Polly Wanna Cracker?

April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ask any random kid on the street what parrots eat, and you’ll probably get the prompt reply of “Seeds!” Unfortunately, most pet stores – and even worse, many parrot owners – seem to have followed the kids’ lead. After all, parrots’ beaks are specially designed to break open seed shells, and they love them; isn’t it obvious that parrots were meant to eat seeds?

Imagine you’re a wild parrot. No cage, no provided food, absolutely free. You’re busily picking at the ground with the rest of your flock at plump, yummy seeds scattered on the ground. After a few minutes, a person notices you and approaches. The flock flies off. Here’s the critical point – the flock flies off. You’d probably be flying across miles every day, eating healthy vegetables and fruits you came across. Of course there’s nothing wrong with eating seeds!

Now imagine you’re a pet parrot. You’re chewing on your provided diet of seeds, talking to yourself. After a few minutes, you get bored and – don’t fly off. You climb onto your perch and swing for a while, and then go back to the seeds. Your owner hasn’t yet convinced you to eat vegetables, meaning seeds and pomegranate seeds are all you eat for the day. Now, there’s a problem.

Seeds are fine for wild parrots, and even for some pet parrots. But parrot pellets are incredibly less fatty and much healthier, so anyone who wants the best for their parrot will go with pellets. My preferred type is Roudybush, which you can get in most pet stores.

I know this is terrible for your blood pressure, but it’s time for me to break the news to you: Pellets alone aren’t good for parrots, either. The best diet is mostly (70% or so) pellets, but also includes vegetables, fruit, and treats. Here’s the rundown:


Remember when you were a kid, and your mom was always telling you “Eat your veggies”? Parrots need them too! The best are green, leafy vegetables (types of lettuce other than iceberg, kale, the leafy parts of carrots, parsley, etc).


Fruit should, technically, be counted as a treat, but there’s so many I made them their own section. Parrots love fruit! Tomatoes, grapes, pomegranate seeds, bananas . . . the list is endless. However, many fruits are toxic for parrots, so check before you feed!


Treats include seeds, nuts, spray millet, birdy bread, and people food – food that’s okay in moderation, but fatty enough that you shouldn’t feed it often. A special note on people food: only feed healthy foods! If it’s bad for you (chips, wine, fast food, etc), you shouldn’t give it to your parrot.

Toxic Foods

Avocado immediately springs to mind, but there’s plenty of food that’s bad for your parrot. Parrots are lactose intolerant, so even though tiny-tiny-tiny pieces of dairy are all right, anything more is toxic. Cooked beans and pomegranate seeds are great for parrots, but uncooked beans and pomegranate skins are toxic. Chocolate is toxic (even tiny-tiny-tiny pieces!), and so is certain fruits’ seeds/pits (apples, cherries, peaches, and so on), tomato leaves, too much salt, and caffeine. I could go on, but I’ll leave the full list to the rest of the internet. Again, check before you feed!

Here are the basics once again:

  • Feed your parrot pellets, not seeds
  • Give your parrot at least one piece of a vegetable a day
  • Fruits and treats are good in moderation
  • Many foods are toxic to parrots, so check before you feed!

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