Foods and Treats For Bird

May 18, 2018

Foods and Treats For Bird

Feeding pet birds the right foods are important for their health. A balanced diet based on sound bird nutrition recommendations is the key. Balancing your avian a diet from the beginning may prevent many health and behavior problems. But it's never too late to get your pet bird on a firm nutritional footing. It is something you will want to do since an unbalanced diet is a main cause of disease and early death in pet birds. Malnutrition is a human-made disease. Fortunately, it is also preventable.

Dietary Differences Among Birds

When feeding pet birds, we must realize that the species of birds we have as companion pets do not all have the same dietary needs. Just as our North American wild birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds do not eat the same foods, neither do our companion birds. In general, parrots can be classified according to their normal diets. Visit Bird Nutrition to learn more about your bird's specific nutritional needs.

Most psittacines (members of the parrot family) are florivores, meaning the main portion of their diet is obtained from plants. Among florivores, there are granivores (birds that eat grain and/or seeds, including nuts), and frugivores (birds with diets based on fruits). Some pet birds are omnivores, whose diet can consist of both plant and animal components.

There is a special class of florivores called nectarivores, who eat mostly nectar. A wild Hyacinth Macaw eats mostly grains (nuts, actually), while a Blue-throated Macaw eats mostly fruits. Additionally, in each bird classification there will be different nutrition recommendations. For instance, even though both are considered granivores, in the wild, Hyacinth macaws eat mostly palm nuts, while budgies eat mostly seeds.

Seed-eating birds

Even for seed-eating birds, seeds alone are not a proper diet. There are several reasons for this:

The seeds we offer our companion birds are not the same seeds they would find in their native habitats. We tend to offer seeds that are lower in protein and other nutrients, such as vitamins.

The amount of energy used by wild birds in foraging for food is far greater than that used by our companion birds. Since our pet birds use less energy, they need to eat fewer calories or they will become overweight. Eating less, however, could result in vitamin, mineral, and other nutrient deficiencies.

When offered seeds, our companion birds tend to pick out their favorites, and leave the rest. Limiting the diet to only several types of seeds can lead to certain nutrient deficiencies.

Even when multiple types of seeds 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 (and adults) love candy. They will eat a favorite seed over what is healthy for them. The best diet for most seed-eating birds consists of formulated diets (such as pelleted foods), vegetables, small amounts of fruit, and an occasional treat.

Put Some Variety and Appeal

Birds decide what to eat by sight, texture, and taste. Offer a wide variety of vegetables and fruit to provide a balanced diet. Keep them in as natural state as possible and be creative when preparing meals.

Hang food from the cage top or sides, weave food into the bars of the cage, or stuff food in the spaces of toys. As an example, for larger birds, feed corn on the cob rather than feeding kernels of corn in a dish. This will help entertain the bird as well as provide physical and mental stimulation.

Switching your Bird from a Seed-based Diet:

It is much easier to start a young bird on a varied diet of healthy foods than it is to convert an older bird to a new diet. A bird on an unhealthy diet may take more effort to be converted to a healthier diet.

When switching a pet bird's diet to one based on pelleted foods, you may notice a change in the bird's droppings, which will appear larger and lighter in color. If you see only scants amount of dark droppings, contact your veterinarian; it may mean your bird is not eating well and may need to be converted more slowly.

Non-seed Eating Birds

Diets for non-seed eating psittacines such as Lories and Lorikeets consist pirmarily of a commercially prepared formula. Some of these may be fed dry or moistened; others need to be made into a solution and fed as a 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. Pollen, corn-on-the-cob and some flowers such as pansies, nasturtiums, roses, hibiscus, marigolds, and dandelions may be offered, as well. Check with your avian veterinarian to determine the proper amounts.

Feeding Methods

Birds in the wild spend at least 1/3 of their day foraging for food. Simply putting food in a dish deprives them of that physical and mental stimulation. Try using foraging toys and other methods to enliven your bird's eating times. For amazing products for your birds specially bird toys, bird cage and more just visit online pet stores like

Feeding Times

Formulated diet can be available at all times. Natural feeding times in wild birds are about a half hour after sunrise and again at 5-6 PM, so these would be good times to offer the fresh vegetables. Always remove any uneaten vegetables or fruit at the next feeding. Foraging toys can be left in the cage throughout the day for snacking and entertainment.

Monitoring Intake

You should offer your bird only what he can eat in a day. This will make it easier to monitor his daily intake. Decreased food intake may be the first sign that a bird is ill.


Dishes should be washed daily in hot soapy water. No food should remain in the cage for longer than 24 hours, as the risk of fecal contamination or spoiling is high.


Fresh, clean water should always be available. If a water bottle is used, the water should be changed daily and the tip should be checked daily to be sure it is working. Dehydration is a serious problem that can occur within a day or two if water is unavailable. If you are switching your bird from a water dish to a water bottle, make sure your bird knows how to use the bottle before removing the dish.

Poisonous Food:

Birds are such social creatures, so many owners allow their pets to be included at mealtime. While sharing food with your bird is a lot of fun -- not to mention wonderful for your pet's emotional health -- there are many common human foods that can be harmful or even fatal to your bird.

Owners need to know which foods are fine for sharing, and which pose a serious risk.


Chocolate is a wonderful treat to share with human family members, but it can be harmful or fatal to your pet bird. Chocolate poisoning first affects a bird's digestive system, causing vomiting and diarrhea. As the condition progresses, the bird's central nervous system is affected, first causing seizures and eventually death.

