Suggestions on feeding pet and breeding parrots
There are a number of parrot foods on the market today for your companion birds. Certainly, for parrots, a diet of seeds and nuts is a good base. Supplements and fresh foods should also be added.
Let’s first look at seed and nut diets. There are some that are just that, seed and nut. Others have brightly colored pellets and seeds that have been covered with vitamins in the food dye. Most have bits of dried papaya, banana and apple. Some seed and nut mixtures are heavy on sunflower seeds. These should be avoided, as many birds become “Sunflower seed junkies” and eat sunflower seeds almost to the exclusion of everything else. Also, a surprising amount of birds, especially Amazons, have peanut allergies. This is not similar to nut allergies in people. Peanut allergies in birds are specifically an allergy to peanuts. It can cause dry, scaly feet which are very uncomfortable, sneezing with discharge and a distinct change in temperament. A parrot with a peanut allergy may love peanuts. Due to the allergy however, the bird may be difficult to handle or scream a lot. Just to be safe, don’t buy peanuts as a treat and pick them out of the seed and nut feed. Your parrot won’t miss what he never knows. As far as sunflower seeds, try to find a feed that has a low amount of sunflower seeds. There are benefits to the natural oil and nutrition found in sunflower seed, but they can’t be the sole thing your birds eat, which happens with some birds that are sunflower seed crazy.
Pellets are a food source that people agree and disagree with. They should not be provided as a complete diet. They lack some vital nutrients. They are colorful and smell fruity and are attractive to us. However, many birds have no interest in them. Birds and especially nesting, feeding and baby birds have different protein needs at different times in their life cycle. Pellets as a lone diet do not provide this variation and if used with other foods, the nutrients that pellets do provide are diluted. Better to avoid an all pellet diet.
Fresh foods are vital to offering a balanced nutritious diet. Birds are attracted to many types of fruits and vegetables. Like us, each bird has particular likes and dislikes. Fruits should be offered daily. But as they have a high level of sugar and moisture, should only make up a small percentage of the diet, sometimes only as treats through the day. Fruits like peaches and cherries should have the pits removed, the pits can be toxic. If you have dogs in your home, refrain from feeding raisins, as raisins are toxic and sometimes deadly to dogs and dogs are always hanging out by the bird cage, looking around for everything that has fallen on the floor. Vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Root vegetables, leafy greens, peppers, beans and peas, and corn are big favorites of parrots. If you cut the corn on the cob into pieces, the bird will eat the corn and use the cob as a toy. Make sure to cut pieces of fruit and vegetable large enough that the bird can hold them in his foot. At the same time, do not cut them so large that he cannot hold them in his foot. The bird may not bother with something he can’t pick up. But sometimes, a bird will nibble at a large piece of fruit or vegetable left in his treat cup. Most important to remember is to empty and thoroughly clean all water, feed and treat cups and bowls twice daily. This is especially true of fresh food cups as the food will spoil quickly and make the bird sick.
Another popular food for parrots is fresh cooked food. There are mixtures that you can find online and in your pet or feed store. You can also experiment to see what your bird likes out of your kitchen cabinets. Oatmeal, rice, couscous, wheat, barley and a lot of cooked grains may be something that your bird enjoys and are a healthy addition to his diet.
There is a great temptation to give your bird snacks and treats that you enjoy. While the occasional piece of crust from a cheese pizza (no greasy meats) is alright, never give heavily processed junk food like potato chips, cheese puffs, French fries, candy and such. Chocolate is the number one food that you should never feed your bird, under any circumstances. It first affects the digestive system, causing diarrhea and vomiting. Vomiting is very rare in birds and can cause aspiration. As the condition gets worse, the central nervous system is affected and seizures occur. All of this inevitably leads to death. Apples seeds, just like the pits of apricots and avocados, contain levels of cyanide. The skin of an apple can have pesticides and wax on it. It is best to find organic, un-waxed apples. Always be sure to clean and core the apple thoroughly. Avocados were just mentioned. Not only the pit, but the skin is toxic to birds. Some would argue that the flesh of the avocado is also toxic. Best to avoid avocado and guacamole altogether. It should go without saying, but alcohol should never be given to your bird. Alcohol weakens all organ systems and is usually fatal. Mushrooms can cause digestive upset and some varieties can bring on liver failure. All green parts of the tomato are highly toxic. Be sure to cut all parts of the stem and do not give any of the leafy parts to the bird. Even moderate consumption of onions can bring on digestive issue including vomiting and diarrhea. Excessive consumption can lead to respiratory distress and death. Salt intake should be closely monitored. Excessive thirst can lead to dehydration, kidney failure and eventually, death. Thoroughly cook any beans you give your bird. Uncooked beans are toxic. Caffeine is very dangerous for birds. Caffeine can cause hyperactivity, raised heartbeat, arrhythmia and cardiac arrest.
As you have read, you should research thoroughly the diet you feed your bird. These are some tips, that are hopefully, helpful.