What Do Pet Parrots Eat? – Parrot Feeding & FAQs

Colourful parrot eating seeds on a persons hand

When you think about what parrots eat, there’s a whole world beyond just seeds and nuts. These bright and chatty birds need a mix of tasty and nutritious food to stay in good shape.

Feeding your pet parrot isn’t just about filling their belly. Just like us, they love a bit of variety in their meals, and getting their diet right is key to keeping them chirpy and full of life.

In this article, we’ll explore what makes up a parrot’s diet. We’ll also touch on the do’s and don’ts of parrot feeding, ensuring your feathery friend is not just surviving but living their best life.

What Do Pet Parrots Eat?

Man feeding his pet parrots milk

Pet parrots typically eat a diet made up of around 60 to 80% specially formulated pellets, along with seeds, nuts, and a selection of fruits and vegetables for balanced and healthy nutrition.

Here’s a list of some common items in their diet:

  • Pellets: Pellet foods are formulated to provide a balanced diet and are made from a mix of nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables. They fill any nutritional gaps and should make up at least 60% of a parrot’s diet.
  • Fruits: Favorites among parrots include papaya, bananas, mangoes, apples, pineapples, and grapefruits. Fruits are a great source of vitamins but should be given in moderation due to their sugar content.
  • Vegetables: Parrots love a variety of vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens like kale, dandelion leaves, spinach, and broccoli. These provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Seeds: Parrots enjoy a range of seeds, such as pumpkin, hemp, chia, sesame, millet, coriander, and flaxseeds. These seeds are packed with nutrients but should be given in moderation due to their high-fat content, especially sunflower seeds, which are particularly fatty.
  • Nuts: Parrots also relish nuts, including almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and walnuts. Nuts are a great source of protein and other nutrients but are high in fat, so they should be considered a treat rather than a staple in their diet.
  • Grains and Legumes: Nutritious grains like cooked brown rice, quinoa, oats, wheat, barley, and pasta can be part of a parrot’s diet. They can also eat cooked peas and beans, offering a good source of protein.

Remember, variety is key in a parrot’s diet, but maintaining a balanced intake of these foods is crucial for their overall health and well-being.

Nutritional Needs of Parrots

Colorful parrot eating from the feeder

Parrots have specific dietary requirements that are essential for their health and longevity, and understanding and meeting these needs is crucial for every parrot owner.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissues, proper eye function, and hearing in parrots. It’s also essential for maintaining healthy skin and feathers.

A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to severe health issues, including respiratory problems and a weakened immune system.

To ensure your parrot gets enough Vitamin A, include foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens like kale and spinach in their diet.

Vitamin B

B vitamins, including B6 and B12, are crucial for a parrot’s well-being. They help in energy production, nerve function, and the formation of red blood cells.

These vitamins also help parrots cope with stress during sensitive periods like molting or mating.

Parrots can get their B vitamins from a variety of sources, including whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Offering a diverse diet helps prevent any deficiencies in these essential nutrients.

Vitamin D

Parrots need Vitamin D for calcium absorption and bone health. They usually get it from sunlight, but if they live indoors, they may require dietary supplements or foods fortified with vitamin D to meet their needs.

Sources of Vitamin D include egg yolks and certain types of fish, but it’s best to consult a vet before adding these to your parrot’s diet.

Calcium and Phosphorus

Calcium is not only crucial for strong bones and beaks but is also necessary for proper muscle function and nerve signaling. Phosphorus works alongside calcium and is important for bone health and energy metabolism.

Leafy greens, broccoli, almonds, and cuttlebone are good ways to give your parrots these minerals.


Protein is the building block of muscles and tissues in parrots. It’s crucial for growth, repair, and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Parrots require a variety of proteins and amino acids, which can be found in foods like beans, legumes, nuts, and specially formulated pellets.

Pro Tip: If your parrot is going through a molting phase, think about adding cooked eggs to their diet. Eggs are packed with protein and can help your parrot grow healthy feathers during this time.

Just make sure not to overdo it and to serve them plain, without any added seasonings or spices.


While fats are often viewed negatively, they’re essential for parrots in moderation. They provide energy, support cell growth, and help absorb certain vitamins.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, in particular, help maintain healthy skin and feathers and play a role in reducing inflammation.

Sources of Omega-3 include flaxseeds and walnuts, while Omega-6 can be found in eggs, poultry, and certain vegetable oils.

How to Feed Your Pet Parrot

Pet parrot eating seeds fed by its owner

Feeding your pet parrot properly is key to its health. Usually, it’s best to feed them twice a day, just like their natural foraging patterns in the wild.

For a healthy diet, most of what your parrot eats, around 60 to 80%, should be high-quality pellets.

A study has found that a mix of 75% pellets and 25% fresh foods, like fruits and veggies, gives parrots all the essential nutrients they need. This balance keeps your parrot’s diet varied and complete.

When it comes to how much to feed them, it’ll depend largely on their size, age, and activity level. For smaller birds like Budgies, about 1/4 cup of pellets a day is good, but bigger birds like Macaws might need up to 1/2 cup.

Always check the instructions on the food package and adjust the portions based on your parrot’s individual needs, taking into account factors such as seasonal molting and breeding cycles.

If you notice a lot of uneaten food, you might be giving them too much. Don’t forget about water, either. Parrots need fresh water every day, and they usually drink about 5% of their body weight.

