Dietary Advice for Dry, Inland Australian Parrots (Budgies, Cockatiels, Corellas, Galahs, Sulphur Crest Cockatoos)

Healthy, quality controlled feed supplies for birds & exotic pets

Parrots are flock animals and in the wild, young birds learn what is good to eat by following the flock. In captivity, hand-raised birds identify with humans as their ‘flock’. This is why your birds will want to eat what you are eating, whether it is healthy or not. It is your responsibility, as a bird owner, to teach your bird how to eat healthily. The majority of health problems in pet birds originate from dietary excesses (fats) and deficiencies (vitamin and minerals).


Cockatiels, Galahs, Cockatoos and Budgies originate from dry, desert or semi-desert environments. Their metabolism is geared to low fat diets. Before the arrival of Europeans, no Australian parrot had access to sunflower seed. This seed has a very high fat content and birds, like children, tend to seek out fatty foods that taste good but lack nutritional content. Birds that selectively feed on sunflower, end up with obesity related problems. Healthy liver cells are replaced with fat cells, the immune system becomes compromised and the bird is prone to secondary infections.

We recommend Breeders Choice low fat seed mixes. Diet parrot mix is a small parrot seed mix without sunflower. Diet Budgie mix is a very low fat seed mix without sunflower, safflower or canary seed.


Parrots on a seed based diet need vitamin supplementation, (pelleted diets should contain the necessary vitamins) as we can never replicate a completely balanced diet for our birds, we recommend that all pet birds on a seed diet have access to a vitamin supplementation. Vetafarm Soluvet provides an economical and palatable supplement. Used according to directions, it can be added to the bird’s drinking water or be sprinkled over the vegetables.


Pelleted diets are nutritionally balanced. Many brands are commercially available (both Australian made and foreign). Birds need to be converted to pelleted diets, under supervision. To be effective pellets need to comprise 80% of the total diet. Birds on a pelleted diet still need vegetables, green grass seed and green leafy browse for behavioural enrichment.


Sweet corn, silver beet, spinach, beans, peas, celery, sprouted seeds etc.

Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, broccoli, brussels sprouts should be served lightly steamed to break down the cellulose content and make them more digestible for the birds.


Fresh seeding grasses are an important and healthy food supplement for your bird. If none are available, plant some birdseed and allow it to mature to grass with seed heads. Tropical chick weed, milk thistle, dock weed, dandelions are also readily available and highly nutritious wild foods.


Parrots like to chew – give them something healthy to chew on. Provide green leafy branches from Australian native trees (wattle, bottle brush, melaleuca, ti tree, gum, grevillia, lilly pilly, banksia, acacia etc.) Birds love the seeds and pods from these trees as well. Cockatiels and Budgies especially love the little, nutty seed pods left after the Bottle Brush flower has died off.


Avocado and chocolate.


Never feed fatty, salty, processed human foods. Never feed dairy products – butter, cheese, milk, etc. Never feed tea, coffee, alcohol. Birds don’t have the metabolism to cope with these foods. Always be guided by what they would eat in the wild.

Information supplied by (c) Currumbin Valley Vet Services August 2010


What is the most common health problem in pet birds?

Most health problems in pet birds are caused by diet – commonly an unbalanced diet resulting in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or an unhealthy diet containing too much fat. If you are feeding your bird the wrong diet, you will end up having to visit an emergency avian vet.

What should I feed my parrot?

Parrots such as cockatiels, budgies and cockatoos have a metabolism that is geared to low fat diets. Subsequently, they should be fed a low fat seed mix. These seed mixes have little to none of seeds that are high in fat such as sunflower, safflower or canary seed. To find the correct seed mix for your parrot, visit your closest avian vet.

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1 Comment

  1. Hey I live in nz I’ve rescued two rainbow lorikeet, they were both in bad shape when I got them. They both had worms and mites/live I didn’t realise how bad they were until I got them home, and thoroughly cleaned there cage, one of them past away last night and I suspect the mites had been on them for some time I treated them 3 days ago, but the one that has survived is occasionally regurgating after a feed, I have been rotating there feed with wet mix nectar fruit/vege water and this morning gave a small amount of cold porridge. Is there any reason why this bird is regurgating out of his mouth. Thanks

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