Eating Guide: Parrots

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a specially formulated parrot mix such as pellets act as the basis of the majority of parrot’s diet.

But there is no single diet that suits all types of parrot. Depending on your breed, you may need a formula with particular amounts of vitamins and nutrients, or you may even wish to add nectar or meat to their diet.

It is vital that you find out what your parrot needs, both in a general breed way and in a specific-to-your-bird way from the vet.

Pellets

These are formulated nuggets specially designed to make up the majority of your bird’s daily diet.

Their diet should probably be made up of around 40-80% of these every day. They contain their necessary levels of nutrients and vitamins, and the best mixes are organic and use ingredients suitable for human consumption.

Buying the best quality pellets will ensure a healthy parrot. Additives should be avoided (unless this is something needed like calcium or vitamin K).

Some birds don’t take to pellets at all, in which case a diet of fresh food, seeds, nuts and additional supplements will be needed.

Seeds

The amount of seed a parrot needs depends on their breed. This will usually be between 15-50%, and the majority of seeds are good as one look at a parrots beak tells you that they’re good at cracking most things open.

A blend of seeds is a good natural option for them, and they should be organic and fit for human consumption. Mixed seed varieties are available which offer dried fruit and vegetables in them, but watch out for selective eating and be aware it isn’t a replacement for the fresh stuff.

You can try sprouting some seeds at home, which boosts the nutritional value but avoid anything which goes mouldy or slimy.

Sunflower seeds are good in small quantities, around 10 per day. Any more than this can clog up their digestive system.

What Parrots Eat

Nuts

These are quite fatty so best as treats or rewards. Some breeds are more limited on how much fat they can consume than others.

Macaws will love to extract peanuts/monkey nuts from shells but other breeds don’t like to use their feet and prefer the easier route. Small breeds need something shelled. Fresh walnut, cashew and macadamia shells can be toxic so avoid these.

The best nuts for most breeds are:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Fruit and Vegetables

Colour is a good guide when it comes to fresh foods. The most vivid options are usually the best, so a pale pear or peach isn’t as good as a vivid carrot or sweet potato.

Anything dark green is also a good pick. These pack in the nutrients, just as they do with humans too. Vegetables should outnumber fruit 10:1 so they’re not having anything too sweet (although some smaller bird species need more natural sugar than others).

The below are suitable for most bird species, although always research your particular breed:

Vegetables

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts (cooked)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn on the cob
  • Cress and mustard
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Okra
  • Parsley
  • Peas (in the pod)
  • Peppers (both hot and bell varieties)
  • Potato (cooked)
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potato
  • Turnip Greens

Fruit

  • Apples (no seeds)
  • Apricots (no stones)
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Figs
  • Grapes (red are best)
  • Kiwi
  • Mango (no skin)
  • Melon (Cantaloupe is best)
  • Nectarines (no stones)
  • Papaya
  • Peach (no stones)
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates

Parrot Eating Guide

Meat

Parrots are not naturally carnivorous, apart from a few select breeds which are not available in the pet trade.

Some people give their parrots small pieces of cooked meat or chicken bones to help with their protein intake but always ask a vet first. There is usually no need, and if they do happen to eat worms or bugs when outside, don’t be alarmed (or think that is something to add to their diet). You certainly don’t need to feed any live food to them.

Supplements

These are available, but if feeding a good proportion of pellets you shouldn’t need them.

Non-pelleted parrots will need a very particular and researched fresh food diet, such as vegetables which give them the right amount of calcium and vitamins.

What Parrots Drink

Wild birds will drink from a variety of sources, so you may wish to replicate this by using bowls and bottles, although bowls are easiest.

Fresh water is best, but non-sugary juice can also be used in moderation. You will need to change this at least twice per day.

What Foods To Avoid

Parrots are a pretty happy, omnivorous breed of bird in general. Some sub-species have their own particular lists, but there are some things that you should not feed to a bird in general:

Definite No

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate and cocoa powder
  • Refined sugar
  • High-salt foods

Best Avoided

  • Allium foods (such as onion, garlic, leeks)
  • Beans (particularly if raw)
  • Cereals for humans (such as corn flakes)
  • Cheese and other dairy products
  • Fish and seafood
  • Fruit seed/stones (especially if they contain arsenic)
  • Green tomatoes (you can avoid altogether just in case)
  • Mushrooms
  • Passion fruit
  • Raw meat and poultry
  • Raw potato
  • Shelled peanuts
  • Sugary foods (such as biscuits/cakes/sweets)

How To Know If Your Parrot’s Diet Is Working

A bird should have bright eyes, colourful and shiny feathers and be active. Parrots will generally just avoid anything they don’t want to eat, so you will know whether you need a plan B. it may even be the case that they don’t like pellets or certain vegetables so you need to swap things out.

If you spot that your bird is avoiding eating certain parts of their usual diet, it could be worth trying something else temporarily to avoid them becoming bored.

But if this is a long-term thing or they aren’t looking their best, check them over and possibly take them to a vet.

What Do Parrots Eat