What do Parrots Eat? Food to Feed Your Parrot

A healthy parrot diet consists of a mixture of pellets, vegetables, grains, seeds and fruits. There is some debate among veterinarians and parrot experts about the exact ideal quantities of each of these. However, we do know that seed mixes on their own will not provide adequate nutrition for your bird, despite seed mixes being regarded as standard in the past. Fed alone, seeds can lead to nutritional deficiencies and ill health, so it’s important to give parrots a variety of other foods too. We’ll explore what these are in this article.

Parrots can eat a range of ‘human’ foods. However, some of the foods that can be safely consumed by humans are harmful for birds. Here is our guide to what parrots eat, and which foods can be given to your parrot as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Typical Parrot Foods


Seed mixes used to be the go-to in terms of parrot food, but we now know that seed-only diets can lead to malnutrition in parrots. Seeds also have a high fat content, so too many can lead to other health problems like obesity, as well as liver and heart issues. Sunflower seeds have a particularly high fat content, so are best given in moderation only.

However, seeds should still make up a substantial part of a parrot’s diet. Parrots can eat a variety of different seeds, including pumpkin, hemp, chia, sesame, millet, coriander and flaxseeds.


Parrot food pellets are made by drying and mashing a mixture of nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables. They contain the essential vitamins and minerals that your parrot needs, so they are a great way to fill in any nutritional gaps.

It’s important to choose good quality pellets, even if this means a higher price tag, as different brands can vary a lot in nutritional value. Check that the ingredients are not solely seeds; be wary that some brands will label themselves as ‘complete’ diets when they may not be.

Tip: As a general guide, it’s advised that a parrot’s diet consists of around 50% complete formulated diet, in the form of good quality pellets. The remaining half of the diet should be fresh vegetables and fruit. Things like nuts should be an occasional treat.


Most parrots love fruit, and will happily eat a lot of it. The more varied the better! Examples of parrot-safe fruits include mango, papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, and banana. Generally speaking, tropical varieties are best, but things like apples and pears also make good parrot food.

As far as possible, look to give your parrot organic fruit and wash it thoroughly before dishing it up.

Be aware that avocado should not be given in any circumstances; this fruit is poisonous for parrots.


Along with fruits, vegetables are another important source of nutrients for your parrot. Safe vegetables include bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes. Dark, leafy greens such as kale, dandelion leaves, spinach and broccoli make particularly good parrot food.

Iceberg lettuce is safe for parrots to eat but should only be given occasionally as it does not provide any vital nutrients. Lettuce also has a high water content so may result in very soft droppings. The same applies to cucumber.

Vegetables are best served to parrots raw or steamed, and fresh vegetables are always preferable to their frozen counterparts.


Like seeds, nuts should be given in moderation because of their high fat content. It’s helpful to see nuts as more of a treat for parrots, rather than a dietary staple.

Some of the nuts parrots will enjoy include: almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts and walnuts.

Avoid any salted or seasoned nuts. Raw peanuts are best avoided as they could be contaminated with toxins from certain moulds.


Cooked grains such as white or rice, quinoa, barley, oats and buckwheat also make good parrot food.


Parrots can also eat cooked peas and beans in their many varieties. However, they cannot eat them raw/dry.

What Not to Feed Your Parrot

Avocado is not the only food that is poisonous for birds. There are lots of other foods that are fine for humans, but should not be fed to parrots. These include:

  • Chocolate
  • Salt
  • Meat and dairy products
  • Onions and garlic
  • Raw beans
  • Fruit seeds and pits

Whether or not tomatoes and mushrooms are parrot-safe foods is debated by parrot experts. We would suggest avoiding them to be safe, or consulting your vet.

Remember that this isn’t an exclusive list of foods that are not safe for your parrot. Some specific dietary requirements will depend on breed.

When to Feed Your Parrot

Offer your parrot fresh food and seeds in the morning and evening. If they don’t eat fresh fruit and vegetables within an hour or so, remove them so that they do not spoil.

Pellets can then be given for daytime snacking before the evening’s food is offered. Clean water should be available throughout the day.

It is best to thoroughly research what diet is appropriate for your parrot and seek advice from a specialist if you are not sure.

Shop all parrot food from Animed here.

This blog was checked by Karin Volker, MRCVS

Biography of Animed vet, Karin Volker
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