It’s been said that birds are scavengers and will eat what they find. It’s also been noted that due to the excessive energy it takes to fly, they consume up to four times their weight in food a day. But those are anecdotes, and refer to wild birds, but for domestic parrots, our goal is to provide them a healthy, natural diet that meets their nutritional needs, in domesticity.
Pet parrots, just like in the wild, thrive on a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, often supplemented with pellets that are specially made for them based on nutritional value. You should offer a variety of options, and limit processed choices as much as possible, including stewed or mashed foods, or offerings otherwise mixed with sugar or added fats.
Birds love fruits, but keep in mind, like us, each has their own personality and preferences, so always try different options. Dried fruits have become a mainstay of many bird food mixes, and for good reason, they offer healthy, lasting fruit in small bites that your bird can enjoy. Dried fruits are healthy for your bird, and in some cases they prefer them.
A few things to consider about dried fruits:
1. The dehydration process can increase the concentration of sugar, so offer smaller portions of dried fruits than you would offer of fresh ones. The nutritional value will be the same.
2. Many companies use sulfur as an additive in the dehydration process. This isn’t healthy for birds, so you want to be sure that any dried fruits you purchase are sulfur free.
3. Dried fruits don’t have the water content fresh fruits have, so be sure to have extra water for your pet bird.
When giving fresh fruits always be careful to remove the pits. While in most cases the birds can chew on them and crunch them up, some do contain toxins that can harm the bird if they eat too much. Some favorites of parrots include pineapple, papaya, coconut meat, and bananas, especially banana chips. Avoid Avocados.
Parrots are known to love nuts, with each one having their own preference, but almost universally they loved peanuts. The rule of thumb when offering nuts to your pet parrot is to make sure there is a variety and always offer unsalted, unroasted nuts, in shells.
Some favorites for parrots include:
- Brazil nuts
- Hazlenuts (Filberts)
- Pine Nuts
Some shells are particularly hard for smaller parrots, such as Amazons or Eclectus, and so offering unshelled nuts, such as walnuts or hazelnuts, might be preferable if you notice they’re not being touched.
It’s important to remember that just as for humans, nuts can be both nutritious and filling, so keep that in mind when mixing them in your parrots food – they are more treats than sustaining food, so don’t overdo it.
Seeds are tricky. They’re healthy, delicious, and often loved by parrots. But they also contain more fat that other options, little or no calcium, and few vitamins, so moderation is the key. For some, seeds like sunflower or pumpkin are great for training because they’re so favored!
As with nuts, make sure the seeds you select are raw, uncooked, unsalted. Organic is always the best option, and they can be shelled or unshelled.
Feeding an all seed diet can affect your birds health, making their feathers dull and dry, so if you notice this, you should consider switching up their diet by adding more vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and reducing some of the seed content.
Parrots should be offered a variety of foods to fill their need for different tastes and nutrients, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It is always best to feed raw, organic foods, and that includes dried fruits and vegetables, assuming they are dehydrated when fresh. Pay particular attention to the choice of nuts to make sure they’re appropriate for your parrot, and also what he or she likes. Choose nuts that are in their shells when available, giving your bird more exercise and foraging opportunities, which also serves care for their beaks and exercise their fine motor skills. Always select raw when possible, and not roasted or salted nuts or foods.
- What to Feed Parrots
- List of Foods not Good for Parrots
- Fruits and Vegetables in Birds' Diets
- Nuts That Are Poisonous to Birds
- Feeding Birds: A Quick Guide To Seed Types
Don't forget to visit our special category where you can find nuts, dried fruits and seeds for parrots and macaws.