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Parrot

While parrots can enjoy a variety of foods, certain items should never be part of their diet. These foods can be toxic or harmful to your feathered friend. Here’s a list of foods to avoid feeding your parrot:

  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Xylitol
  • Nutmeg
  • Avocado
  • Caffeine
  • Cassava
  • Chocolate
  • Raw meat
  • Fried food
  • Mushrooms
  • Dairy products
  • High-fat foods
  • Shelled peanuts
  • Uncooked beans
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Seeds or pits from rose family fruits
  • Plant parts from nightshade vegetables

It’s important to be mindful of these foods and keep them away from your parrot’s reach.

If you’re not sure about certain foods or if your parrot acts strange after trying something new, don’t hesitate to consult with a veterinarian.

Can Parrots Have Treats?

Blue and yellow Macaw parrot eating banana

Parrots certainly can enjoy treats as a fun addition to their regular diet, but it’s important to offer them in moderation.

Healthy treat options include small pieces of fruit like berries, mangoes, or apples, which are both tasty and full of vitamins.

Vegetables such as cooked carrots or peas can also be great treats, offering nutrients and variety. A few unsalted nuts, like almonds or walnuts, are also loved by parrots for their crunchy texture.

I personally own a Blue Quaker as a pet, and I’ve found that a little rotation of treats like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts keeps mealtime exciting. It’s interesting to see which treat catches its attention each day.

That choice often becomes the star of our training sessions, as using its current favorite helps keep it focused and makes learning new tricks a breeze. It turns training time into a fun and interactive part of our day.

Just remember to monitor your parrot for any signs of digestive upset or allergic reactions when introducing treats. With the right balance, treats can make your parrot’s mealtime more enjoyable and nutritious.

What Do Baby Parrots Eat?

Feeding baby parrots using a small spoon

In the wild, baby parrots are fed by their parents through regurgitation, a natural process where the adult birds bring up partially digested food.

This regurgitated food typically consists of a mix of seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables that the parent birds have eaten.

When baby parrots are hand-reared by people, they’re given a special formula instead. This hand-rearing formula is designed to closely match the nutrition found in the natural diet provided by parent parrots.

As the baby parrots grow and their ability to digest solid food develops, they gradually start eating softer, easy-to-digest foods. This includes things like mashed seeds and finely chopped fruits and vegetables.

It’s all about giving these young parrots a smooth transition from formula to solid food, ensuring they get the right nutrition every step of the way.

What Do Parrots Eat in the Wild?

Wild parrots have a varied diet that’s closely tied to the availability of food sources in their natural habitat. They’re known to be omnivores, which means they eat both plant-based and animal-based foods.

Their diet primarily consists of seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. In addition to these plant-based foods, wild parrots occasionally snack on insects, which provide them with protein.

There are also some types of parrots, like lorikeets and lories, that primarily feed on nectar. These parrots have specialized brush-tipped tongues designed for extracting nectar from flowers.

Fun Fact: In the wild, parrots are known to eat dirt! But it’s not just any dirt; they specifically seek out clay-rich soil. This strange behavior is believed to help parrots detoxify their diet.

The clay binds to harmful toxins from certain seeds and fruits they eat, protecting them from potential harm. For an even closer look at this fascinating behavior, check out this video:

Parrots Unusual Eating Habit | Peru's Wild Kingdom

Frequently Asked Questions

A group of parrots are eating meals in the zoo

Can Parrots Eat Rice?

Parrots can enjoy rice without any worries. Whether it’s brown, white, or jasmine rice, they’re all safe. Brown rice, in particular, is really good for them because it has more fiber and vitamins.

Just make sure to cook it and serve it plain, and it’ll be a healthy addition to their diet.

Can Parrots Eat Bread?

Parrots can eat bread, but it should be an occasional treat rather than a regular part of their diet. Opt for low-salt, whole wheat bread and serve it in small amounts.

Bread doesn’t offer much nutritional value for parrots, so it’s best to focus on more wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts for their daily meals.

Can Parrots Eat Tomatoes?

Yes, parrots can eat tomatoes, but only in moderation. Tomatoes are acidic and can upset a parrot’s stomach if consumed in large quantities.

When offering tomatoes to your parrot, make sure they’re ripe and free from any green parts, which can be toxic.

Can Parrots Eat Eggs?

Parrots can indeed eat eggs, and they’re actually a good source of protein and other nutrients for them. You can serve eggs to your parrot boiled, scrambled, or even raw, but always in moderation.

Can Parrots Eat Chicken?

Yes, parrots can have some chicken, but not too much, and it should be cooked properly. Serving it cooked eliminates the risk of bacterial infections like salmonella.

Scientific References

Brightsmith, Donald J. Nutritional levels of diets fed to captive Amazon parrots: does mixing seed, produce, and pellets provide a healthy diet? Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery vol. 26,3 (2012)

Brightsmith et al., The Roles of Soil Characteristics and Toxin Adsorption in Avian Geophagy Biotropica vol. 40, 6 (2008)

Das UN. Essential fatty acids: biochemistry, physiology and pathology. Biotechnol J. (2006)

Gilardi JD, Toft CA. Parrots eat nutritious foods despite toxins. PLoS One. (2012)

Petzinger C., et al. Dietary modification of omega-3 fatty acids for birds with atherosclerosis. J Am Vet Med Assoc. (2010)

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