Recent avian research revealed that 80 to 90% of bird diseases are associated with an inadequate diet. This alarming figure shows the importance of giving your pet the best bird feed for their health.
Since there are many misconceptions about bird feed, many avian owners have failed to keep their bird’s health at an optimal state.
So, today, we’re clearing the misconceptions about bird diet and discuss:
- What bird food should you look for and avoid
- The bird food requirements for different bird species
- And the top 5 best feeds for your bird
If you want to keep your bird healthy and prolong its lifespan, you will benefit from this insightful buying guide.
What to Feed Your Bird – Clearing Misconceptions
Contrary to popular belief, birds should not feed mainly on seeds.
It’s because it’s not enough to provide the right amount of essential nutrients their body need.
In fact, “vitamin-enriched” commercial seeds and seed mixes advertised as “complete diet” are high in calories.
But they’re deficient in calcium, amino acids, iodine and Vitamin A and B, and other nutrients.
Additionally, birds tend to pick their favorite seed types and overconsume seeds that might lead to an array of health problems like diabetes and malnutrition.
So, even if seeds are convenient, palatable, and cheap, they must be limited and should not be the entire diet.
You can give them as a treat or use them as a training or foraging reward, and they should be small enough that the bird can consume them in 10 seconds or less.
This way, you can avoid disrupting the training flow and overconsumption.
What our avian friends need the most is a proper balance of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and water in their diet.
To achieve this ideal nutrition for birds, avian nutritionists formulated a diet that can provide them all the essential nutrients.
What Pet Bird Feed to Look For
Before curating a diet for your bird, consulting an avian dietician is essential.
An avian dietician is similar to a human dietician in creating a food plan for your pet.
He will first evaluate your pet’s health through medical testing and physical examinations.
Then, he’ll look for any signs of disease and rule out any potential health issues.
And finally, he will propose a healthy pet parrot diet, which consists primarily of the following:
These are bird feeds produced by blending seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods in a scientifically formulated ratio.
A pelleted food should make up most of your pet bird’s diet (60-80%).
It’s often the recommended base diet for birds because it contains the right amount of proteins, lipids, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals your bird’s species specifically need.
However, not all pellets are created equally.
Many pellet kinds contain artificial colors and other non-nutritive ingredients, just like seed mixes.
Therefore, you need to be discerning when choosing a pellet to ensure it contains high-quality ingredients.
Aside from that obvious advantage, what makes the pellet diet better is birds can’t select the seeds of their favorite.
They’re easy to feed and cost-effective in the long run.
The challenge, though, is the conversion from a seed diet to a pellet diet.
If your pet has been on a seed diet for several years, you can’t expect your pet to be happy when serving them with a bowl of pellets.
It’s like giving vegetables to a child who has been fed with nuggets for years.
Since birds’ sense of smell and taste is poorly developed, they base their food preferences on appearance and texture.
So, when you introduce new food to them, they’ll naturally feel skeptical about taking some bits.
That explains why the transition phase might take several months.
Here’s a Tip:
When introducing new food and diet to your bird. Feed them first thing in the morning, as this is when birds are most hungry.
Aside from pellets, here are other nutrient sources that you can incorporate into your pet bird’s diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Back in the wild, birds feed on a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Your pet bird will also benefit from incorporating fruits and veggies into its diet.
The recommended fruits that are healthy and safe for birds include:
- sweet potato
- small bits of apple
- melons (watermelons, rockmelons, and honeydew melons)
- stone fruits (you must remove stones)
It’s worth noting that apples and citruses such as oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit must be fed in small amounts only because they’re acidic.
Note: We highly suggest avoiding canned fruits and vegetables with high sugar and salt content since they can cause diarrhea and other health issues.
Like humans, birds greatly benefit from feeding on foods that contain protein since this nutrient is vital for growth, immunity, and other biological functions.
Therefore; you’ll need to prepare to feed your pet with limited amounts of the following:
- cooked eggs
- cooked egg substitute
- bean mixtures (legumes)
- tofu, whole-grain bread
- low or non-fat cheese
- peanut butter ( in minimal quantities)
Many bird species feed on seeds, but as highlighted earlier, it should be kept to a minimum and offered as a treat.
Here’s a list of seeds that usually attracts birds:
- Sunflower (Black oil and striped)
- Nyjer or thistle
- White proso millet
- Shelled and cracked corn
- Milo or sorghum
- Rapeseed and canary seed
- Golden millet, red millet, flax, and others
Aside from the previously mentioned bird feed, giving additional vitamins and minerals can also benefit your pet.
