Like other pets, parrots need a healthy, nutritious diet to thrive. But what foods can parrots eat?
Avian veterinarians recommend a parrot’s diet feature 50 to 70% pellets and 30 to 50% fresh foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains make up part of fresh food.
These birds need a healthy diet to overcome short- and long-term diseases. Let’s dive deeper to understand what foods a parrot can eat.
Quick Overview of a Parrot’s Diet
In a hurry? Don’t worry. Here is a glance at a parrot’s diet chart.
What Foods Should Parrots Eat?
Parrots can eat pellet diets, fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds, and whole grains. Here is a lengthy discussion about each food.
A pellet diet is among the best nutrition you can offer your parrot. Pellet diets are specially formulated to meet a parrot’s dietary needs.
Pellets are a combination of vegetables, seeds, fruits, and grains to provide healthy and balanced nutrition. The ingredients are processed, baked, and packed so your pet can get all the vital vitamins and minerals from one meal.
The diet should constitute 50 to 70% of your bird’s diet. Nevertheless, only buy high-quality parrot pellet brands with minimal fillers.
Some parrots find pellets delightful but get bored of them after a while. So, always enrich your bird’s diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fresh vegetables are nutritious and healthy. Dark leafy greens and yellow vegetables are more nutritious, but you can offer a variety of veggies to entice your colorful pet.
Examples of ideal fresh vegetables for your parrot are:
- Carrots are rich in vitamins A and D, and their tough nature is a perfect jaw workout for your bird.
- Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, and dandelion are excellent leafy greens for parrots. They provide omega-3 fatty acids to nourish your bird’s skin and feathers.
- Watercress: It is packed with vitamins A and K and is a favorite parrot food.
- Cucumbers: Cucumbers contain Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, Magnesium, and Manganese. Unfortunately, some parrots are allergic to cucumbers. So, offer tiny amounts at the start.
- Organic Pumpkin: It promotes cardiac health in parrots, thanks to the omega fatty acids. Pumpkin also contains antioxidants that help fight diseases.
- Parsnips: Parrots can eat parsnips as they promote cardiac health, digestion, and overall immunity.
- Radishes: Whether raw or cooked, radishes promote liver function and reduce the likelihood of your parrot developing diabetes. These veggies also improve heart health.
- Cilantro: The health benefits of cilantro are lower blood sugar levels, better brain function, improved heart health, and a better immune system.
- Peas: Peas are nutritious since they contain proteins, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates.
When offering vegetables, you can serve them whole, chopped, blanched, or cooked. Be creative about your mode of delivery so your bird can eat them happily.
You could try hanging them from the side of their cage or eat your veggies at the same time as your parrot. Their intelligent and curious nature will prompt them to follow your lead.
You should also offer a variety of fruits. Were your parrot’s choice, he would eat fruits all day, but this would not be a healthy diet. Therefore, ensure that fruits only make up 5 to 10% of your bird’s diet.
Some of the fruits you can offer are:
- Dragon Fruit: This fruit is rich in antioxidants that strengthen the immune system. They also contain micronutrients and promote a healthy gut.
- Berries: Parrots can eat berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. These flavorful fruits are rich in vitamins to boost your pet’s health.
- Apples: Apples also contain vitamins and are healthy for parrots. However, the pit and seeds are toxic.
- Peaches: Peaches have high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, and K, fiber, manganese, and potassium. Vitamin A promotes a healthy immune system to prevent eye infections or kidney disorders.
- Mangoes: The juicy mango fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals, and parrots enjoy its taste and juiciness.
- Grapes: Grapes are rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and manganese. But you should serve them in moderation.
- Bananas: Bananas are also healthy for parrots as they contain fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins a, C, and B6. They increase a parrot’s energy levels and improve eyesight and digestion.
- Watermelons: Choline in watermelons reduces inflammation in parrots and promotes muscle development and memory. Watermelons are also packed with antioxidants to fight infections.
You should offer these fruits as occasional treats.
Parrots mainly eat nuts and fruits in the wild. However, wild parrots expend energy flying to get these meals since food is not readily available. So, wild birds need the extra fats and sugars in the nuts and fruits to replace the lost energy.
We cannot say the same for captive-bred parrots. These birds use little energy throughout their day. In fact, their meals are always readily available.
If you primarily fed your parrots nuts and fruits, they would quickly become obese, which would affect their overall health. This is why nuts should only serve as bird treats.
The following nuts are healthy for parrots:
- Monkey Nuts: These nuts are a source of fats, fiber, and protein. However, do not offer flavored monkey nuts as they contain excess salt.
- Almonds: They are a source of protein, fiber, and calcium. Protein provides energy, while fiber promotes digestion and gut health. Calcium is essential for blood health, muscle contraction, and nerve impulses.
- Brazil Nuts: These nuts have high levels of essential vitamins and nutrients, including zinc, manganese, selenium, and phosphorus.
- Walnuts: Wild parrots feed on walnuts, a perfect supplement to your parrot’s diet. They are rich in protein and fats.
- Cashew Nuts: Unsalted cashew nuts are safe and healthy for your parrot. They are an excellent source of copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, and Vitamins B6, E, and K.
- Hazelnuts: Offering hazelnuts can improve heart health, protect against cancer, and promote brain function. These nuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols.
- Pistachios: Parrots love the taste of pistachios. Moreover, these nuts are high in proteins to help replace lost feathers during molting. Proteins also regulate a parrot’s body temperature.
