A trio of picky parrots – conure, cockatiel and parakeet are picky eaters – help!

budgies eating millet
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From: Wanda  <xxxxxxx@gmail.com>

I have 3 birds, a conure, cockatiel and a parakeet. My birds are really fussy about their food. I feed the parakeet Hartsfield, the cockatiel is very fussy, I’m trying  to teach her to forge her food. She just throw her food out of the cage and use her dish as a toilet. The conure is very fussy too but she does look for her food until she finds what she wants.

Hi Wanda,

You didn’t mention how your birds are housed so I must assume they are each in their own cage of appropriate size. If they share a big cage or aviary, the dynamics of the situation change somewhat. 

You mentioned that you feed the parakeet Hartsfield. This is not a brand I’m familiar with nor could I find it on the internet. I believe you mean Hartz Mountain, a common brand of small bird food sold in cardboard boxes in superstores and grocery stores. I can’t recommend using that type of food because it may have been on the shelf and in warehousing for a very long time since it was packaged. The food can be old and won’t provide good nutrition for your little keet. The same is true if you are buying food for your cockatiel and conure at places that do not specialize in the freshest, healthiest bird diets. It can contain moth larvae that eat the inside of the seeds, leaving nothing for the bird and only causes seed moths to fly around your house unless you are unusually clean about removing every single seed every day. 

Any all seed diet requires supplementation or you are slowly starving the bird to death, significantly shortening its lifespan and leaving it open to opportunistic diseases. All your birds may fit into this category. More about supplements further on.

Birds that are on all seed diets can be converted to pellet diets with which no supplements are required. The conversion can be very easy with some birds but require a little longer with others. You find your birds to be picky eaters but they would convert over time. In fact, we have a plan on how to do the conversion as easily as possible. This plan happens to refer to Hagen pellets, a very good balanced option available for every size bird but the concepts are valid for any brand of pellet diet. 

Great choices in pellet diets include those available for your size birds from Higgin’s Intune line of pellets or Harrison’s Organic NonGMO pellet line. Either of these choices are available in sizes for every parrot species and they are great for foraging by hiding some in foraging toys.

We have found that Hagen Living World parakeet seed is a very excellent, fresh product that comes in factory sealed bags. It has a “use before” date, just like human foods so you know you are not feeding old, stale seed. The fresher the seed, the more nutrients it has available for the bird. Higgins Vita Seed with Probiotics is also available for your parakeet as well as your other parrots.

lorikeets eating meat outside

we have learned these Australian lorikeets are carnivores

You didn’t mention what you are feeding the cockatiel and conure so I imagine you are feeding them seed diets as well. You’ll find a great choice for each in Hagen Living World Cockatiel blend and Hagen Living World Small Parrot blend or choose the appropriate size Vita Seed blend from the Higgins link above.

You mentioned the conure picks through the food until it finds what it wants. The problem with this is that it is only eating some of the types of seed in the food. All too often they choose the high fat seeds like sunflower, rejecting all else. Cockatiels sometimes do the same thing with their food. By choosing a no sunflower blend like  in the size for cockatiels to conures, you’ll avoid the “sunflower addict” problem and round out their nutrition. Or choose one of the other no sunflower foods for your cockatiel and conure.

You mentioned foraging and birds need to forage for some of their food. It is more like the experience they have in nature. You can use special treats, fruits, veggies and Lafebers AviCakes and Nutriberries to provide enrichment in their diet and lives.

If you do choose to stick with a seed diet, and many parrot parents do choose to do so — me included, you can add Avitech Avivita Plus multivitamin supplement or Nekton S multivitamin supplement.  If you have a specific health problem, your vet may recommend additional supplements which you will find in the Avitech and Nekton sections of the site.

Good luck and please let us know how you decide to proceed and your experiences.

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman

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