The most recommended vitamin sources for your pet include the following.
What Food Should Your Bird Avoid
Every bird’s food choices may vary significantly, but some foods can wreak havoc in your pet’s digestive system.
These are the fruits and vegetables you have to avoid since they’re toxic to birds.
Tasty avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin that causes poisoning and develops congestion.
This plant’s leaves have oxalate, which can cause severe kidney problems both in humans and birds.
Like apple seeds and fruit pits, cassava contains cyanide-inducing chemicals in small concentrations.
Onions and garlic
These veggies are hazardous to pets, especially when you provide high concentration garlic for your pet birds.
Other than those veggies and fruits, celery stalks like comfrey, fruit pits, dried beans, caffeine, mushrooms, and alcohol are also poisonous to birds.
Food Requirements for Each Bird
The food requirement varies depending on the bird’s species and its nutritional needs.
Some sick birds may need a diet plan tailored to their needs, while others aren’t picky and will do great if they have balanced nutrition.
To give you a better understanding of what your bird’s species need, here’s a food requirement list for different species:
Canaries and Finches
These birds need the following food:
- 80% good quality crumbles
- 10% quality seed mix
- 10% small chopped vegetables plus a small amount of fruit
Cockatiels, Budgies, and Lovebirds
- 50% good quality pellets
- 30% budgie/small parrot seed mix
- 20% vegetables plus a small amount of fruit
Galahs and Cockatoos
- 50% pellets
- 30% fresh fruit and vegetables (peas, corn, broccoli, celery, capsicum, carrot, spinach), 10% seeds or millet
- 10% fresh grass and native Australian plants
- 50-70% good quality pellets
- 20-40% fruits and vegetables
- 0-10% seeds
- 1-5% snacks
Lories, Lorikeets, and other Nectar-based Species
- 50-70% good quality commercial wet
- dry or pellet based nectar diets
- 20-30% vegetables
- 20-50% native vegetation and fruits
- 1-2% snacks
Other Psitaccine Species
- 70% good quality pellets
- 10-20% vegetables and fruits
- 0-5% pellets
- 0-5% treats plus a small amount of fruit and vegetables
Our Top 5 Picks for Best Pet Bird Feed
It’s always best to consult a vet before buying bird feed for your pet.
But, to give you insight into what brands avian veterinarians recommend the most, here’s our list of the best pet bird feeds you can find online.
1. ZuPreem Natural Pet Bird Feed Smart Pellets for Medium Birds
- Made in the USA specifically for Lovebirds, Quakers, Small Conures and Cockatiels.
- HEALTHY and DELICIOUS. Fresh, wholesome, natural bird food made with vegetables. Precisely formulated with the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids your bird needs every day for a balanced diet.
- ESSENTIAL NUTRITION. Fortified with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Feed daily to provide the foundation of your bird’s diet.
- FEED DAILY to provide your bird essential nutrition for a healthy and balanced diet.
- CONVERT YOUR BIRD TO A HEALTHIER DIET. Converting your bird to a food that includes pellets is worth the effort for his/her health and wellbeing. ZuPreem has been dedicated to producing innovative, high-quality products since 1967.
For all Cockatiels, Quakers, Lovebirds, and other Medium-sized bird owners, here’s one of the best bird feed for your avian friends worth checking out.
Avian veterinarians highly recommend this brand.
It’s a healthy and delicious meal made with vegetables and fruits, specifically formulated to provide complete nutrition and a balanced diet.
Advantages of this pet bird feed:
We like this bird feed because it offers essential amino acids aside from essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Essential amino acids like lysine are crucial as it reduces the nitrogen loss during protein metabolism.
It then leads to lower ammonia excretion to the environment and improves growth performance.
Our cockatiel loves it, and the transition from seed to pellets was easier than expected.
More importantly, it has no dyes nor preservatives, making them safe for birds.
Unlike other colored pellets, which cause the excrements to turn red, this bird food is all-natural.
The downside of that feature, though, is it might not look attractive to other birds.
But by far, it’s our bird’s go-to meal.
Downsides of this pet bird feed:
One potential problem, though, is if there’s a presence of a worm in the bag.
A bird feed is likely contaminated and dangerous to feed to the birds if there’s a worm in it.
