Feeding the Finicky Parrot
25th Feb 2022
Have you noticed that your parrot's food bowls aren't empty? Are you wondering if your parrot no longer likes the regular food and think you should switch the seed diet, pellet diet, or try out different commercial seed mixes, add in different food items
Parrots sometimes refuse to eat. Because of how parrots consume food and through their obvious behavior, we can see this pretty quickly, at the first or second meal, and begin to see what might be the issue. From seeds to pellets, every bird has their own preferences, and mood changes.
It's important to note that if a bird goes a full day without eating you should consider a vet visit to rule out any other issues.
But your pet bird can be finicky, and that includes with their food. Sometimes they just get bored with it and want more variety of foods, or the reverse, don't want the variety. And they let us know by throwing the food from their food dish to the cage floor (although sometimes this is just play). That's why it's a good rule of thumb to make any changes to their diet gradually. And stick to a feeding routine.
Luckily it's easy to add in new varieties of healthy food to your bird's diet, just make sure it's healthy, fresh food, and you don't overfeed them with "snacks" or junk food. But from time to time, adding a few treats to their regular food or seed mix can make the difference.
Fruits and vegetables are always a good source of variety and proper nutrition, and when going with their favorites, it gets them back into eating. It also makes them feel noticed, that their signals were heard and you're taking action.
Make feeding snacks fun for parrots
You can use seeds and nuts to engage them in new training routines, which increases the interaction with you and keeps them entertained. It also reinforces that some of the better snacks take effort, so they don't expect a bowl full of peanuts or pistachios, which can be fattening. These nuts are healthy for them, but just like with people, if we have access to donuts all the time along with less desirable but healthier options, we'll choose the donuts more than we should! Sunflower seeds are a favorite choice for training or engaging play rewards.
Feeding on a schedule
Parrots like schedules and routines, so try to stick to regular feeding times. Don't worry, they'll likely let you know if you deviate too much, but it's also a good opportunity to mix up the food based on feeding times.
Birds, like us, sleep through the night, and awaken hungry. Morning feeding time is when we break the fast of not eating by taking in healthy foundation foods that fuel us throughout the morning and early afternoon. The same goes for birds.
If your bird food includes pellets or other dry food this is a good time to give them those. They're usually colorful on top of being nutritious, and in the morning your newly wakening parrot may be less likely to play with their food and eat it straight out. Pellets are a great way to ensure picky parrots get adequate nutrition.
It's always good to give them a little extra, too, after they ate the healthy stuff. Introducing fresh fruit or dried fruits like papaya or banana chips are a perfect sweet treat after breakfast.
Evening feeding is essential, too. This is a good time for a wide range of options, with seeds, pellets, seeds, fruits and vegetables. They need to have a balanced diet and as they get ready for sleep, you don’t want them overindulging on energy creating foods. They also want to go to sleep happy, comfy, and full, just like us, so a couple of nuts do the trick.
Switching your parrot’s food
If you want to switch your parrot's food, sprinkling in some seeds helps keep them interested and excited, and willing to eat the new offering. Adding in different types of seeds, like chia seeds or flax seeds mix easily and make the process of eating more enticing your pet, while ensuring a healthy diet.
In general, parrots are like any other animal, they go through cycles when they’re voracious eaters, or not really interested. They like to show us they are not happy with new foods, or bored with the old. It’s important to watch their behavior and to make sure there aren’t other reasons why they aren’t eating, such as illness or stress. It is more important to notice. That’s why feeding routines are important, and develop healthy habits for you and your parrot, and builds stronger bonds between you both. Of course, the focus needs to be on providing a healthy diet, meeting both their nutritional requirements and their own interests and preferences.
Of course always make sure your pet bird has plenty of clean water in their water dish, changing it at least once a day and making sure their water bowl is clean. And also always remember, fresh is better than processed, whether it's seeds or nuts, stay away from salted or roasted nuts. Even captive parrots prefer natural foods.