Did you know about Pumpkin Seed?

I don’t know about you guys, but hormones are running rampant here at my house. The weather has been oddly spring-like lately, with hot weather one minute, and thunderstorms the next. My female cockatoo is acting extremely nest-y, and all the birds are molting to boot. Nothing better then a houseful of crabby, hormonal birds *she said tongue in cheek*.

As soon as these hormones start raging, I start making changes in my birds diets. Diet can be a huge proponent of hormonal behavior. Excessive feeding of mushy, cooked veggies can trick your bird into thinking “Oh she really DOES love me, look she is feeding me!” and cause them to reciprocate their affection (yuck – bird barf). Foods high in estrogen and phyto-estrogren, like soy and yams, can especially help ramp up those female hormones. However, there may be a food that you weren’t aware can affect your birds hormonal behavior – and this ingredient  is in almost every seed mix and pellet available. What is it? Wait for it….


Wait for it….



Pumpkin seeds. *dramatic gasp* Yes, it is true! Pumpkin seeds can help fuel the ‘love fire’ of your birds libido. Why, and how? Pumpkin seeds are one of the foods that naturally contain an extremely high amount of zinc. (Note that roasting the seeds can deplete some of their zinc levels). According to some quick research I did, pumpkin seeds contain about 10mg (70% of human DV) of zinc per 100g of serving, 59% of DV per cup, and 3mg (19 of DV) per cup 17-20% of recommended daily value of zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral part of any (human or avian) diet, but there is a point at which too much of  a good thing can be bad. Bird pellets are zinc fortified, and zinc appears in many other foods, at much lower levels then pumpkin seeds.

Now – what does zinc, and pumpkin seeds have to do with bird behavior? Good question.

Zinc has been shown to increase sex drive in men. Dr. Oz even touts pumpkin seeds as one of the ‘top natural libido boosters’. You know those silly little bottles and pills for sale at the gas station counter that claim to boost and enhance your sex life? Next time you are near a product, sneak a peek at the ingredients, especially the ones that claim to be natural. The top 3 ingredients are (generally) zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin E.

Now – this isn’t just something for the men, but the ladies as well. Yes, ladies, zinc can increase your sex drive as well. I’m not going to go into the details, but let’s just say, that regardless of gender, zinc helps in the bedroom. Or, in this case – the bird room. A long time ago when I was doing some research on hormones, I found out this nugget of info about zinc, pumpkin seeds, and sexual behavior. I seized on it and went on a quest to search for some pumpkin free parrot food. What did I find?

Not much. Well – to be fair, I found a little.

These bird foods do not contain pumpkin seeds: Harrisons Pellets, Zupreem Fruity Blend, TOP, Higgins InTune

These bird seed mixes do contain pumpkin seeds: TOP seed and sprout mixes, various blends of Higgins seed mixes, Sun Seed, Brown’s Seed Mixes…. and more

What I did when experiencing absolutely awful hormones in my home was eliminated any pumpkin seed from the seed mixes, and made sure the pellets I was feeding did not contain pumpkin seed. Additionally I took care not to feed any pumpkin seed in any treat mixes the birds received.

The result? Well, in my opinion, it worked on curbing some hormonal behaviors, especially hormonal aggression in my caiques. On the Caique Forum, I had some people who were also suffering from extreme birdie hormones try the same thing. They reported back that they saw a decrease in hormonal behavior in their birds, and continue to cut out pumpkin seed when that time of the year rolls around.

I’m wrapping up this post with some links to sites for your own research on zinc heavy products and how they can affect libido. Here you go:

* I am not a nutritionist, I have absolutely no training in nutrition or health food. This info was something I found one day while mindlessly doing research, and I filed it away for future testing. If you have any experience with zinc and birdie hormones, I would love for you to share your experience. Do you have any input from a nutritional point of view? I would love to hear that as well!