Feeding Your Bird
Birds have very long potential lifespans, however for many kept as pets, their lives and longevity can be significantly impacted by nutrition. Their diet is limited to what we provide them with, so it is important to ensure they receive a balanced and complete diet.
Cockatiels, Cockatoos, Budgerigars and other parrots are seed eaters. They can be fed standard commercial seed mixes, however these should ideally be no more then 20-30% of their total diet as they are often incomplete and unbalanced. Seed mixes can be deficient in vitamins and minerals, for example calcium, and very high in fat, and therefore feeding your bird only seed mixes could result in malnutrition, fatty liver disease and a decreased lifespan.
Feed your bird pelleted food instead of seed mixes, as it is nutritionally complete. Introduce pelleted food into your bird’s diet gradually to allow your bird to become familiar and comfortable with the change, and increase the proportion of pelleted food until it comprises their whole diet.
Lorikeets are nectar eaters, and have different nutritional requirements. They should be fed a wet (nectar) mix and a dry mix, both of which are available commercially and should be provided fresh daily.
Some soft foods to provide for your bird are:
- Fresh fruit – apples, strawberries, oranges and melons
- Native nuts, berries and flowers
- Celery, broccoli, silverbeet, corn, peas and beans (but not avocado as this is poisonous for birds)
- Cereals and pasta
- Legumes, peanuts, almonds, mung beans, alfalfa
- Wattles, gums, bottlebrush, grevilleas
Housing Your Bird
- Choose a cage large enough that your bird can stretch its wings fully
- Use natural tree branches instead of plastic perches, and ensure they are wide enough that your bird’s toes cannot wrap around – your bird’s foot should be flat on top of the perch
- Give your bird time and space to explore outside the cage wherever possible
Entertainment and Enrichment
Wild birds spend hours each day hunting or foraging for food, and it is important to replicate this for pet birds in captivity by providing them with mental and physical stimulation and activity. Provide your bird with toys, such as pieces of wood, tree branches with nuts, or objects containing food items such as berries and fruit inside.
Provide your bird with plenty of opportunity for exercise (without flying) by giving them branches for climbing and swinging. It is also important to provide them with an area for bathing, such as a flat dish.
To keep your bird’s environment clean and reduce the risk of illness, clean the cage at least twice a week, and wash water, nectar and food containers in warm soapy water each day.
When first introducing your bird to their new home, unless they were hand-raised, give them minimum attention in the first few weeks to reduce stress from foreign handling and interaction. Start handling and taming your bird after 2-3 weeks. Spend time with them, taking care to talk to and handle them – a bird’s relationship with their owner depends on mutual trust, which is important and ongoing. Focus on rewarding your bird’s development and accomplishments, as they are sensitive and thrive on positive feedback.
Birds are very good at masking sickness until they are in a severe state. If you see any signs of illness in your bird, see your vet immediately. It is important for birds to receive attention and treatment promptly, as their chance of survival can be significantly impacted the longer they are left ill.
See your vet if your bird shows signs of:
- Change in character
- Loss of/change in appetite
- Lethargy or becoming less active
- Attitude changes
- Change in droppings – number, colour and firmness
- Ruffled feathers or a fluffed up appearance
- Reluctant to move and sitting on the floor of their cage
- Discolouration in face, legs, feet or beak
- Noticeable, loud or labored breathing
- Coughing, sneezing or strained nostrils
- Bruising or unusual lumps