Alex’s Favorite Snack

Edamame.

Alex the Bird absolutely loves edamame — soy bean pods. I buy them frozen at the local Safeway Supermarket and keep them in the freezer. Every few days, I put a handful into a bowl, add a splash of water, cover the bowl, and put it in the microwave for 5 minutes on high. Ten minutes later (cooking time plus sitting time), they’re done. I let them cool on the counter top and then drain all the water and stick the bowl in the fridge.

Alex Eats EdamameWhen Alex is good — which is pretty often, I’m glad to say — I give him a few edamame pods as a treat. I usually give it to him when he’s standing on the divider between our two kitchen sinks (see photo) or in his cage — I really hate cleaning the shells up off the floor. He holds a pod in one foot while he uses his beak to coax out one of the beans. He peels the skin off the bean, mushes the bean a little with his mouth, and swallows it. Sometimes I think he swallows the bean whole. He can eat the two or three beans in a pod very quickly — faster than many people I know. And then he drops the empty shell and looks at me, waiting for another one.

Sometimes I take the edamame beans and stuff them with shredded paper into one of Alex’s cage-like puzzle toys. Although he used to pull out all the paper to find and eat the beans, he’s now learned how to get just the beans out, leaving most of the paper behind. I challenge him by stuffing as much paper as I can around the beans and he still amazes me by retrieving just the beans. Obviously, I need practice.

I think that if I put 100 beans in front of him, he’d eat them all. He really loves them. But then he’d get sick. And a sick parrot is not something I ever want to deal with.

African Grey, parrot, edamame

What do you think?