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Bird Feeding: Large/Small Birds

Large Caged Birds: Larger caged birds (conures, parrots, cockatoos, macaws) should be fed as follows:


1. Seeds and seed mixes should not constitute more than 20% of what your bird consumes daily.

2. 80-100% of the daily diet should be comprised of table food items:

  • Animal Protein Sources: Cooked meat (red meat, poultry, fish, etc.), dog/cat kibble, cooked eggs (yolk and white), cheese, cultured milk products (cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.). Raw and even pasteurized milk should not be offered because it contains coliform bacteria. Furthermore, many caged birds are sensitive to milk sugar, which is present in milk but not in cultured milk products.
  • Whole Grain Products: Dry cereals, cooked cereals, rice, uncooked oatmeal, granola, breads (whole wheat in particular), muffins, pasta (cooked or uncooked), crackers.
  • Nuts, Trail Mix: In moderation (nuts are rich in oils and fats).
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh, frozen-thawed or canned are all acceptable. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious. (Remember, When birds eat a lot of fleshy fruits and vegetables, they excrete excessive fluids in the form of urine which is normal and to be expected. This increased urine in the dropping is polyuria, not diarrhea).

3. Feed junk food items in moderation. Remember: Salty foods are acceptable for pet birds as long as they are given in moderation and as long as fresh water or fruit juice is always available.

The following foods can be prepared and offered to large psittacines (conure, parrot, cockatoo, macaw) on a daily basis. This list has been compiled with consideration to ease of preparation, economy of time, and maximum nutritional value. You should offer at least one item from each of the following food groups daily.

Whole-Grain Food (Replaces seed mixes and nuts): Make up a mixture of any combination of the following ingredients (equal volumes of each) and store it in an air-tight container:

  • Chex cereals (rice, corn, wheat, bran, graham)
  • Shredded Wheat
  • Cheerios
  • Puffed cereals (wheat, rice, millet)
  • Mueslix cereal
  • Granola
  • Uncooked (dry) pasta (mix different shapes and colors for variety).

Your bird's individual preference for the various cereals may vary somewhat and depend on its body size.

Animal Protein:

  • Cheese (grated or chunks; refrigerated in sealed container or plastic bag)
  • Hot dogs (not necessary to cook; fully cooked when packaged)
  • Luncheon meats
  • Tuna fish (water-packed)
  • Hard-boiled egg (chopped or quartered and refrigerated in sealed container or plastic bag)
  • Milk Bones
  • Dog and/or cat kibble (add several handfuls to the cereal mix mentioned above)


  • Fresh vegetables are most nutritious. Cut up ahead of time and refrigerate in sealed plastic bags or airtight containers. Legumes (peas, beans, etc.) and other dark green and orange vegetables are preferred.
  • Thawed, frozen mixed vegetables (takes minutes to thaw when added to warm water).
  • Canned vegetables are least nutritious of all choices.


  • Fresh fruit is most nutritious. Cut up ahead of time and refrigerate in sealed plastic bags or air-tight containers.
  • Dried fruit.
  • Canned fruit is least nutritious of all choices.

These suggestions are made to accommodate bird owners who are bewildered by the apparent complexities of offering a balanced diet and who have very little time each day to prepare and offer the right foods. Bird owners who do not cook or eat at home will find these suggestions helpful because they can prepare all of these items with only moderate initial preparation and offer them daily with little effort. 

Feeding Small Caged Birds:
Smaller birds (canaries, finches, parakeets, cockatiels) should be fed as follows: Every day, offer greens (spinach, broccoli, carrot tops, celery leaves, parsley, etc.), grated carrot, grated cheese, hard-boiled or scrambled egg, canned tuna fish (packed in water), dry cereals, stale or toasted whole wheat bread (crumbled or in cubes), and small bits of other vegetables and fruits. Some birds may accept soft food items, such as peanut butter, cooked cereals, applesauce, and other strained fruits and vegetables. It is wise to offer pound cake to caged birds of all sizes and get them accustomed to eating it. Once your bird begins to accept pound cake, certain liquid medications can be soaked into the cake if necessary. This makes administration of medication much easier in some cases.