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Breeding Parrots, Cockatiels and Lovebirds.

Specific feeding

There is not a specific parrot food, a combination of all kinds of food is the best choice. Just be absolutely careful about poisonous and dangerous food for parrots see in the page of toxic food.



Quality proteins

Proteins are made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of life. Many protein sources are of poor nutritional value because they have an incomplete balance of important amino acids. Incomplete sources of protein may be combined with others to form more complete proteins - for example rice and beans.

Non fat plain yoghurt, non fat or low fat cheese in moderation, tofu, non fat cottage cheese, and very hard boiled eggs. Well-cooked chicken, white fish, turkey, or very lean meats. Water packed tuna. Combinations of various grains, brown rice, enriched pasta, corn, nuts and/or various cooked beans. Commercially produced meal worms or insect larvae can also be a protein source for some birds. Extruded or pelleted diets manufactured for parrots. The protein and fat ratios are not formulated properly for parrots in dog food or cat food, but, as in Brazil we don’t have much choice...

High vitamin A vegetables are one of the most important foods you can get your parrot to eat. Although there are fruits that are higher in vitamin A than others, fruits are not generally as good a source as vegetables for this essential nutrient. Vitamin A is essential for skin and feather condition, eyesight, and helps the body fight infection by keeping the mucous membranes healthy.

A general rule of thumb is ‘the darker the flesh (not the skin) of the vegetable or fruit, the higher the carotene content.’ It is carotene that converts into vitamin A when metabolised by the digestive system. Veggies can be fed raw but are probably more digestible if they are cooked or baked. However, overcooking can destroy vitamin content.

Green Vegetables -Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, dandelion greens, water cress, beet greens, chicory, chard, parsley, green peppers, alfalfa, hot peppers. Yellow-orange Vegetables Sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, butternut squash, Hubbard squash, acorn squash, hot peppers, red peppers, pumpkin. Fruits With Decent Vitamin A Peaches, nectarines, apricots, Japanese persimmon, cantaloupe, raw plantain, papaya, sour red cherry. Vitamin A is also available from eggs, meat, and many kinds of cheeses in the form of retinol but these should be considered in the other categories.

Other veggies and fruits - While these foods many not be high in vitamin A, they still have other nutritional value or psychological benefit as part of a varied diet. Corn on the cob, peas in the pod, bean sprouts, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, leeks, artichokes, zucchini, green beans, okra, asparagus, beets, tomato, potato, apples, grapes, banana, guava, berries, pomegranates, tangerines, oranges, figs, blueberries, plums, kiwi fruit, cranberries, prickly pear, pineapple, etc.

Whole grain bread or toast, low sugar or unsweetened cereals, whole grain pastas, whole grain ‘energy bars,’ brown rice, low fat granola, wheat germ, wild rice, oat bran, amaranth, quinoa, triticale, plus whole grain unsalted chips, pretzels, and crackers.

Carbohydrates - Fruits, pasta, grains, bread, corn, beans, potatoes, peas, dairy, nuts, seeds. The last three items can provide your parrot with a small amount of fat needed in the diet. Anything that is nutritious can be added to the glop for a variety in texture, colour, and shapes. I will feed it plain or mix one or more of the following: finely chopped collard (mustard or turnip) greens, kale or broccoli flowers, grated carrots, wheat germ, oat bran, no sugar breakfast cereal, grated tofu-cheese, non-fat cottage cheese, chopped nuts or raisons, chopped very hard boiled egg, pasta, brown rice, well, cooked chopped chicken, powdered pellets.

Remember that any soft food will develop bacteria if left too long in the cage. I serve each batch fresh never use leftovers as ingredients. I never have to worry about this mushy mixture going bad because all of my birds eat it as soon as I put it in their food bowls. Their feather condition is superb. If you only have one bird and want to make the whole batch, the ‘glop’ can be rolled into balls or placed in an ice cube tray and frozen. Thaw as needed but don’t overcook. Add any supplement after heating. If at first your bird doesn’t like this nutritious mixture - keep trying.

Parrot's needs are no different to any other creature. For them to thrive, they need to eat a healthy, yet varied diet. If your parrot lives in-doors then variety is even more important. People's opinion, on what should or should not be eaten, varies as much as food itself. This article is intended to give you an idea of what they should be eating on a regular basis and why. It is also written in layman's terms, so as to be understood by all, and not just nutritional experts and vets. The article is not just based on findings from one or two pet parrots but is based on information on hundreds of parrots that have been in both the sanctuary and pet environments. Your parrot does not have to eat everything that is shown in the list below since availability may be a problem.

However, the more varied the diet, the better they will absorb the different minerals and vitamins needed along with adding natural stimulus to their daily routine. First of all, it is wise to understand just what a parrot needs and why? Parrots, like most flying creatures, burn up calories very quickly since their metabolism works at high speed. Therefore, they need foods that will give them energy as and when it is needed. Carbohydrates must be available in high quantities as they convert to energy very easily.

