First Flight Exotic Birds

Foods and Feeding

Foods available for birds include:

  • Bird feed mixes (specific for each type of bird); offering a mixture of both formulated foods and seed.
  • Formulated diets; pelleted or extruded.
  • Seed only diets.
  • Supplements (provided in addition to any of the diets).

Bird feed mixes (specific to each type of bird) consist of a mixture of seeds, formulated foods, some supplements, and usually additional vitamins. Bird mixes are generally regarded as suitable especially when provided with additional supplements.

Formulated diets provide a good nutritional base, containing all the necessary minerals and vitamins, so additional vitamins are not required. However, formulated diets do not contain the phytonutrients (antioxidant pigments) that are found in vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds. Phytonutrients are believed to boost the immune system, help a body to heal itself, and to prevent some diseases. Many birds also become bored with a formulated diet due to the lack of variety. Offering supplements can help provide the phytonutrients and help offset boredom.

Seed only diets offer much more variety but requires additional vitamin and calcium supplements. In the wild many birds eat seed as a major portion of their diet. Many birds need not only nutritional requirements met but also variety for psychological enrichment. All seeds contain protein and are roughly divided into either a cereal type seed such as millet, or an oil type seed such as sunflower seed. To provide a balanced diet, minerals, amino acid, vitamins and trace elements can be added as a supplement to seed or water.

There are pros and cons to feeding only a formulated diet, or to feeding only a seed diet.
Supplements can be used to enrich all types of diets.

Supplements include soaked and sprouted seed, fruits, vegetables and even some green plants (make sure they are non-toxic). All types of fruits are a good supplement such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, oranges, bananas, mangos, papayas, and even berries such as strawberries and blueberries. Vegetables are also good supplements such as carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, many garden vegetables, and even dandelions and chickweed. Do not feed avocado as it may be toxic to birds!

Additional proteins can be offered to some birds about every 1 1/2 weeks such as cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, and even canned dog food. Many birds will eat what you eat. Be sure anything you offer is not toxic to your bird. Most foods are okay but there are a few, such as avocado, that can poison birds. Cuttlebone and calcium blocks will also provide necessary minerals for maintaining your birds health. Finely ground shells and other natural minerals can be added to regular grit.

Some seed eating birds need grit. This applies especially to birds such as pigeons and doves that eat their seed whole without shelling it first. It is an essential to aid in digestion to seeds eaten unshelled, as these birds use it in their crop to grind the seed. Grit also contains valuable minerals and trace elements, and though not necessary for digestion will aid some birds if offered in limited amounts.

Birds that are not primarily seed eaters do not require grit or cuttlebone. Mynah?s and Toucan?s will eat softbill food. Lories and Lorikeets eat pollens and nectars. These types of birds major diet consists of fruits like apples, bananas, pears, and grapes. They also will eat soaked dried fruits, canned fruits and natural juices. All of these are easy to supply. There are also commercially prepared pellets and powders available.