parakeet food

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
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)


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


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 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


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)


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.


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


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

☠️ 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 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!

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!

4 replies
  1. Hailey Hilton
    Hailey Hilton says:

    Kaytee food killed my bird. don’t get Kaytee food. I just got a pet bird about two weeks ago, and it seemed that he loved his Kaytee food. but one night I went to check on him because he was being very quiet, he usualy was never quiet. when I looked I found him dead in his cage. please don’t get this food for your birds. The day after he passed away I looked on youtube to see what other bird lovers said, and to my suprise they all said that Kaytee food is posion to your bird. Please do not give Kaytee food to your bird, I don’t want you guys to go threw what I went threw. R.I.P. keith

  2. Fuu
    Fuu says:

    Hello, I have a question for anyone who can answer it. My cockatiel that I adopted from a prev owner doesn’t eat or chew her cuttlebone anymore whatsoever. It’s been a very long time since she nibbled on one that I would put in her cage. What can I do so she would eat her cuttlebone, or is she okay?

  3. Mr. Alan C. Avellar
    Mr. Alan C. Avellar says:

    I have a 21 year old male cockatiel. A lady that owned him said he requires too much of her attention and she wanted to know if
    I were interested in owning “Pretty Boy”. I purchased a large cage for him, a ladder, hula hoops with a bell at the bottom, and a swing. I attached a cuttlebone next to his food dish. He is in excellent health and eats almost constantly. He takes very short naps during the day. If I stand up and move about, he wakes up instantly to see where I am going. He whistles about three songs, and talks a lot, but seldom will he speak to me. If a female stops in after I invite her, the moment she begins to speak to him, he’ll
    begin talking. I have taught him to come out of his cage and he does that all day long, in and out. He climbs on his door and when
    he stands on the top he turns and climbs onto the side of his cage and gets on his roof which is white coded metal. He plays with large black measuring cups, and rubs his head against it. He often enjoys sitting on my shoulder while I use my PC or when I play my electric guitar. His friend is my yellow parakeet “Buttons” who is two and a half years old. I taught her to talk,but she only will
    speak when songs are playing on my PC. She receives Hartz Parakeet Balanced Diet and Pretty Boy receives Hartz Mountain blanced nutrition for cockatiels. They both receive Millet as treats, and snacks of popcorn, and saltines.


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