June 24, 2021
The importance of a varied diet is essential for parrots! Without well-balanced nutrition, a parrot's general health will gradually start to decline. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies will result in having birds that are susceptible to illness and disease.
Often overlooked, but a bird's water bowl should be changed with clean water every day. Some owners change their water bowls multiple times because their birds either take a bath in them or soak their pellets. Some owners change the water but forget the clean the bowl itself. No matter how many times you put in fresh water, it will get contaminated with bacteria if the bowl is dirty. You can wash your bowl with hot water by making sure to clean the insides of the rims, ridges and corners of any residue, or worse, slime. If you like using water bottles to feed your bird (those similar to rabbits), I suggest you clean the water bottle with boiling water once a week to kill any germs.
Eating vegetables provides health benefits – birds that eat more vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet will have a reduced risk of chronic diseases. The more veggies you have to offer, the better! It's a great way to maintain a good strong immune system. I suggest giving birds at least a variety of 7-8 vegetables in every serving! I like giving dark green vegetables such as kale, green vegetables such as broccoli, and orange vegetables such as carrots every day. You can also offer vegetables in a variety of forms. You can have it thickly sliced, chopped or even diced very small, or even slightly cooked. For an interactive snack, try hanging the leaves in your parrot's cage for smaller birds. I like doing this with dandelion flowers. Wash all vegetables thoroughly before feeding them to your birds. Make sure there are not any rotten or mouldy parts. Any vegetables left uneaten should be discarded daily. Some people have differing opinions about how vegetables should be offered. Some owners prefer fresh vegetables, often organic, to offer for their parrots—some owners like making a large bulk of bird mash and storing it in the freezer. I've used both methods and prefer using both for different reasons. As long as they are eating vegetables every day, the method you use isn't a massive issue. Ensure that regardless of which bird comes to your home, it's your responsibility to provide it with the best care and diet. Always ask your veterinarian about a specific diet for your bird about its specific needs.
Always opt-out for the best ingredients when looking for a good pellet source, which is usually an organic brand. They are a great way to fill in nutritional gaps in a parrot's diet. If your bird refuses them because of the bland taste, you can try some of the coloured pellets, which aren't the best for them because of the dyes and sugars added, but it is a good starting point. Just be sure to try to get him onto something healthier once he has accepted the idea of a pelleted diet. There are many pellets out there that you can try. Some of my favourites are TOP's, Harrisons and Roudybush Pellets. Their ingredients are supplying various nutrients in the natural state. Additionally, Pellets like TOP's are cold-pressed. This means many of the nutrients are maintained and not damaged. It's also important to note that converting birds from all seeds to pellets can be tricky, especially for smaller birds like budgies. Many smaller bird owners found more success with Harrisons and Roudybush. That being said, I would recommend you weaning your bird away from a high-sugar pelleted diet to something lower in sugar.
As someone with smaller birds, I found many compelling arguments regarding seeds. Generally, many people are against the idea of offering birds seeds or only offer them as treats. One of the main reasons people don't like offering seeds is that they are high in calories. Companion birds do not have the same lifestyle as their counterparts in the wild. Therefore, they are not able to burn off those calories that require a high level of activity. Not to mention, commercial seed quality is suspicious in nature. Many parrot owners who offer their birds seed are often unaware that they arrive at the store already dry, brittle, and old. At this point, seeds often don't have any nutritional quality. If you look at their ingredients, they are filled with synthetic vitamins and ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. I would pick out seeds and try sprouting them. None of the seeds would sprouts. Even with very well-spoken seed brands. With all those in mind, do I offer my birds seed? Yes. The best seed mix is the one YOU make with human-grade grains. Because I have smaller birds, they do get seeds daily in their diet. Smaller birds are much more active compared to larger parrots. Due to them being smaller in size and assuming that you let them fly freely in a safe environment, offering smaller parrots seeds daily is not going to make them overweight. My birds get their vegetables in the morning, and after being certain that they ate their vegetables, I'll offer them seeds during the evening.
GRAINS & LEGUMES
Grains and legumes are great to add to your bird's diet. They are packed with minerals, vitamins and fibre. They can be cooked into warm, delicious foods for your birds. Many birds really like cooked grains, especially during the winter months. Some grains you can try are brown rice, rye, spelt, wheat, barley, quinoa and millet. With legumes, I suggest you make a batch of different types of legumes and freeze them. Because each legume often requires different cooking times. This way, I have a variety of legumes stored and stocked up.
Please only serve cooked or sprouted legumes & beans to your parrots. Some legumes will need to be soaked for about 8-12 hours or even up to 24 hours to sprout properly. Also, it's important that you want to start washing the legumes because many debris can be found in packages.
Fruits can be a tricky subject in the bird community. Other than a few species out there, the fruits will often be better tasting to your parrot when you pair vegetables with fruits. Therefore, you're parrots often only eat fruits with little to no vegetables. If you do offer your birds fruit, only offer a small portion. Additionally, whenever you are unsure if the fruit's pits are safe, it's best to opt against using them until you are certain. When offered in moderation, I really enjoy feeding my birds less common fruits as it adds an exotic taste. Some less common fruits I suggest you try are dragonfruit, pomegranate and persimmons!
SPICES & HERBS
I see many larger parrot owners adding spices to their bird's diet, and it slightly makes me sad that smaller parrot owners don't really dive into the fun. Many fear that it's very potent in flavour, and they tend to avoid it. I really enjoy using cinnamon as it's really high in fibre, iron, and calcium. I sprinkle a tiny bit in my food mash depending on what I am making for that week. I also like adding cayenne pepper and paprika to my food dishes! Many birds love the taste of cayenne pepper, so it's a great starting point. That being said, make sure that you only add a small sprinkle as it can make your bird's stomach sensitive to it. Also, make sure that when you get these ingredients in your whole food store, it's only one ingredient and not a list of ingredients. Parrots cannot taste spicy foods as humans can. My birds really enjoy dried chilli peppers. You never want to have anything that has salt or other flavourings adding for use with your parrots. Like spices, herbs are great to put into your bird's diet because they can add a special oomph to their meals. Please note that not all herbs and spices are suitable for parrots, and one should use caution when adding them to their diet.
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