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How to Feed Your Bird a Balanced Diet

Updated on September 10, 2012

Your Bird has Special Dietary Requirements

Birds come in many shapes and sizes. Because there are many varieties and species of birds, there needs to be many types of bird food to meet each of their needs. Nutritional deficiencies for birds, is believed to be one of the causes of premature death in caged avians.  As an example, Amazon parrots in the wild live to be about 45-60 years old. Yet as caged pets, they live to about the age of 30. It is challenging to figure out what makes a bird’s diet complete.  There are things you can do to help add years to your bird’s life.

Pellets, Seed, Nuts, Fruits and Vegetables Make a Balanced Diet

Birds such as  parakeets and budgerigar, cockatiel and finches are the most popular birds kept as pets.  Bigger birds, like parrots can become ill due to a lack of nutrients, if fed only a seed diet. Seeds contain only a small amount of calcium, not enough protein, and are high in fat.  Pellets have replaced seed mixes in some brands of bird food.  Pellets have added calcium. Birds have a tendency to having a vitamin A deficiency.  

Pellets can give these larger birds more nutrients, but they are not the total answer for a healthy bird diet. Birds enjoy eating foods that we eat also. Fresh food like raw or partially cooked vegetables , some fruit, cooked whole grains, pastas, and some cooked meat is good for your bird also. You don’t have to make them a special meal. Just give them some of the food you are cooking for dinner for your family and yourself, before you season it up for yourself.

  • pellets are fortified with the best nutrients for proper nutritional balance.
  • pellets leave less mess and waste
  • easy for your bird to digest
  • your bird processes the quality ingredients, making their droppings firmer and easier to clean up


Give Your Bird Fresh Food and Water Daily

The answer for balanced nutrition for our pet avians is to feed them a variety of foods. Because different species have birds, have different requirements for a balanced diet, the variety depends on the type of bird you have.

  • for medium to large birds like parrots, feed them ⅓ pellets, ⅓ seed, ⅓ fresh food

Your bird needs diversified foods for the best balanced meals.

Adding fruits and vegetables to your bird’s diet will make their food more interesting and fun for them also. Birds can easily become vitamin A deficient.  By adding yellow and orange vegetables to their diet, you can make their meals more balance. You bird will love eating cantaloupe, carros, leafy green vegetales like romaine lettuce, endive and collard greens and cooked squash.   

It is important to give your bird the proper mixture of food as an initial step towards keeping them healthy.
  • make sure food and fresh water is available all day long for your bird, In the wild they would eat a few times a day.

Complete nutrition and a balance diet will help your bird maintain proper body functions, known as homeostasis, and help them grow and feed their cells for a long life.

Make Sure Your Bird Always Has Food in the A.M.

Birds can be particular about what they eat and fussy when you change their diet.  Here are some tips to ease your pet into a new diet:
  • It is never too late to improve your birds diet
  • The younger you start them, the better, they will be more open to trying new things
  • Let your bird see you eating the fruits and vegetables you want them to eat. Birds can be social eaters and they will be curious watching you and may try it themselves
  • Morning is a great time to introduce new foods. They naturally look for food in the morning and may be more anxious to try something different.
  • Give them their regular food in the afternoon
  • They may not recognize new food and not realize it is food, so be sure to put it in their regular familiar bowl.
  • Birds are attracted to brightly colored things, so cut fruits and vegetables into bite sized pieces and their curiosity might get them to try it.
  • Try raw and cooked vegetables. Some birds might have a preference. Some birds may prefer their cooked vegetables cool, others might want them warm.
  • Some birds like their fruits more liquidy
  • Mix new commercial food with raisins, sunflower seeds, and some of the food they have been eating to help them eat the new food easier

Do's and Don'ts of Feeding Your Bird

Your bird will eat to meet their individual energy needs. Fresh fruits and vegetables served to your bird is a low energy food and your bird will continue to feed on the pellets you give them. Seeds and nuts are higher energy food and will lower their pellet intake. This is why it is good to feed them a balance of different foods. fruit and vegetables and limit the amount of seeds and nuts.

