What Are The Right Human And Commercial Foods For My Pet Bird
A green parrot eats cookies from human hands. The concept of pet nutrition.

What Are The Right Human And Commercial Foods For My Pet Bird

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

Shouldn’t we learn how to find the right foods for our pet birds?

Feathered factoid: as much as 30% of a bird’s calories are used in the production and maintenance of feathers.

Editor’s note: We don’t know what bird food your bird will like any more than what you like on Netflix.

“Transparent”, “Scandal” or “The Walking Dead,” shows are both loved and reviled.

We do know that instinctively your bird has a desire to “search” or “forage” for food seven days a week.


Why are there 6 filled food dishes in your bird’s cage?


Is it because your bird will be locked up for 12 hours during YOUR workday?


Have you considered that your bird would really rather have a WORK DAY rather than six dishes overflowing with food?


In the wild natural feeding times are about a half-hour after sunrise and again before dusk (parrots are diurnal).


I would advocate the introduction of (new) foods within these time frames.


Big birds may enjoy fruits and vegetables throughout the day to munch on and play with.


  • Apple slices
  • Brocolli and cauliflower chunks
  • Semi frozen mixed veggies (stay fresh longer)
  • Our budgies love their chopped mix veggies daily breakfast


Small birds eat more frequently because they have a higher metabolic rate and greater energy needs.


Sticking close to these feeding times will be most natural for your companion bird.


Larger species may have fresh fruits or vegetables left in the cage through the day for snacking and entertainment.


Smaller bird breeds will typically have seeds left in the cage throughout the day.


Windy City Parrot is working to help clarify and satisfy the nutritional needs of approximately 350 species of parrots and 372 species of parakeets.


If you combine all the Hookbills, Hardbills, Softbills, and Waxbills we provide nutritional advice and support for about 800 species of pet birds.


Furry Factoid: There is only one species of dog. (Google it)


How hard can it be to feed a dog?


If it’s a smart dog, it will feed itself.



The captive birds that we keep locked up in their cages, have no nutritional choices.


It’s totally up to humans when food is refreshed.


To the non-caged bird keeper, bird food is something that is sold in big bags at Menards fairly cheaply and will satisfy the needs of any bird.


We, caged bird keepers like to make the distinction that our pet bird’s diets are so much more sophisticated than wild backyard birds.


But even wild birds have different nutritional needs.


Woodpeckers eat differently than hummingbirds, wrens eat differently than orioles.


In reality, all birds in the wild (including the one pooping on the cage behind you), are scavengers.


In their natural habitat, birds will eat almost anything but are guided by what mother nature has invented in them, to seek out.


Scientifically “exotic” birds can be classified by their diets.


Granivore – Primary diet of grains and seeds


Parrots we consider Grainovores are the Budgerigar, Cockatiel, Hyacinth macaw


Frugivore – Primary diet of mostly fruits and flowers with some additional nuts and seeds


Parrots we consider Frugivores are  the Blue-throated macaw and Green-winged macaw


Florivore – Primary diet of seeds, fruits, nuts, bark, roots, and berries


Parrots we consider Florovores are the Military macaw, Blue and gold macaw, Red-faced parrot


Omnivore – Primary diet of seeds, fruits, insects, and invertebrates


Parrots we consider Omnivores are the Blue-throated macaw, the Green-winged macaw


Nectarivore – Primary diet of nectar, pollen, and some insects and seeds – Parrots we consider Nectivores are Lorikeets


Now we know that if we see a picture of a macaw on a bag of bird food, that food is not necessarily suitable for “your” macaw


Pop quiz: What single category do Hyacinth Macaws and Budgies share? 


It’s obvious here is that we have multiple species of macaws in different dietary categories.


As an example, Hyacinth macaws prefer palm nuts as their primary source of nutrition while budgies are seed eaters.


But our birds aren’t in the wild, they’re in our homes.


As such they’re not as active and so they have a lesser need for high calories.


The “experts” tell us that our pet bird’s diet should be 50% commercial food and 50% fresh food.



How much of this bowl of fresh food is Popcorn going to actually consume?


Personally, I think 50% fresh food is a pretty optimistic number which brings us back to commercial diets. 


Feathered factoid: a wise man once said if you want your bird to eat pellets, feed him or her a seed blend from Higgins.


