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Feeding your Bird


When you first acquire a bird, particularly if purchased in a pet store, you probably also bought a bag of commercially prepared bird food.  It may have come in pellet or granule form, depending on the size of bird it was intended for, and provides a complete, balanced diet for most birds.  However, while pellets make a good foundation for a nutritious diet, for the healthiest, happiest bird, you'll also want to recreate their natural environment (and diet) as much as possible.  Depending on the species of bird you keep, a natural diet could include seeds, fruits, vegetables, nectar, nuts, or a combination.  Below are some guidelines for developing your bird's diet.

Seed eaters

commercial diet/grains

40-50%

vegetables 40-50%
fruits 5-10%

proteins

5%

Lories, Lorikeets

commercial diet

50%

fruits 30-40%
nectar 10-20%

Toucans, Mynahs

fruits

60%

vegetables 0%
protein 10%

Grains:
formulated bird pellets, cooked brown rice, cooked pasta, whole wheat bread, uncooked oats.

Vegetables:
beets and beet greens, broccoli, carrots and carrot tops, collard greens, corn, endive, garlic, green beans, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, onions, parsley, peas, sweet and hot peppers, cooked spinach, sprouts, squash, sweet potato. Avocado and rhubarb are toxic to birds (and many other animals) and should never be fed to them.  Lettuce (particularly iceberg) has little nutritional value and too high a water content to be a healthy part of an animal's diet.  Tomatoes are too acidic.  Be sure to wash all vegetables extremely well to remove any traces of agricultural chemicals.

Fruits:
apples (occasionally due to high water content), apricots, bananas, citrus fruits (occasionally due to acidity), grapes (occasionally due to high water content), melons, peaches, pears, pomegranates. Many fruits have a high water and sugar content, and these should be fed in small amounts only.  Avoid feeding any fruit seeds or pits (melon seeds are an exception).  Be sure to wash all fruits extremely well to remove any traces of agricultural chemicals.

Proteins:
chicken, turkey, lean beef, hard-boiled egg, bone and bone marrow, live foods (feeder grubs, worms, or crickets), low-fat yogurt (no additives), fish, beans.Always cook meat or eggs before giving them to your bird.  However, non-stick coating on pans can leave toxic traces of the coating in food and in the air.  All pans with non-stick coating should be gotten rid of when you acquire a bird.  If you must use them, put your bird on the other side of the house, and do not cook any of these foods for your bird in those pans.  The same goes for aerosol cooking sprays.

Treats:
in small amounts and no more then once or twice weeklycheddar cheese, millet spray, store-bought treats, favorite fruit or vegetable not normally offered, nuts (no peanuts  linked to aspergillosis and cancer), low-sugar cereal, peanut butter, orange juice, milk. Remember that food requirements will change throughout a bird's life.  Breeding, brooding, and molting birds, as well as birds in large aviaries or show birds, will all require some change in their diets.  Sick or aging birds will also need a change in their diet.  An avian veterinarian is vital in determining and correcting nutritional problems.