What should I feed my Parrot and Is this food OK to give to my parrot?

What should I feed my Parrot?

What should I feed my Parrot?

What should I feed my Parrot? and Is this food OK to give to my Parrot? are the two most common questions I get asked from existing and new customers of Parrot Essentials. Food is the single most important element of keeping your parrots healthy. What should I feed my Parrot? is a question which we should ask before even deciding on what parrot to get as a companion.


Parrots are extremely intelligent and they apply this intelligence to every aspect of their life including food.

Based on years of personal experience I am sad to report that most of the companion parrots are either over fed or fed the wrong diet all together. This approach to feeding is very damaging to their health, can lead to string of illnesses and worst of all a bad diet can shorten the life expectancy of your pet by half or more.

How to tell if you are over-feeding your parrot?

Use this very simple method to find out if you are over-feeding. Fill the bowls with food in the morning. At around 7pm check if there is still food in the bowl. If there is any food left uneaten you are over feeding. If there isn’t, then you may be under feeding. This should include all the food offerings, not just the seeds or pellets. If you are offering fresh mix, fruit or veg this should also be accounted for.

By feeding the right amount you will keep your parrot in optimal health and safe money too by not wasting food.

How to choose the right diet for your parrot?

WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY PARROTIn our store you can shop by Shop by Parrot Species. Find yours and look at what is available and recommended.

If you are not sure and still have any questions, please post it on the website or give us a call on 0800 327 7511.


parrot diets

Complete Parrot Food

The complete parrot food is in the form of pellets and each pellet contains the exact amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals for a healthy and balanced parrot diet. When using a complete parrot food, you do not need to offer anything else as part of the diet. However, a lot of people like to give a little bit of fresh fruit and veg. That is fine if the fresh offering does not exceed 10% of the daily intake. If it does, then the diet is no longer complete.

Seed Based Parrot Food

Seed mixes for parrots should not be high on sunflower seeds or other fatty nuts and seeds (for example peanuts). The occasional fatty seed or nut is OK but it really should be used only as a treat and not on a daily basis. This is especially important for parrot who spend most of their time inside the cage.

Fresh Parrot Mixes

Seed sprouts, mixed with fresh fruit and veg have a higher nutritional value compared to non-sprouted seeds. The mix is tasty and readily accepted by most companion parrots. This type of parrot mix can be easily adapted to mimic the food your parrots will consume in the wild. Here is a link of how we make our Fresh Sprouted Mix. We came up with this mix a few years back after having a lengthy conversation with the renowned Neil Forbes (Great Wester Exocotics) about a way of feeding our birds a fresh and healthy food.  In this article we describe Step by Step of how to sprout and prepare the Fresh Parrot Mix.

Benson’ story (an example of bad diet)

This is the story of Bensons. An African Grey parrot we rescued a few years ago, who sadly is no longer with us only because she was on a poor diet. Benson’s owner (a friend of a friend) could no longer look after Benson and we were asked if we could care for her. When Benson arrived, we were advised that all she was fed during her lifetime was sunflower seed and an occasional apple or grape. Benson was 20 years old (owner had her from a baby).

As a responsible parrot owner, I immediately started the process of changing Benson’ diet to a healthier alternative. I was shocked but not surprised when she immediately started eating the new food offering and completely refused to eat sunflower seeds ever again.
Sadly, Benson had a heart attack after approximately 3 years with us and the autopsy revealed a fatty liver and clogged arteries.

I knew that she would not have a long life but I honestly expected her to be with us for at least another 5 – 10 years. My conversation with the Vet revealed that most African Greys on a bad diet do not make it past the age of 35. Just to clarify the life expectancy of an African Grey parrot is 50 – 60 years.

How to Change your Parrot’s Diet

Start by asking: What should I feed my parrot? If you think that your parrot is not eating well or is too fussy and will not eat what is good for a parrot, simply start by reducing the daily food offering. In a few days, you will see that your parrot will start trying new things.

If you think that a change of diet is what is required, choose the right one for your pet and slowly introduce the new food over a 4 – 6 week period. During this period gradually reduce the old food and increase the new food offering.

As a result, you will have a much healthier companion pet.

For older parrots and birds who have been on a poor diet over a long period I would recommend pellets, not a seed or fresh mix. You can still offer a little bit of fresh food with the pellets.

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Parrot Diet – Feeds, seeds, and health needs

Parrot Diet

Feeding a healthy and balanced parrot diet is one of the most important tasks for keeping healthy pet parrots. You don’t want to be the cause of any unwanted sickness and you don’t want to be the cause of any overfeeding. A large number of illnesses in pet parrots can be directly linked to incorrect parrot diet and overfeeding. In this blog we will provide you with the basic understanding of seed and complete diets for parrots and help you choose the right one for your feathered friend.


First and foremost, if you’re feeding your parrot a mixture of seeds, fresh fruit, and vegetables you are on the right track to keeping your parrot healthy.


