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How to choose the right bird food for your bird?

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When choosing the right bird food for your pet bird or parrot, there are a few simple things to consider. Each species of bird and/or parrot will have different dietary requirements ranging from slight to drastic in difference.


Example of a slight difference:

A Lovebird's diet will be very similar to that of a Cockatiel. They will both be happy and well nourished with a well rounded seed blend or pellet designed for small hookbills and smaller. However, typically speaking, Cockatiels tend to be less receptive to fresh fruit and vegetables. 


Example of a drastic difference:

A Mynah Bird requires a mix of fresh fruit to be prepared daily along with softbill pellets. And in some cases it is recommended to also include meal worms and other dried insects. These birds cannot eat nuts and seeds.

As you can see, there can be quite a difference. A more obvious distinction will be between bird and parrot sizes and their foods. The larger the bird or parrot, usually the larger the food should be bigger nuts, seeds, size of pellets etc.


But which is better? Seed Mixes or Pellets?

This is one of the most common questions bird owners have, and for good reason. Bird and Parrot owners want the best for their pets and want a definitive answer. And here it is: Nutrition

To say that "Seed mixes are best" or "Pellets are best" would be a blanket statement and not provide you with the information you need to decide what's best for you bird or parrot and their specific situation. So here is how to choose:


When to choose Seed or Nut mixes?

Not all seed blends are created equal. There are a lot of cheap seed blends out there that hold little to no nutritional content. When looking for a great seed mix, look for one that has a lot of different ingredients including safflower seeds, dried fruit, millet, pumpkin seeds, pistachio nuts etc. Keep fatty nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, peanuts, macadamia nuts etc. to a minimum. It's best for those kinds of seeds and nuts to be offered as treats and rewards. 

Also, take into account the size and species of your bird when choosing your seed mix. For example, a Blue and Gold Macaw will have a great time eating walnuts in the shell, but don't go feeding those to your lovebirds as they will have an extremely hard time getting through the shell. A little common sense in this area will serve you well.

Now that you have found or made a healthy and nutritious bird seed blend, you should feel confident that you are offering your pet bird or parrot a well rounded diet. If your bird eats this mix on a daily basis, as well as gets fresh fruit and vegetables on a fairly regular basis, you will have a very healthy and happy bird.


When not to choose a Seed Mix?

As stated before, not all bird seed mixes are created equal. As such, feeding a bird or parrot nothing but an empty mix of only one or two types of seeds simply isn't going to deliver the nutrition your bird needs to live the healthiest lifestyle possible. However, some bird and parrot owners find that even when they present their birds with a high quality seed mix that they don't eat it or only eat one or two ingredients out of the mix and waste the rest. Before you give up on the seed mix, let me give you some tips to try first.


Tips for transitioning your bird or parrot to their new healthy seed diet.

  1. A healthy adult bird will not starve themselves. So do not be afraid to use a little tough love. If your bird had previously been on a diet of mostly "Their favorite foods" like sunflower seeds and fatty nuts, then chances are they will ignore some of the more 'healthy' options at first. Simply refuse to give them any treats until they have adapted to their new diet. Even if you don't see them eating the new mix for the first day or two, they will eventually come round and eat because they are hungry.
  2. Think of your bird like a young human child. A child would eat candy and cheeseburgers for every meal if the parents allowed it. And if all of a sudden the parents decided that the family was switching to a healthier lifestyle, the child would throw a tantrum and refuse to eat the 'healthy stuff'. But, in time, the child would be hungry and realize that they are not going to get their way, and eat what they are given.

If your bird simply isn't getting the nutrition it needs from a seed mix, either because they are only eating 1 or 2 ingredients in the mix or you are unable to find a suitable mix for your bird or parrot, then you ma way to consider a pellet diet.


When to choose a Pellet Diet?

There are two main reasons to switch your bird or parrot to a pellet diet.

  1. As mentioned above, your bird or parrot simply is not getting the nutritional value it needs from its current diet, and all attempts to switch to a more well rounded whole food type diet have failed.
  2. You have a bird who has become extremely overweight. This is very common among species such as Yellow Naped Amazons who a fairly inactive when in captivity and can easily fall into the habit of eating only the fatty nuts and seeds.

If your situation falls under either of these categories then it might be time to consider switching to a mostly pelleted diet. 

The best quality pellet diets are formulated especially to provide your bird with incredible nutritional value. Pellet diets are usually going to cost much more then even a high quality seed and nut mix, but it definitely takes the worry and effort out of feeding your bird or parrot. 


Pros of Pellet Diets 

  • You know with certainty that your bird is getting, at the very least, a high level of nutritional value.
  • High in vitamins and minerals, low in fat and sugar.
  • You no longer have to inspect your bird or parrot's food to see which ingredients they are or are not eating. As long as they are eating the pellets, they are getting what they need


Cons of Pellet Diets

  • The process of shelling nuts, breaking open seeds and general foraging for each meal is removed. These activities are good for stimulating your bird's mind maintaining their beaks. Pellet diets don't allow for much of this.
  • All of the ingredients in pellets are synthesized. Some bird owners prefer their birds to get nutrition from real whole foods as opposed to vitamins and minerals that have been synthesized in a lab. Although no research has been done to confirm or deny any benefits from this school of thought.


The bottom line

The most important thing is that your beautiful pet bird has access to food and activities that promote good health and stimulation. Get to know your Parrot's habits and be a diligent bird parent by limiting unhealthy foods and treats to training rewards and special occasions. 

These days, industry leaders such as Zupreem recommend a combination diet of seed mix, pellets and treats. This ensures the best of all worlds and that your bird will most certainly get everything they need. 

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