Parrots are omnivorous meaning they can eat both animals and plants. In the wild they have a steady diet of fruits, vegetables, and small critters. In captivity their diet can consist of these same things but we must tweak it a bit.
The Bad Seed
Parrots shouldn’t be fed seeds. While many people feed their parrots seeds, this type of diet is not conducive to good health or a long life. Bird seed mix, even if nutritionally complete, contains many high-fat, low-nutrient varieties. Unfortunately, the parrots like these seeds the best and will pick them out one by one leaving the undesirable seeds to be uneaten.
With that said there are plenty of websites that encourage the use of seeds. Their reason is that parrots eat all kinds of fruit seeds in the wild, breaking them apart with their sharp beaks. This is one of the ways that parrots keep themselves entertained too. Just as humans enjoy different textures in their foods, parrots likewise enjoy cracking open seeds to get to the tasty meat inside. This extra activity probably burns calories too, negating the high calorie content that seeds can potentially have.
The Perfect Pellet
Instead of seed mix opt for a nutritionally complete pellet made specially for parrots. These pellets are made of evenly blended ingredients which are then packed tightly together. The parrots can’t pick and choose their favorite seeds. Fortunately, the pellets are tasty enough to keep them well-fed and healthy. More than half of their diet should be pellets which will eliminate the need for an animal protein source.
Pellets should make up about 65% of a parrot’s diet. The other portion should consist of fruits and veggies. Raw or steamed vegetables, cooked whole grains and legumes, some cereals, and fresh fruit are great options for parrots. Fresh fruit should make up a very small percentage as it is often too high in sugar for a bird.
After baby parrots have been weaned they can be given the same diet as an adult parrot. Because they are growing they should be given an extra portion of food. To determine exactly how much to give them consult a veterinarian who specializes in avian medicine.
What Not to Feed a Parrot
Even though parrots are omnivores don’t feed them meat. Other foods to stay away from include chocolate, avocado, cassava, peanuts, and dairy. High fat and high sugar foods should be kept at a minimum.
Vitamin supplements are not proven to help parrots. Some parrot experts discourage using supplements, touting them as either harmful or just simply a waste of money. Some vitamin supplements can be added to the parrot’s water. Still, since parrots don’t drink a lot of water, there might be some truth to the notion that the supplements are an unnecessary expenditure.
As mentioned before, fruit seeds and pits are sometimes put on the “Do Not Eat” list, but this is somewhat controversial. In the end a parrot’s diet must be taken on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, we are going to feed the parrot what it wants to eat!
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.