General knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving due to continual research being done in order to meet the needs of the different species of birds. Birds need a proper, balanced diet as much as any other animal. Different species of birds require different things. For example, lories require a special nectar diet, an eclectus requires a diet low in fat and high in beta carotene, and should not be fed artificial colors.
A good diet is important to your birds overall health. While many bird owners feel that they are feeding a proper diet, it’s not until their bird gets sick that they find out the diet wasn’t meeting the bird’s basic nutritional needs.
In the wild, most parrots eat a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and berries and vegetables or vegetation. Therefore, feeding a bird nothing but a seed diet fails to meet even the basic nutritional needs of any bird. I will be discussing what I feed my macaws in this blog. If you have questions about the proper diet for your bird, call your avian vet or visit our store and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Although there are many great pelleted diets available today, I believe that they should only be a part of your bird’s diet. They are not a natural food source for your bird and birds tend to be inquisitive creatures who get bored easily. Therefore, I like to feed my birds a mixture of several different foods. At first I questioned myself…was I over-thinking all of this…over-doing it…or maybe just losing it in general? But after discussing it with other bird owners, I was relieved to find out that many other bird owners did the same thing. Whew! I’m not alone!
OK – let’s just put it out there – my macaws’ “day” food (yes, I said day food) includes the following: Harrison’s High Potency Pellets, Zupreem Natural Large Diet, Abba Macaw Blend, Higgin’s Safflower Gold for Large Hookbills, Goldenfeast Tropical Pudding I and Lafeber’s Nutri-berries. I feed Harrison’s High Potency because I have a few macaws who are special needs babies…Harrison’s has other great blends available too. This mixture gives my birds several of the staples that they would be eating in the wild – minus the vegetables. My birds get their vegetables in their second or evening meal. You are probably thinking that a mixture like the one above is expensive – not really – everything lasts longer therefore, the cost evens out.
Believe it or not, my birds’ second or evening meal doesn’t include bird food at all. I feed them chop in the evening. There are many recipes out there for chop and I don’t think any two people make it the same. It’s important to find out what is safe and what’s not safe to put in the chop…but after that…go crazy…experiment…see what your birds like and don’t like and go from there. If made with the right ingredients, chop is super healthy for your bird. I would never feed it as a complete diet because I feel that birds should also be fed what is “natural” to them…which includes a seed mixture.
Chop is something you make ahead and freeze in individual servings. I microwave my chop until it’s just slightly warm…never feed it to your bird hot! My chop consists of the following (well most weeks): brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats, ground pine nuts, organic grated coconut, kidney and navy beans (always soak and cook beans before offering them to your bird), kale, jalapeno peppers, sweet potatoes, chia seeds, flax seeds, and a good frozen vegetable mix (without salt). It’s called chop because the fresh vegetables are ground before adding them to the mixture. I tend to partially cook and cube the sweet potatoes though. I add a few fresh fruits on top of the chop too. My birds favor bananas…so that’s what they usually get.
There are many good seed mixtures and pellets available today. With a little time, patience and research you will find what works best for both you and your bird.
Please remember, it’s important to feed fresh food and water. If you give you bird a well-balanced diet, you will find that your bird will be healthier and happier because of it.
I’d love to hear what you feed your birds! Post your comments below or on our Facebook page!
Golden Cockatoo is located in Deerfield Beach, FL and conveniently located between Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Delray, Boynton and West Palm Beach, Florida. We look forward to seeing you!