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Pionus Diet



A parrots diet consists of many things that they eat, many people use to think they eat only seeds and that's not the case at all.  They require a well balanced diet just like us. I've listed below what to give your feathered friends, don't be shy when it comes to vegetables & fruit. Your Pionus should have more in the way of vegetables than fruit as fruit contains more sugar and should be given in moderation. If your parrot doesn't seem to like fruits or vegetables, keep offering them for at least a month or sometimes even longer.  Eventually they may start munching on the veggies
or fruit.  Some parrots may take an interest to eating if they think you like it, eat food items in front of your bird and it will often promote them into trying it.  Make it look like it is so yummy that they can't resist on trying it, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.  Don't let your parrot get stuck on liking just one or two favorite things, the more you can get them to like the better off they will be health wise. 

A varied diet largely made up of live foods will give you the healthiest bird. By live foods I mean vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  Dead foods are foods that don't spoil quickly (i.e. packaged seeds & nuts).  Some parrots may require more nuts in their diet where other parrots may not need them in the diet as much.  Some nuts are more fattening to certain birds and not to other birds.

The Pionus Parrot can be prone to obesity, so watching intake on foods is important. Nuts especially contain a higher fat content and should be limited.  Feeding foods in moderation is the best way to maintain a healthy diet.  

Carrots (cooked slightly for better assimilation of beta carotene), string beans, corn, squash, peas, broccoli, zucchini, snow peas, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, sprouted seeds and beans (excellent for protein) are all favorites. If your bird is reluctant to try these things, try sprouting their seed mix. It will be familiar to them and seeds are much healthier when sprouting (lower in fat, higher in amino acids for instance).




High in sugar, don't substitute fruit for vegetables.  Vegetables always should make up the largest portion of the diet. Fruits do not really need to make up a significant part of the diet. Grapes are relished by most parrots.  I wash my strawberries and other fruit in just clear running water and have never had a problem.  Most parrots like strawberries.  Blue Berries are good and provide the much needed antioxidants.  Apples are loved by most birds, wash well give them with or without the skin.  Oranges are great too, although I notice some of my birds are not that crazy about oranges. Most any fruit is good for them, if they like it and will eat it then they will get a wide variety.  Parrots tend to have their favorite food items just like people do.

You can sprout many grains at home. Millet and quinoa are two nice grains to sprout. Also, cooked brown rice and cooked quinoa are relished by many parrots. Quinoa is a South American grain so parrots from this region probably ate it in the wild.  Any food you can duplicate from their natural environment is an excellent choice. Grains do not need to be a large portion of the diet.  Pellets would fall into the category of grains as pellet consist most of corn. 

Beans: Beans are an excellent, non-fat source of protein and beans are one of the best sources of dietary fiber and contain amino acids and vitamins. Pionus love all sorts of beans... cooked of course! You can buy in your grocery store numerous types of beans and even bags that contain many different types without having to buy individual bags. There are also bird food manufactures who sell made up mixtures to cook up as well for your parrot companion. You can sprout the uncooked beans as well and makes it more nutritious. Some parrots have to grow accustom to eating sprouted beans or seeds. You can also purchase a Soak and Cook bean mixture made for birds and they love it.



Seeds: Get a good, fresh seed mix. If you aren't sure it's good and fresh, try sprouting it. If the seeds don't sprout in a few days, the seeds are dead. They have no nutritional value. Give either a daily supply of seeds or a couple times a week, but never so much that the birds ignore their pellets, veggies or fruit. Let you bird have access to seeds or pellets at all times because they don't spoil and can be left in the cage all day. There are many brand name seeds on the market.  Find a type that has no sunflower or very little in the mix.  Sunflower seeds are very fattening to parrots.  Give a seed mix to your parrots maybe 2-3 times a week, they seem to always prefer it over pellets and other things, they tend to pick out their favorite items in the seed mix which are sometimes not the more nutritional part in the mix.  They may leave behind the better and more nutritionally part behind and you may be dumping it out, you can not make them eat what they leave behind unless that all there is and some parrots will starve to death before they will eat something that they don't like.  This can vary from bird to bird, what one bird will eat the other may not.  Seeds should only be about 10 to 15 percent of the diet.

