The Diet Your Parrot Should be On

I used to think the proper diet for a parrot was mainly organic pellets such as Harrison’s or Feed Your Flock with supplements of fruits, vegetables and properly cooked meats (chicken, fish, beef). Was I ever wrong!

I started taking notice to birds healthier than mine and sought to find out what they were eating. My rose breasted cockatoo (known as a galah) began doing some toned down versions of “toe tapping”. This is what made me realize I was doing it all wrong and luckily, I did it right with my Congo African Grey.   

My entire flock is now on mainly real foods with access to an organic pellet diet as well (I use Harrison’s). I feed them the healthiest foods first – which is mainly greens like green beans, spinach, and so on. Yams, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and more are also very nutritious. My flock members are especially large fans of corn and peas as well as mashed up berries (all kinds). Grapes, apples, oranges and more are also big hits in my flock. Each member has their favorite.  

It’s important when feeding real foods to stay away from foods that are high in saturated fat, sodium and sugar. I used cream corn to wean my galah onto real corn kernels. She only needed the creamed stuff for a few days before she was eating the real good stuff. So “temporary transition foods” are okay because they are just that, temporary, and are used to get your bird onto the healthiest foods possible.  

Seeds, millet, and other fatty foods such as seeds and nuts should be given in moderation or (what I do) is use them for training purposes. Seeds to birds are like candy to kids. The hard part about feeding your pet parrot right is that the big pet store chains do not sell any organic pellet diets. So, you have to find them elsewhere (I get mine from my vet) or order online. The other hard part is preparing the fresh foods every day. I do this once a week by preparing seven separate containers full of fresh foods for my birds and storing them. They are labeled by day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and split between my flock. This makes it easy to grab a container and empty it into their cage in the morning and at night. They have other dishes (such as berry dishes) that are for everyone throughout the day.   

Each bird has their favorites… my military macaw loves pastas, rice and basically carbohydrates! Bondi the galah loves berries and constantly has a pink and purple looking beak, while Cressi the Grey loves all the healthy stuff (I lucked out!) then there’s my toucan Fiji who is all about the melons. You will figure out which foods are your bird’s favorites in no time. Making your own meal around what your bird can eat can help as well. If you’re having oatmeal in the morning, make a little extra for your bird (plain, of course) and let them enjoy it with you (make sure you let it cool off first, otherwise it has the potential to burn your bird’s crop). If you have potatoes with dinner, throw in an extra plain one for your bird and if you prepare a nice salad, give your bird his or her own without the dressing!

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

8 comments

Jacob Long

I’m looking for what to feed my new budgie, he’s been on seed for at least the two weeks my aunts pet store had him. And I don’t know much about budgie diets since he was an impulse buy. Do you have a small bird cookbook?

Jacob Long
Muneer Ahmad

Why the parrots don’t eat the full diet they only taste the fruits and throw the whole fruit.?

Muneer Ahmad
Muneer ahmad

Is moringa olefera leaves are safe for parrots. For human it is considered as a miracle tree, i want to know about its uses for parrots.

Muneer ahmad
Jeane

Ikes! I forgot to mention. She is a Blue and Gold Macaw and we have had her now for 10 years and is bonded with my male friend.

Jeane
Jeane

This is a great site and I love your writings and videos! My bird was a rescue and came with a giant pail of seed. Fortunately I went to an avian vet BEFORE I adopted her because I wanted to find out what I was getting myself into. The very first thing I did was give 90% of it to the wild birds and replaced most of her seed with a more appropriate food. She actually made the switch quite well. She no longer gets any seed. It took longer to get her to eat fruits and she doesn’t really have any vegetables she likes but I continually add one vegetable type thing to get her to try. We do eat carrots with her but she likes them more for chewing than eating, and we are ok with that. I have always had this image in my head of her eating off chunks of vegetables and from reading this article I see that I was going about it all wrong. So, tonight I will chop and blend and see what she thinks! I am cautious about giving her a higher ratio of fruits and vegetables because the vet tells me she would prefer my bird eat 75% of her diet as pellets. She also says to keep the fruits to a minimum and feed mostly vegetables. So, with all of this the bottom line is Thank you for the information and I am excited instead of distraught over getting her to eat her vegetables that she wont eat right now.

Jeane
mark

Thanks for your response. I read the link you sent. It was very informative. I have definitely been breaking the rules. Our baby is on an almost entire seed diet with some fruits and veggies. I will be stopping that immediately. I have noticed her/him (can’t tell yet) sample almost everything in the veggie bowl. I gave her some edible greens that are considered rare in the states, katuk leaves, moringa leaves and perennial peanut. These might be my saving grace. They are loaded with micro-nutrients and have ample protein and calcium. She has devoured all three: especially the katuk and perennial peanut forage. I was hoping she would develop a stronger affinity for moringa because it is the highest nutritional (potentially the most nutritious plant leaf in the world). I worry because the person we purchased her from said the seed mix was fine. His breeders have been on the seed mix for over 20 years.. Go figure.. I will be back to learn more from your site.. Thanks again.. Mark

mark
jamiesparrothelp

Hi Mark, Thank you for your kind words. I had never heard of a moustache parakeet until your comment, actually. And this is what I found of their diet; “They are also generally excellent eaters and will sample new foods that other birds may pass up. " “In the wild this species feeds on fruits, berries, flowers, nuts, seeds, nectar, and leaf buds. They are also seen as pests in some regions because they also enjoy feeding in rice fields.” Source: http://www.centralpets.com/animals/birds/parrots/prt1178.html Hope that helps! Just made sure the seeds are given as treats as they are very high in fat!

jamiesparrothelp
Mark

Thank you so much for this site. you put a lot of time into it and from what I have seen, it will be a great resource for our new bird. We just purchased a baby moustache parakeet. She/he still makes begging noises to me.. I guess she thinks I’m mommy.. or daddy.. I’m finding it hard to hold the bird without her regressing. Also there is not a lot of information on these asian parakeets available on the internet or bookstore. Do you have any recommended sites for a diet for a bird like this. It is packed with seeds. I live in cape coral florida; so tropical fruits and foods are relatively easy to access all year.

Mark

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