The Best Small Bird And Parakeet Food

For Cockatiels, Lovebirds, Small Parakeets, and Parrotlets

Your pet bird needs a certain type of small bird or parakeet food. There is no one-type-fits-all when it comes to your bird’s nutrition.

 parakeet food

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Feeding your bird the right food is absolutely essential to his health (and lifespan!) Feeding your bird seed and water just isn’t going to cut it. And feeding different types of birds the same diet doesn’t work either. It’s important to provide a diet that is safe, healthy, and yummy.

Packaged small bird and parakeet food comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ingredients. So, it’s important to know what is the best diet for your individual bird. When shopping for food, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration.

The Best for Your Bird

Birds follow a very similar diet plan that we do. Here is the recommended diet percentage for each type of small bird and parakeet food that should be a part of your bird’s diet:

  • Grain Products – 50% of diet
  • Vegetables and Fruits – 45% of diet
  • Dairy and Meat – 5% of diet
  • Seed, Calcium and Treats – <1% of diet

Below is a table outlining the foods that need to be a part of your small bird’s diet. It shows the recommended percentage of your bird’s diet as well as specific small bird and parakeet food recommendations and ideas.

Keep in mind that the diet list below recommends a VARIETY of foods and that feeding your bird only one to two items from the list is not enough. It is important to feed your bird the widest variety of foods as you can.

Here is the best diet we recommend for your small-sized pet bird:

The Best Small Bird Diet
Grain Products (50% of diet)
food_grain Whole GrainsWhole grain products provide your bird with the necessary proteins, carbohydrates, and various minerals and vitamins. There are a lot of different products that are good for your bird, just remember to choose the whole grain type instead of the white.

Recommended Grain Products

  • Bagels (low-salt)
  • Buckwheat and kasha
  • Cereal (low-sugar) (i.e. Cheerios, Chex, Kix, Life, etc.)
  • Crackers (low- or no-salt)
  • Cream of Wheat (and rice)
  • Matzo
  • Melba Toast
  • Noodles and pasta (i.e. macaroni, ravioli, spaghetti, etc.)
  • Oatmeal
  • Pearl barley
  • Pretzels (low- or no-salt)
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (i.e. brown, wild, etc.)
  • Tortillas
  • Triticale
  • Wheat berries

food_pellet_small Pellets

Pelleted diets are made by combining a variety of healthy ingredients into a mash and then creating pellets of different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. Pellets offer a more balanced nutritional diet for your bird in a form that is easy for you to serve and reduces the chance that your bird will pick through his parakeet food and avoid the healthy food he really needs. Pellets have replaced the old seed-only diet and now are offered as the primary base diet for many pet birds (but should NOT be offered alone). If your bird is on a seed-only diet, you will need to convert him to a pelleted diet. Please see our Seed to Pellet Conversion article for more information.

Recommended Small Bird Pellet Products


food_mix_smallDiet Mixes

Because feeding your bird a variety of foods is best, there are small bird and parakeet food mixes available that include wide ranges of different types of food. They can include seeds, dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and more. If you honestly don’t have enough time to offer your bird a fresh diet variety all the time, diet mixes can be a great thing to have on hand. However, keep in mind that offering healthy pellets and fresh food on a regular basis is still necessary for your bird’s nutritional variety and health.

Recommended Small Bird Diet Mix Products

Vegetables & Fruits (45% of diet)

food_vegetablesVegetables

Vegetables are a very healthy and important part of your bird’s diet. Most vegetables are best served cooked, but some can be served raw. Always wash vegetables thoroughly before serving and chop them into appropriately sized pieces. You can use canned, frozen, and freshly cooked mixed vegetables. Make sure when you use packaged vegetables that they don’t contain added salt.

