Previously we wrote a guide on everything you need to know about birdhouses, as well as bird feeders. Today we will focus specifically on bird food. Food is fundamental for all living beings and this is no different for birds. If you have just bought a bird as a pet, we imagine that you have thousands of questions, including which type of food is best for your bird.
When it's time to feed your bird, you can't just offer it any food. Food for birds is specific food, depending on several aspects, such as type of bird, age, size or if it is breeding, among other factors. That is why we have taken the liberty to make this guide for you, so that all your doubts are answered and you can feed your bird well.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our selection: The best bird feed
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about bird feed
- 4.1 What is bird food and what are the advantages of good bird food?
- 4.2 How can I supplement bird food?
- 4.3 What kinds of bird food are there?
- 4.4 What bird food can a chick take?
- 4.5 What nutrients are in bird food?
- 4.6 What can't bird food contain?
- 4.7 Can my bird become unwell if I offer poor quality bird food?
- 4.8 My pet is moulting feathers, what bird food can I give it?
- 4.9 How often do I have to give bird feed to my pet?
- 4.10 What if my pet doesn't like bird food?
- 4.11 How do I feed my bird?
- 4.12 What do I do if I find a wounded bird on the street and what food do I give it?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- The diet of birds should vary throughout the year in line with seasonal changes, as physiological needs change in the same way. For example, during winter, birds require nutrients that provide more calories than in summer, due to the cold.
- Not all types of birds eat the same food. It is important to consider the breed of your bird and the type of food that it likes to eat. The nutritional needs of these cute little pets is made up of seeds (of many kinds) and pieces of fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh water. You may even find that your pet develops gourmet habits for specific delicacies.
- To help you, we've written in this guide everything you need to know to give your pet quality bird food. Keep in mind that sometimes the right food alone may not be enough and you may have to go to your vet, especially if your bird has a special need.
Our selection: The best bird feed
If you have just been given a bird as a pet, you are in luck: in this list you can choose the product that suits you best, depending on the type of bird you have. Don't forget important factors such as your bird's stage of growth, because if it is a baby, you will have to look for a different type of food than if it is an adult.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about bird feed
In order to have a bird at home that grows healthy and strong, both mentally and physically, it is important that you learn about bird feeding and how to choose food that is right for your bird. To help you with this, we answer the most frequently asked questions that are asked by bird owners below.
What is bird food and what are the advantages of good bird food?
It is logical to have many doubts about bird food, especially if you have never had a bird as a pet at home before. Our advice is not to offer your bird any food, rather, always try to make sure the food you buy is of the highest quality. The worst thing you can do is to look solely at the price of the product and buy the cheapest, since what you save on food will likely cost you more at the vet in the long run.
How can I supplement bird food?
As not everyone can have a parrot or large bird as a pet, we advise that birds of smaller breeds should have just one or two pieces of fruit or vegetables per day. Are you wondering what fruit is good for birds? The following five fruits are typically the best fruits for birds: banana, cherry, apple, grape and raspberry. As is obvious, fruit or vegetables should always be well cleaned and washed before being fed to your bird.
Finally, if you want to give a reward to your bird, you should have a variety of snacks and nutritious treats available, such as bars (made of honey, with cereals and egg or multivitamins) and popcorn (homemade, not from a bag, as they contain many toxic ingredients for the birds).
What kinds of bird food are there?
With this in mind we've prepared a table below of the most common breeds of domestic birds, so with a glance, you can know what kind of food your bird consumes the most. As we always say, if you need more information or specific dietary consultation, you can feel free to consult a veterinarian.
|Species||Type of food|
|Canaries and parakeets||Seeds of all kinds, such as birdseed, oats, flax, turnip rape, black, hemp and rapeseed|
|Goldfinches||Birdseed, lettuce, rapeseed, sesame, black and white knob|
|Parrots||Oats, wheat, sunflower seeds, corn, peas, nuts, dried fruit, rice and boiled vegetables|
|Lovebird||Dry portion (seeds and nuts) or wet portion (vegetables and fruit)|
What bird food can a chick take?
