Debbie Foster Russell is a volunteer for the adoption and education organization, Phoenix Landing in Arlington, Va. She serves as the Maryland adoption coordinator.

She shares her home with not only her husband Bob and son but also 12 species of birds, from a cockatiel to several large macaws, as well as three impossibly adorable dogs.

I’ve met her flock and they are all beautifully kept and handsomely fed. Her husband Bob has a hand in their care and helps out tremendously, as does her son.

Just recently, Debbie devised a nice egg breakfast for them. They are individually baked frittatas.

I think I heard someone ask what a frittata is. A frittata is somewhat like an omelet but once it is cooked in a pan over heat, it’s baked in the oven. A more fitting description would be a crustless quiche. The name of the dish stems from the Italian word, verb “friggere” which means to fry.

The frittata originated in Italy as a way of using leftovers, so it’s not considered a formal dish. And because of this traditional use of leftovers, this makes the frittata quite versatile. They can, of course, be served for breakfast, but it makes a nice lunch or dinner meal as well.

Bear in mind that they do contain eggs. Eggs are not bad for birds. However, like anything else, when feeding this dish, moderation is the key. I would limit serving this to my flock to twice a month.

The best part about making these is that you can fill them with incredibly healthy ingredients and introduce new items to your birds that they may not have tried if you just put it in their bowls.

Debbie’s version is more like a baked crustless quiche. Her first attempt was done in a muffin tin, but as she said, “next time I’m going to use cupcake liners as I still haven’t gotten the pan clean!” So I’m going to take her advice and use cupcake liners too.

And like Chop, there is no recipe. This is another concept. By that, I mean that it is a method of preparing a food for your birds that can be made in various ways with various ingredients.

The Recipe

  • Essentially all you need to do is place the cupcake papers into a muffin tin. Prepare the number of eggs you intend to use by cracking them open into a bowl. Add a small amount of water to make it easier to mix, and beat the eggs.
  • Fill the cupcake papers with the ingredients you want about halfway. Possibilities are chopped up vegetables, or you can thaw out some frozen Chop you have already prepared and use that. In the photos above, Debbie used bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower and cranberries. (If you are cramped for time, mixed frozen vegetables would work in a pinch.)
  • Pour the beaten eggs over the vegetables in the cupcake papers to cover.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the egg is cooked thoroughly and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool and serve.

The possibilities for this particular cooking method are endless. You can use this method to introduce new vegetables or vegetables that your parrot considered “icky.” And I think we all have experienced the “icky” factor from time to time with our birds.

You can enrich this dish nutritionally by using a technique I refer to as “nutritional layering.”

For example, before adding the vegetables to the cupcake papers, toss them with a bit of coconut or flax seed oil. You could also sprinkle a bit of Clay-Cal onto the vegetables or on top of the individual frittatas. Top your frittatas before baking with a bit of sesame seed or milk thistle seed to entice your birds.

These are just a few ideas that might get those tails up and eating something they might not have tried before.

As Martha has been known to say “It’s a good thing.” Give it a try!

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Patricia Sund is the creative director of Bird Talk Magazine, and has written for a variety of avicultural-themed publications, including Bird Talk, the Bird Talk Annual, Birds USA, Phoenix Landing’s Phoenix Beakin’ and Watchbird magazine for the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA). She lives in Florida with her three African grey parrots, Parker, Pepper and Nyla, stars of the popular column, “Memo to Parker & Pepper.”

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