What do parrots eat in captivity? This is a common question for most people who keep parrots in homes. The food to be provided must be nutritionally balanced to allow a healthy and long life for the bird. The term “diet” herein refers to the sum of food and nutrients that form the feeding of a bird. So, it has nothing to do with that diet designed for weight loss.
It is very common to find people who provide their birds with coffee, bread, cornmeal, sunflower seeds, sweets or just fruit. You do not have to be an expert to know that this food is incorrect and will seriously damage the health of the poor pet bird.
Unfortunately, most of the birds treated in veterinary clinics present some pathology due to malnutrition. Renal and respiratory diseases (due to vitamin A deficiency), rickets (due to lack of calcium and vitamin D), poor feathering, weight loss, obesity and so many other direct or indirect problems. It is known that sunflower and peanut seeds are normally contaminated with aflatoxins, that is, toxins produced by fungi that grow naturally in the seeds. In the long term, aflatoxins can cause degeneration and even liver tumors. In addition, these seeds are rich in fat, which can lead to the appearance of atherosclerosis, that is, the deposition of cholesterol in the vessels of the heart.
Other foods usually supplied to parrots are poor in nutrients. This is the case with fruits, which have some vitamins but are low in protein, fats and other essential nutrients. Bread and cornmeal are foods rich in carbohydrates (energetic), but nutrient-poor essences for the growth of the bird. Pups raised with corn meal do not grow satisfactorily and may die early in the first weeks of life.
So, what should we provide for captive parrots? In nature, the feeding of these birds is diverse and naturally balanced. In captivity this is very difficult because we do not have the same foods that birds find in nature. Another problem is that in captivity the birds end up taking liking for some food and reject others of good quality. So even if we offer healthy food, captive parrots tend to reject these foods. Other difficulties are to produce balanced menus without the help of a nutritionist and also the labor needed to prepare fresh and nutritious food twice a day, every day of the week. So if we want to keep healthy birds, we have to offer them a variety of fresh foods and in correct quantities.
Balanced diets for parrots (ration type) are available in specialized stores such as www.zoo-bio.co.uk. A good option is the extruded ration of practical use and mainly, it makes the birds well nourished and healthy. Balanced feed may be the only source of food, but fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts may be offered as occasional nibbles.