Learn about the best diet for your bird & what to do about it?

Slide Find the Best Articles ABOUT YOUR PET CARE Find the Best Articles ABOUT YOUR PET CARE

Learn about the best diet for your bird & what to do about it?

Give your bird best home

Birds in the wild derive nourishment from a large variety of natural foods, which vary seasonally and regionally.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to completely replicate the natural diets of birds in captivity.

A well-nourished bird will live longer, be more resistant to disease and be a generally happier member of a family.

Seed Eaters
(Cockatiels, Budgerigars, Cockatoos and Other Parrots)

Birds should still have seed included in their diet as most will have not known anything else, the transition to a healthy more balanced diet needs to be done over a period of months and in some cases with older parrots they may never recognize pellets as food and will need a combination of both pellets and seed for the rest of their lives.

Seed-based Diets:

The seeds commonly fed in seed mixes are not the usual seeds that parrots would eat in the wild, they are excessively high in fat and deficient in many vitamins, minerals and protein, although some of these deficiencies can be corrected by adding other foods to the diet (such as pulses, vegetables and some fruit), birds tend to select only certain items, leading to malnourishment.

Most seeds (especially sunflower seeds) are a favorite of birds because they contain up to 49% fat – that’s more than a Mars Bar! (17%)

They should only be offered as a treat and are great rewards in training sessions.

Soaked or sprouted seed is an alternate to dry seed and one that most parrots will take to readily, it is readily available in most pet stores always follow the instructions on the pack.


Pelleted diets are an alternative to seed-based diets, because the birds are forced to consume the entire, balanced diet rather than to preferentially selecting certain items. Please see page 16 if your bird needs to undergo the conversion process to pellets.

Nectar Eaters (Eg: Lorikeets)

Lorikeets are very special as they are NOT seed eaters.


Their diet in the wild consists of mainly nectars and pollens, in captivity they should be offered good quality commercial wet and dry lorikeet mix twice a day.


Wet mix should be mixed fresh daily and needs to be changed regularly as it spoils easily in hot weather, Lorikeets will eat seed if given no other alternatives which can be very detrimental to their health.


They should also be offered native flowers such as bottlebrushes, grevilleas and eucalyptus blossoms, and a small amount of soft fruit.

Other Foods to Offer

For most parrots excluding Lorikeets 80% of the diet should be pellets with 20% being vegetables, fruits and a small amount of nuts and seeds. 


This ratio should be 60% pellets, 40% others for cockatiels.


Generally darker vegetables are considered more nutritious.

Recommended Vegetables:

Capsicum – Zucchini – Broccoli – Squash – Carrot – Beans, Peas and Other Pulses – Spinach, Kale and Bokchoy

Recommended Fruits- Fruits Should Make Up No More Than 5% Of The Diet:

Kiwi Fruit – Strawberries – Blueberries – Grapes – Small Amounts Of Apple – Melons – Passionfruit


AVOID – celery, iceberg lettuce, excessively watery fruits – these are not toxic but are too diluted to be nutritious

Converting Your Bird to Pellets:

Your bird will need to learn to identify pellets as a “food” that they can eat and converting your bird to a pelleted diet is very beneficial but should always be overseen by an avian vet to avoid complications and you can also monitor your bird’s at home.


Never starve your bird to make it eat pellets!

A pair of digital kitchen scales can be used to monitor your bird’s weight each morning before changing the food (an empty weight), any weight loss in excess of 1% per week is excessive.


A normal dropping has three parts – urine (liquid), urates (white) and feces (brown or green), a bird eating sufficient food will have “full droppings”. They have bulk and volume and contain and adequate component of feces, empty droppings (birds not eating enough) are small and may only contain urates and urine and minimal or small volumes of feces.


Amount Eaten:
Monitor the food dish to see how much of the pelleted diet was eaten, each day the birds should be given fresh pellets in a container, placed in a favorite perch or position in the cage. Vegetables, greens and a small amount of fruit can also be placed in the cage as well, at the end of the day, if an insufficient amounts of food has been eaten (using the above indicators), the bird should be allowed access to the normal diet ( in a different container to the pellets) for no longer than 30 mins, after that time, the normal diet should be removed, leaving the pellets, vegetables and fruit.
Alternately a combination of pellets and seed should be offered to begin with particularly for older birds who have been on total seed diet, slowly reducing the amount of seed over a period of time.

Other Things That Can Help:

Birds like to eat as part of a flock; meal times can be used as a stimulus for the birds to eat pellets, don’t have the normal diet in the cage prior to meal time as this advantage will be lost.


For birds used to hand-fed treats, pretend to eat the pellets yourself and then offer the pellets by hand, Budgerigars will often peck at the pellets if placed on a mirror or on the floor, and don’t forget to praise the bird for eating the pellets.

When Not to Attempt a Diet Change?

Never change the diet of a thin or sick bird or your new bird when it first comes home, the stress of the diet change may be too much to tolerate.


Feed thin or sick birds their usual diet until they have recovered, then look at changing the diet to a better one. 


It may take up to 4-6 weeks to fully convert a bird over to pellets, so ensure that you have the time and patience available for monitoring the bird during this time.

Related Topics