What Should My Parrot Be Eating? An Introduction to the Parrot Diet

If you are new to having a parrot in your life, you probably have some questions regarding the proper parrot diet for your new life companion. Something important to note is that parrots are flock animals in the wild and even when they are domesticated that behaviour remains true. The only difference there is that your domesticated parrot sees you as their flock and naturally that makes them want to eat what you eat – you have probably noticed this behaviour already.

Obviously your parrot will not be very healthy if they are eating a human diet and will certainly have major health issues as a result of excess fats and a lack of necessary vitamins and minerals. It might take a little patience to get your parrot to eat the proper bird pellets, but it is up to you to teach your parrot to eat the proper diet. You also want to keep in mind where your parrot originates from. Australian desert parrots are a bit more hearty than their cousins the Indian Ringneck and Alexandrine parrots who originate in Asia and are accustomed to a diet with more fats and fruits since they are canopy birds.

When many people new to parrots think of parrot food, they probably think that sunflower seeds are a staple – that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, your parrot will likely favour sunflower seeds and pick them out of just about any bird feed that you give them, but domesticated parrots aren’t known for their brilliant dietary decision making. The problem with sunflower seeds is their very high fat content at close to or above 50%, which makes them very attractive and palatable to your parrot. After all, it makes them feel satisfied or “full” compared to seeds that have a higher amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. So sunflower seeds are high on the list of what not to feed Indian Ringnecks or Alexandrine Parrots. Diet for any parrot should keep sunflower seeds to a minimum as sunflower seeds for birds are the equivalent of feeding your kids McDonalds – your child may love it, but what are the costs to their health?

So with all of that out of the way you may be wondering what can birds eat? Not to worry, there are a number of healthy foods that your parrot will love. It is highly recommended that your parrot’s diet is composed of pellets (formulated diet), seeds, fruits and some vitamin and mineral supplements where necessary.

Pellets should make up for around 80% of your Indian Ringneck parrot diet and the same goes for most other types of parrots. Getting your parrot to convert to a pelleted diet needs to happen under your supervision, but once they take to it – as long as they also get a fair amount of tasty seeds and fruits – your parrot will thrive. There are a number of commercially available brands that specialise in nutritionally balanced bird pellets.

Seeds are also a necessary component of the diet for parrot health. Though Asiatic parrots can have some sunflower seeds in their diet, it is best to keep them to a minimum. If you are looking for a good bird mix we recommend Breeders Choice. Their small parrot mix has just the right amount of what your parrot needs and still provides a little of their favourite decadent sunflower seeds. Asiatic parrots can also be given nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts but it is not recommended to feed the peanuts. You want to keep these nuts in nicely sealed containers in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Keep in mind that the Eclectus parrots diet is going to be slightly different then the Indian Ringneck diet as they are native to Australia and should be fed more native seeds and fruits such as figs and other native berries.

Fruits are where the fun is for your parrot. They can be offered a wide array of seasonal fruits that will both be healthy and improve your parrots overall happiness. You should keep a good amount of fresh fruits around such as grapes, apples, kiwi fruit, lychee, banana, melons, oranges, strawberries and more.

We hope this beginners guide on what to feed parrots will help you understand your little companion a little better. Knowing what parrots eat, or at least should eat, to stay healthy will make sure that your life companion lives a long and fruitful life. We will post another article diving deeper into the subject and touch on vitamins and minerals as well as grazing foods and much more soon. For more information on parrot diet and other topics such as recommended lorikeet food feel free to browse our article section. If you have any questions please contact us!

FAQs

Are the rounded dowels sold in pet stores okay for my bird?

No, bird vets recommend that your bird has a number of wild and natural branches to perch on. They have a natural instinct to chew on branches, so knobby branches with plenty of bark are the best bet for proper bird health.

What type of vet takes care of birds?

Bird vets are often referred to as avian veterinarians. It is common for an avian veterinarian to also look after other exotic pets such as reptiles, amphibians, arachnids and even insects. Pets that are considered exotic range from tortoises and pythons to guinea pigs and various species of lizards.

Do birds need vaccinations?

The short answer is yes. You should consult your local bird vet about what vaccines your avian companion may need in order to live a long and healthy life. A chicken will require different vaccinations to that of a parrot – an avian vet will know exactly which vaccinations are required. Vaccinations are important not just for the health of your feathered friend, but for any other bird they may encounter.

Do most vets see birds?

It is best to bring your bird to an avian vet, even if it requires some extended travel. Whilst many veterinarians will likely see your bird for a check up, it is best to make an appointment with a specialised bird vet to make sure your avian companion gets the best treatment and stays in the best health.

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