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 deficiencies.

Seed Requirements

Most Australian parrots 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.

Vitamin and mineral supplementation

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 and mineral supplementation. Vetafarm Soluvet provides an economical and palatable supplement. Used according to directions, it can be added to the bird’s drinking water.

Fruit and vegetables

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.

Wild food

Fresh seeding grasses are an important and healthy food supplement for your bids. If none are available, plant some birdseed and allow it to mature to grass with seed heads.

Tropical chick weed, Milk Thistle

Browse fresh, green, leafy branches

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 etc.) Birds love the seeds and pods from these trees as well.

Toxic foods

Avocado and chocolate

Unhealthy foods

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.

© Peter Wilson July 2010

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

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