When it comes to feeding your bird, avoid these common mistakes

  • the bowl looks full - when birds eat seeds, the hulls that are left behind can look like food in the bowl. Replace food and water at least once a day, if not more often.
  • If your bird is only eating from the floor of the cage, try lowering theri bowl. This happens often with baby birds who are not too adept at finding food yet. This can happen with food and water. With the high metabolism birds have, it is important they eat frequently, as they would in the wild.
  • When switch their food, do so gradually, to make sure they are eating some food.
  • Even if all your bird wants to eat is seed, remember seed alone does not offer enough balance for your a nutritious meal.
  • A stubborn bird, can, through patience convert their diet to some seed, pellets, and fruits, and vegetables.
  • clean their food and water bowls and bottles every day
  • If the water bottle or bowl feels slimy, there may be bacteria.
  • observe your bird and notice any change in their behavior or body language, and make sure your bird is eating.

Never Feed your Bird

  • chocolate - it can be poisonous.
  • avocado and guacamole is also toxic to your bird
  • alcohol -
  • caffeine -
  • watch out for poisonous houseplants

Your Bird and Food

Making the right choices for your bird is a matter of educating yourself. A balanced diet for your bird comes from many sources. Seeds, nuts, pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables will give your bird the proper nutrition for a longevity, good health, and a happy bird. 


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    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Susannah, I am glad you found this helpful. I am always happy when you stop by.

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      Thanks For the tips.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      HiSuzanne, For sure there is more to learn about taking care of birds than it seems. But knowledge is power and the more we know about taking care of all kinds of pets, the better.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

      Good info! Birds are fun pets, but it definitely takes a bit of education to know how to keep them healthy and happy! :)

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Anglnwu, That is so sad how you lost your parakeets. I hope you can find other pets to fill the void. Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to read my hub.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Ingenira, Glad you enjoy my hubs. The pits of many fruits, like peaches and avocados contain a toxic liquid. The flesh of the avocado is not toxic to a bird, but if some liquid leaked from the crack in the pit, it could be enough to harm a bird, so why take the chance. In addition the skin is toxic to a bird too. Avocados generally shouldn't be fed to any animals. They are on the list of toxic foods from the ASPCA for dogs, cats and horses too. So keep the avocado for yourself and share your love.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Very good advice. I wish I knew this when my daughter had 3 parakeets. Sadly, one flew away, one was attacked by a hawk when we left it out to enjoy some nature and the third probably died of sadness (lost 2 friends). Anyway, that's the end of our trying to have birds as pets--don't want any birds dying on us. Enjoyed the read and rated it up.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      Another excellent writeup. :) I never knew that avocado can be poisonous to birds, why is that so ? I wondered. It looks like healthy fruit to me.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Kath,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading. Not all birds live so long, it is mainly the bigger ones. Just so you know, I have 3 cats and 2 birds,(+ 3 dogs, a bunny, and a hedgehog). One bird is an African Grey he talks,and the other is a Cockatoo. The Cockatoo will go after my cats and they run away from her.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you toknowinfo-great information. I really like birds, however my cat does too - not sure they would bond so well. I didn't realize birds lived so long!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Tom, Thanks for reading my hub and for the up votes. Wishing you a wonderful week too.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Fay, The younger you start your bird on the balanced diet, the better and easier it is. I am glad you found this helpful. Thanks so much for the up votes and for bookmarking.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi Wooded, Thanks for stopping by. Wild birds have their own challenges, so it is wise to do research before you adopt one. I am glad this article was helpful for you.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi toknowinfo, all great information to help new bird owners to keep their birds healthy and happy !

      Useful and vote up !!!

      Have a great week my friend !

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 6 years ago

      I have been thinking about getting another bird. This excellent hub will certainly come in handy.

      voted up/useful and bookmarked

    • profile image

      Wooded 6 years ago

      My neighbors have beautiful birds that live on their patio. I have been thinking about adopting one myself but I will have to do a lot more research. I had no idea they should eat fresh fruits and vegetables regularly. Great hub.