Clear And Unbiased Facts About What Are The Best Seed, Blend And Pellet Diets For Captive Birds? (Without All The Hype)

Clear And Unbiased Facts About What Are The Best Seed, Blend And Pellet Diets For Captive Birds? (Without All The Hype)

There is no perfect seed, blend or pellet diet for any exotic bird species. Our Senegal parrot Peaches eats whatever broken bags or tubs we get with our deliveries.  

She probably has five or six brands in her food storage container currently. I even toss in large parrot food and simply crack the big nuts open for her.

Not all pellets on the same. The concept behind pellets is they are an engineered food  containing 100% of all the nutrition that a bird needs.  At the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute  they have third generation quaker parrots who have been eating Hagen Tropican exclusively for 25 years.

One of the differences between Hagen Pellets and Harrison’s pellets is that Harrison’s pellets have the same formulation but are just different size chunks.

Conversely, Hagen Tropican pellets have different nutritional values based upon bird size.

Hagen Tropican Lifetime Sticks are for larger birds like large macaws and cockatoos who eat holding food in their zygodactyl foot.

Hagen Tropican Lifetime Sticks have more protein in them than their smaller Lifetime Formula cockatiel/lovebird granules because bigger birds require more calories.

Tropican is the only formulated pelleted food line that most birds will need in their lifetime, from a newly hatched baby chick to a mature, breeding adult.

Tiger parrots eating in the wildtiger parrots

Hagen Tropimix contains more than 50% fruits and nuts and is free of husks or shells, eliminating messy waste.

It can be a good diet base when combined with the appropriate fresh foods. To increase palatability, moisten Tropimix with warm water.

Because birds may select their favorite ingredients from their food, Hagen Prime Supplement should be used.

If a bird is exhibiting negative behavior like plucking or is getting up in years (senior birds)  we will recommend removing soy from their diet. soy is seen as a bad nutrient by some but not all bird nutrition Influencers. 

Until the jury convenes, we (and many avian veterinarians) have had success with improving behavior, weight and hormonal issues in pet birds, by feeding a soy free diet.

As good as Roudybush and Harrisons are they both contain soy so we would migrate the bird to Hagen Alternative Formula pellets or TOPS Pellets to eliminate soy from their diets

On the flip side Roudybush has a rice based diet developed by Tom Roudybush who believes food allergies trigger many negative issues in companion birds.

Zupreem pellets come in all natural and fruit flavors while Pretty Bird pellets are available in species specific blends.

Regarding seeds, Higgins Premium offers 6 different lines. Vita seed with probiotics with added mineral, vitamins and trace elements is straight seed.

Mayan Harvest brings together exotic, natural ingredients and holistic herbs.

Editors note: ho·lis·tic (defined) – characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. 

How “herbs” can be holistic, is opaque to me. 

Safflower Gold is all natural with added vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Safflower Gold has no sunflower seeds and uses premium gourmet ingredients that are free of artificial colors and preservatives.

Higgins Premium Sunburst Diets  are unique blends of seeds, pasteurized, like Higgins Vita Seeds but with additional fruits and nuts and more exotic seeds that birds really enjoy.

Birds cannot resist these premier gourmet avian exotic tropical mixtures loaded with natural goodies. You’ll be impressed by not only the premium quality of the ingredients but the quantity of select natural treats. 

All Higgins premium bird food diets contain InTune pellets. Yes Martha, Vita seed has InTune pellet pieces as well. 

InTune pellets can also be purchased as a stand alone pellet. This makes for an easy way to increase pellets to seed ratios.

Higgins Premium Worldly Cuisines are cookable. They are the natural, healthy foods that add variety to a companion birds daily diet.
Worldly Cuisines will transport your bird food to different parts of the world with human edible ingredients.
 
These exotic Worldly Cuisines contain wholesome ingredients like sea kelp, organic couscous, basmati rice, papaya, apples, cranberries, lentils, dates, tomatoes, anise, ginger and more!

Is your parrot is a dunker? You may be interested in Scenic pellets which do not fall apart when wet. Instead, staying firm enough to hold and eat wet.

Scenic bird foods were originally created by Marion Zoological for parrots kept in zoos.

Scenic bird food pellets contain 21-24% protein and are intended to be 50% of your bird’s diet, where fresh fruits and vegetables are fed regularly.

Are you a bird seed purist? You may be interested in Volkman Seed one of the cleanest bird seeds you’ll ever find. 

Volkman seed is vitamin fortified also offering a non fortified seed mix specifically for eclectus parrots.

Editor’s note: Eclectus parrots have elongated digestive systems thus vitamins can become toxic by remaining in their system too long.

Got an Eclectus? We have a bird food category just for Eclectus parrots.

Kaylor of Colorado offers 3 bird food lines.The natural ingredients found in McBride’s are an accumulation of feedback from consumers and breeders on healthy natural ingredients that they supplement their bird’s diets with.

Kaylor of Colorado Rainforest products are vitamin enriched using the same unique process as other Kaylor brands.

