The aim when feeding your pet parakeet is to match the diet the bird would have in the wild. This means a good-quality seed (grass seed and other seeds being the staple diet of wild budgerigars in Australia). The seed should be supplemented with a mineral block and a little fresh food.
Parakeet pellets are an alternative to a seed-based diet. These provide all the nutrition a parakeet needs, but unless your birds were raised on pellet food, the modern recommendation is to feed seed and fresh food. (See the Parakeet Pellets section at the foot of this page for more details.
Parakeets' diets can be supplemented with greens
Seed should always be available, and the feeders will need topping up every day. Treats, such as millet sprays or store-bought 'seeds-on-a-stick', should be fed no more once a week.
Parakeet Feeding Times
Parakeets return to the food bowls several times a day, which is why topping up the supply each morning is important. Clever as the birds are, they can't work out that there might be lots of uneaten seed beneath the layer of husks, so blowing these husks away is necessary too. By replenishing the food every morning, you will establish a routine for the bird, which will assist in your bonding and hand-taming efforts.
Parakeet Feeding Behavior
Parakeets are cautious eaters - you'll notice that they nibble a seed, and then instantly raise their head to have a good look around. This habit serves them well in the wild, where they might be mugged by a predator or robbed by a cheeky neighbor.
Parakeets are flock feeders in the wild, and usually synchronise their feeding in a cage or aviary
The parakeet's beak is a precision tool for removing seeds from their husks, with a tongue for scooping out the nutritious stuff. When the bird flaps its wings in exercise, it will send small clouds of these discarded seed husks into the air, so expect to be sweeping parakeet bran from your floor on a regular basis!
Why Do Parakeets Feed Each Other?
Male parakeets have an urge to feed females - with a porridge of regurgitated seed. This is part of their courtship behavior in the breeding season. If a male parakeet with the mating urge has no female bird to feed, he may regurgitate on a mirror or other favorite object. Distracting him with a treat or a toy will usually diffuse the excitement.
Male parakeets like to feed their mates
Parakeet Digestive System
Like all birds, parakeets have no teeth. They swallow their food whole, and it passes to the bird’s crop, an organ at the base of the throat/top of the chest. A full crop is visible as a small lump. Wild parakeets are able to fill their crops to bulging, but in captivity they tend to eat a little and then come back for more later.
The food passes from the crop to the two-part stomach, and once all the nutrients have been removed, waste passes through the parakeet’s cloaca – the all-purpose bodily vent. The white bits in parakeet droppings are uric acid, the bird equivalent of urine, and the dark bits (lighter in pellet-fed birds) are the poop.
Do Parakeets Need Grit?
There is little indigestible material in a parakeet's diet, as it removes the hard husks of the seeds. This means they don't need grit to help them grind food in the gizzard. Many birds need grit, but not parakeets - although some pet stores still sell grit specifically for parakeets.
In rare cases, parakeets can actually die of a blocked crop after eating too much grit. So, the best policy is to never offer insoluble grit: it serves no purpose and may even lead to problems.
A parakeet's stomachs has two compartments (a feature it shares with all birds). The first section is the gizzard, where food is ground up. Many standard parakeet seed mixes include insoluble grit, (usually oyster shell). This is not the same as the grit mentioned above: the shell fragments dissolve in the gizzard over time and provide the bird with calcium. However, your pet's calcium needs will covered via a mineral block and/or cuttlefish bone, so even this soluble grit isn’t actually necessary.