Nutrition For Birds

Dietary needs of birds

The dietary needs for pet birds vary based on breed and lifestyle. Dr Matthew Gosbell from Greencross Vets Springvale gives advice on how to meet the correct nutrition for birds.

‘In the wild, birds would eat a range of foods with seasonal changes in their diets to suit their needs,’ says Dr Gosbell. ‘The main mistake bird owners make is not feeding a balanced diet. There are thousands of species of birds, each with unique nutrition needs.’

Can’t birds just eat bird seed?

Most pet birds are fed seed diets, which do not form any part of their natural diet. These diets have been shown to be high in fat and low in essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Birds often pick and choose which seeds they prefer, increasing the risk of nutritional disease.

Commercially prepared pelleted foods minimise this risk. The consistent quality ingredients are developed to mimic what birds eat in the wild. The addition of suitable vegetables and supplements will help to fulfill a bird’s nutritional needs.

Correct nutrition for birds

For small species of birds like finches, canaries, small parrots, and budgies, a base diet of seeds and pellets should make up no more than 60% of their food. The remainder should be a mix of vegetables – especially leafy greens, some coloured vegetables and legumes and a small number of hand-picked grasses and sprouted seeds.

For larger parrots like cockatoo species, a pellet based diet of about 60% of their total diet is ideal. The addition of vegetables, legumes and small amounts of grasses and seeds and sprouts will best meet their nutritional needs.

How to transition your pet bird’s diet

Birds often don’t recognise new foods as something they can eat. New food needs to be introduced gradually. If your birds refuse to eat new foods, try a daily vitamin supplement.

Facts about bird nutrition

  • species like Lorikeets are nectar feeders
  • Finches have high metabolic rates, and many species eat various types of grass seeds
  • most parrot species are largely vegetarian

For guidance and advice on your pet bird’s nutritional needs, please contact your local Greencross Vets team.