So, the moment you receive your bird feed, it’s crucial to assess if it’s safe and not spoilt, or else your avian’s life will be at risk.
On top of that, small birds might find it hard to ingest it due to the pellet’s size, but it should work well for medium-sized ones.
- Enriched with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
- Au naturel, free from dyes and preservatives
- Healthy and complete
- It might become a home for worms when spoilt
- Pellet size not suitable for small birds
- Sugar content
Overall, it’s a cost-effective and good quality bird feed most medium-sized species will love.
2. LAFEBER’S Premium Daily Diet Pet Bird Feed
- NUTRITIONALLY COMPLETE FORAGING PARAKEET FOOD: formulated by top avian veterinarians and avian nutritionists; twice the foraging of pellets and the same complete nutrition
- SUPERIOR SHAPE FOR FORAGING: the round Nutri-Berries shape offers important beak play and exercise, which helps prevent bird boredom and feather picking
- NON-GMO AND HUMAN-GRADE INGREDIENTS: no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS & OMEGA 3&6 BALANCED: help support healthy skin, feathers, and immune system
- 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: we are a small, family company that works hard to produce gourmet pet bird food, which is why we're confident in offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee
These nutriberries also deserve to be on this list due to their healthy features that are not present in other products.
Here are the advantages of using this bird feed and how it can benefit your pet bird.
Advantages of this pet bird feed:
One of the main reasons it belongs to our top picks is it’s rich in antioxidants and Omega 3& 6, which help support healthy skin, feathers, and immune system.
Furthermore, it contains no preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors, making it safe and healthy for your avian pet.
We found the berries shape great for birds to play and exercise and, at the same time, prevent them from feather picking.
Our Cockatiels and lovebirds love it and chasing us until we hand them their nutriberries, and they can’t help swoon over its taste.
Downsides of this pet bird feed:
The downside, however, is it contains corn syrup. Other pellets like Zupreem also contain sugar, but this sweetener isn’t ideal for your pet.
While it is not toxic to birds, corn syrup is a highly processed sweetener. It’s not good for humans, let alone birds.
So, it’s one of the drawbacks of this product that you’d have to consider.
- Contains antioxidants, Omega 3 and 6
- No artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
- Berries shape prevents bored birds from feather picking
- Contains highly-processed corn syrup sweetener
Despite that, these nutriberries would still make good bird food since it comes with a range of vitamins and minerals that aren’t present on others.
You can also find Lafeber bird pellets for budgies or parakeets that provide complete nutrition for different bird species.
3. Harrisons High Potency Superfine Pet Bird Feed
- Maximum Nutritional Formula for Small to Medium Birds
- Year-round formula for conures, lories, quakers, cockatiels, lovebirds, doves and other small to medium parrots.
- Premium, whole, certified organic, formulated diet for pet birds
- No preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners for flavors
- USDA NOP Organic and Non-GMO Verified seals ensures the highest quality, chemical-free products for your bird
Here’s another top bird feed that made it to our list for some good reasons. It comes in the form of a pellet and is suitable for both small and medium-sized breeds.
Advantages of this pet bird feed
Avian vets and nutritionists who formulated this high-quality pellet also refrained from using GMOs like corn in this product.
They also didn’t use artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or sweeteners, making it instantly appealing.
What made this pellet surprising is our sickly Budgie that became moody and lazy, has drastically improved since switching to this bird food.
It’s one of the best bird pellets for our avian friends since it’s made of intact ingredients.
Downsides of this pet bird feed:
The problem with this pellet, though, is birds might not get easily attracted to these types of bird feed.
Moreover, some picky Parakeets don’t find it that palatable, and they tend to ignore it.
It could be due to the unappealing appearance of the food.
As a result, the transition from seed diet to this pellet can become challenging.
- Non-GMO formulation
- No artificial colors, preservatives, or sweeteners for flavors
- Made from whole, intact ingredients
- Transitioning to this pellet takes time
- Costly compared to others
Compared to other products, it’s a little bit pricey and also has its drawbacks. But ultimately, it’s a good quality pellet worth investing for your on your avian.
4. TOP’s Parrot Food Pellets
- We use suggested bird sizes but you ultimately choose depends on both the size of you bird and what size food pieces your bird normally prefers. Generally, if you go a little smaller with the pellet size then you will have less waste. TOP's All Size Hookbills Pellets is best suited for large and medium parrots, such as macaws, amazons, eclectus and cockatoos.
