What Commonly Fed Foods Should Not be Fed to Birds?
Red palm oil, dog and cat food, all parrot pellets, all synthetic bird vitamins, all food colorings, all non-organic foods, all dried (freeze dried, dehydrated foods), and all foods high in omega-6 essential fatty acids.
The foods listed in this article are commonly fed parrots. Most importantly, feeding these foods is based on information that is decades old. These foods should never be fed to parrots. The reason that these foods are on my ‘Never Feed Parrots’ food list is because:
- Thousands of the essential nutrients that birds must eat every day are missing.
- They lack complete protein, the essential combination of essential amino acids that create ‘complete protein’.
- These foods are painfully high in omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (O-6 EFAs). Omega-6 EFAs are known for causing inflammation in the body — that is a primary cause of all disease. (1), (2)
- And, above all, because of their health risks these foods can never be part of my balanced food plan.
This article is written in memory of Kiwi.
Read Kiwi’s story here: Never Feed These Foods to Parrots-Kiwi’s Story
Mary further explained, “We have come a long way in regard to avian medicine, but as far as nutrition is concerned, we are still fumbling around in the dark and using guesswork instead of science. Many veterinarians strongly advocate the feeding of pellets, which leads pet owners to believe they are doing their beloved birds a disservice and jeopardizing their health if they do not feed them as part of their diets.
I also realize that veterinarians are not well-versed in avian nutrition, and very little research has been done on this important subject. It’s very frustrating and I did the best I could, but I can’t help feeling that it wasn’t good enough.” — Mary, Kiwi’s Caregiver.
Please know, that I understand that Mary did her absolute best to put together a balanced diet for Kiwi. I also know that there is much false information online about parrot nutrition and what the thousands of nutrients actually are that a parrot must eat every day for their continued good health.
In this article I also give specific details that explain why the foods listed here are on my ‘Do Not Feed to Parrots’ food list. And why these foods should never be fed to parrots or any birds.
I am using generic names in this article. If you are an existing customer and would like the food brand names please email me.
Kiwi’s daily diet consisted of the following. Mary explained, “I tried what I call the cover all my bases and hope for the best approach.”
- A POPULAR ORGANIC PELLET – approx. 50-60%.
- FANCY, DRY FRUIT, NUT & SEED MIX. I removed all the raisins from the mix and it made up approx. 40%.
- Equal parts mix of hemp seed, flaxseed and chia seed – 2 teaspoons a day.
- Chopped walnuts.
- 3 or 4 pine nuts.
- BRAND VERY EXPENSIVE Freeze Dried ready-to-feed chop – 1/2 Tablespoon served dry
- VERY EXPENSIVE BRAND Freeze Dried fruit – I would give a small piece of one of the following: apple, Asian pear, blueberry, strawberry
- BRAND BITS & PIECES Products Moringa Leaf powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- BITS & PIECES Products Bee Pollen Granules – 1/2 teaspoon
- BRAND BITS & PIECES Avian Herbal Remedies – I kept this in a separate bowl at all times, free-choice. The idea behind this is that a bird will self-medicate and pick out what his body needs.
Before publishing this blog post the information on these specific foods has only been available to clients who have scheduled a Personalized Consultation with me. Because these foods are commonly fed I wanted to explain why they are foods to never feed a parrot. If you are feeding any of these ‘Do Not feed’ foods – for your bird’s welfare — please stop feeding them and throw them in the trash.
Lack of Balanced Nutrition
Because of the lack of essential nutrients in Kiwi’s diet this bird passed away in January, 2022, from gout and kidney failure at the age of 16. Green-cheek conures can have a life span of 25 to 30 years.
Dear Mary, I am sorry for your loss.
Analysis of Kiwi’s Diet, Foods to Never Feed Parrots
1. A popular organic pellet – approx. 50-60%.
Lacks complete protein, contains soy, lacks enzymes, lacks antioxidants, contains synthetic vitamins, contains high levels of omega-6 EFAs, does not contain other essential nutrients only found in real, whole foods.
2. Fancy, dry fruit, nut and seed mix. Mary, explained, “I removed all the raisins from the mix and it made up approximately 40%.”
High in unhealthy carbohydrates, very high in O-6 EFAs, high in calories. Read more about the unhealthy effects of high levels of O-6 EFAs in Bird Food Ingredients to Avoid.
3. Equal parts mix of hemp seed, flaxseed and chia seed – 2 teaspoons a day.
Never feed dry seed. Chapter 4, ‘The Problem with Feeding bird Seed’, in my book, “Polly Want a Sprout?” devotes 10 pages to the problems of feeding seed.
