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Introducing Pellets to Your Parrot

Do you want to incorporate pellets into your parrot’s diet, but don’t know where to start? Does your bird seem like a picky eater who turns their beak up at anything but seed? Diet conversion is possible, but you may have to use creative techniques to get the ball rolling.

Getting your parrot to eat a balanced diet can seem like an uphill battle. High quality pellets are an excellent source of nutrients, but it’s not uncommon for birds to spurn them in favor of seeds and other more recognizable foods. In this Q&A guide, we’ll answer your most pressing questions about diet conversion and give you the information you need to expand your parrot’s palate. 

Q: Why won’t my parrot eat pellets?

A: Parrots that are used to all-seed diets often don’t recognize pellets as food.

If your bird would rather go hungry than eat pellets, they aren’t being “bad” or “stubborn.” Pellets just look different than the seeds and grains many birds are used to eating, and the dry, hard texture can be confusing. There are two key goals you’ll need to accomplish: getting your parrot to understand that pellets are food, then convincing them to try it.

It might be helpful to think of this process less as “diet conversion” and more as new food introduction. It can take several weeks to a few months, so don’t give up! Patience and consistency are key.

Q: Why should I feed my parrot pellets? Is an all-seed diet really that bad?

A: Pellets are an excellent way to ensure your parrot is getting their required nutrients. All-seed diets are typically not nutritionally balanced and can result in deficiencies.

This isn’t to say that seeds are bad, or that you should eliminate them from your parrot’s diet completely! Budgies are naturally granivorous and eat grass seed in the wild. But these wild budgies have much more physically-demanding lifestyles than the birds we keep at home. They are burning so many more calories than our budgies on a daily basis so not only are they able to eat more calories, they NEED to in order to survive. 

Seeds have a very imbalanced nutrient profile, meaning they have lots of some essential nutrients but very little of other essential nutrients. For example, they tend to be low in vitamin A, which is critical for skin, eye, and membrane health. So, while parrots can (and should!) have some seed in their diet, supplementing with pellets and mixing with foods that compensate for what they lack is a great way to cover all their nutritional bases.

Q: How can I use carrier foods to introduce pellets?

A: Parrots may be more amenable to trying new foods when mixed with something familiar and palatable.

One of the easiest food items to introduce is a cooked, soaked seed and grain mixture. Mixing a bit with some of their existing seed mix gets them learning to eat it pretty quickly, and soon, you can try grinding other things into it like fresh produce or powdered pellets.

 

One carrier grain mix that has worked well for The Budgie Academy flock is the Hearty Veggies flavor from Bird Street Bistro. Once your bird learns to eat this mix, slowly incorporate ground pellets or finely chopped veggies into it. Soaked/cooked quinoa, amaranth, teff, and other small particle items tend also to be welcome and easy to get started with. 

Q: What is bird bread?

A: Bird bread is another method for introducing pellets. It merges pellets and seeds into one item and helps encourage parrots to venture outside their dietary comfort zone.

Offering bird bread can be a great way to teach your parrot that pellets are edible. The easiest way to get started is to use a premade mix, like this Harrison’s Omega Bird Bread mix. You might want to check other vendors (like mysafebirdstore.com and harrisonsbirdfoods.com) to find the best price!

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Q: How can I use bird bread to introduce pellets?

A: By incrementally increasing the pellet to seed ratio in bird bread, you can gradually get your birds acclimated to eating pellets.

For an in-depth explanation of how to make, store, and feed bird bread, check out our video here:

And for your reference, here is a printable bird bread recipe card:

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Let’s go over the basics. One batch of bird bread should be enough to complete a diet conversion for one to two budgies, and one mini muffin can feed two average-sized budgies for breakfast. Begin by offering the most seed-heavy pieces, and when you see your birds consistently eating the “bread” part of the muffin (not just picking out seeds), try transitioning to pieces with less seed.

 

Store your bird bread in the freezer. Thaw pieces by leaving the bread out until it comes to room temperature, or microwave in intervals of 10 seconds. Be careful if you choose to microwave your bread! The center will get very hot, so break the piece open and touch the inside to make sure it is safe.

 

Lastly, try to take advantage of your parrot’s social eating instincts to make the transition easier. If your bird likes to watch you eat and wants to share your food, try pretending to eat a piece of bird bread to get their attention. Or if you have multiple birds that get along well, try feeding them all together on a comfortable, familiar flat surface (like a table top).

Wrapping up...

Diet conversion can be a struggle, but incorporating new foods gradually–and using creative techniques, like carrier foods and bird bread–can help your parrot adapt to the process more easily. Using a pre-made product like Harrison’s Bird Bread mix can cut down on hassle! 

If you found this guide helpful, we have lots of other articles on topics ranging from parrot-safe cleaning to veterinary wellness exams. And be sure to connect with us on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook so you never miss out on new content!

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  3. Pingback: Diet Conversion: My Strategy - The Budgie Academy

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