The usual 'parrot food' found as a sunflower seed-based mixture is not suitable as the main diet for grey parrots.  Such food is far too high in fat (it contains about 50 per cent fat) and is seriously lacking in important vitamins and minerals. Many greys kept on such a diet will have chronic health problems due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This problem of poor diets for captive birds arises because greys are 'programmed' to eat foods of the highest energy value which are foods high in fat. A wild grey needs a high fat diet as it will be flying hundreds of kilometres every week and will burn off any excess calories. But a pet grey can never exercise at such a rate in one's living room, so the diet for a captive bird needs to reflect that bird's real dietary needs.

Go for a  'natural' but varied diet

Food comprises carbohydrates, fat and protein; the only other elements present are vitamins, minerals and water. Grains, fresh fruits and cereals are high in carbohydrates and these 'high energy' foods are used to keep the bird warm and as a 'fuel' to power the bird's muscles. Nuts and many seeds are high in fats. Fat can be stored and broken down and used as fuel later. Pulses (peas and beans) and most cereals (rice, wheat, millet etc.) are high in protein which is needed to renew and replace body tissues including feathers. For pet parrots the diet should be mainly carbohydrate (about 75-80 per cent) with around 15 per cent vegetable protein and only 5-8 per cent fat.

In terms of nutrition, it does not matter how these foods are supplied. You could use pelleted foods formulated specifically for parrots, or alternatively a mixture of fresh 'natural' ingredients. Most pelleted foods are certainly nutritionally well-balanced. However, parrots, like humans, appreciate a variety of textures and tastes in their food and since pellets are of uniform taste and texture, such a diet is lacking in stimulation for the bird. Greys  have a range of techniques for dealing with the different, more natural foods they may encounter, so a diet based on fresh fruits, pulses, seeds, and grains adds interest for the bird. Some 'human' foods are either toxic or can cause a parrot to have problems. Parrots should never be given chocolate, coffee, tea, alcohol or avocado. Salty  foods can cause kidney failure, so items such as crisps and savoury snacks should be avoided.

Most fresh fruits and vegetables contain
good levels of vitamins.




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