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Fruits and Vegetables in Birds' Diets

By Laurie Hess, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

Nutrition, Pet Services

Can I feed fruits and vegetables to my bird? 

In addition to a base diet of commercially available, nutritionally complete pellets formulated for birds, pet bird owners should feed their birds a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. good source of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, fresh produce should comprise no more than 15-30% of the diet. Bright yellow, red, and orange vegetables and fruits, including bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, mango, papaya, and cantaloupe, all contain a great deal of vitamin A which is a critical nutrient in a birds’ diet. Frozen, thawed or canned fruits and vegetables are acceptable to feed, but fresh fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious. Cooking, however, can deplete some foods of their nutritive value. Canned produce may be packed in large amounts of salt or sugar, so it should be rinsed well before feeding

Produce should be cut into pieces appropriate to a bird’s size. It is not necessary to cut them up too small, as larger pieces of food that require more chewing will give birds something to do. Eating can be a great source of entertainment and enrichment for a bird. Bird owners should try to vary the selection of produce they offer to keep their birds interested and to provide a broad base of vitamins and minerals. All produce should be washed well and organic produce should be offered, if possible. Birds are very sensitive to pesticides, chemicals, and other sprays.

Are there any fruits or vegetables that I should avoid? 

Avocados should be avoided because some of its parts are toxic to birdsIceberg or head lettuce is not recommended, as it is mostly water and has little nutritional value. Similarly, while many birds enjoy the crunch of celery stalks, their high water content offers birds few nutrients, so they too, should be fed sparingly.

"Avocados should be avoided because some of its parts are toxic to birds."

Will my bird get diarrhea from eating fruits and vegetables?

Because of the high water content of fruits and vegetables, owners are frequently concerned about their birds developing diarrhea if they eat fresh produceThe increased water output bird owners often notice when feeding their birds fruits and vegetables, is actually increased urine output due to the high moisture content of produce. This increased urine output is called polyuria. While polyuria can be normal when birds first eat more fruits and vegetables, it can also indicate the presence of certain diseases. Thus, if your bird isn’t eating increased amounts of produce and develops polyuria, contact your veterinarian.

Are there any tips for feeding fruits and vegetables to my bird?  

  • Always monitor the amount of food your bird eats every day. 
  • Offer fresh water every day. 
  • Offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. 
  • It is better to offer small pieces of many different types of food than a big piece of one type of food. 
  • Introduce new vegetables and fruits slowly. 
  • If your bird is particularly fond of one food, consider feeding less of it to encourage the consumption of other foods.  
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before feeding them. 
  • Clean all food and water dishes daily. 
  • Do not place food on the bottom of the cage, as this is where the bird’s droppings fall.  
  • Just because a bird rejects a food once, does not mean he or she will never eat it. Offer it again at another time.  

What fruits and vegetables are recommended for my bird? 

Some suggested food items include:

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