- Pecan Nuts are rich in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins.
Remember, nuts should only serve as a treat regardless of their extensive health benefits.
Seeds & Whole Grains
Parrots also eat a variety of seeds in their natural habitats. Seeds are rich in fats which provide energy to these birds. Since your domestic parrot does not spend his day flying around, his diet should not feature many seeds.
Alternatively, offer freshly sprouted seeds. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. Moreover, they are easily digestible and have a higher bioavailability.
Additionally, offer whole grains since they are part of a parrot’s diet in the wild. Parrots can eat varied grains, whether raw or cooked.
You can feed your parrot the following:
- Oats: They are rich in proteins, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. However, parrots should eat oats as a treat, not a meal.
- Brussel Sprouts: These are healthy for your parrot, whether raw, boiled, or baked. Brussel sprouts contain fiber for a stronger bowel movement and antioxidants for an improved immune system.
- Brown Rice: Compared to white rice, brown rice has more fiber and nutrients. You can serve it raw or cooked. When serving cooked brown rice, do not add salt, spices, or sauce, as they are toxic to parrots.
- Barley: It is a source of fats, protein, iron, vitamin B6, and minerals. Its delicious taste makes it one of a parrot’s favorite grains.
- Quinoa: They are high in protein, calcium, fiber, and phosphorous in their sprouted, raw, or cooked form.
Which Foods are Toxic for Parrots?
There are several foods you should never offer your parrot. These foods can make your bird ill or, worse, kill them.
Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two toxic substances for parrots. Caffeine stimulates the heart and central nervous system. The increased heart stimulation can prove fatal for your small parrot’s body.
In addition, birds cannot metabolize theobromine correctly, which results in death. If your parrot steals chocolate and eats it, contact your vet immediately.
Oxalic acids present in rhubarb are toxic to parrots. This naturally-occurring compound binds to minerals to form oxalates. Oxalates prevent your parrot from absorbing other nutrients. Moreover, they make your bird prone to developing kidney stones.
Avocados contain persin, a natural fatty acid known to induce breathing problems in birds and lethargy. If your parrot eats too much persin, it may cause an accumulation of fluid in its internal organs. This results in respiratory issues and sudden death.
Onions, cooked, raw, or dehydrated, contain disulfides that induce Heinz body anemia. It may take up to a week for symptoms to manifest. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do when this happens.
Onions also have sulfur compounds that cause digestive upset or irritate a parrot’s mouth, esophagus, and crop. The acidity in onions can also cause mouth and stomach ulcers.
Garlic, like onions, can cause digestive problems for your parrot, even in small amounts. It contains sulfur compounds and Allicin, which can lead to anemia.
Raw mushrooms are toxic for parrots. As a type of fungi, mushroom stems and caps contain amatoxin that causes digestive problems, muscle aches, liver failure, and neurological damage.
You may cook the mushrooms to get rid of these toxins, but trace amounts remain even after cooking.
Apricot, cherry, and apple pits are among the fruit pits you should never feed your parrots. They contain cyanide which causes brain damage, seizures, low blood pressure, digestive problems, and premature death.
When parrots ingest salt, they may experience excessive thirst, urination, seizures, and death. Therefore, avoid sharing salty human food.
Parrots have small bodies that cannot flush toxins from alcohol easily. Taking small amounts of alcohol can lead to nausea, disorientation, breathing difficulties, liver damage, and heart damage.
As much as humans enjoy coffee, it is toxic to parrots. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the heart to cause hyperactivity and arrhythmias in parrots. This leads to dehydration, increased body temperature, seizures, and death.
Besides coffee, avoid giving your pet energy drinks since they contain caffeine.
Other Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Parrots
The following foods are not toxic but can result in dietary imbalances or an upset stomach.
Tomatoes are acidic and can cause ulcers if offered regularly. Additionally, the stems and leaves of a tomato plant are toxic for parrots and should be avoided.
Eggplants are safe for parrots. But the green parts of the eggplant contain solanine, a poison that causes gastrointestinal upset and neurological disorders. Your parrot may suffer from nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
Celery stalks can cause crop impaction, where the stalks get lodged in your parrot’s digestive tract. This can lead to infections, dehydration, hypoglycemia, and death when left untreated.
Some parrots are lactose intolerant and suffer diarrhea from ingesting dairy products. If your bird is lactose tolerant, you can offer small amounts of dairy, but it holds no nutritional value.
Parrots can have sugar in moderation. But overconsumption can lead to addiction, digestion problems, and obesity.
How Many Times Should I Feed My Parrot?
You should feed your parrots appropriate-portioned food twice a day. Remember, your bird does not expend much energy during the day. So, feeding too much will only lead to obesity and other illnesses.
How Much Should I Feed My Parrot?
It depends on your bird’s species, size, and eating preferences. You can observe your bird’s feeding habits and how much food you discard to gauge the appropriate portion.
Can Parrots Eat Human Food?
Yes, but it would be best not to share your food with parrots. Human foods are usually fatty, fried, salted, or sugary and can affect your parrot’s well-being.
Do Parrots Drink Water?
They sure do, and you should offer clean water daily. You could use tap water, filtered water, bottled water, or deionized water.
A parrot diet should feature 60% pellets, 30% vegetables, and 10% nuts, seeds, and grains. Include food with different tastes, textures, and colors to enrich your bird. You do not want to bore your parrot with the same diet every day.
Additionally, avoid overfeeding your parrot to prevent obesity and other weight-related problems.