Feeding your bird for health

by Dr. Michael Averill  BVSc


Variety is important when it comes to feeding your pet bird. Seeds alone are not a proper balanced diet for them. Birds are often uniquely adapted to eating seeds and nuts and love to eat them. However they often become addicted to eating their favourite foods like some people do with junk food. Sunflower seeds, for example, are high in fat and a common cause of obesity, health problems and a shortened lifespan in pet birds. Budgies,cockatiels and cockatoos seem particularly prone to putting on weight. Regular exercise is also important for your pet bird.


The current thinking is that pelleted diets should make up about 80% of your bird's diet and seeds less than 20% of their diet. Pelleted food is a blend of foods , such as grain, seeds, vegetables, fruits and various protein sources which are specially formulated in size and content for any given species. Any change from an all seed diet to more varied diet including pellets must be gradual and carefully supervised to make sure that your bird keeps eating, passing droppings normally and maintaining its correct weight. Ideally your pet bird should be checked first by your veterinarian to make sure he is in good health as a diet change can be stressful and birds will often hide signs of illness.


Your pet bird should also be given a wide range of fruits and vegetables, including beans, corn, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, pears and oranges. These should be fresh, washed before they are offered to your bird and replaced before they become spoiled. Healthy human foods such as rice, pasta, whole grain breads, eggs (boiled or scrambled), and lower fat meat such as cooked chicken can also be fed sparingly to parrots. Lorikeets have different requirements to other pet birds as they are nectar feeders and do best on a diet of liquids and fruits.


AVOID feeding avocado, chocolate or offering alcohol or caffeine containing drinks to your bird as these are all poisonous to them.


A cuttlefish bone is a good source of calcium and a useful addition to the cage of pet birds and especially important if they are growing or laying eggs. Grit is no longer considered necessary in the diet of parrots and can in fact cause blockages if they eat too much. Finches and canaries can still be ffered a tiny amount of grit every few months. Vitamin and mineral supplements are only necessary if your bird isn't fed a balanced diet. Finally always make sure that you supply your bird with fresh water and keep the water dish clean.


*Dr. Michael Averill is the Practice Manager and Head Veterinarian.  He has a special interest in bird health and medicine.  You can get an appointment with Dr. Averill for your bird, by telephoning our Straven Road Branch on 348 9728.


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