Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Ali Shahid
Parrots need the right food to stay healthy. Parrots are omnivores, which means they can eat both meat and vegetation. They need protein to grow and stay healthy, which they get from things like pellets, fruits, and legumes.
Carbohydrates give them energy, found in grains, fruits, and veggies. Fats are important but should be limited. Vitamins and minerals are crucial, with pellets being a good source. Clean water is a must. Their diet in the wild can vary considerably, and they like to eat fruit and fruit seeds, nuts, flowers, and corn where they can find it.
In captivity, it is essential to provide them with a varied diet that includes fresh vegetables, fruit, and either pellets or seed mixes. In the end, a balanced diet keeps our feathered friends healthy and happy. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about parrot diets.
Parrots Nutritional Requirements
Parrots need different types of food to stay healthy. A good diet is very important for their well-being. Here’s what parrots need to eat:
- Protein: Parrots need protein for growing, staying healthy, and fixing their bodies. They can get protein from things like pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, and legumes.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates give parrots the energy they need. They can find carbohydrates in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Fats: Fats are important for parrots, but they should not eat too much of them. Nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats, but they should only eat a little because they have a lot of fat.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Parrots need different vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Pellets have all the vitamins and minerals parrots need, but fresh fruits and vegetables can give them even more.
- Water: Parrots need clean and fresh water all the time. You should change their water every day and clean their water bowl regularly to stop bacteria from growing.
Remember, different kinds of parrots might need different foods. It’s a good idea to talk to a vet who knows about birds to make sure your parrot’s diet is right for them.
What do Parrots Eat in the Wild?
In the wild, parrots have a diverse menu that includes:
- Seeds: Parrots eat seeds in the wild, but they shouldn’t eat too many of them. Seeds are high in fat and low in important nutrients, which can lead to health problems.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Wild parrots enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, giving them vital vitamins and minerals. However, these should only make up a small part, about 10-20%, of their diet because they can be high in sugar.
- Nuts: Nuts are a natural part of a parrot’s diet, but they should be given in small amounts because they are rich in fat. The best choice is raw, unsalted nuts. Avoid feeding them peanuts, as they can be harmful to parrots.
- Flowers and Leaves: Parrots also munch on flowers and leaves, adding extra nutrients and variety to their diet.
- Insects: Some parrot species include insects and insect larvae in their diet, which provide protein and other essential nutrients.
The Ideal Diet for Captive Parrots
Contrary to what many people think, most parrots shouldn’t eat seed mixes as their main food. For pet parrots, it’s best to feed them a mix of high-quality pellets and fresh, whole foods. These pellets are specially designed to give parrots all the important nutrients they need, so they should be the biggest part of a parrot’s diet.
Fresh foods, like fruits, veggies, and legumes, should also be given daily. Try to make about 40% of their diet come from fresh fruits and vegetables, and go for organic options when you can to avoid pesticides.
Here’s the ideal diet for parrots:
- Pellets: These should make up around 60-70% of a parrot’s daily meals because they have all the essential nutrients parrots need (VCA Animal Hospital).
- Fresh Fruits and Veggies: These should be about 30-40% of a parrot’s daily meals (VCA Animal Hospital). Give them various fresh, raw, and unsweetened fruits like berries, apples, pears, and melons. Good veggies include carrots, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
- Seeds: Seeds should only be a small part of their diet and should never be the whole diet. Seeds are often high in fat and low in important nutrients, which can lead to health issues.
- Nuts: Offer nuts in moderation since they’re high in fat. Raw, unsalted nuts are the best, and avoid giving them peanuts because they can be harmful.
- Legumes: Cooked beans, lentils, and chickpeas are a good protein source for parrots. Don’t feed them kidney beans, as these can be toxic.
- Grains: You can give them small amounts of cooked whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats for carbohydrates.
Remember, different types of parrots might have specific dietary needs. It’s a good idea to consult with a vet who knows about bird nutrition to ensure your parrot gets the right diet. Also, the frequency of feeding can vary depending on the parrot’s species, size, and what you prefer, but a general rule is to feed them twice a day.
|Category||Foods for Parrots (Examples)|
|Fruits||Apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, papaya, kiwi, mango, pineapple, cherries (pits removed), figs, raspberries, blackberries, guava, starfruit, passion fruit, pomegranate, cranberries, apricots, peaches, plums|
|Vegetables||Carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, peas, corn, spinach, kale, zucchini, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, beets, brussels sprouts, celery, cilantro, parsley, radishes, turnip greens, butternut squash, pumpkin, collard greens|
|Seeds||Sunflower seeds (in moderation), pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, safflower seeds, quinoa, millet, amaranth|
|Nuts||Almonds (in moderation), walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios (in moderation), macadamia nuts (in moderation), peanuts (in moderation, and ensure they are unsalted)|
|Legumes||Chickpeas, lentils, split peas, green beans, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, soybeans, mung beans, edamame, black-eyed peas|
What Do Baby Parrots Eat?
