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An Optimal Diet: What To Feed A Parrot

A balanced diet can extend a parrot's life and prevent health problems. Keep reading to learn how to create a balanced diet for your parrot.

Parrots Love Popcorn: Image by Tambako the Jaguar, FlickrParrots Love Popcorn: Image by Tambako the Jaguar, Flickr 

What To Feed Your Parrot

When purchasing food for a parrot, it's important to realize that even among birds who are related to each other, dietary needs can differ. This article is meant to offer a basic guideline to create a balanced diet. Check with a vet for more specifics on what to feed your parrot's breed.

Seeds Are Not Enough

Even for birds that eat a seed-based diet, seeds aren't enough to fill a bird's complete nutritional needs. Most of the time, the seeds we offer our parrots aren't as nutritionally complete as the seeds found in their natural environment. Pet parrots use less energy foraging for food than they would in the wild, meaning they need to consume fewer calories. However, this could result in nutritional deficiency if not properly supplemented.

Birds tend to pick from their favorite seeds instead of eating everything they need. Though birds enjoy eating seeds, they're simply not enough. Formulated diets supplemented with healthy "off the table" foods like fruits and vegetables will provide a much more complete diet.

The Best Diet For Most Species

For the majority of parrots, an ideal diet consists of 65-80% formulated food and 15-30% vegetables. Fruits and seeds should complete the rest, for about 5% of the diet. 

Be Creative And Offer Variety

Birds like to choose their food based on sight, taste, and texture, much like we do. To get your parrot to eat everything he needs, make it more appealing to him by presenting it in a creative way.

Offer plenty of variety along with formulated food. To display the food in an appealing way, try hanging it from the walls of the cage, stuffing it in toys, or weaving it through the bars of the cage. This way, it will seem much more appealing than if it were just sitting in a food bowl.

Parrot Eating: Image by Tsuihin, FlickrParrot Eating: Image by Tsuihin, Flickr

Switching From A Seed Based Diet

If your parrot has been eating a seed based diet, it might be time to switch to something more nutritionally complete. Check with a vet to make sure your bird is healthy enough to handle a diet change before switching. Choose a good formulated food like the Large Fruit Blend Diet to form the base of your parrot's meal.

Formulated foods are better than seeds because they blend essential foods with vitamins and nutrients into singular pellets for a more complete diet. These foods are formulated differently for every breed of parrot, so choose carefully based on breed. Once your parrot starts on the pellet diet, you may notice his droppings become larger and clearer in color.

"Off The Table" Foods

For the best results, it's best to supplement your parrot's formulated food with some "off the table" foods. Grain, vegetables, and fruits are a good choice. Fruit should be kept at a minimum because of their high sugar content. Seeds are high in fat and should also be fed in small amounts for most parrots.

Some great foods to feed your parrot include leafy greens, squash, carrots, broccoli, tomato, zucchini, carrots, peas, green beans, cauliflower, peppers, whole wheat breads, oats, and cooked chicken or turkey. Fruits that your parrot can eat include apple (without the seeds), banana, papaya, mango, oranges, grapes, berries, peaches, and more. Most wheat products, vegetables, and fruits can be fed to your parrot with a few exceptions. 

What Not To Feed Your Parrot

Dairy should be avoided because birds can't digest it properly. Never feed your parrot junk foods, or any foods that have high sugar, salt, or fat content. Specific foods not to feed your parrot include avocado, chocolate, anything caffeinated, alcohol, dried fruits, most houseplants, fruit pits, persimmons, onions, mushrooms, apple seeds, salt, and carbonated drinks. 

Now you should be able to lay the foundation to create a balanced diet for your parrot. Remember to check with your vet to see if there are any dietary specifics for your parrot's breed.

Sources: Pet EducationQuaker Parrots, Pet Place 

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