Diet + Nutrition

Did you know that the most common companion parrot illnesses are related to poor nutrition? Liver and kidney diseases (brought on by vitamin and mineral deficiencies) and obesity and heart disease (brought on by diets too high in fat and calories) are vastly responsible for the premature deaths of countless pet parrots. It is sad to think about it…

The good news? All that suffering is completely preventable! You just have to understand how to feed your bird.

Ordinarily, we try to mimic the life of the wild parrot in the way we do things for our companion birds – we try to use natural branches in the cages for perches, we offer wooden and natural plant materials for toys.

However, that approach does not work with their diet for a couple of reasons:

First, captive birds are fed foods that are available in grocery stores and could not be given their natural diet no matter how hard we might try to duplicate it. Many of our birds do not live in their native countries and we don’t have access to the foods their wild cousins are eating. Additionally, because birds fly from one feeding spot to another, researchers are unable to follow them and we do not have the complete picture of the wild parrot diet. In captivity, our birds eat the foods the avian sciences have deemed appropriate to keep them healthy.

Secondly, captive birds have a very different lifestyle than wild birds, who are only still when they are sleeping. Comparatively, our birds get very little exercise. This means that they must not be fed the high fat diet that wild birds thrive on. Our birds simply do not have the means of burning off the calories. A diet that is made up mostly of seed, the diet you were probably told to give to your bird when you got him, is responsible for generations of fat, unhealthy companion parrots.

The best parrot diet is made up of mostly vegetables – 60% or more. We aim to give our birds about 75-80% vegetables in their diet.

The term “fruits and vegetables” just seems to roll off the tongue, but they don’t go hand-in-hand in the parrot diet. The human-cultivated fruit we get at the market is of poor quality nutritionally. It is entirely different than the fruit that grows naturally in the wild and should be offered sparingly as a snack food.

Cooked whole grains, like brown rice can part of the daily diet but in very small portions. Grains and pasta are very high in carbs which are broken down into sugars, the excess of which are stored in our cells for use when we need energy. Too many carbs results in excess body weight.

On the internet, there are places which proudly post recipes for pet parrots that contain excessive and unhealthy amount of grains, pasta and beans. They are simply casseroles of carbs with little else to offer. Please avoid them and feed your bird in the manner we know is working for captive parrots.

To round out the diet, our parrots should be given a high quality pellet. Pellets on their own are not an adequate diet. They are only PART of the diet, but an essential part. They are there to fill in nutritional gaps making them especially important for picky eaters.

Our pellet brand has the most impressive list of ingredients of any brand available and are minimally processed to keep their nutritional quality intact.

There is a gentle balance to the parrot diet, not too little - not too much. If you feed all the foods that are parrot appropriate in moderation, the diet will be complete and your bird will be healthy. Nothing feels better than your vet telling you what a great job you are doing!

If you are feeling insecure about how to feed your bird, please check out Natural Feeding System: Cooking For Parrots, our popular cookbook set in which you will find everything you should know about parrot health and nutrition. The main diet we feature, intended for everyday use, is perfectly balanced to cover all your bird’s nutritional needs.

For more resources on this topic please check out the following:

38 comments

Tammy

My figaro picked me i didnt even want a parrot but he would not stop following me around and out side of the pet store. i had to take him back 3 times finally the lady gave him to me . i was like i only came in for fish. so i bought his cage and upgraded it he was 7 weeks old / now 23 yrs old im still in love and he still fallows me around . but im wondering i didnt see any meats or eggs in your recipes is that bad for him ? also he likes milk and yogurt i make all organic from my own cows . his fav food is Quail and hamburger pomagranit eggs and his Nut and seeds i get from store . am i doing wrong ? i want to add veggies too

Tammy
Debora Sator

Hi, This is mainly for the folks that write in about food conversion. I have done it with a 35 year old Blue Front Amazon starting out with reducing the seed diet with half of Bird tricks organic pellets and fresh green beans. Then after about a week I would add some fresh bell pepper, just a 1 inch slice or two. I kept this up until she was consistently eating some of the fresh veggies and the pellets too. It was a year before we could leave out the seed mix portion. I was frustrated, alot. She was a stubborn older bird we adopted when her owner died. She had been on a seed diet with another brand of extruded pellets for most of her life and the change was hard for her. We were able to get her on a mostly fresh veggie diet, she never quite took to leafy greens, except cabbage and Brussel Sprouts. I found a Stainless steel food skewer with a screw end for birds to skewer veggies onto and hang in her cage or on top of her play area, this really helped. I would use zucchini, broccoli, carrot, Brussel sprouts and make a raw shishkabob to hang and she would chew it to shreds, this helped her taste the veggies I was putting in her chop. A treat would be a bite of fresh peach or banana, mango or some brown rice and a piece or two of cooked pasta, like a bow tie or a penne, no sauce, although you can make a fresh tomato one. I have the Bird Tricks cook books and the recipes are really amazing. Our bird loves the Birdie burrito. Sadly we only had our adopted Amazon for six years. She had developed fibroids in her lung cavity that restricted her ability to breathe and passed away. she lived approximately 42 years. We miss her dearly. We have a new rehired BlueFront now and she is on the Seasonal feeding system from the first week we took her home, Her conversion was easy as she loves fresh veggies. Abbie is now 7 and our Avian vet is amazed by her plumage color vibrancy and her agreeable disposition. I shared our feeding system with him so he can share it with other patients and with his own Sun Conure Flock too. Thank You Debora Sator

