We can't feed birds what they'd normally eat in the wild, but a high-quality pelleted food and vegetables, fruits and nuts make a great diet for your bird.
Superfoods seem to be taking over every food television and magazine outlet these days. WebMD, Dr. Oz along with many other celebrity doctors and nutritionists all have their own Top 10, 20 and even 50 super foods that you need to be eating right now. With so much buzz about the ultimate food source, I questioned multiple veterinarians on the topic in regards to our pet birds.
Gwen B. Flinchum, DVM, DABVP-Avian, from All Bird Clinic of the Palm Beaches located in Lake Worth, Florida said that scientists have studied what our pet birds’ nutrition necessities are and have formulated diets to meet those needs specifically.
"Studies have shown that birds do best when they are fed at least 80 percent formulated (pelleted) diet,” she added. The remaining 20 percent should consist of items like fruits, veggies and nonpeanut nuts.
She went on to say that, "Birds thrive best on foods that were made specifically for birds. Birds don't do well on people food.”
Flinchum also mentions that many vegetables contain little nutrients useful for birds. "Vegetables contain some vitamins but otherwise are not going to supply all of the necessary nutrients that formulated diets have, such as essential fatty acids, essential proteins, amino acids and trace elements,” she said. "The green veggies and the orange veggies such as carrots, romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, broccoli — these contain Vitamin A and Beta carotene, which are good for birds.”
On the other side of Florida, Veterinarian Mike Mossler, DVM, of Bayshore Animal Hospital in Bradenton, Florida said that although some vegetables do not have many nutrients, they can still serve a purpose. He said that for obese birds, "there is benefit in feeding lettuce and other green leafy vegetables.”
He added, "Birds enjoy consuming this type of food and it helps in controlling weight. This is particularly true for parakeets, cockatiels, finches, canaries, etc.”
Mossler recommended encouraging avian pets to consume foods that are high in vitamin A along with a formulated pelleted diet (e.g., Harrison’s, Zupreem, Lafeber’s).
"Formulated (pelleted) diets are the superfoods for birds,” Flinchum said. She warned bird owners the danger of feeding seeds exclusively. "Despite what pet stores will tell you, seeds are full of fat and have no nutrients. This leads to malnutrition and liver disease, and the primary cause of illness and death in birds is being on a seed diet. Likewise, table food is not good as this can lead to fatty liver, feather picking and excessive hormonal behavior.
If you can, grow your own food for your bird.
Mossler says that if you want to give your bird’s vegetables and fruits, those with high levels of vitamin A are a good choice. "A vitamin-A deficiency is the leading vitamin deficiency that is seen in birds,” he added. His top five high in vitamin-A treats include: sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, melon and peppers.
"These bird food companies have made it simple for us,” Flinchum said. "Feed birds a primarily formulated diet and their nutritional needs will be met.”
Loved this article? Then check out these:
What Do Parrots Eat?
Foods To Avoid Feeding Birds