African Grey Parrot Diet (Avian Vet Reviewed )

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by Ali Shahid

Similarly to other parrots, African gray parrots require a balanced and varied diet. Failure to do so can lead to different health problems, like calcium deficiency. So, what should be an appropriate and well-balanced African Grey Parrot diet?

Recent research has shown that African grey parrots eat many different things, like seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and leaves (VCA Animal Hospital). But it would be impossible to feed them the same thing in captivity.

In most cases, pet owners think they are providing an adequate diet for their African Grey, but they are not.

The most up-to-date recommendations for your African Grey parrot’s food may not be available from all pet stores, breeders, or online educational resources. Your pet’s “Grey’s” greatest nutritional advice will come from an experienced avian vet.

What, therefore, should a captive grey parrot eat? As a vet for birds, I recommend that grey parrots eat 70% pellets, 20% fresh fruits and vegetables, and 10% nuts and seeds (VCA Animal Hospital)Additionally, research indicates that providing African grey parrots with coarsely ground pellets enhances the consistency of their excreta while maintaining their nutritional value intact.

African Grey Parrot Diet in the Wild

In their natural habitat, African grey parrots maintain a diverse diet encompassing seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and various vegetation, including the fruits of the African oil palm. They also indulge in treats from different plant sources, such as Bombax, Ficus, Macaranga, and Raphia.

Additionally, their diet may include occasional snacks like flowers, bark, and small creatures such as insects and snails. Interestingly, these parrots sometimes consume clay and soil, a behavior believed by scientists to contribute to their nutrition and serve as a deterrent against parasites.

African Grey Parrot Diet in Captivity

As I have already mentioned, African Greys should be fed

  • 70 percent of the pelleted diet
  • 20 percent of fruits and vegetables
  • 10 percent of seeds

African grays are prone to deficiencies of calcium and vitamin A as well as obesity. You may help avoid these diseases from manifesting in your parrot by providing a healthy diet and monitoring its food intake closely.

You may assume that in the wild, their diet consists primarily of seeds. But why can’t we just give them as much seed while they’re in captivity? I’ll reply to that in the paragraph related to seeds.

  • Pelleted Diet

Most of the nutritional requirements of a grey parrot can be met by commercially available pelleted diets. A variety of formulations are available depending on the life stage or the disease being treated.

Pelletized foods are available from a variety of good brands. Pellets are available in a variety of flavors, colors, shapes, and sizes to meet the preferences of different birds.

About 70% of the food that African Grey parrots should eat should come in the form of pellets

Recent research has shown that African grey parrots eat many different things, like seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and leaves (VCA Animal Hospital). But it would be impossible to feed them the same thing in captivity.

. The rest of the diet should be composed of fresh fruits and vegetables, with a small amount of seed if necessary.

Hand-raised babies should be introduced to a pelleted diet at an early age so they get used to it. It can take weeks or months to switch a bird from eating seeds to eating pellets.

Initially, it is likely that they do not recognize pellets as food. Ideally, you should wean your African Grey Parrot off seeds over a period of two to six weeks, keeping pellets on hand constantly.

To facilitate the transition, I advised my clients to offer 90% of their current seed and 10% of new pellets. Every day, reduce the seeds by 10% and increase the pellets by 10%.

During this transition period, if your bird does not consume the pellets reliably, try a different pellet after one month. You should never remove seeds entirely without first checking that your bird is eating some fruits, vegetables, and pellets.

To ensure your bird’s weight is maintained during the transition, monitor your bird’s weight on a digital scale measuring in grams. If you have any problems with your bird’s health or the transition, talk to your vet.

  • Fruits and Vegetables

Your bird’s diet should consist of approximately 20% vegetables, legumes, and greens. Iceberg lettuce and celery, which have high water content, provide very little nutritional value.

The African Grey needs vitamin A for its immune system, kidneys, skin, and feathers, so orange, red, and yellow vegetables are ideal. Fruit contains a lot of water and sugar, so it should only make up 10% of your bird’s diet.

Ensure that produce is washed properly before serving to avoid pesticides and germs. Separate them into bite-sized chunks that are suitable for the size of the bird. The removal of skin is unnecessary.

Serve the veggies and fruits in a separate dish. If your bird has developed a taste for something in particular, you can encourage it to try more foods by decreasing its intake or temporarily withholding it.

Keep trying to feed your bird a little piece of new food every day, even if it initially rejects it. Your bird may need to try a new food numerous times before it accepts it.

Recommended Vegetables for African Grey Parrot (exoticdirect.co.uk)

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squashes
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Green beans
  • Collard greens
  • Peppers (any type green, black, red, chili)
  • Zucchini
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Leaf lettuce

Recommended Fruits for African Grey Parrots (exoticdirect.co.uk)

  • All berries
  • Pomegranate
  • Kiwi
  • Melons
  • Papaya
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Peach
  • Seeds

While wild African grey parrots may find seeds to eat at any time of the year, the sorts of seeds they eat vary from season to season, depending on what plants are in season.

Many captive parrots are fed commercial seed mixes that are heavy in fat and low in essential nutrients. African grey parrots are susceptible to illness and early death if these mixtures are provided as their only source of nutrition.