Debora Sator
Janet Coughlin

I was looking for the Recipe that you the 4 Young girls where making but didn’t find it maybe you could email me it would be awesome if you could 😎✌🦜

Janet Coughlin
Shwetha Ashwin

I have a congo African grey parrot male. I am from India and I sincerely follow all your advice on youtube. I want to understand how to teach my parrot free flight in Bangalore and also the complete diet for that I need to understand. Please help.

Shwetha Ashwin
Julie Banks

I am new and don’t even have a bird yet. Looking to get a parakeet. In one of your videos you showed a product to added water to for their feed. I don’t see it anywhere. What happened?

Julie Banks
WARREN DE ARMAS

I have a young Indian Ringneck male. I’d like to get some food other than universal parakeet (Budgie)food. Whatcha Got for me/

WARREN DE ARMAS
Esther van Hattem

Hi! I was interested in your pellets for a bird I will be taking care of, however, I don’t live in the States. What can you recommend in terms of other brands? Thanks!

Esther van Hattem
Tracy

I purchased and downloaded the nutritional feeding system. What is Birdie Bread Mix and where do I purchase and/or find the recipe to make? I’m trying to prepare the 1-2-3 simple Birdie Bread Recipe and it calls for 1 cup of Birdie Bread Mix. Thanks.

Tracy
SYLVIA EDWARDS

DO U MAKE BATCHES OF YOUR MEAL PLAN IS FOR MY BUDGIES MYS JUST DON’T LOOK RIGHT HELP PLEASE

SYLVIA EDWARDS
Lola Andrews

Hello. (A) These are much too large for my small bird and he won’t touch them. How do I divide them up without turning them to dust he won’t eat? (Our dogs love the ones he tosses onto the floor.) (B) Should I be posting my comments to YouTube? I don’t see any responses from you to these comments on the website. © Is it possible to comment on a comment? I’d like to give Shamshad simple tips on introducing new objects, returning to cage, and most of all not starving the bird, but I don’t see a method. Thanks

Lola Andrews
Shamshad Hassam

hi got the natural feeding download. all was fine but now AG, 11 yrs old is being fussy. took her to the vet and all is fine. i got her some new perches and she was so scared of them I had to remove them. since then she is so fear-based of us and the cage and out time and all over. she won’t even step up(even though it was limited before) now is totally out of the question. before I could get her in and out (on her own, not on my hand) but now she has to be chased to go back in and even bribing her with treats is not helping. as we get closer to the cage she flies off. I have had her for 3 months. my home is the third home (as far as I know). but i feel she must have have been brought up in a very abusive home. also she used to eat the chop in the morning and harrison pallets in the evening. now she is so so fussy she will not eat the chop and sometimes eats the pallets and sometime does not eat for 2 maybe 3 days. I cannot even get her to stay still to train her. it has to come to when I am afraid to get her out of the cage since going back in is so stressful only only on her but me too!!! this is not how I had envisioned my owning an AG. please help me. what to do???? thanks

Shamshad Hassam
Lena Crosson

Just ordered the digital download so excited to try your recipes!

Lena Crosson
Nav

How long can the pellets last in the freeze and in the fridge.

Nav
Bingo

I am reading all that I can about parrots and doing reasrrch to get a bird and in like a week I am getting my lutino cockatiel and I am naming it pocki I have been waiting for half a year I am so excited

Bingo
Jess Wagner

Hello! I am preparing to bring a budgie home in the next 4 or 5 months. Can you recommend a healthy pellet I can get in Canada? (I would love to try your own pellet products but I know you can’t ship them internationally). Thank you ! :)

Jess Wagner
Dennis

Your bird diet chart says: do not feed raw peanuts. My Malaccans and African Grey like pistachios. Is it OK to give them a few as training treats? Thanks!

Dennis
Emerson Kushel

Are seeds ok to put in there diet??

