Bird Basics: On Food

Black_Headed_CaiqueIn the wild, a bird spends the majority of its’ time searching for food. In their quest, they cover miles and eat a variety of different food items, instinctively covering their nutritional requirements. Unfortunately, they are unable to convey these requirements to us and are basically at our mercy to give them what they need.

When asked about the most prevalent health problem seen in pet birds, most veterinarians would respond “malnutrition”. This leads to lowered resistance to disease and a host of other serious health issues, resulting in the early demise of our feathered friends. Many experts disagree as to what constitutes a healthy diet. Seeds seem to be the most controversial issue regarding birds eating habits. Some experts claim they are good while others insist they are unhealthy. Some claim sunflower seeds taste good and are addicting. A bird will eat seeds to the exclusion of all else, leading to a poor state of health. While birds require some of the fat found in seeds, an all inclusive diet is not healthy. Most are now turning to a seed mix with safflower instead. The fat content in the safflower is higher than sunflower, but the bitter taste keeps birds from getting hooked on them. Still, this is not a complete diet and must be mixed with other components to achieve optimum results.

Pellets are the results of years of research and testing. Pellets are considered a nutritious diet for parrots and are recommended by veterinarians, breeders and other avian professionals. There are many brands of pellets available on the market, and all should be tried until a bird finds one it likes. Fruit and vegetables should be offered on a daily basis. As a general rule, fresh is best. Some vegetables such as yams and broccoli should be cooked. Most can be offered raw. All should be thoroughly cleaned to remove all preservatives. Seeds should be removed from the fruit and vegetables as some can be poisonous. Grains and beans are very good and should also be offered. Diet should never be assumed or overlooked. Many behavioral problems stem from a poor diet, along with the health problems earlier brought up.

Forbidden Foods

Eggs (High in cholesterol)
Salty Snacks Sugar
Items containing sugar
Alcoholic beverages
Soft Drinks
Dairy Products
Raw Or uncooked meat and poultry
Dried Fruit containing sulfites

Food and Treats

Your pet’s food requirements were covered on that particular handout. If one is not available, please ask a sales associate for assistance. What I would like to add is that birds are flock animals and should be given food or treats when the family is eating. Healthy table food or treats should be given. A varied diet is best.