Psittacine Bird Diet Recommendations
by C. Newman, PhD, DVM1
Newman Veterinary Medical Services®

Pretty BirdIn the wild, psittacine birds consume a variety of food items: vegetables, fruit, seed, insect and animal products, Pretty Bird...."Good Morning"all being consumed to some degree. In captivity, the underlying cause of many diseases is malnutrition. This is usually manifest due to misinformation about the dietary needs of captive birds, often by well meaning but ill-informed pet store persons, from whom such birds are purchased. The value of feeding commercial seed as the exclusive diet is too frequently extolled. Yet we know that most seed mixes are deficient in essential amino acids ( the building blocks of protein), calcium, vitamins A and D and, if fed exclusively, are in general too high in fat content for our sedentary pets.

There are numerous brands of commercially prepared pelleted diets for birds which are thought by some to be more wholesome than the traditional seed fare. However, be aware that the exact nutritional requirements of each of several hundred distinct avian species are NOT known. Given this unknown, it is conceivable that some pelleted diets, if they are the only source of nutrition, might actually be harmful to some avian species. For this reason, whether or not you are supplementing the diet with pellets, the importance of also providing a variety of different foods from all the food groups can not be overemphasized!

The following foods (Veggies, Grains, Nuts, Dairy, Meats, Fruit) are suggested for your bird. This list is meant only to suggest some of the kinds of foods you should consider; Keep in mind that as a rule of thumb, birds can and should eat whatever people eat.2

Fresh Vegetables Grains Nuts
Red Peppers Whole Grain Bread Walnuts
Green Pepper Cooked brown rice Brazil Nuts
Cucumbers Pasta noodles: cooked or raw Pine Nuts
Tomatoes Oatmeal Peanuts
Green Peas in Pod Low salt crackers/ Graham crackers Almonds
Corn Sugarless cereals: Cheerios,Nutrigrain, Puffed Wheat,Puffed Rice, Life, Chex Hazel Nuts
Corn on the cob    
Squash/Acorn Squash    
Green peas Meat Group Dairy
Dark green cabbage    
Spinach Roast Beef Cheeses
Kale Steak Cottage Cheese
Carrots: raw or cooked Chicken and parts including bones ...cooked Yogurt
Potatoes/Sweet potatoes/Yams: Turkey ....cooked Scrambled eggs
Cauliflower Hot Dogs Hard boiled eggs

Beans: Kidney, Pinto, Navy

Tuna fish packed in water

Beef liver, cooked

Turnips: cooked


Brussel Sprouts Pomegranates Berries
Chard Melons Strawberries
Zucchini Figs Cantaloupe
Green beans Raisins Apricots
  Oranges Mangos
  Lemons Papaya
  Grapes Bananas
  Apples/ Applesauce  

2Cuttle bone or mineral block is recommended; Gravel or grit is NOT recommended! Chocolate is toxic and some avocados may be toxic to some birds. Iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value and its use is discouraged. The use of vitamins is somewhat debatable, depending in large part on the proportion of the nutrition that is from commercial pelleted diet. Consultation with your veterinarian is recommended.



Other Notes of Importance:

1 The information contained herein represents the opinion and judgement of the author, based upon his interpretation of revered veterinary journals, comments and discussions with respected colleagues, anecdotal reports and comments from and to knowledgeable veterinarians world-wide via the Veterinary Information Network(VIN). This information is subject to extensive revision based upon the availability of new and pertinent clinical data.


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