of clean, fresh water.

How to make popcorn balls for parrots

If you don’t want to just give your parrot raw kernels of popcorn, you could always whip up some popcorn balls which are sure to delight them.

If the fancy takes you, you could also add some nuts or dry cereal to this mix too for a bit of variety.

Popcorn and nuts have the added advantage of exercising your parrot’s beak as well. You can also add dried cranberries or bird seed to the mix as well.

Here’s how to make these lovely treats.

First, pop some popcorn kernels in a pan with no butter, sugar or salt but just a little vegetable oil.

Add another treat to the mix, like cranberries, blueberries, bird seed or cereal and stir it in to the popcorn using a wooden spoon.

Next, add a little honey to a saucepan and keep it on the heat until it had thinned, stirring occasionally.

Add a little unsalted peanut butter to the honey and stir, then take it off the heat.

The next step is to add the honey and peanut butter mix to the popcorn mix, making sure it is well coated. Allow the mixture to cool, then shape into balls.

Finally, you can wrap a bit of string or wool around the delicious popcorn balls and hang them up for your parrot to enjoy.

Rest assured, your feathery friend is sure to be pleased with this scrumptious treat.


In conclusion then, your parrot can eat and enjoy popcorn provided that it is not of the microwavable variety and is not flavored, salted or sweetened.

If you make sure that you give your parrot plain popcorn or popcorn kernels as part of a healthy, varied and balanced diet there is very little reason why it should be you and your pet can both enjoy together.

It’s a great way to interact and form a bond with these highly social animals in a safe way. If you are in any doubt over what to feed your parrot, seek advice from an expert.

Now you’re armed with the necessary knowledge, go and have some fun with your parrot!

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