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Bird Diets: Foods to Favor, Foods to Avoid

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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A balanced diet is a necessity to allow the bird to live a full and healthy life. Here are some foods to favor, and others to avoid.
Seed-eating birds

Even for seed-eating birds, seeds alone are not a proper diet. When multiple types of seed are offered, the seed-only diet will not supply the necessary array of vitamins and minerals that is needed for optimal health. Birds love seeds like children love candy. They'll eat a favorite seed instead of what is healthy for them. The best diet for most seed-eating birds consists of pelleted foods, fruits, and vegetables, and an occasional treat.

Formulated diets are readily available. The food is a blend of grains, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and various types of proteins, as well as additional vitamins and minerals. The ingredients are mixed and then baked. The food may be in the form of pellets, crumbles, or nuggets. Unlike a seed mixture, the bird cannot select particular components out of a formulated diet, so nutritional imbalances are much less likely to occur. ZuPreem AvianMaintenance formulas, Lafeber's Premium Daily Diet and Exact Rainbow and Original diets, are all excellent choices.

Fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before feeding. Remove the pits and apple seeds from the fruit. Any fruits and vegetables left uneaten should be discarded daily to avoid spoilage. Cooked foods such as those from Pretty Bird can also be nutritious and satisfying. These emphasize use of fresh and frozen ingredients over canned, due to freshness, nutrition value, and low salt content.

Non-seed eating birds

Prepared formula diets for non-seed eating birds such as Lories and Lorikeets are commercially available. Some of these may be fed dry or moistened; others need to be made into a solution and fed as nectar. The nectar will need to be replaced several times daily; every 4 hours in hot weather. The diet should also include some fruits such as apples, pomegranates, papaya, grapes, cantaloupe, pineapple, figs, and kiwi.

Foods to avoid

The wrong foods can shorten the life of your pet by causing intestinal disorders, allergies, feather and skin problems, and other diseases. This list of foods is headed up with processed foods from your own table that contain high amounts of salt, sugar, or fat. Be especially wary of junk foods such as cheese puffs, potato chips, breakfast cereals, pastries and doughnuts. Other harmful foods include:

  • Avocados
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Chocolate and caffeine
  • Products containing white or bleached flour
  • Rhubarb
  • Raw peanuts
The easiest and safest way to add variety and nutrition to your bird's diet is with the many staple diets, supplements, and treats.
ZuPreem AvianMaintenance FriutBlend Lafeber's Premium Daily Diet Kaytee Exact Rainbow


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