4. Chopped walnuts.
The only food in this list that is a healthy food choice.
5. 3 or 4 pine nuts.
High levels of O-6 EFAs, high levels of carbohydrates, high levels of unhealthy fats.
6. BRAND VERY EXPENSIVE Freeze Dried ready-to-feed chop – 1/2 Tablespoon served dry. See item 7.
7. VERY EXPENSIVE BRAND Freeze Dried fruit – I would give a small piece of one of the following: apple, Asian pear, blueberry, strawberry.
Never feed birds dried, freeze dried, or dehydrated foods. Above all, when people eat these foods they are DESIGNED to be re-hydrated. This means they MUST have water added back in. In feline nutrition many holistic vet recognize that dry cat food contributes to kidney disease in cats. A future blog post will provide more details on additional problems.
8. BRAND BITS & PIECES Products Moringa Leaf powder – 1/2 teaspoon.
Moringa oleifera has been identified as having interactions with a variety of pharmaceutical medications. Moringa can alter the way a medication acts in the body. For this reason, and because Kiwi was taking more than one prescribed medication, Moringa should not have part of his daily food plan. Even if medications were not being given, the positive results seen in people were not seen in Kiwi because of the high degree of malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients missing from this bird’s diet.
9. BRAND BITS & PIECES Products Bee Pollen Granules – 1/2 teaspoon.
Even though much research has been done on the benefits and nutritional qualities of bee pollen, concerns exist about it being difficult to digest. Each bee pollen granule is covered by a tough outer shell called an ‘exine’. Therefore, because of this tough shell Kiwi may not have received all the benefits from the bee pollen that had been hoped for. (3), (4)
10. BRAND BITS & PIECES Avian Herbal Remedies – I kept this in a separate bowl at all times, free-choice. The idea behind this is that a bird will self-medicate and pick out what his body needs.
However, when I first became active in aviculture I raised Owl Finches, a 10 gram bird that originates in Australia. One practice that was discussed often was feeding herbs to birds. It was suggested that each herb be fed separately, in its own little dish or ‘finger’ cup. Repeatedly these aviculturists said, “Mixed herbs in a dish equals dead birds.”
In addition, when a parrot or finch is properly nourished this type of herbal blend is completely unnecessary. And often times these herbal blends contain garlic. Read my post:
Mary did her best in designing this food plan for Kiwi. For her next bird she will be working directly with me to ensure her new family member receives balanced nutrition from wholesome, real foods.
Are you ready to say goodbye to the outdated approach of feeding seeds and pellets that may be harming your parrot’s health? My balanced food plan (for parrots larger than 50 grams) offers a fresh perspective and a simplified approach that will make a world of difference in your parrot’s life.
Get your bird started on food for building good health and wellness. If you’re new to sprouting one of our Complete Sprouting Kits will give you everything you need. SHOP NOW.
If you’ve already been sprouting for a while be sure to get:
- Your copy of,“The Power of Nurturing with Food, the FIRST balanced Food Plan for parrots (larger than 50 grams)”
- Some BBFE! complete protein sprouting blend.
- And the other whole foods we sell that are a part of my Balanced Food Plan: organic rosehips (cut and sifted), organic oat bran ( a stellar prebiotic food), and our organic walnuts (the perfect nut for parrots packed with antioxidants that rival those in blueberries).
We also have products especially for Budgies.
Check out our Budgie Specialty Bundle.
If your parrot has any symptoms, practices feather destruction or has been diagnosed as having an illness or disease please consider
scheduling your Personalized Consultation with me.
This will help ensure your parrot is receiving the highest level of balanced nutrition possible.
All purchases support Leslie’s ongoing work
to further improve balanced nutrition for all parrot species.
Thank you for your support!
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(1) ‘Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids’, E Patterson, R Wall, GF Fitzgerald, RP Ross and C Stanton, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2012.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335257/
(2) “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids”, The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington, DC 20009, USA. Biomedical & Pharmacotherapy, 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12442909/
(3) Khalifa,S.A.M.;Elashal, M.H.; Yosri, N.; Du, M.; Musharraf, S.G.; Nahar, L.; Sarker, S.D.; Guo, Z.; Cao, W.; Zou, X.; et al. Bee Pollen: Current Status and Therapeutic Potential. Nutrients 2021, 13, 1876. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13061876
(4) Katarzyna Komosinska-Vassev, Pawel Olczyk, Justyna Kafmierczak, Lukasz Mencner, and Krystyna Olczyk. Bee Pollen: Chemical Composition and Therapeutic Application. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2015, Article ID 297425, 6 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/297425