Before we get into the subject matter of this post, let’s take a minute to talk about seed in the parrot diet…
In the wild, every parrot species consumes seed daily. It has many health benefits, which will be discussed further down, and yet in the world of companion parrots, it is utterly vilified.
The concerns are not without merit, however. Seed is high in fat and calories and when you combine that with it being a favorite food of parrots and often chosen over healthy foods we serve, it can become a problem in the diet.
It is not toxic. It is not dangerous. But it does have to be served responsibly.
The largest portion of the diet should still be reserved for produce and pellets. The seed portion should comprise no more than 20% (on the high end) - ideally 10%. If you choose to allow your bird access to seed throughout the day (free-feed), you should remove the bowl overnight to ensure they are hungry in the morning when you serve vegetables.
Another feeding method is to limit your bird’s access to seed by serving only what your bird can eat in late morning or early afternoon. You can determine this amount by weighing the dish before and after or by measuring the amount served versus what remains in the bowl once your bird walks away from the feeding. Seed must never get in the way of the other important meals.
We recommend that only the smallest species of parrot be allowed seed in their diets for one specific reason: their size. Small parrots cages tend to be roomier, proportionately speaking, and the human environment in which they live is much more spacious and allows more room for flight and other activity. A large parrot might cross a room with a few beats of their wings, a small parrot needs to work harder and they have the means to burn off those excess calories.
This is intentionally a very basic recipe.
Blueberry’s Seed Mix:
1/2 lb millet
1/2 lb quinoa
1 cup oat groats
1 cup hemp seed
1/2 cup whole brown flax seed
1 cup chia seed
1/2 cup rape seed
1 cup rolled oats
A good seed mix should contain only seed and grains. Too often commercial mixes add ingredients that have no place in a seed mix, have no real nutritional value or are just filler (in some cases, literally twigs!) - something cheap that takes up room in the bag to drive up weight and volume and therefore price. The ingredients are typically old and devoid of nutrition. You get to control all of this by making the ingredient brand selections yourself.
The seeds and grains chosen for Blueberry’s Seed Mix are just right for budgies, lovebirds and parrotlets - nothing too big or too hard for consumption by the little guys.
The nutritional signature of most seeds are fairly similar - all have great fiber and varying amounts of calcium, vitamin E and omega 3s. Some have higher potassium, magnesium and protein than others but since your bird may prefer certain seeds it is best to combine a good variety for them to choose from. Their beneficial components of are nothing to play down.
FIBER: Maintains digestive health, helps keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels on target and helps maintain healthy body weight.
MAGNESIUM: It is impossible to overstate the value of magnesium. Aside from lowering blood pressure, regulating genes, muscle movement and the nervous system, it converts food into energy, it’s a major anti-inflammatory and plays a huge role in brain function and mental health. Seeds are a great source of magnesium.
POTASSIUM: Regulates the balance of fluids in the body, regulates muscle (including heart) contractions, protects against strokes.
VITAMIN E: Aside from being a powerful anti-oxidant, it boosts the immune system and is hugely important to brain function. For parrots, its most important function is its skin and feather health benefits.
OMEGA 3s: Hugely beneficial in preventing heart disease and protecting joints. It also promotes skin and feather health.
CALCIUM: Responsible for bone strength and muscle/heart health. Also, calcium is notably important for parrots as an egg laying species. Egg shells are made up mostly of calcium and when calcium in the blood stream is low it is drawn from the bones to form the shells.
PROTEIN: Increases bone and muscle mass, boosts metabolism, lowers blood pressure and helps the body repair from injury.