by Heike Ewing Ott
Are pelleted diets for parrots really the best? That is a question that a bird owner must decide for himself or herself. However, many avian experts feel that pellets should be a part of a healthy diet for most parrots. In the article below, various sources are quoted to show what the experts feel is the most nutritious diet for parrots.
Normally I wouldn’t do this, but in an attempt to clear up the confusion I am going to quote directly from several sources, so you all know it’s not just MY opninion:
Bird Talk magazine, Aug 97 issue, Article “20 Dos and Donts for Pet Bird Owners:
“5. Do provide your birds with a healthy diet consisting of pellets, fresh fruit, vegetables, pasta, and healthy table foods. ”
” 6 … Don’t allow your bird to consume and all-seed diet; it will be high in fat and low in just about everything else, including calcium and vitamins.”
Bird Talk magazine, June 97, article “Avian Health Care.” :
“Poor or inadequate diet is the No. 1 cause of illness in birds. Whether the illness is primarily because of a vitamin deficiency or the bird has a secondary infection, diet is the key. ….. The Optimal Diet: Diet 1: Maintenance pellets offered on an as-eat basis. … Offer vegetables and fruits (75 – 90- percent vegetables, the rest fruit) daily. A vitamin supplement is not needed since the pelleted diet should contain all necessary vitamins and minerals.”
Birds USA, 97/98 Issue, Article “Basic Nutrition”, written by Margaret A. Wissman, D.V.M., Dip., ABVP. Avian Practice:
“Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of avian stewardship. Fortunately, it is also the variable over which bird owners have the most control. The commonly held belief that birds eat primarily seed in the wild has been disproved by field studies that have been performed by biologists, aviculturists and birdwatchers. In their natural habitat, birds consume a large variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, seeds, grains, grasses, roots, tubers, nuts (including palm nuts and pine nuts), some animal matter (insects, perhaps carrion), and even clay, which variesseasonally. It is not necessary, nor practical, to try to simulate a bird’s natural diet in captivity … Over the last 10 years, the amount of informatin concerning avian nutrition has greatly expanded, and several companies have developed well-balanced diets for birds. These formulated diets are the result of extensive research, field trials and scientific observation. … it is easy to see that nutrition is quite complex, and it would be difficult for the average pet bird owner to develop a complete and balanced diet for a bird without the benefit of a P.H.D in nutrition. …even if an owner can offer a balanced diet, there is no guarantee that it will readily consume the offered banquet. ..There are many benefits to feeding a commercially prepared formulated diet…each bite that the parrot consumes will contain the correct nutrients in the proper balance.”
Bird Breeder magazine, Sep/Oct 96, article “Nutrition for Breeding Birds” :
“In addition to maintenance formulas for pet birds, several companies now manufacture pelleted diets for breeding pairs, making it easy to switch your birds to a higher nutritional level…. Indoor birds tend to lack D3…the only foods containing D3 in significant quantities are formulated diets (pellets) or vitamin mix.”
Bird Breeder magazine, Jan 95, article “Basic Avian Dietary Guidelines” :
“Seed-only diets are high in fat and low in vitamins and minerals. The good news about seed isthat it contains oils necessary to good health. All bodies need some fat to function properly. .. Sunflower and other seeds are not addictive. The problem is that they are very tasty, and birds are creatures of habit, reluctant to try new foods. Given a free choice from a bowl of mixed foods, most birds will fill up on seeds first. Do some of you remember living on junk food as teenagers? I remember lunches consisting of an ice cream bar and potato chips. I grew out of it, but my Amazons are still in that mind-set. It is up to me to regulate their seed intake by offering samll, infrequent servings. … the term “pellet” tends to be used to refer to both pelleted diets and extruded nuggets, in which the ingredients are bound together by means of high temperatures, which also kill bacteria. … pellets help take the guesswork out of birds’ different dietary needs at different stages of life. …More than one veterinarian pointed out that when owners complain that their birds will not accept pellets, the fault is more often in the owner’s lack of persistence … If the birds do not accept one brand, try another. When asked if birds will get bored on pellets, Dr. Hawley said that birds are truly creatures of habit: they like sameness. … San Diego Zoo Animal Collections Manager, Wayne Schulenberg, ecourages his keepers to feed pellets but says that it can be more difficult to convert people to pellets than to convert birds. ….”
All right, now, these were quotes from NATIONAL MAGAZINES and true EXPERTS. According to them, the BEST DIET for parrots consists of, in order from most to least quantity that should be in the diet:
Pelleted food, vegetables, grains and pasta, cooked mix (rice, beans, vegetables, etc.), fruit, seed, other healthy table foods, “junk food” treats.
Members of the bird-owning jury, I rest my case!!