parrot food

The Best Large Cockatoo and Macaw Food

For x-large pet birds

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

macaw food
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 food comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ingredients. So, it’s important to know what is the best cockatoo or macaw food 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 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 and Nuts – <1% of diet

Below is a table outlining the cockatoo and macaw food that needs to be a part of your x-large parrot’s diet. It shows the recommended percentage of your bird’s diet as well as specific food recommendations and ideas.

Keep in mind that the food 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 extra large-sized parrot:

The Best X-Large Parrot Diet
Grain Products (50% of diet)
macaw food Whole Grains

Whole 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

macaw food 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 parrot 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 food and avoid the healthy cockatoo and macaw food he really needs. Pellets have replaced the old seed-only diet and now are offered as the primary base diet for many parrots (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 Parrot Seed to Pellet Conversion article for more information.

Recommended X-Large Parrot Pellet Products

macaw food Diet Mixes
Because feeding your bird a variety of foods is best, there are mixes available that include wide ranges of different types of cockatoo or macaw 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 X-Large Parrot Diet Mix Products

macaw foodVegetables & Fruits (45% of diet)


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


macaw foodFruits

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)


Even though parrots 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 parrot’s diet.

Recommended Dairy Products

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



Yes, birds eat meat. And it’s good for them! Most parrot species are seen eating insects and larvae in the wild. In order for your parrot to get a good amount of protein, a small amount of meat is good. Meat must always be cooked thoroughly before serving–NEVER rare. If you are cooking meat that has bones, you can give the bones to your parrot with the meat–some species of parrots like to crack open bones to get to the marrow (which is high in iron and other good nutrients).

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 & Nuts (<1% of diet)


Even though seed is a natural part of cockatoo and macaw food in the wild, it doesn’t even make up half of what they eat. Most wild parrots 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 parrots 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 cockatoo and macaw food mentioned above.



Most parrots love nuts, so they are great for use as treats during training. Depending on the size of your bird, you can feed him nuts that are whole or chopped, but make sure you use unsalted nuts only. Although nuts have many nutrients, they are also high in fat, so this is another food that needs to be fed only in moderation. You can also create a variety of different nut butters using any of the recommended nuts below (just pop them in your food processor!)

Recommended Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts (whole only for x-large parrots)
  • Cashews
  • Filberts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia (high in fat)
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Walnuts

☠️ Foods to Avoid ☠️

These foods are toxic to ALL birds and should never be fed to them under any circumstance!:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Fruit pits and the flesh around them (contain cyanide)
  • Rhubarb

Want to Keep it Easy and Healthy?

We LOVE the Bird Tricks natural feeding system and their all-natural pellets! The Natural Feeding System is the absolute best diet you can give your birds. And their pellets are healthy, organic, and completely free from harmful ingredients like GMOs, wheat and corn fillers, artificial flavors and dyes, and added sugar that cause common health issues in pet birds. Bird Tricks puts birds first and keeps things easy for us bird owners!

We know figuring out the perfect diet for your pet bird isn’t easy, and that trying to find the right packaged cockatoo or macaw 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 macaw food hunting endeavor!

Have You Found A Favorite Pet Bird Food?

Share it here! There’s no better way to learn about the best pet bird supplies than from the owners themselves.

Your comment may just help someone find the food their bird desperately needs!

7 replies
  1. Morgan Arnold
    Morgan Arnold says:

    Your blog is fantastic! Your writing style is engaging and captivating, and your posts are always informative and interesting. I love how you explore a variety of topics.

  2. Corbeek Gregor
    Corbeek Gregor says:

    Great job on your blog website! Your writing is engaging and informative, and your topics are interesting and relevant. I appreciate the effort you put into each post and the way you present your ideas in a clear and concise manner. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to reading more of your content in the future!

  3. Stacy
    Stacy says:

    I buy a veggie variety from the frozen food department with beans,peppers, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, I add in cooked pasta and meat chunks and fresh seasonal fruit and top it off with a nut variety of granola. Ruby, my Scarlet macaw is very happy!

  4. Cora
    Cora says:

    Very helpful as I inherited a blue eyed cockatoo and only had cockatiels before her. She is very needy and demands attention. Loves my son more than me but is very tolerant with me until he is home from work. Just love her

  5. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    I never feed peanuts because I won’t risk fungus and I’m surprised that you advocate them, and onions are on our no list too. May I suggest that you include a safe woods and plants list also, my birds chew everything in sight. And kefir to the dairy list with an explanation of the difference between dairy and cheese, yogurt and kefir, the fermentation process changes the chemical structure of the lactose making it safer for consumption than other forms of dairy. My flock loves birdie bread! And there are so many ways to introduce new foods and tastes using it. As for commercially available foods, my babies live Noah’s Kingdom, Goldenfeast, and Nutri Berries by Lafeber’s.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here