The following diet suggestions are to be used as a guide to help bird lovers learn more about the their diet. For more detailed information on diet and general care, breeders and bird owners should contact their local vet for expert advice.
Birds are one of the most common animals to keep as pets. Budgies, canaries, cockatiels and parrots are popular species for pets.
Birds are intelligent animals that offer a lot as a pet including companionship and entertainment for the whole family. Compared with many other pets they can be low maintenance, inexpensive to keep, very social and beautiful to look at.
If you are a bird owner the best thing you can do for your pet is provide a balanced diet to keep them in top condition.
Diet suggestions for bird owners and breeders
- Different species of birds have different dietary requirements, select a seed mix designed for the type of bird you have.
- Birds, like humans, enjoy variation in diet, and treats such as nuggets, millets sprays and bells. Treats can be fattening so only offer them occasionally.
- As birds are inquisitive and curious creatures they have a natural instinct and need to chew, shred and forage, so it is important to give them occasional treats to keep them stimulated and entertained.
- Offer a wide range of fruits and vegetables to see what birds like. Fruit and vegetables provide nutrients not present in seed (particularly Vitamin A). Just about any fruit or vegetable is suitable except avocado and iceberg lettuce.
- Native gum nuts, pine cones, eucalypt branches and blossoms will all be welcomed. Thistles are excellent except when in flower as the purple leaves are toxic.
- Soluble grits such as egg shell, cuttlebone and charcoal provide minerals and trace elements such as calcium. Insoluble grits are essential for digestion as birds have no teeth. Without grits seed could pass straight through the digestive system, thereby losing nutritional value.
- Biscuits or Egg & Biscuit mix can be fed as well as meal worms or insects. Cockatoos will even enjoy cooked meat bones.
- Always supply clean water.
- Sprouted seed provides a highly nutritious and tasty source of food. Sprouting can be time-consuming but breeders should be encouraged to learn which seeds are suitable for their birds and the techniques required sprouting seeds.
- Changing a birds diet will upset its routine and should be undertaken carefully. It is important to note a bird’s previous diet when buying or selling birds. Birds fed on pellets will not readily take on a seed diet or vice versa. Similarly note whether a lorikeet has been fed on a wet or a dry food.
- Worming every three or four months is considered important.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements may also be incorporated into birds’ diet.
Nutrition Information supplied by:
Avi Grain PO Box5397. Chittaway, NSW 2261www.avigrain.com.au
Feeding tips for specific bird types
Budgie - Fruit suitable for budgies is apple, grape, mango, melon, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, plum, strawberry, tangerine, watermelon. Vegetables suitable for budgies include broccoli, carrot celery, peas, silverbeet and spinach.
Cockatiel - Cockatiels come in a host of mixed colours besides the common grey and have long tails making up about half of their total length, giving them more of a parakeet type appearance.
Parrot - They live a lot longer than Budgies and Canaries and need lots of company. Parrots require a lot of investment in time, energy and a large cage.
Aviary - Some birds may be better suited to being in an aviary, rather than being an indoor pet. For example, some parakeets, may be too noisy inside.
Doves - They make a pleasant 'cooing' sound and most have about 4 or 5 types of calls. Doves are intelligent birds that can be taught simple tricks; this is why they are traditionally used by magicians.
Finch - There are hundreds of different species of Finches along with many varieties of colours and patterns. Some varieties don’t require a large amount of room so can make a good apartment pet.
Chicken - Chickens also enjoy feeding on pasture, vegetables and fruit so ensure you offer a mixture of these to your daily feed. Hens drink a lot of water (especially over summer) and will easily go off laying if they become dehydrated so ensure fresh, cool water is available at all times.