Shiny beaks, glossy feathers and bright eyes don’t just happen on their own! Beaked beauties need the right nourishment to maintain those plumed silhouettes and ravishing colors that we all love. As bird owners, we know that birds go through many different phases in terms of growth and development. It’s so important to be prepared to meet the needs, vitamins and minerals for parrots, of your bird during every phase of life to ensure health and happiness. What you feed your bird daily ultimately impacts how they look and feel. When we’re lax about nutrients, our birds suffer. The good news is that getting on a consistent plan early will help your bird to enjoy a life marked by energy, vitality and oh-so-bright feathers! Let’s dig into the specific essential vitamins and minerals our parrots need.
The Importance of Vitamins and Minerals in Your Parrot’s Diet
First, it’s important to know what to expect if you don’t fulfill a parrot’s dietary needs. A parrot requires very specific vitamins and minerals to avoid serious short-term and long-term health problems that can arise if they become deficient. How can you know if your bird’s diet is lacking? Here are some signs and symptoms of malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies in birds:
- Respiratory infections due to a weakened immune system.
- Obesity caused by loading your bird up on the wrong foods to try to compensate for calorie needs.
- Feather picking caused by anxiety.
- Poor reproduction.
- Poor feather growth that prevents proper insulation/temperature regulation.
- “Dull” feather colors.
- Loss of flying ability due to lethargy and lack of energy.
- White spots and abscesses around the beak.
- Crusty nostrils.
- General discomfort, agitation and shrieking.
- Slimy mouth.
- Sneezing and wheezing.
- Loss of appetite.
- Bone fractures.
- Soft beak.
- Splayed legs.
These symptoms should not be ignored. Unfortunately, parrots are highly susceptible to liver and kidney issues that can become fatal once they are set in motion. You can read about the very specific signs of liver and kidney issues in parrots here. The reality is that most organ-related health issues in birds have origins that are dietary in nature.
A Look at the Specific Nutrients Birds Absolutely Need in Their Daily Diets
“Birds on all-seed diets will likely suffer from a vitamin A deficiency, since peanuts and most seeds and grains (except yellow corn) are devoid of this vitamin,” according to Peter S. Sakas at Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center. This serves as a reminder that food choices matter because birds need whole, healthy nutrition on a consistent basis. If you’re looking for the basics on parrot food, our Parrot Food and Care Starter Guide will be helpful! While major, a vitamin A deficiency isn’t the only fear for bird orders. Next, let’s cover the complete list of nutrients to be focused on.
Many parrots will eat more during growth stages or molting periods because these processes causes them to burn up calories quickly. There may be a temptation on your part to fill in the calorie gaps with high-fat, high-calorie treats that your bird gobbles up gleefully. You want to make sure that you’re never allowing your bird to fill up on “filler” like seeds or “repetitive” pellets that are not being consumed during a time when they need all the proper nutrition they can get! “People foods” beyond approved fresh fruits and vegetables are also off the table. How can you cross-reference that the food you’ve selected for your parrot covers the right bases? Here’s a rundown of some of the core nutrients to focus on when designing a bird diet that will support your feathered friend:
Vitamins and Minerals for Parrots
- Folic acid: Essential for helping a bird’s body to build up amino acids for growth and development.
- B12: Essential for helping birds to form key proteins.
- Vitamin A: Essential for growth, development, immune response, membrane development and vision! Unfortunately, birds that are fed “nut and seed” diets are often deficient in vitamin A. On the feather front, vitamin A helps plumage to maintain deep reds and yellows!
- Vitamin D: Important for bird health because it helps birds to absorb other nutrients better. Without vitamin D, parrots can’t actually absorb calcium. That’s big news because calcium is crucial for everything from bone formation to blood clotting.
- Calcium: African Grey parrots are especially prone to calcium deficiencies. Keep in mind that both vitamin D and magnesium are needed to make calcium absorbable!
- Thiamin: Supports the nervous system to prevent issues like feather picking, restlessness and seizures.
- Riboflavin: Supports skin health.
- Niacin: Assists with tissue support to aid in growth and neurological development.
- Ascorbic acid: Essential for supporting blood-vessel health.
- Iron: Essential for circulating proper oxygen levels in the blood.
Unfortunately, we know that most seed-based diets are deficient in essential amino acids, proteins and other nutrients. These essential nutrients cannot be eliminated from a parrot’s diet because they are the building blocks for bones, muscles, feathers and hormone production. Unfortunately, insufficient levels of protein and amino acids can lead to severe delays in growth, development and bodily function. If left unaddressed for too long, these deficiencies eventually lead to death. Many bird owners don’t realize that their birds are malnourished because the high-fat diets they are on are starving them of nutrients while increasing their weight. Once you discover the Bird Street Bistro menu, you don’t have to make your bird settle for a nutritionally deficient diet that puts their health at risk!
Final Thoughts on Feeding Your Parrot a Proper Diet
At Bird Street Bistro, we offer a parrot-pleasing menu of natural, organic foods packed with all of the nutrients birds need to thrive! Our foods are balanced for optimal bird health using wholesome ingredients like whole grains, garden vegetables, tropical fruits, nuts and herbs. These are food-grade feasts that are carefully measured to meet the nutritional needs of birds! Let us help you help your parrot’s diet pass the test with flying colors using the tastiest bird food on the block.