Toxic Parrot FoodsThere are kinds of foods you must avoid feeding your parrot to eliminate the onset of unwelcome illness. These foods include high-fat junk food (obviously we know this, but not uncommon), avocado, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, fruit pits, persimmons, table salt, onions, apple seeds, and mushrooms. Many of the afore mentioned foods are primarily what humans eat, and we strongly urge you not to feed your parrot processed or cooked foods on a regular basis – as a treat every now and then is fine, however we recognise this as the first step towards poor health for your parrot. Processed food is bad for humans and twice as bad for pet birds. When was the last time you saw a McDonalds or Kebab shop in the jungle?


What we all need to keep in mind is that parrots can be very picky when it comes to food. If you give them too much choice of different foods and large quantity of it, they will only eat what they like the most and waste the rest. Leading to not so healthy food regime despite the high quality ingredients you may be using. Almost 90% of the parrots in captivity I have come across are over-fed.


Tidymix Seed Parrot DietWhen considering seed diets, make sure it is low in sunflower seeds, rich in nutrition, and keep feeding to the appropriate quantity – make an effort to recognise when you’re over feeding. If you are not sure how much to feed your parrot, try this simple technique – In the morning feed your parrot as normal. In the evening (around 8pm) if there is still a lot of food in the bowl or uneaten food on the bottom of the cage and floor then you are over-feeding. Start reducing the amount of food you deliver by small fractions until you notice that by the evening all the food has been finished and there is hardly any waste.
For those of you who prefer to feed twice per day we would suggest that you get the right amount first, using the method above and then simply split it in two.
Here is a link to our range of healthy seed diets suitable for all parrots:


Harrison's Organic Parrot DietFeeding on a complete parrot diet is of course very different. Complete diets contain everything that a bird needs when it comes to nutritional value, vitamins and minerals. This means you can feed your pet only on the pellets and nothing else. This will deliver the best possible diet to a pet parrot and it will most certainly keep them in top condition.
Many parrot owners are not happy explicitly feeding strictly pellets and prefer to give fresh fruit and vegetables too. That is fine, but then a complete diet becomes incomplete again. Still 100% better than a bad sunflower based seed diet. Right? If you are going to add a fresh mix to a complete diet you need to make sure that it is not more than 15% of the daily food intake.
Here is the link to the complete parrot diets in our store: http://www.parrotessentials.co.uk/complete-diets-for-parrots

Let’s take a look at potential causes of illness for your parrot and the optimal diet for your parrot.


Intuitively and factually it makes sense that the main causes of illness in parrots is due to poor diet, and poor environment. Other causes include trauma but is not as prominent as the above mentioned. Optimising diet and environmental conditions are the key steps towards avoiding the many problems that avian veterinarians identify as avoidable. Poor or inadequate diet is the number one culprit causing illness. Dietary deficiencies cause a wide range of diseases such as poor feather colour, feather picking, severe upper respiratory infections, and even egg binding when laying eggs.

Very often Avian vets will recommend switching from a seed parrot diet to a complete parrot diet if your parrot has been on a poor food mixture regime over a long period of time, that is mainly consisting of fatty nutrients, or if your parrot is showing signs of the aforementioned health deficiencies. If switching is required, it should never be done overnight, and if there is evidence of a medical condition consulting an avian veterinarian is of the utmost importance prior to doing so.

In most cases 4 – 6 weeks is plenty of time to change from one diet to another. Start by introducing the new food in small quantity and increase the amount offered every 2 – 3 days. At the same time decrease the quantity of the old food by the same amount.
The Optimal parrot diet is something all parrot owners need to consider, given that we all want our feathery friends to tick the boxes for healthy immune and digestive systems. The optimal diet will also promote healthy cognitive and social development for your parrot. The best way to think about this diet is to think of what food would be good for a human with a heart condition.

A mixture of pellets, fruits and vegetables are a great option. Adding multi-vitamins and supplements is a good way to boost healthy immune system activity in conjunction with the aforementioned dietary recommendations. Treats are permitted, but moderation is key! We suggest honey sticks or nuts once a month or less. ALWAYS make sure their bowl is clean and disinfected at all times! Seeds are a great addition to an optimal diet, however we will continue to stress how important it is to avoid sunflower and peanut based diets. Warning: If there is left over seeds, you are over-feeding or if your bird is overweight despite the absence of a fatty seed diet, you’re over feeding.

Avoid any infections with a clean cage at all times. Your parrots are like 3 -4 year olds – very intelligent we might add, but need that around the clock attention as much as possible. Clean bowls for both drinking and bathing are so important, and if you have more than one bird, make sure you are disinfecting their bowls on a daily basis.

Closing thoughts

Well we hope this helps you along your way to caring for your feathery friend and keeping them happy. Parrot diet is one thing, but optimal parrot care comes down to a holistic approach, coupled with the utmost attentiveness. Remember; your parrot is like a young child, treat them like one, observe them like one. Always consult your nearest avian vet if you identify any irregularities or signs of disease. We know your parrot will be happy and healthy if you are considering all needs across the board.