What Should I Feed My Pet Bird?
Jun 17, 2013
IMPROPER FEEDING IS THE CHIEF CAUSE OF DISEASE AND DEATH IN PET BIRDS!!
A balanced diet consisting of a formulated pellet along with a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and pasta is highly advised.
- These should make up a minimum of 75% of most pet bird’s diet
- Select a formulated pellet appropriate for your bird’s species and size; recommended brands include Harrisons’s Bird Food, Zupreem, Roudybush, and Kaytee
- Pellets are best introduced at the time of weaning or as early as possible to ensure acceptance
- Before converting you bird to a pelleted diet, please refer to our Avian Diet Conversion handout, or call for assistance
FRUITS, VEGETABLES, BEANS, AND PASTA: These are a part of a balanced diet for a bird, but should never be over 25% of the diet. Again, it is important to wash the food. Beans and pasta should be cooked thoroughly before offered. Feed a variety and be sure to remove uneaten portions within a few hours to prevent spoilage.
THOROUGHLY: Canned fruits should be avoided due to the high sugar content, which tends to cause diarrhea. Suggested fruits and vegetables include oranges, apples, green beans, peas, corn, etc. Various juices and nectars may also be given.
- Greens are a valuable addition to ’s diet.
- Common table greens may be used or backyard greens when available. Since greens are high in water and bulk content, a soft-green stool will be passed. Do not mistake this for diarrhea. If your bird has never eaten greens, it may tend to overeat at first. However, if fed consistently, it will eat only a small amount.
- Remember wash all greens very well!!!
- Suggested greens include Dandelion leaves, fresh branches, etc.
ANIMAL PROTEIN: This is most important in carnivorous species of birds, which may be actually fed mice but all birds have a protein need. This may be met by feeding boiled eggs (yolk, white, and shell crumbled together), cottage cheese, milk, or peanut butter.
- Seeds are high in fat and devoid of vitamins and minerals and thus should be fed sparingly
- Different types of seeds should be offered.
- Select a seed that is fortified with vitamins and minerals
- NEVER feed a a diet of strictly sunflower seeds!!
VITAMINS: Most vitamin requirements will be met if your bird is fed a pelleted diet. However some birds may require additional supplementation, such as Vitamin A. Harrison’s Sunshine Factor is an excellent Vitamin A supplement and is available at our office. Of special concern are vitamins A, D3, and B Complex.
MINERALS: Most pelleted diets will meet daily mineral needs, however some birds may require additional calcium supplementation, such as egg-laying hens. Calcium supplementation may be offered in the form of powdered calcium added to the food, or as a prescription calcium supplement. Please contact us to discuss your bird’s calcium requirements. Cuttlebones, mineral blocks, oyster shell, or egg shell are also commonly given as a calcium source, however it is not known how well cuttlebone in particular is absorbed.
Many birds develop poor eating habits and border on malnutrition. One method of adding variety and interest is to include table food. Fruits, vegetables, pasta, and beans are acceptable table foods. Avoid foods containing caffeine, such as chocolate or coffee, avocado, or large quantities of garlic or onions as these are toxic to birds. Further more, avoid excessively salty or unhealthy foods as these are unhealthy for birds too!
BASIC RULES FOR FEEDING BIRDS:
- Avoid heavily spiced foods.
- Remove any uneaten food within several hours after feeding to prevent spoilage.
- Try to develop tastes by adding small amounts of new foods in with foods your bird is already used to.
- Begin by introducing only small crumbs of a food.
- Do not overwhelm by suddenly dumping a handful of tablescraps in the cage.
- Do not try to starve into eating a new food, many birds will starve rather than eat something they are not comforatble with
- Please contact us for assistance if you are having difficulty converting you bird to a new food.
Written by Dr. Julie Yeager