Even when provided with a commercial seed mix, birds will often eat only their “favorite” varieties. Peanuts and sunflower seeds, which are high in fat but lacking in calcium and vitamin A, are two of their go-to snacks.

They may already be at risk for malnutrition due to their picky eating habits. This is why I suggest limiting the number of seeds in an African Grey Parrot’s diet to only 10%.

Almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts are examples of “tree-type nuts,” but they should be limited to only one or two servings per day.

You may get your bird to eat other things besides seeds by gradually reducing the amount of seeds you supply and replacing them with more nutritional options.

  • Vitamin Supplements

If pellets make up more than 70% of a bird’s diet, the African Grey likely doesn’t require any additional vitamins or minerals. Pellets are made with the goal of providing complete nutrition.

During different stages of its life, a bird may require more or less of certain vitamins and minerals (e.g., egg-laying birds may require calcium supplementation). Consuming vegetables on a daily basis can also help reduce the need for dietary supplements.

Supplements may be given to birds until they are able to switch to a pelleted diet and enhance their nutrition. Supplements in powder form are typically considered more reliable.

Many of these supplements break down in water or encourage bacterial or yeast growth, so they shouldn’t be given in water.

You may sprinkle them straight onto wet veggies, but for the birds to get the full nutritional benefit, they need to eat the whole thing. Putting these powders on seeds or dry foods is pointless because they will eventually fall off.

Your vet may recommend giving your bird a supplement if it has a medical issue or if you feed it only seeds. Once a bird has been switched to a complete-food pellet, the old one can be removed.

  • Grit

The African Grey parrot has no requirement for grit or gravel. Birds that eat the entire seed (hull and kernel) benefit from the grit since it aids in the gizzard grinding and digestion process (part of the stomach).

Parrots remove the hull before eating the seed. Thus, gravel or grit is unnecessary. Many birds who are given access to grit end up dying from gastrointestinal blockages because they eat too much of it.

Sandpaper perches are commonly covered with grit to wear nails down. Grit taken up from these perches may cause intestinal impactions in birds. This is why it’s best to stay away from any kind of perch, even sandpaper.

  • Water

It is important that potable water be readily available at all times. Filtered or bottled water might be a better option than water straight from the faucet.

What can African greys not eat?

The following foods are not suitable for African Grey parrots:

  • Caffeine
  • Dried Beans
  • Fatty foods-
  • Dairy
  • Lettuce
  • Chocolate
  • Apple Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Onions
  • Alcohol 
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomato Leaves
  • Salt


How much should you feed an African Grey parrot?

Currently, I advise owners of African Greys to feed their animals 10% seeds, 70% pellets, and 20% fresh food.

The amount of food you should feed your bird each day should be approximately 10% of its body weight. So, each day, a bird that weighs 500 grams would get about 50 grams of the food.

How often should you feed an African Grey parrot?

Parrots in captivity are often fed twice or three times a day. Depending on your schedule, you may decide when your bird eats.

Ideally, remove the breakfast bowl after thirty minutes and do not keep food in it except overnight. When your Grey has finished a busy day, he will be ready for dinner.

If you stick to this schedule, you may expect your bird to be more interested in his training sessions. He’ll have a good meal while it’s still hot and tasty.

Instead of putting food in the cage, which you should already be doing, try putting in some branches and chewable toys to keep the pet’s mind active.

What to Feed Baby Grey Parrots?

When hand-feeding a baby African Grey Parrot, it’s advisable to utilize a commercial baby parrot formula explicitly designed for African greys. Prepare the formula by blending warm bottled water with the powdered formula, refraining from heating the mixture in a microwave or on a stove.

As a supplementary measure, you can introduce a dish containing greens, various vegetables, and a modest quantity of fruit to complement their nutritional intake.

Signs that my African Grey is not Getting Enough Nutrition

Recognizing signs of potential nutritional deficiencies in your African Grey Parrot is crucial for their well-being. Indicators of malnutrition in birds may manifest as feather picking or issues with feather coloration, hormonal imbalances, obesity leading to heart problems, and a weakened immune system, making the bird susceptible to bacterial or fungal diseases.

Specific symptoms of nutritional deficiencies in African Grey Parrots encompass respiratory issues like wheezing, sneezing, and mouth breathing, as well as nasal discharge, plugged nostrils, swollen eyes, eye discharge, bad breath, white mouth patches, or a slimy mouth appearance.

Physical symptoms may include spinal or leg curvature, limping, wing favoritism (indicative of a potential broken bone), and beak bending during eating. Behavioral manifestations of nutritional deficiencies encompass depression, seizures, tremors, difficulty swallowing, weakened vocalizations, lack of balance, and involuntary eye movements.

It is crucial to emphasize that only a qualified avian veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis and prescribe an effective treatment plan for your bird. If you observe any of these signs, prompt consultation with a veterinarian is essential to ensure your African Grey Parrot receives the necessary care and nutrition for sustained health.

Conclusion

A balanced diet is essential to ensuring the health and happiness of your African Grey parrot. African Greys are not difficult to keep, as most of their feeding habits are similar to those of humans.

The most challenging aspect is teaching them to eat fruits and vegetables in a cheerful manner. Ensure that they are provided with fresh water at all times. The use of artificial colors and flavors is not recommended, as they may be harmful to your pet.

Author

  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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