How And What To Feed Your Pet Bird Or Parrot

Hand Feeding King Parrot
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What to feed that beautiful feathered being in the cage across the room?


Facebook is an endless source of poorly regurgitated information about everything from bird chops to smoothies (really?)


Let’s take the time to stop and think about what the professionals, the veterinarians, the ornithologists, the scientists, that have already contributed to the discussion of feeding your bird?

There are certain environmental facts that are indisputable.


Not that your bird will ever experience what it’s ancestors went through to get to this point in time.


Please remember that in the wild, birds have access to a great diversity of food, it is also important to recreate these components for any pet bird – to scale.


Luckily on the market today there are many formulated based diet options available.


These excellent food choices regularly come in the form of pellets, crumbles, nuggets, or cakes and make up approximately 65% to 80% of your bird’s diet.


The first thing you need to know is one of the foods right for the species you are caring for?


If you get it right you can stave off lots of health and behavioral issues.


If you’ve been meandering and not sure what to feed your bird, now is the time to stop and learn.


The majority of pet bird deaths are caused by malnutrition.


Malnutrition in pet birds is a human generated disease that is preventable.


There is only one species of dog.


Conversely there are several hundred species of birds having their own unique dietary challenges.


100 million years of evolution has taught us that we can divide the birds we keep as pets into basically five categories.

  • Granivore – Primary diet of grains and seeds – Think budgies, cockatiels, scarlet macaws and wait for it……Hyacinth macaws.


  • Frugivore – Primary diet of mostly fruits and flowers with some additional nuts and seeds – Think green-wing and blue-throated macaws, orange winged amazon.


  • Florivore – Primary diet of seeds, fruits, nuts, bark, roots, and berries – Think blue and gold macaw,scarlet macaw and military macaw.


  • Omnivore – Primary diet of seeds, fruits, insects, and invertebrates – Think sulphur crested cockatoo and red-tailed amazon.



  • Nectarivore – Primary diet of nectar, pollen, and some insects and seeds – Think lorikeets.


One of my favorite quotes from Mark Hagen of HARI is


“Some breeders have a romantic notion that captive (bird) diets which are complicated, labor intensive, using expensive ingredients are the most nutritious.


Yet it is possible to feed easy to prepare, cost efficient diets which do not compromise proper levels of essential nutrients”.


Let’s expand on that.


Although the seeds offered by commercial bird food manufacturers are of the highest quality they will never be identical to the seeds found by your bird should they have lived in the wild due to their original origins.

Also published on Medium.


He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.