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:

27 comments

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.
Tatum Mathilda

I want to buy digital book can u help me with the procedure?

Tatum Mathilda
Charlotte McLaughlin

Okay I’ve been doing chop now for about 3 months (I’ve tried numerous ones) and my guys still will not eat it! My B&G throws his dish to the bottom of his cage and my U2 still has the same amount in the dish when I get home from work. I have purchased your recipe books but they do not contain the chop you use. They get regular BIG Bites when I get home from work, but that’s still 5 hours of them not eating!!!! What the heck am I doing wrong????

Charlotte McLaughlin
Alex

What is the best seed mix or food mix for a Quaker parrot

Alex
Georgina Popovic

Hi. I’ve only recently started watching your channel and I’m learning so much more. But I have a budgie and she hates vegies and fruits. She only like her seed and millet. You said that these cook books can work for budgie too but I know I will have a difficult time trying to get her to eat these recipes. Do you have any advice on how to transition or get her to at least like veggies? Thank you.

Georgina Popovic
Monica Harp

I have a new, seven month old Pineapple Green Cheeked Conure. He loved the pellets immediately, upon their arrival to our house. Now, if I could just get him to eat his veggies too…

Monica Harp
Christina

I bought the cookbooks and am excited to try it but I am confused about the barley, millet, and rye. Is pearl barley okay? Or just strictly hulled barley? What about millet? Is the grain the same as the seed version? And the rye I’m having trouble finding even on line. Everything seems to be 25 lb or more. Is rye berries okay to use? So confused. Where do you guys get your supply from. I own a canary, lovebird, sun conure, and Maxi Pionus. Also could I give all this and the pellets to the canary?

Christina
Renier Smit

Hello , How do I get to the downloadable Natural Feeding Nutritional books?

Renier Smit
Christina Spence

I bought your recipe books and they are great! One question. If I make one recipe that is supposed to last for 4 months and I have only one Galah, will this make more than 4 months worth of food? Should I half the recipe ?

Christina Spence
Debbie Newell

Can I buy the books and pellets in the UK

Debbie Newell
Nelly R. Strus

I have a 13 year old Double-Yellow Headed Amazon. He’s kind of spoiled to human food, but he eats parrot food that I purchase at Pet co or Petsmart, I don’t know how good or bad those foods are. Has moods, goes from sweet to angry or mean and attacks. But right now he’s going through hormonal behaviors. Could his diet be the cause? On the cook books, which one do I buy, o do I have to get the set of 3? I want to do the best for my baby, and make sure he eats the right foods so he doesn’t get sick and live a long life.

Nelly R. Strus
Healani

I enjoy watching ur videos. Sure wish I was as gifted as u r training my 2 Feathered Babies a Pineapple Conure who is 4 yrs old & a Indian Ringneck. I dont know how old she is because a friend found her in a tree in his yard. He couldnt handle how loud she is so he gave her to me. I have not been able to even make friends with her. Shes not exactly nice! I would get ur books on recipes also but I’m on a fixed income (Social Security) so it’s just out of my budget. I will continue to watch ur videos though. I Love Rocko!!! Lol. I love all ur birds but Rocko is a crack up. I pray u have continued success in ur magic shows & all that u do for birds. I have always Loved birds & hopefully one day I will have more myself if I can. I’m 67 so not sure that will happen but I Love the 2 I have & I hope people will adopt those who need a good loving home. God Bless & thank u for sharing ur knowledge & Love for all the Beautiful Birds God created for us to enjoy🐦🦜

Healani

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