Diet for Parrots

Recommended foods for parrots, budgies and cockatiels include pellets, vegetables and fresh browse.

A very common misconception when caring for a parrot is to feed too much dry seed. A parrot kept on dry seed alone can end up with multiple problems, such as poor feather quality, obesity, fatty lump formation, fatty liver, diabetes, fractures and respiratory disease.

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Recommended diet:

  • Fresh water should be on offer at all times, in a clean water bowl
  • High quality pellets (or Lorikeet specific formula)These are low in fat and high in vitamins
    • Some suitable brands include Vetafarm (maintenance or nutriblend). Tropican, Harrisons, Roudybush. There are many available in a range of each of these brands so be sure to get the one most suited to your species.
    • Passwells make a lorikeet formula that can be fed as wet or dry food to lorikeets
    • Finch or canary crumble from Vetafarm
  • A range of fresh vegetables (and a small amount of fruit)
    • At least 3 types should be provided fresh daily
    • Some vegetable ideas - broccoli, Asian greens, spinach, chillies, sprouted lentils (corn and carrot are suitable but should be only fed in small portions)
    • Some fruit ideas - paw paw/papaya, passionfruit, pomegranate, small amounts of apple
    • Essentially, any fruit or vegetable we eat is safe, except for avocado, onion and rhubarb which should NEVER be fed
  • Fresh browse
    • Fresh grasses and native Australian plants are generally welcomed by parrots
    • Milk thistle
    • These plants supplement their diet and provide enrichment and entertainment for your bird
  • Budgies and cockatiels can have approximately 1 teaspoon of dry seed in their daily diet
  • Seeds, breads, toast, dried fruits and nuts, and plain crackers should be reserved for use as treats and only given in very small portions. They are particularly useful as an incentive for training.

Converting a parrot to pellets

Unfortunately, for most birds, we cannot simply change the food we place in their cage and expect them to eat it. Rather, we have to teach them these new foods are actually food.

We recommend the following:

  • Wet an appropriate amount of pellets so that it becomes a mash and add an equivalent amount of seed to the mix (budgie 1-2 teaspoons of each, cockatiel 2-3 teaspoons, galah 1-2 tablespoons of each) . MAKE A FRESH BATCH EACH DAY or TWICE DAILY IN SUMMER
  • With time, decrease the amount of seed in the mix, then decrease the amount of water until only dry pellets remain in the bowl. This can take anywhere from 1 week to several months so please be patient and persistent.
  • You can try pretending to eat the pellets yourself if the bird likes to share your food.
  • An insurance feed of dry seed for 15mins a night in a separate bowl is recommended until the bird is definitely eating pellets.

We also often have to teach our parrots that vegetables (and fruits) are food. A good way to start is by rolling the vegetable in seed or push seeds into the flesh of the vegetable so they taste the vegetable as they grab the seed. Just because they don't eat a vegetable the first few times it is put in the cage, it doesn't mean they won't ever - you need to persevere!

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