Apple Seeds

Believe it or not, apples -- along with other members of the rose family including cherries, peaches, apricots, and pears -- contain trace amounts of cyanide within their seeds. While the fruit of the apple is fine for your bird, be aware that in addition to the poisonous seeds, there may be pesticides present on the fruit's skin.

Be sure to thoroughly cleanse and core any apple pieces that you share with your bird to avoid exposure to these toxins.


Although responsible bird owners would never dream of offering their pet an alcoholic drink, there have been instances in which free roaming birds have attained alcohol poisoning through helping themselves to unattended cocktails.

Alcohol depresses the organ systems of birds and can be fatal.

Make sure that your bird stays safe by securing him in his cage whenever alcohol is served in your home


While all living beings need regulated amounts of sodium in their systems, too much salt can lead to a host of health problems in birds, including excessive thirst, dehydration, kidney dysfunction, and death.

Be sure to keep watch over the amount of salty foods your bird consumes.


The skin and pit of this popular fruit had been known to cause cardiac distress and eventual heart failure in pet bird species.

Although there is some debate to the degree of toxicity of avocados, it is generally advised to adopt a "better safe than sorry" attitude toward them and keep guacamole and other avocado products as far away from pet birds as possible.


Mushrooms are a type of fungus and have been known to cause digestive upset in companion birds. Caps and stems of some varieties can induce liver failure.

Tomato Leaves

Tomatoes, like potatoes and other nightshades, have a tasty fruit that is fine when used as a treat for your bird. The stems, vines, and leaves, however, are highly toxic to your pet.

Make sure that when you offer your bird a tomato treat, it has been properly cleaned and sliced with the green parts removed so that your bird will avoid exposure to toxins. Tomatoes aren't at the top of the list of foods to feed due to the acidic content. There are many other vegetables that you can feed.


Caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee, and tea are popular among people, but allowing your bird to indulge in these drinks can be extremely hazardous.

Caffeine causes cardiac malfunctions in birds and is associated with increased heartbeat, arrhythmia, hyperactivity, and cardiac arrest.

Share a healthy drink of pure fruit or vegetable juice or a fresh smoothie with your bird instead. This will satisfy both your bird's taste buds and nutritional requirements.


While the use of limited amounts of onion or garlic powders as flavorings is generally regarded as acceptable, excessive consumption of onions causes vomiting, diarrhea, and a host of other digestive problems. It has been found that prolonged exposure can lead to a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, which is followed by respiratory distress and eventual death.

Dried Beans

Cooked beans are a favorite treat of many birds, but raw, dry bean mixes can be extremely harmful to your pet. Uncooked beans contain a poison called hemagglutinin which is very toxic to birds.

To avoid exposure, make sure to thoroughly cook any beans that you choose to share with your bird.

Give them Some Exercise

In the wild, parrots and other pet birds fly hundreds of miles per day, forage for food, and participate in countless other survival-related activities that help give them intense physical workouts.

Placing birds in captivity inadvertently limits their opportunities to provide themselves with adequate exercise to maintain their physical conditions, so bird owners must do what they can to maximize their pets' opportunities to move around and exercise more.

Follow the tips in this article to help your feathered friend become more healthy, happy, and active! Check out Bird Health for more ideas.

Try Some Physically Challenging Toys

Bird toys can be more than just playthings -- with a little imagination, they can also make great exercise equipment for your feathered friend. Buying things like ropes and ladders for your pet to climb on can encourage movement and working of major muscle groups in your bird.

Finding fun "foot toys" for your bird to toss around and play with outside of his or her cage can promote good exercise habits as well. Whatever toys you choose, make sure to secure as much of a variety as possible and rotate them in and out of use so that your bird doesn't get bored with them too quickly. For more Bird toys and product about your avian, you may visit online pet stores like for you to choose from.

Play Some Games

Inventing some physically involved games to play with your bird is another great way to get your pet moving and on his or her way to optimum physical health.

Does your bird have a favorite toy, such as a small ball, that he likes to play with? If so, try a simple game of fetch to get your feathered friend on his feet. Some birds may like to chase things, which can offer a great way to get your pet's heart pumping.

Try tying a toy to a string and pulling it around for your bird to try and catch. Just be sure to only allow your bird to play with this toy while you are supervising. Loose strings can be dangerous to pet birds if owners aren't careful.

Fun Tricks

A great way to help your bird become more active is to get involved with trick training your pet. Not only can learning tricks provide lots of exercise for your pet, but it can help prevent boredom in birds and offer a wonderful bonding experience as well. Start off with a few fun and easy bird tricks to build your bird's repertoire and start getting him used to training, and then move on to more advanced commands that will wow your friends and family.

Make Time for Out-of-Cage Play

Perhaps the single most important thing that you can do to help give your bird more opportunities for exercise is to make sure your bird gets to come out of his or her cage for supervised playtime every day. Birds in the wild are able to walk around and stretch their wings and legs whenever they need to, but pet birds can feel cramped in a cage, no matter how spacious. Allowing your bird to have supervised playtime in a bird-safe area of your home each day will help make sure that all your pet's muscle groups get the exercise that is so vital to their maintenance.

Try Dancing

If all else fails, most pet bird owners are able to get their pets to exercise with the help of a little music. Birds are naturals at dancing and seem to just love shaking their tail feathers to an upbeat tune.

Try setting aside a few minutes each day to listen to the radio with your bird, and pay attention to the kinds of music that he or she seems to respond to the most. Once you have figured out the type of music that gets your pet moving, you can make a customized playlist for your pet to dance its heart out to. Not only will this offer your pet some much-needed exercise, it's pretty entertaining to watch, as well!

No matter which bird comes into your home, read and ask your veterinarian questions regarding your bird's specific nutritional needs.

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