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The Ultimate Parrot Care Guide
Parrot Diet and Nutrition
Making sure that your parrot has a healthy parrot diet and good nutrition is one of the best things you can do to make sure your bird stays healthy. Poor nutrition can mean a life cut in half. It could even be a life full of pain and misery for sure. Even birds that live on an “adequate parrot diet” can end up having a myriad of health problems including liver disease, feather disorders, respiratory problems and other issues.
So many parrot owners believe that bird seed and water is the perfect parrot diet. Seed has been considered the standard for so long that many owners believe that is all it takes to provide a healthy and balanced nutritional diet for their birds. But make no mistake about it – it takes a lot more than that. Read on to see if your Parrot is getting all he needs to enjoy life. It may surprise you.
Water is Critical
Let’s start with water. Good clean fresh water daily is an absolute must. If you think that because many parrots live in the wild where that might have to deal with droughts for a few months out of the year that water is no big deal - think again! A small parrot needs at least 2 - 3 teaspoons a day. It doesn’t sound like much but it is critical.
Tap water is not all that create either. It can contain all kinds of harmful chemicals depending on where you live. It might not be all that good for you either. Use bottled or filtered water. Make sure your parrot’s water dish is clean. Refresh the water at least twice a day – in the morning and afternoon are good times. Clean it any time you see it getting cloudy or otherwise dirty. Remember, a healthy parrot diet begins with good water.
What’s the perfect parrot diet made up of for your particular bird? Well that is a matter for debate. The fact is that most research that has been done has been based on poultry. Parrots have not been studied nearly as much as poultry and for good reason. Parrots live in the wild in a wide variety of climates all over the world. It will be a long time before we have sound information on even the common varieties of birds.
We do know that a parrot in the wild eats the foods that are available during that particular season. This gives him a natural variety of food. At some times the birds will eat grasses. At other times its diet will be made up of fruits and berries. The wild parrot eats what is available. Parrots by nature are programmed to view seeds as food to be eaten in large quantities when they are available because they won’t be around long in the wild. The problem is with a parrot in captivity, the seeds may never go away and the bird will keep eating them and ignore the other nutritional elements that they would normally get in the wild. We have to make sure our birds get a better balanced parrot diet.
Vitamin A deficiency is the most common problem resulting from a poor parrot diet. Neither seed nor pellet food has enough vitamin A for your bird. The answer lies in leafy greens, green vegetables and most orange fruits and vegetables that have sufficient vitamin A to help solve the problem. You just have to get your bird to eat them.
If you get your bird on a good healthy parrot diet of fruits and greens, the disorder can be easily reversed. Be careful of vitamin supplements that you might find at your local pet store. It’s very easy to overdose your bird on these and cause harmful toxicity. It’s better to load them up on fruits and vegetables (sound familiar?)
The other common deficiency from a poor parrot diet is low calcium levels. This can cause lowered immunity, seizures and feather picking. Again calcium rich foods like almonds, carrots, kale and watergrass will help. You can get a liquid calcium supplement and add it to the bird’s water a few times a week. I wouldn’t use this unless a veterinarian had tested your parrot and found it had low calcium.
Pellet food has become very popular over the years. Undoubtedly that’s because of the claims made by the manufacturers about how easy it is to give your parrot a balanced diet. Just give them these nutritional pellets. Well, be a little skeptical. It just isn’t that easy. In fact there is some evidence that suggests a long term parrot diet of only pellet food can cause other problems.
The fact of the matter is, just like seed, pellet food is fine as a small part of your bird’s overall nutritional plan. You have to make up your own mind and I recommend consulting a veterinarian that you trust. I firmly believe that if you give your parrot a balanced diet including seeds and pellets along with a variety of other nutritional foods you will be better off in the long run.
A Cooked Food Parrot Diet
The cooked food based parrot diet is a particularly good way to go. Most people will say that it sounds like a lot of work – that’s because it is. The diet consists of a cooked mixture of beans, brown or whole-grain rice, quinoa, amaranth, couscous and other grains. Add some whole-grain pasta, seeds, nuts and pellets along with fruits, dried vegetables and herbs and you have a really good nutritional base.
The only real problem with this food, other than the time it takes to prepare, is that it spoils more easily in warm weather and should be left in the cage for only a few hours at a time. I think your bird will love this parrot diet over seeds and pellets any day.
Don’t take short cuts with your parrot’s dietary needs. It will only cause problems down the road. Make your bird’s life is as happy and healthy as possible and he’ll return the favor.