Diet is an important part of keeping a pet bird healthy and happy. Ensuring that your bird gets the proper nutrition will allow it to live many years.
Most people think all birds need is seed. That is untrue. In the wild, seeds are only a part of a healthy parrot’s diet. Pet birds can be fed seed, but birds that live on it exclusively become overweight. A complete diet should include protein, carbohydrates, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
To help make feeding pet birds easier, pet food companies have created pellets. These pellets are based on those created for poultry and are not a complete diet by themselves any more than seed are. The process used to make them cooks most of the nutritional value out of the grain used as a base. Vitamins are added, but they can’t replace everything that was cooked out. They are a good source of protein, but like seeds, should not be considered a complete diet.
Fresh food is the best choice for a bird. Almost anything that the owner can eat, so can a parrot. Birds can eat well-cooked chicken, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grained food. Make sure to discard all fresh food before it spoils.
Sprouted seeds are a great addition to any parrot’s diet. They are much higher in protein, vitamins, and minerals than seeds that haven’t sprouted. Simply soak the seeds overnight, drain them, spread them out, and allow them to grow. Rinse them several times a day until they sprout. They will last up to five days. Discard them if they smell foul.
Foods to Avoid
Although apples are healthy for birds, they cannot eat the seeds. When their bodies process the seeds, cyanide is released, killing them. Sweets should be avoided, as they give a lot of calories with little to no nutritional value. Salt is unhealthy for birds. Other foods to avoid include avocados, chocolate, caffeine, and garlic. Something else to avoid in a parrot’s diet is grit. If fed to them, it can lead to impaction in the digestive system.
In the wild, birds eat many different things. They decide what they want based on sight, smell, and texture. Vary the way food is presented. Give them corn on the cob, hang food from the top, or weave it through the bars of the cage, in addition to putting it in their food dish. The mental and physical stimulation will make them much happier.
Dishes should be washed daily in hot, soapy water. Fresh water should be available at all times. Discuss your bird’s specific nutritional needs with your veterinarian.