Emerson Kushel
Kimberly Martinez

Hi, I made cookies that were intended for my little dogs, but they wont eat them! I want to feed little bits to my 4 parrots. They are made of: 3/4 cup coconut flour, organic 1/4 cup brown rice flour, organic 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil 1 ripe mashed banana 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon organic coconut palm sugar Made about 3 dozen little quarer sized cookies Are all the ingrediannts safe for my parrots?? Thank you!

Kimberly Martinez
Laura Tobler

I am learning so much from your videos and also watching Jinxi react while you are training to play. My Sun Conure is 26 years old and Male. Sunny only eats a few cut green grapes and a slice of red apple. NO veggies. He will eat parrot food from the store. But, I have to separate the food into 2 types. One for Sunny and the leftover for the outdoor birds. Sunny will eat large sunflower seeds and large white seeds. He also gets the other seeds that come with the food though. He will not eat the pellets probably because they are very hard even though small. He does get 1 and a half dry roasted peanuts per day. But only eats them occasionally. I have a small bowl that I put in broken peanut butter crackers. I know peanut butter is very fattening, but these crackers don’t have a lot in them, just enough for flavor. And Sunny plays with them occasionally chews them into smaller pieces. He also gets a half piece of "Health-Nut " bread. He likes to partially eat and shred this. But since it has seeds in it, I give it to him because I felt that type of bread is healthier. I see I am feeding him a high fat diet even though he totally enjoys it. In fact, he wants more fresh food twice a day. As well as a fresh toy! He ate tiny baby bird pellets as a child, but I stopped feeding them because I was told I was starving him! I guess I am "starving " him from a healthy diet now. So I will try your pellets and hope for the best. How can I start him with these? I know if he doesn’t want to eat them, he won’t and will expect his seeds and fruit in the afternoon feeding. But I imagine if I give him that, he never will start to eat the pellets KNOWING he will get his regular food later. But if he doesn’t eat the pellets, will he get too hungry later in the day and get sick? Or will he just get upset if he doesn’t get his regular food and just start to eat what is in the cage which would be the pellets.? How long can uneaten food stay in his cage? He eats around 10 am. He sits on my shoulder to get hand fed his fruit :-) Yes he is spoiled and knows how to wrap me around his little toe! PLEASE help me with transferring him from the food I mentioned to your pellet and the seasonal food that you feed your parrots. Oh, Sunn

Laura Tobler
Wanda

Hello, Thank you for making this video. I found you about 3-4 weeks ago. I watched a LOT of your videos that weekend. I have a 22 year old Timneh African Grey. I brought her home at 12 weeks old. I have been feeding her WAY too much of the seeds/nuts. I always give her grapes as well. Then I would give her various veggies/fruits but not near as much as I needed to. I decided after watching your videos that I was going to start feeding her a big variety of veggies mostly. I started doing that about 3-5 days after watching your video. She grumbled about it for a few days but has been munching down on them after that. Last night she was going to sleep in the bottom of her cage. I went talk to her and held her. Even snuggled with her she was being SO sweet and loving. I didn’t keep her out long since she was trying to sleep I didn’t want to bug her. I checked on her when I went to bed. This morning I found her dead. So I don’t think I switched soon enough……thank you for making the videos. Maybe the next person will see it in time to make a difference.

Wanda
Naeun Kwon

I plan to get a galah cockatoo next year-ish. I learned that a lot of them suffer from fatty liver disease. Should I feed him less seed(fat) than I would a macaw? Or maybe just let him/her excercise more?

Naeun Kwon
Lucy

Hi my name is Lucy!! I have a couple of questions about options for treats for my birds. I have a 5-year-old parakeet and my boyfriend has a 1 and a half-year-old parakeet, and a 4-month-old parrotlet. When looking for options for treats we both usually just give millet. But we both want to get more variety into our birds’ diets. Are treats such as nutriberries, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, and the yogurt fruit treats okay to feed our feathery babies? If not can you recommend any other treats? Thank you so much for your time!

Lucy
Margaret Bangert

We are adopting a baby Quaker Parrot. How long will a 4 lb bag of pellets last? I want to have enough on hand before baby comes home. Thank you!

Margaret Bangert
Karen Y

I have a dbl yellow head Amazon. I would love to get him on a fresh food diet. I once did that for my conure yrs ago. How much is your seasonal bird cookbook? Oh, by the way GoofyBird I’m sure would love it to. I figure he is around 25yrs old. Previous owners didnt have any more time for him and they knew I would give him a good home. We also have 2 parakeets an one cockatiel Hope to hear from you soon. God Bless you for all your good work! P.S. Goofy really likes green beans, corn & peas & carrots. Want to try an introduce greens.

Karen Y
Ruth C.

I was just reading some of the comments that people left here. However, do you answer each with their email because the absence of your answer here isn’t helpful if others have the same question (many are asking questions not just making comments). I love your videos and they are helpful. Please, though put some sort of answer in here to each question if possible.

Ruth C.

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