Every bird species has different nutritional needs, however the best food for all pet birds is a primary diet of pellets supplemented by fresh fruit, natural vegetation and treats.
While in the past pet owners have typically fed their pet birds a seed-only diet, scientifically formulated pellets are a much better option for your bird’s health as they offer complete and balanced nutrition for your bird’s particular species.
A general guide on what to feed your bird is a staple diet of pellets which should comprise at least 50% of their food, with some species requiring a diet of up to 80% pellets. Treats should only make up 5% of your bird’s diet, with the remaining amount being made up of fresh fruits, vegetables and vegetation. Ask your local Greencross Vets about the best food ratio for your unique bird.
Why a pellet diet for birds is better than seeds
What are pellets?
Bird pellets are made by combining seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables and other healthy ingredients in a scientifically formulated ratio that ensures your bird receives the right balance of proteins, fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals that their species needs. They are formulated by avian veterinarians and manufactured under strict quality assurance systems.
Benefits of feeding pellets
Feeding your bird pellets optimises their health to help them live long and happier lives. When their food is in this form, you can prevent your bird from picking and choosing to eat only the seeds they like, which are often the most unhealthy, and avoid unknowingly feeding them seeds and grains that are nutrient deficient and different from those they would find in their natural habitat.
Easier clean up
As they are 100% edible and digestible, pellets greatly reduce the waste in an aviary, meaning there’s less cleaning for you to do. Seed mixes often contain ingredients like cracked corn, which are not always eaten by your bird, and seeds that require dehulling. All of this ends up as waste on the cage floor.
A healthier bird inside and out
Pellets contain the right balance of amino acids which allow for the optimum development of your bird’s feathers, bone development and immune system. Switch your bird to a pellet diet and you’ll soon notice that they look vibrant and healthy – because they are.
The best fruits and vegetables for your pet bird
You mustn’t just feed your bird a pellet-only diet. It’s important to supplement pellets with an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables for a good source of additional nutrients. A general guide is to ensure vegetables make up a larger portion of their diet than fruits, which contain more sugar and water. Try to feed your bird as wide a variety as possible as they enjoy diverse tastes and textures, and the intellectual stimulation of playing with different types of food.
Best vegetables for your pet bird
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale
- Cucumber, zucchini, pumpkins, cauliflower, broccoli
- Most birds love corn, whether you feed them the kernels or provide a larger bird with the entire cob
Vegetables you should avoid ever feeding your bird include rhubarb, olives, asparagus and eggplants as these can be toxic to them. In addition, vegetables such as celery and lettuce mostly consist of water and fibre and will not provide your bird with much nutrition.
Best fruits for your pet bird
Fruit should be fed to your bird as a treat, in moderation due to their high sugar content.
- Apples and pears
- Berries including strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries
- Apricots, nectarines, peaches, cherries
- Mangoes, papayas, kiwis, pineapple
- Melons such as rockmelons, honeydew melons and watermelons, but remember to remove the rind and seeds first
- Citruses including oranges, tangerines, grapefruit are acidic and should only be fed in small amounts
Not all fruits are safe for your bird and as much as we love them, avocados are a definitely no-no. Further, make sure to remove apple seeds and the pits of stone fruit before you feed these to your bird as they contain a small amount of cyanide.
Introducing fruits and vegetables to your pet bird
This is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start when thinking of what fruits and vegetables you can feed your pet bird. If your bird is reluctant to try this new food, get creative and try cutting them into different sizes, cooking them, grating them, pureeing them or mixing them into foods they do like, until they have accepted this nutritious diet. Like with young children, the key is to not give up when convincing them to eat foods that are good for them!
As pet parents, it’s only natural that you want to reward your beloved pet every once in a while, just make sure that you do not overfeed them. Treats should comprise the smallest amount of your bird’s diet and are perfect for helping you and your pet bond.
Treating your bird is a great way to incorporate seeds into their diet, as fan favourites like sunflower seeds are very fatty and should not be fed as their main food. If you’re looking for something healthier, you can also provide your bird with a little more of their favourite fruits.
There are also a wide range of specially formulated bird treats available in various formats including bags of treat mixes and bars you can hang in their cage. These are made with specific species in mind and include pellets, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
The right nutrition for your pet bird involves more than just feeding them a seed mix. Understanding the right balance of pellets, fruits and vegetables and treats for your bird’s particular species will help you to provide them with the complete and balanced nutrition they need to live a long and healthy life. Visit your local Petbarn where our friendly team members can provide you with individualised advice.