In the world of baby parrots, their meals are quite unique and tailored to their specific parrot type. For example, young macaws, often called hatchlings, enjoy a meal of partially digested fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and seeds provided by their parents.
Out in their natural habitat, both mom and dad parrots share the responsibility of feeding their offspring. Baby macaws typically learn to eat on their own around 6 to 9 months of age. However, if you have a baby parrot without parents, you’ll need to take on the responsibility of feeding it. Feeding a baby parrot involves a schedule that changes as they grow:
1. First Two Weeks: During the initial two weeks, baby parrots need to be fed 5 to 10 times every 2 to 3 hours each day.
2. Up to Five Months: For the first five months, baby parrots should be hand-fed with a special ready-to-feed formula.
After the weaning period, baby parrots can transition to a diet that includes soaked seeds, fresh fruits, vegetables, a few green leaves, and cooked corn. Their digestive systems need time to become strong enough to handle solid foods.
Here are some tips for feeding baby parrots:
- To mimic the weaning process, consider finger-feeding moist and warm foods like cooked carrots and yams.
- Using a cup of formulated parrot food, moistened with hot water, can be an easier way to transition babies to solid food compared to seeds or hard vegetables.
- The amount and frequency of feeding depend on the age and growth rate of the baby parrot. Young birds require more frequent feedings than older ones.
- All feedings should be done between 6 a.m. and midnight.
- Prematurely stopping the feeding process can lead to health and behavioral issues.
It’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian to receive specific feeding instructions tailored to your parrot’s species and age.
What Can Parrots Can not Eat?
There are certain foods that should be kept away from a parrot’s diet:
1. Seeds: While an occasional serving of seeds can be a treat, they should not make up a significant portion of a parrot’s diet. Seeds are high in fat and low in essential nutrients.
2. Toxic Foods: Parrots must never consume foods that are toxic to them, such as chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, avocado, and onions.
3. High-Sugar and High-Fat Foods: Refrain from giving parrots foods that are rich in sugar, fat, and salt, as these can lead to problems like obesity and other health issues. This includes processed foods, junk food, and fast food.
4. Dairy Products: Parrots are lactose intolerant and should not be given any dairy products.
5. Human Food: Avoid feeding parrots food meant for humans, as it might contain ingredients that are harmful to them or not suited to their nutritional needs.
How often should parrots be fed?
Feeding parrots can vary depending on the type, size, and what you prefer as the owner. But, here’s a good rule to follow: feed them twice a day, in the morning and evening. Some people like to leave food out all day, but that’s not a good idea because it can make the parrot fat and cause health problems.
In the morning and evening, offer a bit of birdseed and fresh food like fruits and veggies. After an hour, take away any food that’s left to keep it fresh. You can give them pellets in the morning, and parrots usually eat them throughout the day. For small parrots, about 1/4 cup of pellets a day is enough, while large parrots can have about 1/2 cup a day.
Don’t forget to give them a little bit of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. It’s a good idea to talk to a vet who knows about birds to make sure your parrot is eating the right stuff and staying healthy.
Can Parrots Eat Treats?
Certainly, parrots enjoy treats too! You can indulge your pet parrot with goodies like treat sticks, whole unsalted peanuts in their shells, and even some leftover bits from your table. They have a soft spot for slightly firm pasta, a nibble of dry wholewheat toast, and they can even handle a slice of jalapeno pepper (with seeds, but in moderation).
Just keep in mind that treats should be a rare and special treat. So, limit treats to a few nibbles a week. Sharing some penne with your parrot on pasta night is perfectly fine!
Homemade parrot food
Enjoy cooking? You can create various delicious treats for your pet parrots right in your own kitchen. Try your hand at making birdie bread, sweet potato balls, seed treats, and many more. Plus, the great news is that most of these treats can be frozen, allowing you to have a supply that lasts for months.
Therefore, it is crucial to provide the right diet for parrots in order to ensure their health and well-being. They require a balanced combination of high-quality pellets (60-70%) and fresh, whole foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up a substantial portion of their diet, around 40%.
It’s essential to limit seeds, nuts, and grains, offering them in moderation. Avoid toxic and unhealthy foods, such as chocolate or high-sugar treats.
Always consult a veterinarian for guidance, as different parrot species may have specific dietary needs. Remember, a well-rounded diet ensures our feathered companions thrive and lead fulfilling lives.
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.