Nutrition for your Parrot - Australian Native Inland Species

Posted by Susan Lenz on

Basics for Australian Native Inland Species







...and more!

Parrots are flock animals and in the wild, young birds learn what is good to eat by following the flock.

In captivity, hand-raised birds identify with humans as their 'flock'. This is why your birds will want to eat what you are eating, whether it is healthy or not.

It is your responsibility, as a bird owner, to teach your bird how to eat healthily. The majority of health problems in pet birds originate from dietary excesses (fats) and deficiencies (vitamin and minerals).


Cockatiels, Galahs, Cockatoos and Budgies originate from dry, desert or semi-desert environments. Their metabolism is geared to low fat diets.

Before the arrival of Europeans, no Australian parrot had access to sunflower seed. This seed has a very high fat content and birds, like children, tend to seek out fatty foods that taste good but lack nutritional content.

Birds that selectively feed on sunflower, end up with obesity related problems. Healthy liver cells are replaced with fat cells, the immune system becomes compromised and the bird is prone to secondary infections.

We recommend a good quality seed mix, such as our Green Valley Grains mixes, or Forage Gourmet  along with some good quality pellets such as Zupreem or Vetafarm and a daily offering of fresh fruit and vegetables.  It is important to offer a broad diet of a variety of food both for nutrition and enrichment.


Parrots on a seed based diet need vitamin supplementation, (pelleted diets should contain the necessary vitamins) as we can never replicate a completely balanced diet for our birds, we recommend that all pet birds on a seed diet have access to a vitamin supplementation.

Vetafarm Soluvite provides an economical and palatable supplement. Used according to directions, it can be added to the bird's drinking water or be sprinkled over the vegetables.


Pelleted diets are nutritionally balanced.

Many brands are commercially available (both Australian made and foreign). Birds need to be converted to pelleted diets, under supervision.

There are a number of pellets that are suitable for your bird that we stock - please ask us what suits your bird the best!

To be effective pellets need to comprise 80% of the total diet. Birds on a pelleted diet still need vegetables, green grass seed and green leafy browse for behavioural enrichment.


Sweet corn, silver beet, spinach, beans, peas, celery, sprouted seeds, capsicum, chillies etc

Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, broccoli, brussels sprouts should be served lightly steamed to break down the cellulose content and make them more digestible for the birds.


Fresh seeding grasses are an important and healthy food supplement for your bird. If none are available, plant some birdseed and allow it to mature to grass with seed heads. Tropical chick weed, milk thistle, dock weed, dandelions are also readily available and highly nutritious wild foods.


Parrots like to chew - give them something healthy to chew on. Provide green leafy branches from Australian native trees (wattle, bottle brush, melaleuca, tea tree, gum, grevillea, lilly pilly, banksia, acacia etc.)

Birds love the seeds and pods from these trees as well. Cockatiels and Budgies especially love the little, nutty seed pods left after the Bottle Brush flower has died off.

Do you know sunflower seeds are excellent sources of various vitamins and minerals?

Although sunflower seeds are high in fat, and too many for your bird can be dangerous in causing diseases such as fatty liver, if we learn to offer sparingly and cautiously at limited amounts, it can be an ideal supplement to the parrots’ daily nutritional needs without affecting the health.


In the wild all of these bird species forage for all their food on a daily a basis. It is natural. When we put birds in cages we need to remind ourselves that they still need to forage for their food to stay healthy, mental stimulation and to reduce boredom. In the wild, the proportion of foraging time spent flying, on the ground or in trees varies between parrot species. The numbers of hours and time of day spent foraging also varies between species.

All Australian parrots forage early morning followed by a rest period when they retreat to the cover and safety of trees. Rain may delay ground foraging. Parrots that live in a hot climate remain in trees during the heat of the day. Here they keep occupied by chewing on branches and leaves. Many parrots continue to forage during the middle of the day. The final foraging period extends for an hour or more before sunset. By dusk all Australian parrots have returned to a roosting tree.

The intellectual capacity of our pet birds is grossly underestimated because we have not provided them with the opportunities to extend their mental adroitness. We can extend their mental capacity and realise their full potential as companion pets by providing food types and following a daily foraging routine that is closely aligned to that of their wild cousins. Knowledge of the daily routines and the way parrots behave in nature is the key to the health and happiness of these birds in captivity.


Birds don't have the metabolism to cope with these foods - Always be guided by what they would eat in the wild.

· Avocado

· Alcohol

· Caffine

· Chocolate

· Dairy Products

· Dried / Uncooked Beans

· Fried, Greasy or Junk Food

· Fruit Seeds

· Stone Fruit Pits or Pips

· Mushrooms

· Nutmeg

· Onion

· Peanuts

· Rhubarb

· Salty or Sugary Foods

· Tomato Leaves, Vines or Stems

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