The very broad Bird Food line from Higgins is unique in that it is very adaptable to your bird’s needs.


All Higgins seed mixes have Higgins Intune Pellets added according to bird size.


All-natural Intune Pellets also are available as a stand-alone food or added to the Higgins seed mix of your choice increasing the pellet ratio.


An easy way to convert your bird to a more pellet-centric diet.


Most birds like seed-based diets for the same reasons you and I like French fries and potato chips – the fat makes the flavor.


They fill us up and taste good.


How is the information I’ve laid out so far going to help you select your next bag of bird food?


I’m not sure.


Conures are a problem in-and-of-themselves.


There’s something like 120 something species of conures ranging from Green Cheek Conures (weighing from 60 g to 80 g) to Patagonian Conures (250 g to 300 g). 


To put things in perspective a Timneh African Gray can weigh 350 g – not much bigger than a Patagonian Conure.


Plus there’s that conures-are-from-South America-and-African greys-are-from-Africa-continent-thing.


When you search the website you’ll see articles on things like Nutrient Requirements of pet birds.


When vitamins are toxic to birds.


Minerals – we talk a lot about calcium in brooding birds but what other minerals do our birds require?


Should I feed my bird a “formulated” aka “pellet” diet, a seed diet, or a blended diet? 


Many of these articles summarize information ending with something like “make sure you talk to your avian veterinarian about proper nutrition”.


Their definition of proper nutrition is what they are stocking in inventory, meaning they will try to sell you what they have “on hand”. (Sell what you got mentality)


This is why regardless of your plans on Saturday, you end up at our “Birdie Brunch” on Sunday.


Just working to set the record straight.


Recently we talked about peanuts and birds.


Birds should have unsalted peanuts only. Preferably roasted.

The normal human response to an unsalted peanut is “Eww. I like salted peanuts in the shell”.


The question is how do they get the peanuts to taste like salt? 


Short answer, the shelled peanuts are soaked in a brine solution and then the air is sucked out of the peanuts so the salty brine gets pulled inside the peanut shells. 


The bird food manufacturers all make similar claims about their birdseed being “vitamin fortified.” Unlike the folks who make salted peanuts, the companies making birdseed blends are adding their vitamin and supplement fortifications to the tops of the husks and shells.


For those of you that have not purchased one of the messless acrylic feeders, I would like you to take a moment and look at the debris under your bird’s cage.


During molting season there will be feathers but I can guarantee you that there will always be plenty of husks and shells that have been discarded by your bird in the process of consuming more seeds.


Those husks and shells, on the floor under your cage, is where most of the “added” vitamins supplements and minerals went.


This is why we always recommend an additional vitamin supplement for seed-eating birds like HARI Prime.


Here’s one effective way of providing supplements o our bird.



Although I’d love to stay and chat about Lafeber’s Nutri-berries and Avi-cakes, Catherine said I need to “focus” more. To that end, I thought it would be fun and educational to examine the 16 (I think) manufacturers of bird food and supplements that we offer, one at a time.




I don’t mind if you buy a thing but I’d really like you to visit our new nutrition category to tell us if we are doing the right thing? Could we organize it any better? Could we make it more educational? Please post your comments below.


We hear the words “my bird won’t….” Fill in the blank – a lot. Perhaps the time it is convenient for you to feed your bird is not the time nature intended for your bird to eat.


As an example, in the wild natural feeding times are about a ½ hour after sunrise and again at 5-6 PM. Perhaps you should try to introduce (new) foods within this timeframe?


Big birds may enjoy fruits and vegetables throughout the day to munch on and play with. Small birds eat more frequently because they have a higher metabolic rate and greater energy needs.


Let’s talk about Higgins Bird Foods.


It’s no accident that Higgins is popular with caged bird keepers. What sets them apart is the depth of the product line. it’s not the offer just a lot of products, they “branded” each of their seven lines into seven unique caged Bird keeper solutions.


Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Bird Food & Treats


Sunburst Diets (TM) are unique blends of seeds, pasteurized, like our Higgins Nederlands Vita Seeds, but with additional fruits and nuts and more exotic seeds that birds really enjoy. 


These premier Gourmet avian exotic tropical mixtures birds cannot resist. Loaded with natural goodies.