Nuts: You can supply your parrot with nuts in moderation on a daily basis. Fresh wholesome nuts are the best... meaning raw, keep away from processed nuts such as ones that contain salts and flavorings as they are loaded with too many chemicals and additives. The wide variety of raw nuts can be offered to your parrot. Parrots may have their favorite nuts and prefer some over others. The good and bad fats in nuts are: Unsaturated fats are the "good" fats. Eating nuts will raise the percentage of unsaturated fats and lower the percentage of the "bad" saturated fats in the bloodstream. On average, one ounce of nuts contains 165 to 200 calories and 14 to 21 grams of fat, but ninety-three percent of the fat in walnuts and ninety percent of the fat in almonds is unsaturated. Birds need the three essential unsaturated fatty acids (linolenic, linoleic, and arachidonic acids) to keep their skin and feathers healthy, among other benefits. Essential fatty acids require Vitamin E for absorption and nuts provide it in the proper balance.

There are many pellet types on the market.  
I personally use Roudybush Pellets
.  To name a couple of others there are Zupreem, Kaytee plain, Exact Rainbow pellets,  Harrison's brands.  There are other brands on the market besides these ones that I mentioned. Birds should still have other things in their diet besides pellets.  Birds that are not use to eating pellets have to be converted on to them and at first may not like them but keep on offering them as you give them less and less of whatever else you have been giving them.


Food Preparation:
Use the same precautions you use for your human family members. Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Listeria, and other food-borne pathogens can and do affect parrots.   Wash fruits, veggies, meats well and use a clean area to prepare fruit or veggies. Prepare your meats on a separate area from the fruits or vegetables. If I think food items are spoiled then I don't offer it to my parrots, if it doesn't look appealing to me then I feel its not good enough for my birds, although many times a bird would probably eat it any way but I would not want my bird to get sick.


People Food:
Pasta, whole wheat breads, bits of very well cooked chicken, and various other "people foods" are fine as long as they are not the majority of the diet.  Don't feed the bird food from your mouth and don't bite off a piece for them. There's too much bacteria in your mouth and you can make your bird sick.  Make sure chicken is very well cooked and don't leave any food like this in the cage for more than an hour. My parrots love chicken and steak and a little bit is okay, just make sure it is cooked well.  Keep away from packaged foods like canned foods, prepackaged boxed dinner meals as they often retain too many
chemicals and salts and such items that are not good for a parrot and they are not actually that healthy for you either.

Avocado is Toxic
to parrots, particularly African species.  To avoid confusion, don't feed it to any of your birds.  Don't even try to see if your bird can tolerate eating it, as the bird could get sick or can result in death. It's one thing I've never attempted to give to my birds and never will.



Chocolate is also toxic
to parrots, they like chocolate but it is not wise to give them any.



Junk Food:
 Parrots seem to love junk food but is bad for them,  Many parrots cannot excrete large amounts of salt efficiently, so the potato chips and french fries are not a good idea.  Same thing for table foods you've added salt to.   A tiny crumb from a muffins, cookie, or other fatty baked goods once in awhile might be okay, but don't get your parrot use to these treats. You want to encourage them to eat the best foods.  Sugar in general is not good for parrots as it can cause hyperactivity.

Any food or drink containing theobromine is forbidden. Chocolate, cocoa, coffee, and tea contain theobromine, which can cause over excitability, cardiopathy, and death. Absolutely positively do NOT give your bird wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages. Their livers cannot handle it. It is not funny to see a bird drunk and anyone who thinks it is should find their birds a more appropriate home. Birds have died from too much alcohol.

If you feed a good well round wholesome diet to your Pionus or other parrots they should thrive well and live full happy lives! Parrots should be given daily routines of food and can be alternated through the week. Such as seeds given on certain days or pellets and maybe certain vegetables on certain days and fruits as well.  Also giving certain foods for the early part of their day and other foods for the second half of their day will often work out well! This also helps in keeping them from getting bored with the same foods day in and day out.

I have find this to be true: People  sometimes tend to eat better when having parrots! I think this is true in many ways and why is that? Providing you already love veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and generally healthy food items then your parrot is more likely to eat well too.

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Oct. 2008