Transitioning a Parrot onto a Healthier Diet

Many parrots are fed seed-based diets and will often refuse to eat anything else. A seed diet alone will not provide your bird with the nutrients required for a balanced diet. This can then lead to malnutrition and disease.

Seeds in themselves are not bad for your parrot- they provide useful energy in the form of carbohydrates, as well as enrichment activities. (Such as when your parrot uses their beak to break down the different kind of seeds and husks.) It is the potential for your parrot to feed selectively when offered a seed mix, as well as the absence of nutrition provided by fruit and vegetables which can later lead to serious health problems. We therefore recommend converting your parrot onto a more varied diet to include different types of fruit and vegetables. We would also advise you to consider slowly moving your parrot onto a pelleted diet in place of seeds.(Particularly if you have a bird that feeds selectively.)

As general rule for parrots we recommend that their diet is made up of 33% fruit, 33% veg and 33% carbohydrates.

Parrots are a lot like small children in that they can be incredibly fussy and like to get their own way where dinner is concerned. This can make converting them onto a healthy diet challenging! You should be prepared for this transition to take a long time. You may also potentially waste quite a lot of food, but all of this will eventually pay off.

Introducing fruits and vegetables:

Examples of safe fruit and vegetables for parrots can be found here. Below are some tips for introducing them:

  • Introduce new food items slowly- do not overwhelm them with lots of options all at once.
  • Parrots are naturally curious animals. It can help if they witness you enthusiastically enjoying the food yourself before you offer it to them.
  • Make meal times fun – parrots love to play! Any food that can be incorporated into toys, wrapped around bars or hidden around their enclosure may spike interest.
  • Offer new fruits and vegetables during the time of day when your bird is usually hungriest.
  • Eat your meals in the same room as your parrot.
  • Some species of parrot (such as cockatiels and budgerigars) may prefer to eat from the ground.
  • Larger parrot species can be fed at set meal times, rather than having free access to food. They can be offered their usual food during meal times (at least twice a day), but only have access to fruit and vegetables the rest of the time. This can keep them hungry enough to accept new food. You should never withhold food from small or medium species of parrot.
  • Fruit and vegetables that are rejected in one form may be accepted in another. Try chopping or slicing the food in different ways, grating food such as carrots or cooking food such as squash.

Moving onto pellets

As mentioned above, if your parrot eats selectively, you may wish to consider moving them onto pellets in place of seeds. Many of the tips above for introducing fruit and vegetables can also be applied to introducing pellets.

You can also try mixing the pellets with the seed – although many parrots will still only pick out the seeds that they like! You can also offer the pellets in place of seed for short periods. This is usually more successful during the time of day when your parrot is hungriest.

Some parrots will prefer to eat pellets that have been soaked- you may need to play around with how you offer them.

There are a few different types of pellet on the market, so it may be worth trying a different brand if you aren’t making any progress.

Nutri-berries and similar products are also useful for parrots which refuse to accept a pelleted diet. These are whole and semi-whole seeds which are adhered together and coated with vitamins and minerals. This helps reduce selective feeding, as well as provide the added enrichment of having something to break apart.

If you are still struggling to get your parrot to accept new food, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.