Parrots’ diet shapes their behavior and health; impacting their lifespan and appearance. Did you ever wonder what cockatoos eat? What is their diet when they are living in the wild and when they are living in captivity?
Parrots eat seeds, vegetables, nuts, fruits, meat, and seafood. Some of their favorite foods are apples, cucumber, blueberries, sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, wet bread, and shrimp.
What Fruits Can Parrots Eat?
Among all the foods they can eat, fruits are their favorite. They eat a variety of fruits which gives them nourishment. Let’s talk about which fruits are absolutely safe for cockatoos.
One of their favorites is blueberries. The color, juicy structure, and taste, everything makes them appealing. Blueberries improve their eyesight and growth.
Since grapes are soft and juicy, they are also one of cockatoos’ favorite fruit. Grapes prolong their lifespan and maintain their blood pressure.
Cucumbers and their seeds are edible for them. Moreover, cucumbers improve wound healing and keep them hydrated which is why they should be often served.
Like all berries, they like strawberries too. They contain minerals and vitamins that are essential for the proper functioning of brain cells. The only problem with strawberries is they are very sweet, this is why they should not be served too often.
Just like us, mangoes excite parrots too. Mangoes are enriched with essential nutrients that help reduce self-destructive behaviors like feather plucking.
Oranges contain vitamin-c which is an excellent remedy for cardiovascular and intestinal problems. Moreover, parrots like to eat the pulp of oranges as it is fibrous and juicy.
Bananas contain tryptophan which helps keep parrots happy. Almost all parts of bananas including the peel and their leaves are edible for them.
They can eat pineapples too but since pineapples are too sweet, they are good only in moderate quantity. Moreover, canned pineapples should be never served as they contain harmful additives. Overall, fresh pineapples improve their immunity against fungal infections.
Among all the fruits they like, pomegranate is one of the most nutritious. It keeps their skin and feathers healthy. It also fights against their urge to pluck feathers.
Parrots are very active birds which is why they constantly need energy and water. They naturally like to eat seeds that are nutritious but not watery. Watermelon being a very juicy fruit provides them both nutrition and hydration. It keeps their heart and lungs healthy.
Tomatoes help fight against stomach aches and ulcers which is why they should be fed to cockatoos. But fresh tomatoes are not healthy, you can feed them dried and cooked tomatoes.
Kiwi helps maintain their blood sugar level. It is also good for digestion. Cockatoo breeders recommend serving Kiwi with other fruits.
The best thing about pumpkin is that cockatoos can eat all parts of it. Pumpkin contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which regulate blood pressure.
Cantaloupes are also a type of melon and that is why they carry benefits similar to pumpkins. Cantaloupe also strengthens their immunity and regulates sugar levels.
They can eat zucchini and it is good for their digestion. But it is not recommended to be served a lot as it contains cucurbitacin’s which is a toxic compound and can cause diarrhea.
What Vegetables Can Parrots Eat?
Just like fruits, they eat a variety of vegetables. You should always add chunks of different vegetables to their diet. Let’s talk about which vegetables are good for them.
Whether celery is healthy for them or not, it depends on how it is served. Raw celery can cause intestinal issues, but its juice is healthy, you can mix its juice with other fruits and vegetables and serve it to your cockatoos.
Potatoes contain amino acids that are essential for their growth and good health. Potatoes can be served in raw form but I have noticed they like baked, and mashed potatoes more.
Carrots are beneficial for their bones. It also reduces the risk of diseases and improves bowel movement. Carrots have several other benefits that make them an excellent treat for parrots.
Always add leafy vegetables to your parrot diet, it keeps them healthy. Spinach is one of the best leafy vegetables for them. It boosts their immunity.
Just like spinach, mint is also a leafy vegetable. It is really good for improving their digestion and keeping them healthy.
What Nuts and Dry Fruits Can Parrots Eat?
They love nuts, they eat various kinds of nuts especially:
Protein is a vital part of the parrot diet and almonds are an excellent source of protein for them. Both raw and roasted almonds are good for them but bitter almonds can be toxic. Always taste the almond before feeding them.
Pistachios are also rich in protein and vitamins. It improves their growth and keeps them healthy. Despite being good, pistachios should not be served in excessive quantity, it can disturb their stomach.
Peanuts are as nutritious as walnuts and almonds and yet they are less expensive. This is why parrot keepers always add peanuts to their diet. The best way to serve peanuts is to mix them in their seeds. Eating a lot of peanuts can cause obesity in parrots, make sure you don’t feed your parrots a lot of peanuts.
Walnuts contain many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They can help overcome deficiencies in parrots. Walnuts also help regulate their emotional stress.
Raisins protect them from cancer and eye problems. However, raisins serving must be limited as it has high sugar content.
What Grains and Seeds Can Parrots Eat?
Both in the wild and in captivity, seeds constitute a major portion of their diet. Some of their favorite seeds are:
Small breeds like Galah and Gang Gang like to eat millet. It is good as a part of their regular diet but it shouldn’t be served alone; always serve millet mixed with other seeds.
