No bird, no matter what breed it is, should be expected to exist entirely on a diet of dry seed. So what do birds eat? Let’s look at what constitutes a balanced diet for birds in this article.
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The problem with seeds is that they are low in essential amino acids, which are the key components of protein, and also in vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A and calcium.
Birds require a much wider range of foodstuffs to fulfill all their nutritional needs.
What If My Bird Only Likes Seed?
If your bird refuses to eat a complete diet, you will have to rely on supplements to compensate for its dietary shortcomings. These are available in both powdered and liquid forms and should be added in correct proportions to the bird’s drinking water or food.
However, there is no guarantee that the birds will drink sufficient water to gain maximum benefit from these vitamins, particularly if the weather is wet. In an aviary, they might even prefer drinking water off of the mesh on the cage.
Powdered supplements should be sprinkled over greenstuff or fruit because they will not adhere well to dry seed and will simply sink to the bottom of the food dish.
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So, What Do Birds Eat?
If you want to know what do birds eat, you can’t go wrong with greens.
A variety of greenstuff is readily taken by many species ranging from parrots to pheasants. Most softbills will prefer fruit, but touracos will love eating large quantities of greens as part of their regular diet.
Aim to provide regular amounts of whatever is available, rather than large quantities occasionally, which can lead to digestive upsets if the birds gorge themselves. Remember to always wash greens well before feeding them to your birds.
Among wild plants, chickweed, dandelion, and seeding grass are all likely to be eaten but do not collect them from areas where they may have been sprayed with herbicides such as roadside verges.
In terms of cultivated vegetables, spinach beet can be grown easily and will provide a source of greens even through the winter, as may brassicas such as broccoli.
Carrots too can be valuable, especially as they have vitamin A. You can try peeling them and cutting them into small pieces to prevent wastage.
Some larger parrots are reluctant to go down to the floor of their enclosure if they drop their food and they are less likely to drop smaller chunks.
One fruit which should never be given to birds is avocado, because this may be poisonous for them. It is also better to avoid citrus fruits because their acidic nature can lead to scouring.
Bananas are not generally recommended because they can be messy and may stain the plumage around the bill.
Any unripe fruit should also be avoided as it can be indigestible.
Apples are popular choices and grapes are too, although they contain relatively little in the way of nutrients.
In some cases, with mynah birds, for example, you will need to dice the fruit into small pieces which the birds can swallow whole, whereas, for other birds, including parrots, you can provide the fruit in chunks.
A favorite fruit with parrots is pomegranates, which can be stored in a cool, dry place for a month or more, extending their availability after the end of the season.
In tropical regions, a wider range of fruits is available, but try to select fruits which are firm and not especially juicy, as the juice may stain the birds’ plumage and this can attract insects such as wasps.