by Heike Ewing Ott
Do parrots become addicted to eating seeds? It sounds like a funny question, but many parrot owners who have watched their birds gobble down seeds while ignoring other types of delicious foods have wondered this very thing. This short article answers this question.
The rumors about various types of seed being hallucinogenic and/or addictive have been going around off and on for many years. They are not true.
Are hamburgers addictive? No. Then what makes teenagers want to eat them in such quantities? They are high-energy and they taste good. Same difference with sunflower seeds and other high-fat seeds. They taste good and they are the most calorie-dense seeds, providing the most energy for the amount consumed. That DOESN’T mean that they are GOOD for the birds, any more than high-fat, calorie-dense foods are good for us.
We should all realize by now that a PERSON’s moods and level of energy can be affected by nutrition and what types of foods they eat; the same is true of birds. Different seeds have different levels of various nutrients, including fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc. Some seeds contain oils that promote shiny feathers; some are high in carbo- hydrates and raise the bird’s energy levels, making it “feel good.” Some contain the amino acids that promote healthy feather growth; others contain trace nutrients that encourage hormone production, etc., etc. There is nothing magical or hallucinogenic about any of this – it’s just nutrition!
This is, however, one of the reasons that a pelleted diet is superior to seeds. Each birdy bite of pellet contains the proper nutrients in the correct balance, eliminating the worry over getting just the right mix of seed to meet the bird’s nutritional needs, and then *HOPING* (usually in vain) that the bird is actually going to eat them in balanced quantities! In practice, the bird usually eats the seeds it likes best and leaves the rest, resulting in it GETTING an unbalanced diet even if the seed mix, taken in total, would be a balanced diet.