They like to chew corn grains and eat corn stick. Corn is beneficial for this heart and it also fulfills their protein requirement. It is recommended to feed them boiled corn as it is soft and easy to chew.
Since they are active birds they constantly need energy. Wheat is rich in protein and dietary fiber which is beneficial for the digestive system.
Barley also contains dietary fiber and protein. It is good for their heart and overall growth.
Rice protects them against arthritis and diabetes. Moreover, it helps their body regulate temperature.
Parrots absolutely love large seeds like sunflower seeds that they can hold in their toes and chew. Sunflower seeds help regulates their cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Since pumpkin seeds are medium-sized, both large and small parrots enjoy them. Moreover, pumpkin seeds are healthy for their brain, muscle, and bone growth.
Can Parrots Eat Meat and Chicken?
Parrots are omnivores, which means they can eat meat and chicken too. In fact, meat and chicken are protein-rich which is good for parrot health. However, they usually rely on only seeds and fruits and do not hunt other birds or animals for meat.
Can Parrots Eat Seafood?
Seafood is not a part of their natural diet in the wild but if fed in captivity, they like to eat it.
As I just mentioned, parrots can eat meat, they can also eat fish. They usually do not like to eat raw fish but you can feed them boiled and baked fish. As it contains protein, it is good for parrot health.
Many parrot breeders feed shrimps to parrots during the breeding season and when their babies are growing. Shrimps are also rich in protein and are also good for parrot growth. Moreover, shrimps contain essential minerals and prevent several chronic diseases which keep parrots healthy.
Crabs also contain protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for parrots.
Like other seafood, scallops are also rich in protein and nutritious for cockatoos.
Which Human Foods Parrots Can Eat?
Besides their natural diet, they want a bit of whatever they see us eating. You can also feed them:
Wet bread is good for their growth as it is soft, easily digestible, and contains protein. But bread does not highly nutritious. I have noticed feeding them wet bread during breeding season helps them with their protein requirement.
Like peanuts, peanut butter is also rich in protein, fats, and minerals. You can feed them peanut butter but in small quantity,
Boiled rice is also safe and healthy for parrots. In fact, baby parrots enjoy boiled rice more than dry rice grains.
Which Foods are Unhealthy for Parrots?
When it comes to the parrot diet, you need to be well aware of what not to feed a parrot. As discussed, there are many foods that are edible and good for us but deadly for them. Following foods should never be fed to them.
Anything that is too sweet is not good for cockatoos. As chocolates contain an excessive quantity of sugar, they are unhealthy for them. Only a few grams of chocolate is enough to kill a parrot.
Although wet bread is edible and good for parrots, dry bread is bad for them. This is because dry bread expands in the stomach and causes problems and it can also choke them.
Parrots are lactose-intolerant which means they cannot eat any dairy products like cheese. It can cause severe digestion problems.
Onions have certain benefits but they are toxic for parrots as they can cause anemia and irritation. It is not recommended to add onions to your parrot’s diet.
Garlic can cause ulcers, vomiting, and weakness in parrots.
Avocadoes are highly toxic for parrots, they can cause heart and liver problems and can also cause death.
Caffeine can cause hyperactivity and cardiac arrest in cockatoos. It is not recommended to feed caffeine or any product that contains it.
Fat is high in calories, it can cause obesity in parrots, leading to cancer and heart problems.
Salt can cause an imbalance of minerals and electrolytes in the body. It also causes dehydration and kidney problems.
How Much Does a Parrots Eat Everyday?
A parrot eats food that weighs almost one-fourth of its body weight. For example, if your cockatoo weighs 635 grams, it will eat 158 grams of the food.
Difference in Wild And Captive Parrot’ Diet
The diet of parrots varies according to the environment. Wild parrots usually live in tropical forests and have access to fruits and nuts that grow in the area. They do not always have access to food and they have to make efforts to find food. Whereas captive parrots do not have to make any effort to find food, they are well-fed and served a variety of foods.
Another difference is their energy and protein requirement; wild cockatoos are far more active than captive parrots. Whereas captive parrots can suffer from obesity if they do not fly much and consume more than they need. So you should always feed them a balanced diet.
Balanced Diet for Parrots
The best diet for parrots is a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. They should be served in proper proportion.
- Seeds and nuts constitute only 10-20% of the parrot diet. As seeds are oily, they have a lot of fat which is not good for them; if fed in excessive quantity.
- Fruits and vegetables constitute up to 80-90% of a parrot’s daily diet.
It is recommended to add grit to their diet, it helps overcome the deficiency of essential minerals.
What Do Newborn and Young Parrots Eat?
During the first 60 days, babies are fed by the parent birds. The mother bird regurgitates the food and feeds it to the babies. If you are raising a baby cockatoo on your own, you can feed it parrot baby food like Kaytee with a parrot baby feeder. They need to be hand-fed for almost 90 days until they start eating on their own.
Once they start self-feeding, they enjoy eating a variety of foods. The diet of baby parrots is no different from an adult parrot except baby parrots have fragile beaks and they do not have the strength to crack hard nuts so they prefer only soft food like small seeds, leafy vegetables, and easy to chew fruits.