That’s the stereotypical phrase associated with parrots, but these birds’ diets are far more complex than indulging in an occasional cracker.
On the Menu
Whether four-legged or feathered, our pets become beloved members of the family, and as owners, we want to provide them with the best care.
Unfortunately, birds, like cats and dogs, can be prone to obesity and the associated health complications. That’s why establishing a nutritionally balanced diet is critical to their well being.
What do parrots eat? In the wild, they forage for items based on their geography, including tree bark and worms. Birds in captivity rely on humans to provide their food.
Here’s a brief overview of what pet parrots like to eat, but always check with an avian veterinarian for professional advice.
Safflower, millet, canary, hemp, thistle. Not only do birds enjoy the taste of seeds, but it’s a pleasurable activity for them to open the shells to get at the edible bits.
Mix your own or purchase a premixed package of birdseed. Before serving it up, check the mix for freshness. If it smells rancid or old, don’t feed it to your pet.
Also, according to Pet University, there’s some research that sunflower seeds are tied to parrot obesity as well as behavioral concerns. The organization suggests keeping seeds to only ¼ of your bird’s diet.
These are made from ground up grains and seeds and are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Pellets come in different sizes and colors as well as recipes. Pet University recommends keeping this to ¼ of the bird’s regular menu.
Parsley, spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss Chard, bell peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, corn on the cob, broccoli
Parrots love veggies, maybe more than their human owners. Birds benefit from the low-fat content as well as vitamins, fiber, and calcium found in these foods. Be sure to remove any uneaten portions from your bird’s domicile within an hour after feeding time to prevent spoilage.
Apples, mangos, berries, peaches, tomatoes. Fruits present many of the same nutritional benefits as vegetables—avoid avocados, though, because they’re believed to be toxic to parrots. Also, remove uneaten food within the hour. Fruits and vegetables combined should account for half of the bird’s daily diet.
Lentils, beans, soybeans, eggs, chicken, turkey, fish. The BirdChannel says it’s okay to feed parrots small portions of protein, including unseasoned meats and scrambled eggs (with shells).
Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts
Nuts also are packed full of protein, but only feed your bird raw nuts, no roasting, salt or other seasonings. Because they can be high in fat, especially peanuts (no shells), reserve nuts for special treats, such as positive reinforcement in training sessions.
To keep your parrot healthy, watch portion sizes and promote physical activity. Make feeding time fun by hiding the food. Place pellets among rocks in a tray.
Stash fruit in a small cardboard box. Hang it from the top of the cage or stick it between bars. Not only will your parrot be well-fed, but it will appreciate the challenge.