On the market today, it is possible to buy a multitude of bird feed that is suitable for chicks. The products available are mainly powders to which hot water (about 38º) is added, stirring carefully to avoid the formation of lumps. The mixture is then placed in a syringe to feed the chick directly in it's beak. In case of an emergency or you run out of speciality baby bird food, you can make a homemade porridge using a boiled egg, breadcrumbs and water.
What nutrients are in bird food?
You must keep in mind that it is not advisable to offer just one type of food to your bird. Just like with human beings, they cannot eat just meat everyday without developing health issues. In the case of birds, they feed mainly on grains and seeds, but as they carry so little water in their body, they also need other inputs, such as the freshness of the fruit or the digestive properties of vegetables.
|Food||What properties does it provide|
|Seeds|| It is the food base.
Contains almost no water due to the drying process (this avoids mould).
Contribution of carbohydrates.
Some seeds have a high percentage of fat.
Multivitamins: A, D3 and B12, among others.
|Fresh Fruits|| Freshness, especially for the summer.
Water and natural sugars.
Do not contain much protein.
|Dried fruits|| High levels of fat.
Do not contain enough vitamins,
|Vegetables|| Beets contain high levels of sugar.
Vegetables contain large amounts of fibre and water.
Legumes are high in protein.
What can't bird food contain?
Specific foods that are poisonous for birds are: chocolate, as it causes diarrhoea and vomiting; apple and pear seeds, because they have a dose of cyanide, although very small. Avocado is also toxic to birds because it causes heart and kidney problems. Artificial salt and sugar should not be consumed by birds because they already get them naturally.
Can my bird become unwell if I offer poor quality bird food?
If your bird hasn't been eating well for a while, in addition to not receiving the nutrients it needs on a daily basis, it may begin to lose its feathers, which can become a long-term problem. If you want your bird to stay with you for as long as possible, you must make sure it receives the food it needs.
My pet is moulting feathers, what bird food can I give it?
If this is the case and your bird is sick or aging, the options available to you for treatment vary widely depending on the breed of bird. Generally we recommend that you always offer your pet quality nutrition (cucumber, spelt, millet, wheat and oats, as they are rich in silicic acid, contributing to growth) and food supplements such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
How often do I have to give bird feed to my pet?
Our recommendation is for the vast majority of domestic birds, however if you have a macaw or a parrot, it is slightly different as they consume a lot of food throughout the day. In addition to continuously keeping their containers clean, they require them to be filled constantly so that they do not go hungry.
What if my pet doesn't like bird food?
Your bird may not even like the common bird feed that is sold in supermarkets or pet store. If this is the case, the transition to another form of food can be made as described in the paragraph above. However, if your bird is not convinced by conventional bird food that is sold in packets, there are always natural alternatives that will keep your bird well nourished, such as raw seeds, fruit and vegetables.
How do I feed my bird?
If you choose the first option when offering bird food, keep in mind that it is your duty to replace and clean the container regularly, especially if you have a large bird such as a macaw or parrot.
What do I do if I find a wounded bird on the street and what food do I give it?
- First of all, don't think about giving the bird wet bread or cookies, as you don't know if the problem is related to their digestion system. This type of food is for humans and as it is processed, it could harm the bird.
- Do not give it milk either, as it is not in the nature of a bird to drink milk. Birds do not have the natural enzymes needed to digest milk, so it could result in death.
- Try to find out what type of bird it is and its nutritional needs, as well as providing warmth and consulting with a veterinarian.
- Some birds are insectivorous, such as swallows. Other types of birds eat only seeds and grains, which is why they are called granivores. It is less likely to find them in the street, but some birds, like herons, are carnivorous.
- Once you have identified the type of bird you have, you can proceed to look for the bird food you need to suit the breed of bird.
