Bird Food & Nutrition

By Dr Eloise Bright 5 Min Read

If you want your pet to be in tip-top shape, you’ll need to provide it with a healthy, well-balanced diet and plenty of fresh water.

Making sure your bird gets the nutrition it needs has never been simpler. For a long time, bird seed mixes were the go-to for pet bird diets, with occasional additions of fresh greens and fruit. Seed mixes are a popular choice for pet birds, but they tend to be high in calories and lack important nutrients. So many animals succumbed to easily treatable illnesses at an early age.

Recent decades have seen tremendous progress in the study of what birds eat. This study has led to the development of high-quality pellet foods and ready-to-serve mixes for a variety of bird species, all of which can contribute to your pet’s extended and healthy life.


In order to survive, all bird species require constant access to clean water. Doves in the wild often make daily trips of more than sixty miles to reach fresh water. The challenge lies in maintaining an environment where the water is both clean and fresh. Even if you feed your bird in a hopper rather than an open bowl, he will still lose some food, feathers, and possibly poop in his water dish. You should change the water and wash the dish twice a day.

Supplementing with Quality Bird food makes a difference.

Pellet foods combine all or most of the components needed for a healthy diet into little biscuits, making it less likely that the bird will pick out the parts he likes and leave the rest, as a child might do when presented with Brussels sprouts and chocolate. Pellets of the highest quality are meticulously crafted using the most up-to-date findings in avian nutrition. A bird’s diet should revolve around these foods.

Mixtures of various foods, such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and more, are readily available for most species or families. These mixes, when supplemented with fresh produce and perhaps some “bird treats” and insect patés, make for a well-rounded diet and help keep birds from getting bored. Like traditional pet food, insect patés can be purchased in convenient, ready-to-eat packaging. Just add some to the dish and serve.

However, nectar-eaters are the outlier in this scenario. These birds also require a high-quality pellet, though it will make up less than half of their diet.

Statement of Intent

Some bird species require “grit” in their diets so that their food can be crushed and broken up in their stomachs. Grit is necessary for doves, for instance. It is possible to satisfy the grit needs of most birds with the purchase of a few boxes of “budgie gravel” from any pet store. In general, parrots do not require grit.

Minerals with high calcium content are required.

Calcium is crucial for a bird’s health, so make sure he gets plenty of it. If the bird is a female, she needs extra calcium in her diet because she may eventually lay eggs. When a bird’s calcium levels are too low, laying eggs can be fatal. Popular calcium sources include ground-up cooked egg shells and cuttlebones.

Eating Snacks and Candy

Everybody loves a tasty treat every once in a while, whether it’s a piece of cake or some unusual fruit. Similarly, birds are the same. Snacks and sweets are favorites of theirs.

Breadcrumbs are a well-known example, and they are commonly fed to semi-wild ducks and pigeons. Many birds enjoy regular bread just as much as humans enjoy chocolate or alcohol, despite the fact that neither is particularly healthy for them. Bread mixes designed for pet birds make it simple to whip up a batch of nutritious bread that can be frozen in portions for later use.

Many birds enjoy snatching at pieces of fresh fruit and julienned strips of carrot. Certain birds have a fervent craving for sugar-free “Cheerios” and similar breakfast cereals (preferably the all-oat variety, if you can find it).

Maintaining a healthy bird population requires careful feeding.

What should I do now? Find out what sort of food is best for your type of bird. Exactly what do you feel you’ve been lacking?

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Dr Eloise is a Clinical Lead at Love That Pet and one of our resident pet care experts. She also curates the select range of vet recommended and approved products which feature on our site.
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