Cockatoo

Feeding Your Pet Bird

Birds are unique and inquisitive creatures that should bring much joy into your home. A balanced diet is essential for their health and wellbeing. Mineral and vitamin deficiencies and other health problems are not uncommon in birds fed inadequate diets. Different types of birds require different components in their diet and it is important to feed them a diet which mimics their natural diet.

Signs of an inappropriate diet:

  1. 1. Excess feather loss outside of moulting season.

  2. 2. Changes in feather colouration and encrustations.

  3. 3. Reduced movement.

  4. 4. Altered vocalisation.

Image by David Clode

Feeding Your Parrot

 

In the wild, parrots consume a varied diet consisting of plants, grasses, tubers, fruit , insects , grain, grass seeds and must fly vast distances to source food; seeds do not form a large percentage of their diet. A solely seed based diet is not appropriate for our pet parrots as it is high in fat and predisposes our beloved companions to obesity. A parrot’s diet should predominantly be pellet based (60-75%), with small amount of vegetable and fruit supplementation (20-40%) and a minute amount of seed (5%).   Selection of a good quality pellet based diet is essential e.g. Harrison’s.

More vegetables than fruit should be included in the diet as fruits have high sugar contents. Suggested major supplements include:

  • Dark, green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, silverbeet, celery, bok choy, parsley, native grass  but not lettuce

  • Broccoli, tomato , sweetcorn, carrot, peas, beans, sweet potato

  • Sprouted seeds e.g. alfalfa, mung bean, cress

  • Fruits: apples, pears, stone fruit, honey melon, rock melon, pawpaw, mandarin, cherries, berries, mango

Minor supplements such calcium (shellgrit, cuttlefish bones or calcivet), animal protein (eggs, madeira cake, bread) and native branches (acacia, eucalyptus, bottlebrush and banksia) can be included occasionally in the diet to add interest or during the breeding season.

 

 

 

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HELPFUL TIP

For a bird, eating an all seed diet is equivalent to eating potato chips for every meal!

Only feed a maximum of 3-4 sunflower seeds (or a similar seed)/day as a training treat

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A word on dieting obese parrots: Obese parrots should be transitioned onto a diet composed of Japanese, French Millet and some hulled oats (as these have low energy value). These seed components should only be provided for a set time e.g. 15 minutes in the morning and night with fruit and vegetables available for the rest of the day. This trains the parrot to adhere to strict meal times and develop an appetite instead of picking at their food all day. Feed intake should be decreased gradually and always have a set weight goal you are aiming to achieve.

Feeding Your Lorikeet

Unlike other birds, lorikeets are nectar feeders and do not require seeds in their diet. Their diet in the wild consists of nectar, pollen, fruit and vegetables.  Quality Lorikeet dry or wet mix (e.g. Harrison’s, Vetafarm, Wombaroo) should be provided as these feeds mimic natural nectar that Lorikeets consume in the wild. Both may be provided at one time to enable choice but at least one of these should be made available.   Ample fresh water should be made available daily particularly if your lorikeet is on a dry diet as they need to dip their tongue in water after.

Suggested plant supplements include:

  • Fruits: Apples, pears, stone fruit, cherries, strawberries, grapes, melon

  • Vegetables: carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, silverbeet, celery

  • Sprouted seeds: alfalfa, mung bean and cress

  • Eucalyptus, bottlebrush and callistemon branches

Vegetables and sprouted seeds are important components as high fibre component helps slow gut transit time to enable lorikeets to better absorb protein from the diet. All these components can be fed sliced or pureed. Animal based protein e.g. egg or egg powder are toxic to lorikeets and should not be included in their diet.

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HELPFUL TIP

Lorikeets can be messy eaters.  All leftover feed must be removed within 4 hours to prevent bacterial and fungal  growth.

Citrus fruits should be avoided as it can cause tummy upsets in lorikeets.

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Feeding Your Canary

 

Out in the wild, canaries consume a predominantly seed based diet with occasional inclusion of vegetables and fruit depending on seasonality. However, commercial seed mixes are not the recommended for your pet due to their comparatively sedentary lifestyle and the high level of fat and carbohydrates in these diets. Canaries also tend to be selective eaters and will often preferentially eat seeds of lower nutritional value. A canary should receive 75-80%  quality pellet and 20-25% fruit and vegetables for a balanced diet. Like parrots, canaries are prone to obesity and associated problems such as diabetes, egg binding and fatty liver.

More vegetables than fruit should be included in the diet as fruits have high sugar contents. Suitable vegetable and fruit supplementation include:

  • Vegetables: silverbeet, celery, capsicum, sweet potato, carrots, cucumber, zucchini corn

  • Fruits: apple, banana , pears, stone fruits, melons

If more there is more than one canary in a cage separate feeding dishes should be provided to ensure birds that are lower in hierarchy have access to feed.

 

 

 

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HELPFUL TIP

To encourage your bird to transition from a seed to pellet diet  you may  pretend to eat the pellets, use mirror paper in the cage to create an illusion of the presence of another bird or soak the pellets in fruit juice to make it more enticing.

 Birds are more likely to try something new if they see another bird or their human counterparts enjoying it! Always change their diet gradually.

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Parrot feeding.JPG
Lorikeet feeding.JPG
Canary.JPG

Please contact our clinic to book a consultation if you need further advice on feeding or caring for your pet bird.

Parrot
Image by Joshua J. Cotten
Image by Elizabeth R.
Image by Patrice Bouchard