Parrots are often fed leftovers from their owners plates which they rarely refuse. Why? Well they need quite similar vitamins and minerals as us humans do and, in my experience, parrots will eat anything and everything. They seem to have the ability to know what they are lacking, in dietary terms, and will tend to eat more of the food that contains essential nutrients that they are deficient in. Much the same as pregnant women with their crazy cravings really. But they're not that crazy when you analyse why they want them. My wife ate liver for the first time in 25 years while pregnant with our second child and, on visiting the doctors, they found that she was iron deficient and the cravings were trying to replenish her needs.

So give variety and feed at the correct times to give your birds the choice. I know a lot of people will be saying, "I can't get my bird to eat anything other than sunflower seeds" or something similar. This is where feeding regimes come into play. Believe me, your parrot will be eating all sorts of foods very quickly if it is fed at the correct times. A little tip here; parrots in the wild never get the option of cold foods because, where they live, it's always very warm and humid, so the food, be it vegetable matter or meat, never has chance to cool down. There are no fridges in the jungle!! Therefore, when you're trying to get new food into your bird, try warming it for a few seconds in the microwave.

You'll be amazed at how many birds will eat it almost instantly. (NOTE: Make sure that you leave it for a few moments before offering it to make sure it has stopped cooking.) Don't worry about how much your bird eats. He may throw the food away the first time it is offered or he may just take a small bite. Keep on offering it and he will soon take as much as he needs. I am not going to go into what vitamins and minerals they need here. That subject is covered in more detail in its own section on this site. However, I will say why they need certain foods and how they will benefit from them.

Feather growth, although we take it for granted, is a big strain on a parrot's body and if they do not take in the correct nutrients to assist the growth then the bird may suffer severe induced stress which can lead to all kinds of problems. These problems may include Amino Acid deficiency. Amino Acids, such as methionine and lysine, are required to manufacture the proteins necessary for feather growth. Large quantities will be needed when the bird is moulting. Vegetable protein, as a source of these amino acids, is not as efficient as animal protein. Adding cheese, cooked egg, chicken or fish to the diet will be helpful.


When do you feed your parrot? I have done extensive research in this area. The results are based on watching parrots in a pet situation living in a house and parrots living in a semi-natural lifestyle in a colony system outside. Pet parrots tend to have a food bowl offered to them in the morning. Usually, it's the same bowl, in the same location and it is left there all day, with a few titbits offered now and then. This is no good for either your parrot or your pocket as you will find yourself throwing just as much food away as what the parrot actually eats.

Only giving the parrot one meal a day, containing a variety of mixed parrot seed or pellets, whichever you use, will cause the parrots to become very selective and picky, trashing what they don't need, and eating only what they want. The fact that there are always plenty of unopened seeds, and uneaten pellets, means that you must be giving far more food than is necessary. The result? He can pick out what he wants and leaves the rest.

Parrots in the wild and in colony aviaries will fill their crops to bursting point in the morning, which will then slowly release into their system throughout the day. In the evening they will go and do the same, taking them through the night. You would be amazed at how much food it takes to fill the crop, of say, an African Grey. Definitely not the bucket full most owners will give their birds. In fact, the amount of a good quality parrot mix offered, should be approx 30/35g or a level serving-spoonful. It is up to you what you feed in which order but, here at the sanctuary, we offer the seed mix with a little fruit and veg in the morning and the animal matter with fruit and veg in the evening. We never have any waste and all the birds are of good weight. The birds inside the house weigh only a fraction more than the birds outside. The mainstay of the diet should consist of mixed fruit and vegetables with some form of animal protein.

The remaining part can be of a good mixed parrot food or a pelleted mix. When feeding fruit and veg, just think a little about what your parrot has to do to eat it. If it is all cut up into little chunks, it looks lovely to us, but it is not very stimulating to your bird. Give it a full apple or a full carrot, hanging on a string, to make life a little more interesting and make the bird work for his dinner. This all adds up to your parrot having to think a little more about what it's doing and therefore fills in a little more of his day. It may sound simple but this kind of food activity can keep your parrot sane.

When feeding parrot mix, choose one that has a good variety of seeds in it and not a cheap mix that is 75% sunflower. Make sure that it has a good variety of dried fruit and vegetables. If you're using pelleted diets, make sure your bird has free access to fresh water because, in tests, we have noticed a considerable increase in water consumption. If at all possible, move the feeding pots to different locations of the cage each day. Forget about the "move anything in his cage and he will freak" idea. He'll get upset because he has been spoilt and has got himself into a rut. Don't worry about this and just move things about only moderately initially. Then, once he is used to a little furniture moving, make it a bit more radical.

Now for a long list of foods that he can, and should, be eating on a regular basis. Don't worry about when and what. Just try to make sure he is offered something from each list each day. Also take into consideration that, no matter how good and varied your offering is, many vitamins and minerals only work effectively when the bird has some exposure to natural sunlight (not through glass). For example, sunlight is a very important vehicle for calcium to be absorbed at the correct rate. Try to make it possible, in nice weather, for your bird to have at least 30 minutes sunshine each day. It will do him the world of good.

When feeding grown food, such as nuts, please make sure they are prepared for human consumption as some nuts that are grown wild have a toxic quality that can kill you parrot. This is the reason that Macaws will find Kale in the wild. Nuts should only be fed in very small quantities.

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