A Parakeet's Diet
A friend moved out of town and left her two parakeets, Bart and Homer, behind with me. I've been feeding them lettuce and seed but they are not eating very well. Can you give me some advice about what they should eat?
The daily diet for pet birds should include 40 percent seed, 40 percent vegetable, 10 percent dairy and meat products and 10 percent fruit. The vegetables can be cooked, fresh or frozen and thawed. Chicken is a favorite meat. Avoid avocados and milk. The seed, available from pet stores, should be fresh. You can verify its freshness by germinating a few seeds on a moist paper towel. Feed your birds in the morning when their appetites are at peak and again in the evening. Also provide fresh water daily. Bart and Homer will need a daily does of bird multi-vitamins. Use the powdered from and sprinkle it in food, not in water where it will cause bacteria to grow. Pelleted bird food is a good and convenient alternative to the seed, vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy diet, however, sometimes it is difficult to get your bird to eat them. Recently there has been more research on bird nutrition but we still do not know exactly what nutrients birds require each day. Pelleted food varies in ingredients and richness. If you use pellets, it has been suggested that you switch from brand to brand. Feather molting and good feather color are signs of a healthy bird. Feathers are protein. When new ones are growing, birds need extra protein in their diet. Bruising and bleeding inside the beak and toes may indicate a fatty liver often caused by too many fatty foods like sunflower seeds and peanuts. A deficiency in vitamin A may lead to respiratory problems. Your parakeets will do well on the regimen I have outlined. Some other exotic birds have special diet requirements. Cockatiels and African grays need extra calcium, lory and lorikeets are nectar eaters and minah birds require soft foods because their beaks cannot break seed. Good luck with Bart and Homer. I think you will find that your little birds will be a great source of enjoyment.