When it comes to caring for our pet
birds, nothing seems to be more controversial than the topic of diet and
nutrition. However, nothing is as important as making
sure your bird has a healthy and complete diet. It has been
estimated that up to 75% of bird illnesses are avoidable by providing a
nutritional, well balanced diet.
Many opinions flourish on what to feed and in what proportions. Before
we delve into the issues, let's take a look at what a typical diet
may consist of for our pet's wild counterparts.
nature, parrots spend the majority of their day foraging for food and, in
doing so, expend vast amounts of energy locating and flying to the best
feeding sources, climbing around trees to reach the choicest tidbits and
using their beaks to open pods and nut shells.
It is typical for birds to search for food in the morning and again in
the late afternoon. Feeding your bird fresh foods twice a
day and also leaving dried foods available throughout the day would most
closely mimic and support the natural feeding cycle.
Wild parrots are opportunistic feeders and consume a multitude of
items based on seasonal availability. Parrots eat raw foods such
as fruits and vegetable matter, nuts, grains, seeds, sprouts, berries, flowers,
pollen, insects and larvae. Many species also supplement their
diets by eating clay and salt licks.
domestic parrots, many of the food challenges and choices have been
taken away from them. Each day they are presented with a bowl of
food with no need to expend and therefore consume lots of calories.
In a domestic environment, it is entirely the responsibility of the
parrot's human companion to provide a diet that meets the daily
nutritional requirements for their bird.
Although commercial diets have significantly improved, no one commercial
diet comes close to simulating how they eat in nature and none of the
commercial diets provide for 100% of the nutritional needs of our birds.
To date, there just hasn't been enough research. Given the complexity of the
task at hand, no immediate single solution breakthroughs are expected.
Since commercial diets can't reliably replicate a bird's natural diet, it
appears that offering a broad range of nutrition and a wide variety of
healthy food choices is the key to
maintaining a healthy bird.
Giving your bird a varied selection of foods
will not only keep them healthy and beautiful but, it will also make their lives
much more interesting. Imagine how dull our existence would be if we
had to eat the same meal over and over again for the rest of our days!
Your birds will relish the opportunity to make choices and try new foods and
they will delight in exploring different tastes and textures. Additionally,
presenting the food in interesting
ways to trigger natural foraging
will also stimulate your bird both physically and mentally.
specific nutritional requirements for each species will differ but, in general,
all parrots require a varied, well rounded diet that includes a daily combination of
fresh greens, vegetables, grains, legumes, fruit, and
This can be
supplemented with a sprinkling of
seeds and occasional
treats but, in general, these should
be just a small portion of what parrots eat each day (<10%).
Other factors that can
impact your bird's dietary needs include:
level of exercise
The following diagram
illustrates the relative proportions of grains, vegetables, fruits, pellets,
seeds and treats that
should be the basis of a bird's diet. Bird owners are strongly encouraged to research
in more detail the specific needs for each of
the parrot species in their flock to ensure the balance is fine tuned and other
species specific needs are addressed (i.e., low fat for
Amazons, higher fat content for Macaws, increased vitamin A for Eclectus, low iron for softbills,
the diagram above to learn more about each food group category
information on the benefits and sources of specific nutrients please refer
to our Nutrient Source Table.
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