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Do you wish you had a pet bird but don’t know what you’d feed them? Or perhaps you have a pet bird and want to know what food suit your bird. Here’s what pet birds eat, thanks to Carl McLean from Animal Mentors.


What Do Pet Birds Eat?

Some of us can’t be without the company of our beloved squawkers and chirpers, and if you are considering getting a pet bird, you’ll soon know exactly why! They’re social, engaging with those around them and inquisitive, making them ideal pets.

But by being our pets and giving so much to us, it’s only right that we do right for them by making sure we provide as much as we possibly can to make their lives comfortable and ensure they are happy and healthy.

This would include maintaining proper care of our birds by keeping their enclosures clean, providing them with plenty of space to stretch their wings and treating them like one of the family. But most of all, it means feeding them the right foodstuffs to give them a healthy, balanced and satisfying diet.

So what do pet birds eat? The obvious and most common answer you’ll hear is “bird seed”. And while partially correct, bird seed is a staple of a pet bird’s diet, it isn’t the only constituent as birds in the wild eat a high variety of different foods.

What Do Pet Birds Eat?

What is a Balanced Diet for a Bird?

Most people stick to feeding their birds a plain diet of bird seed, which usually consists of sesame seeds and millet or parrot pellets. These mixes are formulated to give the bird the bare essentials but lack the variety the bird needs for optimal nourishment.

A bird needs a balanced diet for healthy feather production, to keep their beak and claws in shape and most importantly to bolster their immune system. They are much more likely to live longer, healthier and happier lives if they are fed the foods which are akin to what they would eat in the wild.

And one thing is for sure, they wouldn’t just stick to eating the same food source constantly, they would change their food supply depending on what’s available in their local environment in any given season. This includes fruit, nuts, flowers, insects, grasses and berries, among other things.

Those who own social birds, such as parrots and cockatiels which engage with us much more intimately and seem to have a connection with us, will vouch that their dear pets are intelligent animals! Would an intelligent animal be happy with eating the same bland and boring food every day without any variety?

I would argue no, and for this reason, adding some colourful and flavorsome snacks to the diet would also benefit their mental health by stimulating their senses and broadening their experiences.

However, with speculation aside, it still does well to keep their physical health in check by giving them the vital mineral and vitamin supply obtained from a diverse choice of foods. So let’s begin to take a look at some foods that pet birds love!

Fresh Vegetables for Birds

Birds love the taste of some vegetables as a daily snack and their preferences can differ between species of birds and even between individuals. Your own bird might even be so picky to prefer different preparations, so if they don’t like it sliced, try diced, mashed, chopped or even whole.

Vegetables add a good balance of vitamins and minerals to your bird’s diet that they may not have access to otherwise. These are vital to your bird’s healthy growth, maintenance and immune system.

Make sure that any veggies you give to your bird are washed before they are prepared and served and are the leftovers are removed a few hours later to avoid attracting pests. Birds that eat vegetables are parrots (including budgerigars, cockatiels and cockatoos), finches and canaries.


Here are some vegetables you can try feeding to your bird:
Leafy Greens

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Fresh Fruit for Birds

Birds will also really enjoy a fruity snack to liven up their daily meals which will also give them access to many nourishing elements that will go a long way with keeping your bird healthy.

Again, some individual birds can be quite selective on what they like and so you may need to try different types of fruit before finding one that they favour. Others, on the other hand, may love them all!

You can also try pre-prepared dried fruit which also sometimes are included in gourmet seed mixes for pet birds.


Here are some fruits you can try feeding to your bird:

Nuts for Birds

Birds in the wild, particularly those who have natural habitats in woodlands, often eat nuts and seeds as a food in the winter. They are a great source of fats and proteins as well as omega acids which are important for joint maintenance and other bodily functions.

Nuts can be difficult to crack, and many bird species have evolved beaks particularly for cracking the shells of certain types of nuts and seeds whilst others have not. This means that certain birds prefer certain types:

Lovebirds – Sunflower Seeds

Budgies – Almonds, Peanut Kernel, Hazelnut Kernel

Parrots – Almonds, Brazil Nut Kernel, Hazelnut Kernel, Walnut Kernel

Cockatoos – Brazil Nut Kernel, Hazelnut Kernel, Cashew Kernel

CockatielsBrazil Nut Kernel, Hazelnut Kernel, Cashew Kernel

Macaws – Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts

Bird Supplements

Some birds might completely refuse your efforts at sprucing up their diet with fruit, vegetables and nuts and prefer to remain on a diet solely consisting of regular bird seed. If this is the case, it would be a great ideal to introduce supplements into their diet, as is advised by veterinarians.

Specially formulated supplements for birds are readily available from pet shops but it would be wise to consult with your vet to make sure you are giving your bird exactly what they will need.

The supplements will provide a boost to essential vitamins and minerals as well as the fatty acids they need to live a healthy life but do not replace a balanced diet. If your bird is addicted to its seed, it would be worth investing in a brand that gives added nutrition within the seed mix.


About the author:
Carl McLean is a keen wildlife enthusiast who runs the blog When he’s not busy taking the dogs out, or attending to his other collection of pets or helping out at the local wildlife sanctuary, he can be found blogging about animals, wildlife and conservation.


More reading
Yes it’s okay to feed wild birds in your garden, as long as it’s the right food
Hummingbirds as Pets?
Everything You Need To Know Before Getting A Pet Parrot
Games to play with your parrot
Budgies – fascinating facts about our feathered friends


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