In order to ensure the health and well-being of your parrot, a varied and nutritionally complete diet must be provided. A diet consisting solely or primarily of seeds is a very poor diet for a bird. Parrots have dietary requirements very similar to that of people, and should be frequently offered the same foods that are considered healthy and nutritious for people. Share your food with your bird!
A proper avian diet should consist of 70 – 80% fresh vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes, 20 – 30% nutritionally complete pellets, and 10 -15% whole, healthy nuts like walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, etc…
Seed should be eliminated from the diets of all parrots with the exception of granivores like parakeets, cockatiels and lovebirds. Even then, fresh produce should make up the majority of the daily diet for these birds.
Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes – A variety of fruits and vegetables should be offered daily. Frozen vegetables like peas, beans and broccoli are convenient to have on hand, and to warm and serve in a pinch. Cooked squash, carrots and corn on the cob are also well loved by many parrots. Pomegranate is a superfood! Most parrots love pomegranate seeds. Some other suggestions are as follows:
sweet potatoes apples
red cabbage pears
lima beans bananas
cherry tomatoes mango
beets & beet greens strawberries
kidney beans cantaloupe
Grains, Pastas, Rice and Cereals - These foods should be offered several times a week. Mixing cooked rice or pasta with chopped vegetables or fruit makes a great meal for parrots. Whole grain toast or specially prepared “birdie breads” are loved by many birds. Parrots relish warm, mushy foods like oatmeal ( Maypo is a great choice as it is vitamin fortified), Cream of Wheat, or Farina. Baby cereal will also be accepted with enthusiasm.
Meat – Many parrots love meat. Because meats are a good source of protein and iron, and a beneficial compound called L-carnitine which can benefit cardiovascular health, small portions may be offered once each week.
Dairy – Parrots are unable to digest lactose, therefore dairy foods should be offered infrequently and only as a special treat. Many parrots love yogurt, which has beneficial cultures and can be periodically offered. Products like almond and soy milk and soy yogurt and soy milk are great alternatives.
Vitamin A – This vitamin is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy eyes, skin and feathers, and important for immunity functions. However, it is not uncommon for parrots to suffer from chronic vitamin A deficiencies. High doses of vitamin A can be toxic, therefore this should not be given as a supplement unless prescribed by a vet. But many natural foods are rich in vitamin A and should be regularly offered to parrots. Vitamin A rich foods include sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, carrots, kale, mangos, spinach, papaya…
Vitamin E - This vitamin is a powerful anti-oxidant. It can be found in foods like eggs, pasta and whole nuts like walnuts, almonds and pistachios. If seed is eliminated from a parrots diet, we do recommend that whole nuts continue to be offered.
Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids – These are vital nutrients for heart health! We are seeing more frequent instances of captive parrot deaths due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease! Heart health support, especially in older parrots, is an essential part of parrot care. Fish oils are high in Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. Many parrots, however, tend not to care for the taste of fish oil. Alternatively, Flax oil, milled flaxseed (available in the cereal section of most supermarkets) and hemp oil all are excellent choices. These can be “hidden” in various food recipes.
FOODS TO AVOID
Fats, Salts and Sugars – While often accepted quite happily by your parrot, foods high in fat, salt and sugar content are as bad for your bird as they are for you. Just like with people, some fat and salt are essential in our diets, but excesses of these can lead to obesity, hypertension, heart disease and premature death. Don’t allow your beloved bird to be a junk food addict. Offer treats only in moderation.
Avocado – Avocado is poisonous to parrots. No guacamole for birds.
Chocolate – Also poisonous to birds.
Peanuts/Sunflower Seeds – High in fat, peanuts are the “potato ship” of the parrot world and a poor choice of food for your parrot. Also, the shells of peanuts are often laden with molds and pesticides that are harmful to birds. Many parrots, however, love peanuts. If your parrot craves peanuts, offer organically grown peanuts, if possible, and limit peanuts to one or two a day. Sunflower seeds, while often relished by birds and found abundantly in commercial parrot food mixes, can become addictive to the exclusion of other healthy choices and should never comprise the basis of your bird’s diet. Moderation is key! But coveted sunflower seeds make excellent “training currency”.
Alcohol – I should not even have had to include alcohol on this list, as it goes without saying. Anyone who would offer alcohol to a parrot – or to any animal – is unfit to care for animals.