Are Packaged Pellets a Complete Diet for Parrots?

Are Packaged Pellets a Complete Diet for Parrots?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Another open-ended question from Quora ~ sigh

“That depends”, I respond,


Actually, not all engineered food (pellets) for birds and parrots is the same,  and is as far from the truth as can be.


I like to remind human-pet bird caregivers that there are no pellet trees in the rain forest.

Fairies of FernGully are not dropping stainless steel feeder dishes at the base of every other tree.


Pellets are extremely counterintuitive.

In answer to your question, generally, pellets are engineered to be a “stand-alone diet with no supplements necessary BUT birds have been around 100 million years but pellets, maybe what, 40 years?


Thus it’s not unusual for birds to be pellet resistant which I’ll talk about in a  moment.


Bird food pellets come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.


Zupreem offers pellets in the shape of fruit that are appropriately colored.


I know of more than one African grey we’ll pick out the yellow banana-shaped pellets.


Zupreem is smart enough to offer the same line of pellets in their natural clayish/brown color. To overcome resistance to their pellets, sugar is added for palatability.

 I like Zupreem but I don’t feel our birds need additional sugar.

Supermarket fruit contains a much higher percentage of sugar in fruit found in the wild so those pet birds lucky enough to get fresh fruit and some veggies are getting more than enough sugar, to begin with.


Tom Roudybush believes that a rice-based pellet can help birds with negative behavioral problems like feather destruction.

Dr. Gregory Harrison the inventor of Harrison’s bird food makes one of the most widely accepted pellets on the market.

Harrisons pellets also contain soy which is a known plucking trigger.

Every line of aforementioned pellets ie Harrisons High Potency vs Harrisons Adult Lifetime although having different ingredients is the same pellet in five sizes,

If you have a bird that likes to dunk its food in the water Scenic bird food pellets are right for you because they do not dissolve when wet.

The experts at the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute have spent over three decades developing Tropican which comes in 3 sizes the caloric needs of certain size birds.


Tropican Alternative Parrot No Soy No Corn by Hagen (HARI) is formulated especially for mature parrots.


Hagen Tropimix blends contain fruits nuts and seeds as well as Tropican pellets.


Hagen Living World Seed blends contain Tropican pellets.


Melanie from Hagen (an experience big bird breeder of 30 years) recommends drizzling apple juice over the pellets if the birds “just aren’t sure”.

All our birds are rescues and when they come in with dry skin and dull feathers we’ll pour some coconut oil nuked for 5 seconds over their base meal

TOPS pellets are USDA Organic along with Harrisons which is also GMO-free.


Most people think Lafebers products are simply treats when in reality Nutriberries contain 8% pellets while Avi-cakes contain 50% pellets making both a single sustainable food source.


We feed our 10 Birds our own special blend but it is based upon Higgins  Safflower Gold which is another nut and seed blend containing Higgins InTune pellets which are available as a standalone product.

Nutriberries vs avi cakes
are both great for your birds and you can reduce waste ~ Video

All of Higgins  Blends in seed mixes have Higgins InTune pellets as part of the recipe.


By the way, those who have a scarlet C on their lapel because they only feed their bird’s chop should know they are killing their birds by starvation.


We have just added a tool to our (KETO) nutrition arsenal – A  Recipe Nutrition Calculator


I entered the following ingredients from the first article that came up in a search for the term “bird chop recipe” on Google’s SERP 1


1 cup dry quinoa (makes about 2 cups when cooked), 2 carrots, 1 broccoli, 1 medium beetroot, 6 chilies, ¼ cup flaked almonds, ½ cup rolled oats.  Cook quinoa, chop all other ingredients, and mix everything together.


Once made, refrigerate enough for 3 days.


Freeze the rest in portions big enough for 1-2 days.


Depending on the size of your bird, you may do this in an ice-cube tray, small Tupperware containers, or freezer bags.


A convenient freezer method is to scoop the mix into the cups of an egg carton, pressing firmly down.


The cups can then be fed frozen in foraging toys.


Quantities to feed:


It depends on your bird but as a rough guide.


Budgerigar: 1-2 teaspoons

Cockatiel/Conure/ringneck: 1 – 2 tablespoons

Eclectus/Galah/Cockatoo/Amazon: 2-4 tablespoons


And here’s the scientific result

Nutritional label for bird chop

No wonder over 60% of pet bird deaths are the result of starvation.

Click here for the entire Quora thread


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