What and When to Feed Your Parakeet
Most people think parakeets only eat seed. This is a common misconception. Although seed is part of their diet, proper nutrition requires additional foods. Careful consideration of the nutritional content of your parakeets food, along with exercise, will help your bird live a long, healthy life.
Along with seed, you will want to provide your parakeet with a variety of other food items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, greens and table foods. If the food is healthy for you, it is also healthy for your parakeet. However, not everything you eat is good for your parakeet. I’ve provided a list of harmful foods later in this chapter.
Whether or not your parakeet will eat a certain food item just depends on his particular tastes. There are some packaged seeds formulated for parakeets that can be found at supermarkets and pet stores. These will be fine for your parakeet as long as you also provide supplemental foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Also, pre-mixed, packaged parakeet seed contains lots of sunflower seeds. These are extremely fattening. You might want to pick these out and save them for special treats only. Buy small bags of seed to insure that you always have a fresh supply. Your parakeet can also benefit from a diet of pellets specially formulated for parakeets. This approach may be easier for birds that have not been given other choices besides seeds in the past.
Since parakeets originally come from the desert, you may not see them drinking much. However, they need a good supply of fresh water at all times. Keep the water clean. If it doesn’t look clean enough for you to drink, then your parakeet shouldn’t be drinking it either.
Most parakeets will try almost anything. They love fruit, vegetables, greens, popcorn, etc. Parakeets also love spray millet and seed treats. However, these are also very fattening and should be given only occasionally. Below is a partial list of food items your parakeet might like to try:
- Whole-what bread
- Hardboiled egg
When providing fruits or vegetables, make sure that they are washed, cut into small pieces, at room temperature, unpeeled, free from pits or cores, raw, and fresh. Don’t take a bite of food before you give it to your parakeet. Human saliva has bacteria in it that can be harmful to parakeets.
There are a few harmful foods that you will want to keep your parakeet away from. Some of those are:
- Milk and cream
- Raw potato
- Junk food
- Spicy or greasy foods
- Anything alcoholic
Give them salty, fatty or sugary foods in moderation only. If it’s not good for you, it’s probably not good for your parakeet, either.
Switching from Seeds to Pellets
It can take some time to get your parakeet to convert to a diet of pellets from seeds. To be honest, a lot of the seeds are high in fat, so they taste good and he may prefer to eat them first. Plus, your parakeet may not recognize pellets as food.
Once you’ve decided to introduce pellets into your parakeet’s diet, remember that you have to be patient. You’re not in a hurry, so take your time and make sure your parakeet is getting proper nourishment.
The first step is to figure out how much food your parakeet is eating normally. You should be feeding him only enough for him to finish it all during the day. There shouldn’t be any food left over the next morning.
For the first day or two, sprinkle a few pellets on top of the seed so your bird will learn that they are food. After the first couple of days, give your parakeet the same amount of food but mix in 25% pellets with 75% seeds for the first week or two. He’ll be eating all the seeds, but he’ll still be hungry, so it will entice him to try the pellets.
For the next week or two, change the mix to 50% pellets with 50% seeds. Again, your bird may be eating a little less than normal, but his hunger will encourage him to start eating the pellets.
Then move to a mixture of 75% pellets with 25% seeds. After a couple of weeks you can change to 100% pellets with a few seeds sprinkled in.
The times for each mixture aren’t written in stone. It may take your parakeet a little more or a little less time than I’ve mentioned here. Be patient and move at your bird’s own pace, but never move backwards. If your parakeet is stubborn, just stay at a level a little longer.
I don’t recommend trying to switch them cold turkey. You run the risk of starving your parakeet if he’s particularly stubborn. Just be patient and the conversion should go smoothly.
If you’re having trouble getting him to try any of the pellets at all, try a different brand. You’ll eventually find a flavor he likes.