With Rainforest products has substantially increased the amount of the natural variety. At first glance you can quickly recognize the additional variety that positions these blends as super-premium bird food products.

Kaylor of Colorado Sweet Harvest was first formulated and introduced in 1977. At the time there was only a very limited selection of natural products for bird and small animals.

The majority of the products available only offered artificial colors and flavors. Sweet Harvest was the first to achieve its colorful appearance by using all natural ingredients.

Lafeber’s does make pellets but their line of Nutri-berries (8% – 10% pellets) and Avi-cakes (50% pellets) are their most popular products. Enjoyed by many birds as snacks or even as a complete diet.

Avi-cakes make great delivery vehicles for powders supplements because they are bound with molasses allowing the powder to stick to the nummy treat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqnkppk19XQ

Goldenfeast bird food is a real interesting line of pellets. seeds, nuts, fruits and blends. All natural, having no preservatives or added vitamins with some blends like Fruits and Nuts Plus having over 60 ingredients, all human grade. 

Speaking of all natural, Dr Harvey’s is a great bird and parrot food line that is all natural and human grade as well with no preservatives and available for all size birds.

The fruits and nuts are of such high quality that you may be tempted to eat them out of hand.

Not all birds accept pellets well because it is a counter intuitive food There are no pellet trees in the rain forest.  

If your bird insists on a straight seed diet it is recommended to offer an all-purpose bird vitamin supplement like Hari Prime.

Many people call or write saying that “their bird will not try any new foods”.  Our answer to that is it’s not the food, it’s the delivery system.  In other words birds in the wild do not get bowls overflowing with food.

A bird who sees it’s food dish almost overflowing constantly and has plenty of food, he or she can become picky.

A female bird may also see it as a signal that because food is so abundant she may feel like it’s a good time to start laying eggs.

Regardless of the food you offer your bird we recommend making them work for it in various ways.

Because birds have been hardwired to search for food on the ground under rocks as well as trees and bushes for the past 99 million years is not a bad idea to hide some food from them making the move objects in order to access the food as we show in this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCxNFRSvVe4

In addition to a seed and or pellet diet fresh food should be offered as well. All 5 of our birds like dark green leafy lettuce especially romaine.

To keep things simple we offer them frozen mixed vegetables that we briefly thaw by running them under cold water for about 10 seconds allowing them to stay semi frozen for a couple of hours.

We spend a lot of phone/face/blog time debunking the theory that full spectrum lighting helps birds produce Vitamin D3 (which aids in the assimilation of calcium).

Once a captive bird keeper understands the futility of this we’ve opened the door to controlling vitamin deficiencies with supplements.

More importantly we try to determine how the bird owner knows their pet bird does in fact suffer from a vitamin deficiency. Something hard to know without a full blood work up by an exotic veterinarian.

Remember, birds in the wild are scavengers. They’ll eat anything to survive. With 2000 – 8000 feathers, protein is paramount for feather production. Feathers are built on amino acids – which are derived from protein.

If you know your bird or parrot is amino acid deficient or you want to insure your bird is getting enough vitamins, minerals and aminos, try HARI Prime bird supplement by Hagen

Fruits and vegetables alone, as in chops, should be an accompaniment to a commercial bird food diet. Personally I like a simple one pound for one dollar bag of generic frozen mixed vegetables.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VkcJm5mJ4Q

I thaw them in a small dish for our Senegal and 4 budgies by soaking them in cold water for 10 – 20 seconds. This way they stay semi frozen for a while and fresher throughout the day.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

your zygodactyl footnote

 

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.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. This is really interesting! Only my parrot would eat Tops, she loved it. Actually she physically ran to other side of the cage when I tried to get her to eat pellets. But I ground up the pellets and sprinkled them on her fresh food and she loved to eat Tops that way. But my other guys, all small, will only eat Roudybush Nibles. It’s the size they like I think.

    Back to the article about cages, I think my new parakeet needs to be against a wall so I will have to do some rearranging.Thank you for the interesting articles.

  2. This is really interesting! Only my parrot would eat Tops, she loved it. Actually she physically ran to other side of the cage when I tried to get her to eat pellets. But I ground up the pellets and sprinkled them on her fresh food and she loved to eat Tops that way. But my other guys, all small, will only eat Roudybush Nibles. It’s the size they like I think.

    Back to the article about cages, I think my new parakeet needs to be against a wall so I will have to do some rearranging.Thank you for the interesting articles.

  3. What a tremendously helpful and phenomenally well-researched and well-written article about the very complicated question of which is the best food – thank you SO MUCH for this outstanding article!!!!

  4. What a tremendously helpful and phenomenally well-researched and well-written article about the very complicated question of which is the best food – thank you SO MUCH for this outstanding article!!!!

  5. Hello Mitch
    I want you to know I truly appreciate the valued informative that you provide for people who own birds. You have educated me more than you know.
    I have deep respect for what you do and pray you continue to educate people who take precious birds under there wings.
    Take Care Mitch and God Bless You for spreading your knowledge .
    Respectfully
    Jannine Peruffo Massachusetts

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