Why a Varied Diet is Best For Your Parrot

Your best chance at a healthy and successful diet for your parrot is in the variety of foods you put in her bowl. By rotating the different foods available in the different food groups such as vegetables, fruits and grains, you increase the chances of hitting upon just the right combination, at the right time, for your individual bird.

In the wild, some birds will dine on the same food source for weeks until it is used up, or gone out of season. They then move on to another food. In our homes, birds don’t have the luxury of choice. They get what we serve, and may not always be what they need at that time.

Every species has different requirements for their diet. A macaw needs a diet that is lower in protein and higher in fat than a cockatoo who requires the opposite. Amazons need abundant vitamin A, African greys need calcium, and so on. Even this is a generalization. Within the macaw family, for instance, the hyacinth needs an even higher fat percentage than the average blue and gold. To further complicate things, each individual bird has nutritional needs unique only to them.

This creates a lot of challenges for parrot owners. Since we aren’t able to determine the exact set of needs in a particular bird, and since you will never hear your bird say “Polly want a vitamin D3 supplement”, there’s a lot of guess work involved. The best way to cover all the bases is to offer a bit of everything. Your bird knows what she needs. When she goes through a picky phase, she may be telling you that she needs a change in her diet.

Try stepping outside your comfort zone by trying veggies that you are unfamiliar with. I had no idea what bok choy or kohlrabi was before I had parrots. Throw in the left over parsley. Serve whole carrots and beets with the tops attached. Give a piece of whole grain toast for breakfast, or with peanut butter later in the day for a snack. Has your bird ever tried a parsnip? Mine love them. Try to change the menu as often as possible and include as many foods from as many groups as you can.Your bird will have a healthier diet and be more willing to try new foods in the future.

Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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