People are what they eat; the same holds true for birds, too. So owners must know that if they wish to receive all the love and attention a bird can provide, they will need to keep it well fed. The main types of food, commercially available or sourced from within one’s home, can be split into a range of categories:
Bars, Nuggets, Cakes: These are compressed types of food that combine seeds, pellets and natural flavours into an easily grasped and enjoyable meal. Birds are attracted to the great taste and owners can be satisfied that their pet is receiving all of its dietary requirements.
Pellets, Granules, Crumbles: As an alternative to seeds, these three types of food offer excellent nutritional value and a balanced diet all in one. Some birds may take a while to adapt to this new type of meal, so a slow, measured introduction is best, mixed in with other foods.
Table Foods: It’s good to know that a bird can eat any wholesome food. Indeed, the practice of food shared between owner and pet can strengthen bonds and promote the bird’s friendliness. Any curious bird will soon develop a liking for things like cake, peanut butter, beans, cheese, fresh greens and raw fruits. A number of these foods are low in proteins and calories; hence, table foods must only be given as rare treats and should never replace a balanced diet of commercially available foods. Also, always remember to thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables beforehand.
Seeds: It is important to realize that seeds are just one part of a bird’s total diet. Seeds alone cannot provide a complete form of nutrition as most types lack certain proteins, vitamins and minerals. In addition to purchased seed, useful varieties to be found in one’s backyard include ryegrass, timothy, cockspur, plantain and dandelion.
Vitamins, Minerals, Grit: Vitamins are an important requirement for the development and maintenance of healthy tissue within a bird. Luckily, birds can manufacture their own vitamin C; however, all other vitamin types need to be supplied into the drinking water or food and can be found in purchased bird foods, or may be brought separately from pet stores and veterinarians. As for minerals, the most important for bird nutrition are calcium, phosphorous, sodium, chlorine and potassium. Commercial foods should contain all of these minerals; otherwise, they can be supplied via cuttle bone, mineral block, oyster shells, milk, chicken bones and egg shells. Meanwhile, grit, added to a cage either in a dish or sprinkled across the cage floor, is needed by birds to aid with the digestion of food. The grit is stored in the bird’s gizzard where it helps to grind up and crush pieces of food. Grit is cheap to buy and can be found at any quality pet store.
Water: The fast metabolic rate of a bird means that it has to consume large quantities of water to stay refreshed. Fresh, clean water needs to be supplied to birds on a daily basis.