Parrot diet and nutrition
Diet is the most important factor in your bird's life. A poor diet can be the underlying cause of many health problems.
Feeding pellets as 80% or more of the total diet will guarantee that your bird has a balanced and complete diet.
When it comes to parrot nutrition, consider seeds to be somewhat like junk food: birds love them, but they are not the healthiest choice. Although a bird does not live by seed alone, it does have its place in a parrot's diet. In fact, birdseed in moderation is an important part of a healthy diet. There are many types of seed from which to choose. It is easiest to buy a premixed variety of seeds, although some owners make their own mixes. The first thing to be sure of is that you are buying a seed mix that is the right size for your bird. Next, make sure that the seed is fresh—it should not have bugs, rodent droppings, or webs (these are created by moth larvae) in it. Smell it and reject seed that smells rancid. Lastly, try to find a mix that has very little or no sunflower seeds in it. There is some evidence linking sunflower seeds to obesity and behavioral problems in parrots. Seeds provide more nutrition and may be more interesting to your parrot when they are sprouted. You can easily find directions for sprouting seeds on the Internet or from the staff at a health food store.
Grains, Legumes, and Nuts
These items are mainstays of parrot nutrition. They pack proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fiber (and fats, in the case of nuts) into neat little packages. The grains you feed to your parrot should be whole-grain products to provide maximum nutrition. These can be cooked grains such as barley, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and wild rice. You can also provide whole grains in other forms such as breads, pastas, cereals, muffins, oatmeal, cream of wheat, and crackers. Always use low-salt varieties. Legumes include all forms of beans—black beans, green beans, navy beans, kidney beans, etc.—along with lentils, peas, and chickpeas. Tofu is also a bean product that your parrot may enjoy. You can serve him beans raw or cooked, except for kidney beans, which must be cooked. Like legumes, nuts are loaded with protein, but they are also high in fat. Feed your bird all kinds of unsalted nuts, but do not overfeed them or he may become a porker! They make great treats for training because most parrots love them. Nuts that your parrot may enjoy include:
- brazil nuts
- hazelnuts (filberts)
- peanuts (shelled—shells may contain fungi)
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetable is great to feed as a treat, it is low in nutrients, so it should not be a staple item in your bird's diet. Fruits and vegetables provide an extensive array of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they are low in fats. Always wash all the produce you feed your bird thoroughly, and buy organic fruits and veggies whenever possible. Other, healthier choices include:
- bell peppers
- butternut and other winter squashes
- collard greens
- corn on the cob
- dandelion greens
- hot peppers (yes, most parrots enjoy these)
- mustard greens
- sweet potatoes
Basically, any item in the produce department is fine for your parrot. The one exception is avocados, which are toxic to parrots. Feed fresh vegetables whenever possible, although frozen veggies are okay in a pinch.
The following is a list of things that your parrot should not eat!
Avocado (in any form, including guacamole)
Caffeine (soda, coffee)
Onions & Garlic
Leaves of tomato & potato plants
Pits/Seeds of most fruits (especially apples!)
Asparagus (not toxic, but can cause digestive upset)
Salt & sugar are not good.