Our pet birds make wonderful and fascinating pets, bringing laughter, joy and companionship into our lives every single day. In return, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we give them everything they need to live happy and healthy lives – and right near the top of every pet bird’s list of ownership requirements is the right food and diet.
But do you know what makes up the right diet for your pet bird? There’s so much choice available on the market, so how do you know which bird seed is the best one to feed to your much-loved pet? Our five simple tips on feeding your pet bird will help you give your feathered friend all the nutrients he needs for a healthy life.
- What’s wrong with bird seed? Many people, especially first-time bird owners, assume that a bird seed mix forms a crucial part of a pet bird’s diet. The reality is that bird seed isn’t capable of meeting all of your pet bird’s nutritional requirements — while it’s typically high in fat and carbohydrates, bird seed lacks protein, vitamins and minerals. Most birds love the taste of it and will happily peck at it until the cows come home, but the truth of the matter is that it’s not great for their health.
- The power of pellets. The good news is that we now know a lot more about avian nutrition than we used to. And as the body of research into the right diet for pet birds has grown, commercial pellet diets have substantially increased in quality. Specially formulated to meet all of your bird’s nutritional requirements, high-quality pellet diets also prevent birds from picking and choosing their favourite ingredients — with bird seed, our feathered friends can eat the parts they enjoy and leave the healthy things they don’t want to eat, much like a young toddler refusing to eat their vegies. If you want, you can supplement your pet bird’s pellet diet with some fresh fruit and vegies suitable for their species.
- Water is life. No matter what species your pet bird is, she’s going to need to have access to a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Just as it is for us, water is essential to your pet’s survival. The main challenge for bird owners is keeping their pet’s water clean, with food, feathers and even droppings all capable of making a mess. This can happen whether you use an open dish or a hopper to supply your bird’s water, so giving the dish a regular clean and replacing the water twice a day is recommended.
- Calcium is essential. Another crucial ingredient in any pet bird’s diet is calcium — and lots of it. Calcium is especially important for female birds as without enough of it in their diet, laying eggs can be highly dangerous and potentially fatal. Placing a cuttlefish bone in your bird’s cage provides easy access to a source of calcium, while cooked egg shell crushed into tiny pieces is another useful option.
- Treats and snacks. The vast majority of the time you only ever give your pet bird the best foods and ingredients to ensure her excellent health, but every now and then you want to give something special to spoil her — but what constitutes an acceptable tasty treat for a pet bird? Fresh fruit or vegies are often a great place to start, and many birds love snacking on thin strips of carrot. Another option is to buy a specially formulated bird bread mix. These allow you to quickly bake a loaf of fresh bread that your pet bird will adore snacking on, and you can break the load into portions for freezing and a longer life.
The last thing to remember when it comes to feeding your pet bird is to stay away from foods and substances that are highly toxic to our feathered friends, such as avocado and chocolate. Your vet will be able to give you some more detailed information on which foods your bird should avoid.
Follow these five simple diet tips and your pet bird will get all the essential nutrients he or she needs to stay in perfect health all year round.