- TOPs is the only non-corn based USDA Certified complete diet bird food. Most other competing brands use GMO corn as the main ingredient. We don't eat GMO corn and do not think your bird should either
- Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients for a happy and healthy parrot. Naturally preserved with Rosemary, Rose Hips, Lemon and Orange Peel
- TOP’s outstanding pellets (4 lb) do not contain any fillers, like soy or corn, or BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin. We use only fresh, natural ingredients and avoid all artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sucrose/sugar.
- Measures 1/4" in diameter - Feed your companion approximately as much as they want each day, the pellets are cold-pressed to keep the natural nutrition intact.
If you’re a large-sized parrot owner, this pellet is the best feed for your pet. It’s best-suited for medium and large-sized parrots, including Macaws, Amazons, Eclectus, and Cockatoos.
Advantages of this pet bird feed:
What makes this bird feed ideal for birds is its non-corn-based diet formulation, unlike other brands.
Well, if we don’t eat GMOs, then neither should our parrots.
The fact that it also contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids makes it even more cost-effective.
Looking at the ingredients, we’ve observed no filler like corn, soy, BHA and BHT, and ethoxyquin which proves that it’s made of quality ingredients.
We find it an excellent organic feed for our gorgeous Macaws and Cockatoos.
Downsides of this pet bird feed:
Like other organic products in the list, this bird feed has no GMO corn content or artificial colors and sweeteners, so it looks unappealing for some birds.
Additionally, it contains Alfalfa that could trigger allergic reactions to the plant.
Therefore, you need to look out for any sign of allergy when feeding your pet with this bird feeder.
It includes the strange behavior of plucking the feathers, which can make your bird look almost bland if taken for granted.
- Non-corn-based USDA Certified complete diet bird food.
- With vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
- Preserved naturally through Rosemary, Rose Hips, Lemon and Orange Peel
- Unappealing texture
- Look out for adverse alfalfa reactions
All in all, it’s a good bird feed suitable for large species like Macaws. It may be unappealing or costly, but it can help your pet birds.
5. Kaytee Exact Rainbow Parrot & Conure Pet Bird Feed
- Premium Extruded Food For Parrots And Conures
- Recognized Nutritional Leader By Veterinarians And Breeders
- Contains Omega 3'S To Support Brain And Heart Health
- Enhances Skin & Feather Health For Vibrant, Healthy Plumage
- Prebiotics And Probiotics Support Digestive Health
The only colored pellet that made it into our list is this vet-recommended brand formulated for parrots and Conures. Here’s what this product can offer to your pet.
Benefits of this pet bird feed:
This pellet takes pride in offering a premium quality feed with Omega 3 essential for heart and brain health.
It also has prebiotics and probiotics, making it helpful for good digestion.
On top of that, we’ve seen that it has helped make our pet’s skin and feathers look healthier and more vibrant, making their colorful plumage stand out.
Our parrots and Conure are pretty happy with this pellet and enjoy this palatable meal, but it has drawbacks.
The downside of this pet bird feed:
The colors that make this food look tasty to birds are also the drawback of this pellet.
It contains fillers and artificial colors, which may not be concerning at first thought, but it can also impact your bird in some ways.
For example, we have seen changes in the color of a bird’s excrement and, like others, became worried about it since it could signify an illness.
Some bags contained worms and insects, which make it concerning.
- Enhances skin and feather health
- With Omega 3’S that support brain and heart health
- Prebiotics and probiotics help digestive health
- Look out for bugs and other foreign objects
- Contains artificial colors and fillers
Not all products contain foreign objects, though, so it’s still worth considering since the benefits from good bags can still outweigh those negatives.
If you want to make your avian pet’s feather more vibrant and healthier, this might work well for them if your parrot is a picky eater.
Our Final Thoughts and Tips
Going the pellet diet route takes some bucks and lots of time and effort.
Some of the pet bird feeds mentioned above are even more costly than seeds, but they can be cost-effective in the long run.
However, you need to observe if the product does have a good effect on your bird.
If your bird’s excrement turns dark or small and they lose over 2% in a day, that may be a sign your bird’s sick or unwell.
If their weight drops by more than 5%, you should immediately halt the conversion process and consult your avian veterinarian.
In the meantime, add more heat to the cage and place a dish of seed inside.
You may also explore other brands of pet bird food with the help of your avian vet.