The Problem with Feeding Corn to Parrots

Hello Catherine and Mitch,
Thank you for your ongoing interesting, informative and helpful narratives. I have one question that has yet to be answered. Today’s writing has a sentence (below) Offer corn only as a treat (popcorn’s a favourite) as it’s used to fatten animals.
Corn is always the #1 ingredient in every single bird pellet food that I have seen. I interpret that to mean that corn is the most prevalent ingredient in the pellet. As stated above, I also view corn as a high carb (not to mention GMO) food that would not seemingly be one’s best choice for a cherished family bird!
You have access to much more info that I do. Please advise me (and all your other fans) why corn is the #1 ingredient in all pellet foods. Or maybe there are other brands I am not aware of that do not have corn as the #1 ingredient!
Cynthia T. ([email protected] )
Hi Cynthia
Actually corn is the majority ingredient in low-cost bird food, which you can see through the bags on the shelves the stores like Walmart. You’ll see far less corn proportionately in a quality engineered product like Harrisons or Hagen. That said, the difference between the corn going into packaged bird food and the corn coming in your table is the manufactured bird food corn is tested with tests like the Charm Rosa test which can check for aflatoxin, fumonisin and DON (vomitoxin) levels in finished pellets. Unfortunately the “corn on the cob” coming to your kitchen table comes directly from the farm never having been tested by the USDA 
The issue is mold which translates to toxins (mycotoxins, aflatoxins) that can have negative impacts for you and your pet bird. What’s interesting is these ghost poisons that you can’t smell nor taste, will appear on one farmers crop of corn but not his neighbors. The fungus can present itself in huge amounts but doesn’t produce any toxins, and sometimes strangely enough just the opposite happens. These toxins sometimes are found before the harvest but they may not manifest themselves until the corn is stored. No amount of cooking heat can destroy these insidious poisons.
If you check with the US government you will find that they allow a maximum of 20 ppb (parts per billion) of combined aflatoxins in human food which is much more generous than Canada and Europe allows. Birds being birds are less resistant to these poisons than most mammals. When US corn exceeds 20 PBB you’ll find it in bags of wild feed for deers or on ships heading for ports outside of the US. Generally speaking we haven’t seen a problem with corn but we just want to make you aware of the downsides.
If you are thinking of getting away from corn totally, the pellet you would like is Goldenfeast Goldn’obles. it’s peanut and corn free, no GMO or synthetic vitamins. No high-fructose corn syrup and no artificial flavors.
Goldenfeast is currently making a new batch (they make small, fresh batches to insure freshness). 
Hope that helps
Hello Mitch,
Thank you for such an informative answer. I had no idea that corn is a possible killer for my pair of cockatiels. (They are 15 1/2 years old). You delivered their Kings Cage I bought from you years ago on your motorcycle! And then assembled it.! I was very impressed with your customer service. You have conducted a repeat performance now! Thank you!!) 

Corn on the cob is one of their favorite treats in the summer. I have also given them frozen corn which they also love. Lately I became aware that most USA grown corn is GMO, hence my concern at its presence in pelleted bird food. Thank you and Catherine for your speedy and very useful replies.


Mitch Rezman

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they visited monthly birdie brunches in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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