Recommended Vegetables

  • Alfalfa sprouts (you can sprout them yourself)
  • Asparagus (cooked)
  • Arugula
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Banana peppers
  • Beans (cooked) (i.e. adzuki, butter, garbanzo, green, haricot, kidney, mung, navy, pinto, pole, soy, wax, etc.)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots (including tops)
  • Cauliflower
  • Cayenne
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Chayote
  • Chicory
  • Cherry pepper
  • Chili peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Comfrey
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant (ripe and cooked)
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Ginger root
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Lentils (cooked)
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Parsley
  • Peas (i.e. green, snow, sugar snap, etc.)
  • Peppers (i.e. chili, green, jalapeno, poblano, red, serrano, yellow, etc.)
  • Potatoes (cooked)
  • Pumpkin (cooked)
  • Pumpkin seeds (cooked)
  • Radishes
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach (in moderation)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (i.e. acorn, butternut, hubbard, etc.)
  • Sweet potatoes (cooked)
  • Thai pepper
  • Tomatoes (cooked and dried)
  • Watercress
  • Yams (cooked)
  • Zucchini

food_fruitFruits

Fruits are another healthy and necessary part of your bird’s diet. Keep in mind that fruits have more water content than vegetables, so your bird’s droppings may be more runny after feeding him fruit. And make sure to always thoroughly wash all fruits before serving them.

Recommended Fruits

  • Apples (remove seeds and stem)
  • Apricots (remove pit and area around the pit)
  • Bananas (remove peel)
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cactus fruit
  • Cantaloupe (no rinds)
  • Cherimoya
  • Cherries (no pits)
  • Clementine oranges
  • Coconuts
  • Cranberries
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapes (i.e. black, green, red, etc.)
  • Grapefruit
  • Guava
  • Honeydew (no rinds)
  • Kiwis
  • Kumquats
  • Lychee
  • Lemons
  • Loquat
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines (remove pit and area around the pit)
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Passion fruit
  • Peaches (remove pit and area around the pit)
  • Pears (remove seeds)
  • Pineapple
  • Plantains
  • Plums (remove pit and area around the pit)
  • Pomegranate
  • Raisins
  • Tangerines

Dairy & Meat (5% of diet)

food_dairyDairy

Even though birds are lactose intolerant, they can still have some dairy in moderation (SMALL amounts!) Dairy products provide an excellent source of calcium, so they should be included as a very small part of your bird’s diet.

Recommended Dairy Products

  • Cheese (used in cooking only)
    (cheddar has highest fat and calories)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs (including clean shells)
  • Yogurt

food_meatMeat

Yes, birds eat meat. And it’s good for them! Most bird species are seen eating insects and larvae in the wild. In order for your bird to get a good amount of protein, a small amount of meat is good. Meat must always be cooked thoroughly before serving–NEVER rare.

Recommended Meat Products

  • Chicken
  • Fish (remove bones)
  • Lamb
  • Liver
  • Ribs (beef)
  • Roast beef (well done)
  • Salmon (water packed canned is best)
  • Steak
  • Tuna fish (water packed and low sodium)
  • Turkey

Seed, Calcium & Treats (<1% of diet)

food_seedSeed

Even though seed is a natural part of bird diet in the wild, it doesn’t even make up half of what they eat. Most wild birds eat leaves, stems, vines, shoots, vegetables, fruits, seed, flowers, insects, and insect larvae. Bird in captivity have the same dietary needs, so feeding your bird an all-seed diet is simply not enough. Seed is high in fat and full of oil. Many birds become obese from seed diets as well as contract fatty liver disease. Seed is low in many vitamins and minerals, so feeding your bird a seed diet can cause all kinds of deficiences as well.

Seed is good for an occasional treat and is great to use as treats during training. Other than that, seed is not good for your bird and you should instead focus on feeding him a variety of the small bird and parakeet food mentioned above.


food_calciumCalcium

Small birds also need calcium. The easiest way to give your birds the calcium they need is with cuttlebone. Cuttlebone provides your bird with the calcium he needs as well as helps to keep his beak trimmed. There are also some popular toys that contain calcium that can be fun for your birds as well.

Recommended Calcium Products


food_milletTreats

The most common treat for small birds is millet. Millet is a very popular treat and is like candy for birds–most small birds LOVE it. Many people use millet as a training reward and it is very effective.

Recommended Treats

Important Food Information

FOODS TO AVOID
These foods are toxic to ALL birds and should never be fed to them under any circumstance!
no
  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Fruit pits and the flesh around them (contain cyanide)
  • Rhubarb

We know figuring out the perfect diet for your pet bird isn’t easy, and that trying to find the right packaged small bird or parakeet food isn’t either, so we’ve done the hard work for you on this page. We hope we’ve helped you in your quality parakeet food hunting endeavor!

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