Discussion about the diet for parrots with the avian vet. Shall we use seeds or pellets? PART V

April 15th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Discussion about the diet for parrots with the avian vet. Shall we use seeds or pellets? PART V

Read also the previous part of this interview:

Avian vet talks about effective disinfection, worming and seed sprouting. PART IV


What do you think about sunflower? Shall we give it to birds? Some of my pairs eat the sprouted seed mixture only when there is sunflower. There are many people who say that sunflower is bad.

Sprouted sunflower is not a problem at all. In my opinion, sunflower is not bad to feed with like many breeders say. There are many good components in it.

But some breeders feed only sunflower sometimes even with a proper layer of dust…

That’s an extrem, of course. I feed my birds with sunflower but it depends much on species. I wouldn’t give it to Galah cockatoos for example because they get easily fat. A problem might come when seeds go rancid then it has a negative impact on livers. But I don’t see high fat content as a problem for species which are not prone to obesity. Don’t forget that sunflower contains valuable oils which are important in diet.


File:Woman feeding parrots -Lamington National Park, Queensland, Australia-8.jpg

(c) Tim Dawson. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


Some breeders mix their own mixtures from seeds which they get from local farmers. What do you think about this way of feeding?

I believe that dusty seeds are still better than buying of perfectly clean seeds without dust which were stored on sunshine somewhere in Africa. Of course, as a customer you don’t have any chance to find out the way of storing. So spoiled seeds might be a bigger trouble than dusty seeds.

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And to your mind breeders shall mix their own mixtures?

If they have an access to well stored seeds and they know what is the optimal seed mixture composition for certain species then why not?

And what about beginners?

Beginners and pet owners should definitely buy high quality mixtures. The food doesn’t have to be vacuum-packed but I don’t recommend to buy products with the transparent wrapping. The light can’t reach the seeds otherwise it will get spoiled.



But there are many products in trasparent wrapping…

Yes, seeds are usually selling in transparent wrapping. When such mixture contains nuts and dried fruits and it is stored for longer time then you can notice that with rising humidity seeds stick on the fruits and spoiled nuts. That’s why it’s much better to buy fresh wallnuts and freeze them or at least store them at some dark and dry place. You have to consider diet for birds as diet for people. It’s necessary to know the origin. We like mixtures from Blatner very much nowadays. It’s an expensive brand but the quality is very high.

When my Inka cockatoo has in the bowl Versele Laga Prestige then I throw away at least a half of offered amount. When I put there Blatner mixture for wild finches then the parrot eats everything. It’s even better for the breeder as you save the food. Feeding of your birds = 80% of their health. What you save on the food that you will pay for the vet.

What do you think about pellets? Shall we feed with them or not?

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The first think we have to realize is the huge supply of different brands. Some of them are good some are worse. I can recommend subjectively Kaytee, ZuPreem, Nutribird and Harrisons. I repeat that many brands are very poor quality stuff. Most of them are just commercial products. For example, when somebody writes on the label of a product that it’s for macaws then it doesn’t have to be true. In case of ZuPreem I was really dissapointed by product Nuts Bland. It smells of nuts, parrots eat them well but if you read the composition chart then you find out that there are no nuts at all. It’s just the synthetic aroma. On the other hand Harrisons bird food is so ecological and organic but the price doesn’t correspond to quality.


Pellets for parrots.


I have heard that colored pellets can cause digestive troubles, is that true?

Yes, it’s the same as with people. Sometimes, producer (NutriBird) uses organic pigments which is not harmful. But when you look at american pellets then you understand that such colors can’t be organic. In dogs the research of their diet is much more developed and we know that some races don’t accept any cereals. When you change the diet then the animal will get much better. A few years ago we didn’t know anything about this.

I think that there is still a lot we don’t know about the diet of birds. The problem is that there are so many species of all birds and parrots and they are often food specialists so it is really difficult to find something universal. There are no pellets suitable for all species but they can be a good supplement. The diet has to be variable, we have to change foods regularly like it is in nature. I don’t think it’s good to feed with just one basic diet all the time. It might be good for pet owners who don’t have enough time for cutting of fruits but the diet of such birds won’t ever be complete. I always recommend to feed with variable diet so the bird can choose.

