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Parrot Food

Parrots are easy to feed. The basic mix is fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, formulated parrot mix, and sometimes a little cooked meat for extra protein. But this is a general list, and different types of parrot will have specific dietary requirements.

Lories and Lorikeets, for example, need a substitute for the nectar they feed on in the wild. Hyacinth Macaws would eat nothing but nuts, given half a chance. Some species actually have an omnivorous diet in the wild, including insects and small reptiles.

Hyacinth Macaws
Hyacinth Macaws love nuts

Some parrots become fussy eaters or get hooked on certain foods. This makes it important to provide a full range of appropriate foods, to make sure they get the correct nutrition. Don’t be led by the bird – those macaws that love nuts shouldn’t be given nothing but nuts.

The information in this part of the Parrot Guide is necessarily general, based on the requirements of two of the most popular parrot species: Cockatiels and African Greys. Check with an expert on your particular parrot species for specific advice.

Parrot Pellets

Formulated pellet-based parrot mixes often form between 40% and 75% of the diet. Choose the highest quality brand available to maximize the bird’s chances of good health and long life. The best of the bunch are the organic mixes, put together with ingredients fit for human consumption. Anything loaded with colors and other non-nutritional chemical additives should be avoided. Although the mixes sold in stores are required to have content that passes the grade, parrot food is not very tightly regulated.

Cockatiels need a rounded diet of dry and fresh foods
Cockatiels need a rounded diet of dry and fresh foods

Most parrots enjoy pellet mixes, but some are harder to please. The best policy is to find a good quality one and persevere.

Meat and Live Food

Parrot beaks have evolved to crack open and eat nuts and seeds. But some species have a taste for live food. Most parrot species are not meat eaters in the wild, so it does not have to be included in their diet. It is usually offered as a treat, but should only be offered occasionally, and in small amounts.

Birds in aviaries sometimes catch and eat insects, worms, or even small reptiles and amphibians. This is doesn’t mean you need to include these things in the birds’ daily diet.

Food for Parrot Chicks

Hand-reared chicks are fed a special food mash, sometimes called transition food. Non-hand-reared birds will be fed by their parents, though.

Scarlet Macaw chicks
Parrot chicks require a food puree in their early days, delivered by their parents, usually

Parent birds regurgitate food for their chicks, soon supplementing this with small pieces of fruit or veg. This “transition feeding” is simulated in hand-reared birds by offering sticks of carrot, celery, fennel or sweet potato, or a broad beans. The chicks soon get the taste for it, and will join their friends at the feeding station pretty quickly.

Customer Images


Diane, 24 April 2020

My African Grey removes the seed mix from his bowl, not eating it, but shooting it onto the tray of his cage. This is a new tendency and I am not sure how to deal with this new behaviour. His food consists of black and white seed and peanuts. He does get treats, but not regularly. Other than this new behaviour, he is healthy and active.