You should pay attention to this section, as we will explain what you need to take into account when buying bird feed. We have written a short list, followed by a brief description of each criterion. By following this advice, you won't have any doubts about which is the best product for your bird.
- Brand prestige
- Bird needs
- Shape of beak
- Exotic or common bird
As we have described in the shopping guide section, the ingredients in your bird's food are very important because they will contribute towards your bird's health. The more quality nutrients the food contains, the better fed your bird will be. Try not to save too much on your bird's nutrition because it will cost you and your bird dearly. Now, what nutrients should you look for on the label of the packet?
- Proteins: they should make up between 10% to 20% of your bird's diet, depending on their breed. Proteins are essential for the growth and repair of tissue, as well as giving benefits to their immune system.
- Carbohydrates: the main source of energy. You can find carbohydrates in seeds and cereals, such as rice, millet, oats or wheat.
- Fat: a fundamental component in bird food, as long as it is found in balanced proportions. Fats carry vitamins and provide healthy and shiny feathers.
- Vitamins and minerals: the ones needed in bird feed are: A, K, E, D and B2. When talking about minerals, your bird should consume phosphorus, iron and calcium.
It doesn't matter if the brand is big or small, rather that it is a good, well reputed brand. If you choose a feed without doing your own research of the particular brand, you should at least check with a professional, whether it's a pet shop or a veterinarian, to confirm it is a reputable brand.
However, as you can not always turn to a third party such as a vet, there are many times that you will have to decide for yourself. If this is the case, you can research on the Internet or simply use trial and error method to figure out which is a good quality brand. Sometimes this can be the only viable way to learn.
Like all living things, your bird won't always find itself full and happy. There will be times when they will become unwell or go through certain moments of stress, and may not want to eat. If this is the case, you must observe your bird closely and make certain decisions. One of these decisions may be to investigate if there is anything wrong with their food.
Even if you take your bird to the vet as soon as possible, your bird will not recover overnight. That's why your bird will need specific food to help it recover after a difficult period. A good option is to buy a special porridge for sick or injured birds, as the composition of a bird porridge makes it easier to digest.
Shape of beak
You already know the diet of birds, as well as the shape of the beak will be decisive in deciding what type of bird food to buy. For example, birds with cone-shaped beaks are granivores meanwhile those with a finer beak are insectivorous. Finally, if your bird has a curved beak, it is carnivorous.
However, we can't always be perfectly guided by this theory, as there are times when this is not entirely true. This happens with a toucan, which is a bird with a very strong, curved beak, but eats fruit, not meat. That's why you need to understand your bird perfectly in order to select the best food for your pet.
Exotic or common bird
Each breed of bird has specific nutritional needs and this difference increases if you have an exotic bird at home. In the below table, we elaborate on the food needs of three common exotic birds. Based on this table, you will be able to decide which bird food to buy if you have an exotic bird.
|Breed of exotic bird||Food requirements|
|Parakeet||Fruits, nuts, roots, flowers, insects, barks, tubers and pollen|
|Lovebird||Lots of fruit, such as apple, orange, pear, watermelon, peach and kiwi fruit|
|Parrot||Fruits, branch shoots, insects, cereals and berries|
We agree with bird owners that having a bird can give many satisfactions to the owner or the household. To hear your bird sing when you get home, to watch how it moves, to caress it or even to watch with pleasure how it gets used to your presence. They are unique situations that differentiate these animals from any other pet and this is why you must take care of them as they deserve.
What better way to look after your bird than by being well informed of its food requirements, among many other important aspects (cages, feeders and accessories). We understand that sometimes the standard of living requirements are not always be met, but that does not prevent you from making an effort to research and buy the best bird feed for your pet.
We really hope you have found this guide on bird feed useful and invite you to write a comment, as well as share the article on your social networks. See you soon!
(Source of featured image: tasfoto / 123rf.com)