You’ll be impressed by not only the premium quality of the ingredients but the quantity of select natural treats.


Pasteurize (defined by MitchR): too far to see.


Higgins Vita Seed – A seed “blend” with morsels of pellets


Higgins Nederlands Vita Seed® brand is now Higgins Vita Seed® natural with added vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients.


Vita Seed® is free of artificial colors!


Vita Seed is also free of artificial preservatives and flavors and enriched with DHA and balanced Omega-3 fatty acids to support the immune system as well as encapsulated pro-biotics for a healthier digestive tract. 


Vita Seed® blends premium seeds with dried fruits, vegetables, and nuts for added variety and nutrition to your pet’s diet.


Vita Seed® also contains Higgins inTune® Natural extruded morsels for added nutrition.


Higgins InTune Natural Bird Food Pellets


Higgins uses natural and healthy, high-end sources for nutritional fat like coconut fat and macadamia nut meal. Many competing brands use economical and simple vegetable or soy oil as their source of fat.


Higgins InTune does not use chemical preservatives like Ethoxyquin and BHA/BHT used by competing brands.


Is free of fillers like wheat middlings, a wheat mill by-product with no nutritional value.


The two leading competing brands list wheat middlings as their sixth ingredient on their respective ingredient labels. inTune’s sixth ingredient on our labels: bananas.


It uses encapsulated pro-biotics to help insure a higher level of live, digestive cultures.


Competing brands use freeze dried pro-biotics do not have a long shelf life.


Higgins Mayan Harvest Exotic Blends


Mayan Harvest is Higgins’ newest and most innovative seed brand yet.


Inspired by the lost civilization that cherished and worshipped the native birds of South America, Mayan Harvest brings together exotic, natural ingredients and holistic herbs.


The results are a premium seed, nut and fruits blended to be as unique as its name.


Higgins Mayan Harvest is free of artificial colors and preservatives. All the diets in the Mayan Harvest brand contain natural bee pollen.


Gourmet Blends by Higgins. NO Artificial Colors, No Artificial Preservatives.


Higgins Safflower Gold – No Sunflower


Safflower Gold is all natural with added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.


Safflower Gold has no sunflower seeds and uses premium gourmet ingredients that are free of artificial colors and preservatives.


DHA and balanced Omega-3 fatty acids are added to support the immune system as well as encapsulated probiotics, ensuring a higher level of active in beneficial microorganisms for a healthier digestive system.


Safflower Gold also has Higgins InTune Natural extruded morsels for added nutrition.


Higgins Gourmet Treat Sticks


Higgins, the avian and small animal specialists who formulate the freshest premium diets available, now bring you the best treats for your pet bird. 


Place a Higgins Gourmet Treat Stick in your pet’s cage in an area that’s easily accessible.


Attach the Higgins Gourmet Treat Stick to the cage by twisting the wire fastener around a horizontal bar.


Higgins, the avian and small animal specialists who formulate the freshest premium diets available, now bring you the best treats for your pet.


Higgins Gourmet Treat Sticks are the treat feasts your pets have been waiting for.


Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Bird Food & Treats


So Good You’ll Want To Eat It (But Save Some For Your Bird)!


We eat them – it’s actually quite tasty. Try one or more of the 11 varieties of Higgins Sunburst (formerly named Higgins Snack Attack) Gourmet Bird Food Treats.


Higgins Worldly Cuisines Cooked Bird Foods


Higgins Worldly Cuisines are the natural, healthy foods that add variety to a companion birds daily diet.


Worldly Cuisines will transport your customer’s bird food to different parts of the world with human edible ingredients.


These exotic cuisines contain wholesome ingredients like sea kelp, organic couscous, basmati rice, papaya, apples, cranberries, lentils, dates, tomatoes, anise, ginger and more!


There are even cuisines that include organic quinoa, known for being one of the best sources of vegetable protein.


Worldly Cuisines cook up fast on your stovetop and fill the air with an intoxicating aroma of different spices.


Parrot owners will not only enjoy in the easy preparation of Worldly Cuisines but will participate in the satisfaction their bird receives in foraging and eating this unique food.


In two styles of packages. In 13 oz re-sealable, nitrogen flushed barrier bags and 2 oz microwavable packets.


I hope our bird’s eye view will be helpful in mapping your parrot’s daily diet.


Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing


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