pelleted food for Birds

A Seeded Diet is NOT enough for your Bird!

For years veterinarians have recommended supplementing birds eating seeds only because seeds alone do not provide adequate amounts of all the nutrients needed.

Why? Seeds lack 21 nutrients from four groups-Vitamins, Minerals (calcium and sodium), Trace Minerals (iron, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine, selenium) and protein. Many times we have advocated adding vegetables-which do add some vitamin A and some calcium, but little protein, minerals trace minerals and vitamins- and fruits which offer some vitamin A but none of the other missing components.What choices do bird owners have for feeding their birds? Recently, several companies have created pelleted bird food, similar to what is offered to dogs and cats.  Once converted onto a pelleted diet, bird owners can feel more confident that their birds will not suffer from malnutrition.

9700802_origHow to convert a “Seed Junky” to a pelleted ration.

STEP ONE: Have your bird thoroughly examined by an avian veterinarian.

Have a gram stain performed on the feces to see if your bird is already showing signs of malnutrition.  We may recommend giving medication while converting your bird because your bird is already showing severe signs of malnutrition.


Preferably one without a lot of artificial ingredients like preservatives, colors and sugars.  Here at AspenWing we have two lines of pelleted foods: Harrisons Bird Diet (HBD).

Harrisons Bird Diet Fine Grind is made for small birds- budgies, conures, parrotlets, grey-cheecked parakeets, parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, finches, canaries, quaker parrots.

Harrisons Bird Diet Coarse Grind is for large birds- amazons, cockatoos, macaws, African greys, eclectus parrots, some conures.

Be sure to feed the proper formula.

HBD formulas: Adult Maintenance for birds over 5 months of age.

High Potency for weaned babies less that 5 months old and breeding birds.


Feed seed only 15 minutes twice daily for three days.  Then mix small amounts of the pellets with the seed, gradually increasing the pellets while decreasing the seed.  Sometimes it is helpful to soak the pellets into a mush and then mix in the seed.  This way the bird is forced to pick through the pellets to get to the seed.  Eventually the seed is decreased to zero.  This could take several weeks or even months.  If during the conversion process your bird looks fluffed up, sleeps a lot, has a change in droppings (other than a color change to pale brown) or constantly searches for food for over 24 hours- resume feeding the former diet and consult your veterinarian.

Remember – Have patience – once you have converted your bird you will have helped ensure that your bird will not suffer one of the many diseases associated with malnutrition. It’s worth being persistent!

What if pelleted diets don’t seem to be the answer? Ask a staff member for a handout onFeeding Your Bird published by the Association of Avian Veterinarians.  This handout details how to use table foods to offer a more balanced diet.

Don’t give up!  A total seed diet will definitely shorten the life expectancy of our feathered friends!