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I also know one study about breeding of Poicephalus parrots. Authors fed with only Harrisons pellets and they compared breeding results before and after of using that pellets. Firstly, they gave to birds just seed mixture. In the first two years results with pellets were pretty bad, birds almost stop breeding or they had less chicks. Then the production start growing and finally results were better than with seeds. But in nesting season authors fed also with some seeds. There are not many studies which compare breeding results of pairs fed on pellets and seeds. We will see what research will bring us.


Read also the next part of this interview:

Lubica Necasova: African Grey Parrot is a very difficult bird to keep as pet. PART VI


Title photo: (c) Corey Leopold. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.



  1. Pingback: Lubica Necasova: African Grey Parrot is a very difficult bird to keep as a pet. PART VI | Parrots Daily News

  2. Anne Pezzetta says:

    My loyal and beloved Sun conure, Apollo, recently passed away, and our family is heartbroken. He was my therapy bird, and I loved him like a child. He was only five years.
    In May, 2015, I noticed he was showing neurological signs and slightly shaking in his abdomen area. I became very concerned and took him to a Vet who supposedly handled exotics. I think this was the first bird she examined. This Vet prescribed Baytril, Metacam and Tramadol, but she did not give me a diagnosis. My Guinea pig, Gracie, has just passed away from pneumonia. Apollo and Gracie were best friends so I am not sure if he had pneumonia or starting signs of PDD. Within a few days, he was fine. In the meantime blood tests were done, and Apollo turned out positive for ABV. My Vet called our local Vet Hospital to find out about this diagnosis and was informed about PDD. We never did a crop biopsy since it was too dangerous. After I researched crop biopsy, it was determined that the wrong tissue may be extracted (not showing lesions) so the diagnosis would not be 100% true. In the meantime, my Vet did not have a plan in place if Apollo was to become ill other than to make an appointment. My son told Apollo should have been taking Celebrex all along to help with inflammation as well as weight checks and four physicals every year to catch an issue before it was too late. In June, I notice he was sluggish and staying in his hut more often during the day which was unusual. Though, whenever anyone came into the room he jumped out and started playing with his toys like there was nothing wrong. We thought he may be cold due to the a/c (so we higher the temperature by 2 degrees) as well as the season for molting. Whenever we took him out of the cage, we noticed he didn’t fly as much and seemed to want to cuddle. Again, we thought he was molting since there were many feathers in cage and floor. He molted around the same time last year, too. When I scratched his neck he became agitated when I hit certain areas. I felt new feathers coming in so I didn’t scratch him anymore. I let him rest. Now I wished I called the Vet to set up an appointment, because I had no idea he was losing weight.
    In mid August, Apollo started showing signs of regurgitation, closing his eyes, and no energy. He was still eating seeds, but i noticed he didn’t touch his organic pellets. He also refused his morning dish of fruits and vegetables as well as some egg for protein.I immediately called for a Vet appointment, and they could not fit me into their schedule as they said, “A bird needs an hour for a physical.” I’ve taken all four of my pets to this animal hospital and never had a problem getting an appointment that day or the next morning. I begged for an appointment, because they had all the papers regarding the blood test results. I was never given a copy. I should have asked for copies in the event of an emergency when this hospital was closed. I was somewhat furious they could not fit an appointment, because my Vet explained how birds go down very quickly in emergency situations during my first examination. I called other Vets in the area and no one could see Apollo until the end of the week which would have been the fifth day. I contacted my Vet again and begged for an appointment. I was scheduled for the next night, but I felt that was too late. I considered going to the ER, but three hospitals did not have Avian or Exotic Vets available. I wanted someone to look at him who knew about birds. In the meantime, he must have been losing weight. It was during his last Vet appointment that I found out he lost 22 grams. He lost too much weight by that point and was considered emaciated. I was distraught. The tech in the office told me to go to a reputable hospital, Penn Vet. I knew he was going to die. I went there, but they didn’t want to help him. They wanted to put him down especially when I told them he could possibly have PDD. I wish I never said those words! Anyway, I was wondering if you think it was PDD or if he had a respiratory infection. My husband and I believe molting caused his immune system to lower his resistance to fight. We are so upset about our loss. If you can tell me anything you think from his symptoms, we would appreciate it. I wish I did a necropsy, but my son did not want to do it. Apollo was his bird.

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