By Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
There is a misconception among pet bird owners that because wild birds eat seeds, pet birds should. However, this is not the case. A wild bird’s lifestyle is completely different than your pet bird’s, and that must be taken into consideration for your pet bird’s best interest.
The Truth About Seeds
While wild birds eat some seeds, it is not the only food in their diet. Pet birds, however, eat what they are fed, and it is not healthy when seeds are their one option. Wild birds eat a variety of seeds during different seasons, as well as bugs, berries and a variety of vegetation. Their diet has much more variety than the average pet bird’s diet, and as a result, is much more nutritionally balanced. Pet birds’ diets, especially if they are eating seeds, tend to be the same all year-round, will little to no variety. With this absence of variety, their diets are typically nutritionally imbalanced and lack key essential vitamins and minerals that are important to keep them healthy. Birds eating high-fat seeds also generally consume excess fat, which leads to obesity, particularly because they aren’t getting the same exercise wild birds do. Wild birds generally need more calories than pet birds do, as they are much more active – flying around looking for mates, seeking out nest sites and finding things to eat. For all these reasons, seeds should be only an occasional treat for a pet bird and not a staple of their diet. Nutritionally complete and balanced pellets should be the mainstay of your pet bird’s diet.
How Pellets Can Help
Pellets are the ideal diet for most companion birds. They are nutritionally complete and specially formulated to make up approximately 60 percent or more of your bird’s daily diet. The other 40 percent can come from small portions of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Pellets are fortified with essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids, are lower in fat than seeds and support cardiovascular and liver health.