What Do Parrots Eat?

What Do Parrots Eat
Photo by Tomas Sobek

This article aims to answer the question, “what do parrots eat?” Before we explore that, let us take a short trip to the avian world and learn about these birds.

Parrots are beautiful, elaborate, raucous birds that belong to the family Sittacidae and the order Psittaciformes. These birds are popular because they are amusing, intelligent, and affectionate. Some are even capable of imitating human speech.

These birds usually originate from a warm habitat, although some species can be found in colder climates. A distinct characteristic of these gorgeous birds is their curved beak.

They also have zygodactyl feet, i.e., each has four toes with two facing forward and two backward facings.

Parrot comes in various sizes and colors. It is estimated that more than 350 species of parrots exist today. Some parrots display numerous colors, such as the lories parrot, while others wear two or only one color, such as Vasa parrots.

Sometimes, the male and female of a species look entirely different, such as the Eclectus parrot. One unique attribute of parrots is their lifespan.

Most parrots have a near human life span of 35 – 50 years, e.g., the macaws and cockatoos. Some live beyond that, e.g., the world’s oldest parrot is currently an 82-year-old Cookie.

Parrots are omnivores and enjoy a mix of plants and animal foods. In feeding parrots, the goal should be to provide them with a natural diet that meets their nutritional needs.

The question then is, “what do parrots eat?”

Keep reading as we explore the dietary constitution of a parrot in this article.

What do parrots eat?

Before we answer the question, “what do parrots eat?” Take note of some foods never to give your parrots.

They are; salty, fatty, sugary, chocolate, caffeine, avocados, fried human food, tea, mushrooms, peanuts, onions, fruit seeds, and garlic. Some of these are highly toxic and can even lead to the parrot’s death.

Let’s take a look at some of the food parrots eats.

Fresh Vegetables

A fresh vegetable is one of the answers to the question, “what do parrots eat?”

Parrots thrive on a diet of fresh vegetables. When feeding these parrots vegetables, ensure that at least 40% of the diet is composed of fresh ingredients and that they are organic. These vegetables are packed with minerals and vitamins necessary for the parrots’ good health.

For example, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids that are required to keep the feathers and skin of parrots in tip-top condition.

This romaine lettuce contains significant amounts of folic acid, a water-soluble form of vitamin B. It contains 17 percent protein and all nine essential amino acids and has far more vitamin A than carrots.

Talking about carrots, Parrots love carrots. When chopped into chunks, they are great and provide the birds with vitamin A and D. More so, the tough pieces give birds an excellent jaw workout, which keeps them in good health.

Parrots also love peppers; they can take the heat and enjoy it well. They are a great source of vitamin D, an essential supplement.

A parrot also eats watercress filled with vitamin A and K. Parrots can eat most human vegetables, such as zucchini, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet corn, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, Okra, parsley, pumpkin, winter squashes, and leeks. All these will provide the parrots with various nutrients essential for a healthy lifestyle.

Fruits

Fruit is another answer to the question, “what do parrots eat?” Fruits provide a substantial collection of vitamins, minerals, and fibers to the parrots that help keep them healthy. E.g. berries are an incredible parrot food loaded with vitamins.

They are high in vitamins C and K, which can boost a bird’s immune system, enabling them to cope with stress better and bounce back from illness quicker.

Birds love fruits but also know that just as we humans have preferences, they also have their choice. You can try out different healthy fruit to understand the ones your parrot love. Fruits are high in sugar and so don’t feed too much to the parrot.

Feed them sparingly to your parrots as treats. Some fruits parrots like are; papaya, coconut meat, Mango, pomegranate, bananas, cantaloupe, apples, grapes, pineapple, melons, oranges, and grapes.

One can feed fruits to the parrots in fresh or dried form. Dried fruits have become a mainstay of many bird food mixes; they are healthy and last longer. They can be given in small bites, just as birds enjoy it.

When feeding these birds dried fruit, offer smaller portions than you would fresh ones. This is because dehydration increases the concentration of sugar in the fruit.

Also, purchase sulfur-free dried fruit and ensure an adequate water supply for your parrot as it munches on dried fruits.

As you feed these birds fresh fruit, it can mess up their cage. Hence, remove and discard any leftovers a couple of hours after serving. This will prevent bacteria growth inside your pet’s cage.

In your choice of fruits, watch out for fruit varieties with toxic pits or stones. Although these birds can chew them up, some contain a high level of natural cyanide harmful to these birds. E.g., the stones of cherries, peaches, apricots, and pears can do more harm than good. Avoid Avocados too.

Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts also answer the question, “what do parrots eat?” They are good protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and copper sources. They are healthy, delicious, and tasty to the parrot’s pallets.

More so, feeding these parrots nuts, and seed aren’t just dietary alone. They keep the birds engaged and entertained even as they try to open the shell and get at the seeds or nuts inside.

However,  seeds and nuts should be fed to these birds in moderation because they are high in fat, and overfeeding them can lead to problems.

One should provide a blend of seeds and nuts with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats to the parrot.

It is well known that parrots love seeds and nuts, and each has its preference. Some of these seeds are high in fat. E.g., the sunflower seeds should be fed to these birds in moderation.

Nuts are not just tasty but also nutritious. E.g., Walnuts have many nutritional features not found in other nuts and are very tasty, which many birds appreciate.

Some favorite nuts and seeds for parrots include almonds, cashews, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, flax, chia, hemp, sunflower,  pumpkin, and brazil nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and pine nuts.

These seeds should be raw, uncooked, and unsalted. Organic is always the best option, and they can be shelled or unshelled.

Please don’t make the mistake of giving your bird an all-seed diet because it can affect its health, making its feathers dull and dry.

Flower

Flowers are beautiful and look appealing. Some are tasty and have been used over the years in culinary arts and herbal concoctions. Parrots enjoy flowers because they are tasty and fun to shred before gobbling them.

Not all flowers are edible, though. Some indeed answer the question, “what do parrots eat?” Although not packed with so many nutritional values, they are also delicious and can contribute to giving your colorful pet a colorful dish. Parrots love feeding on the nectars of flowers too.

As we mentioned earlier, not all flowers are edible. Hence, care should be taken in the type of flower to feed your pet parrot.

Examples of edible flowers for parrots are African violets, aster, bottlebrush, carnations, chrysanthemum, daisies, gardenias, gladiolus, hibiscus, honeysuckle, impatiens, lilac, magnolias, marigolds, nasturtium, pansies, petunias, roses, sunflowers, and violets.

In as much as the above flowers are deemed safe, care should also be taken in administering them to your parrots. Ensure that what you feed your parrots is free from pesticides, fertilizer, or chemical treatment used in floral stores.

The bottom line is; to feed your parrot flowers deemed edible and organically safe.

Legumes and Sprouts

Legumes and sprouts also answer the question, “what do parrots eat?” The importance of proteins in animals cannot be overemphasized. Proteins are essential for the development of connective tissue and muscle.

A lack of protein in your parrot’s diet can lead to many problems. To avoid these problems, include protein-rich foods in your pet’s diet.

Beans, legumes, and sprouts are an excellent source of proteins and fibers that keeps the birds’ digestive system running smoothly. E.g., Black beans, green beans, kidney beans, lentils, plain tofu, and chickpeas are all excellent sources of protein. Kidney beans should never be served raw. They should be boiled without salt or any seasoning.

The biological changes brought about by sprouting make sprouting seeds rich in plenty of enzymes and vitamins. When feeding the parrot’s sprouts, ensure they are clean and free from germs. 

Cuttlefish Bone and Meat

All right, hear me out here! Meat can be fed to parrots in small portions and should be adequately cooked.

Remember, we said earlier that parrots are omnivorous birds; this means that they eat both plants and animals. Wild parrots scavenge worms and eat insects.

For your pet parrot, you can introduce meat into its diet. Don’t forget that too much is capable of damaging its kidney. So please keep it to the barest minimum.

A parrot’s diet can also be supplemented with cuttlefish bone. It is a tremendous source of calcium and minerals. It helps to keep the parrots’ bones healthy and ensures their blood clots properly. This also answers the question, “what do parrots eat?”

Water

Last but not least, in our quest to answer the question, “what do parrots eat?” We have water.

Water, as we all know, is essential for the proper functioning of the internal system of an animal. To feed your parrot the ideal diet, don’t forget that water is equally crucial. Provide your parrot with a fresh supply of water always. 

Conclusion

This article has successfully answered the question, “what do parrots eat?” As we have seen so far, parrots are omnivores. They eat both plants and animals.

They feed on a variety of foods to fill their need for different tastes and nutrients, ranging from fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, flowers, and lots more. We also looked at the various sources of these foods.

More so, we examined some food that should not be fed to parrots. Parrots that eat healthy food can live for many years.

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