Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Previously we wrote a guide on everything you need to know about birdhouses, as well as bird feeders. Today we will focus specifically on bird food. Food is fundamental for all living beings and this is no different for birds. If you have just bought a bird as a pet, we imagine that you have thousands of questions, including which type of food is best for your bird.

When it’s time to feed your bird, you can’t just offer it any food. Food for birds is specific food, depending on several aspects, such as type of bird, age, size or if it is breeding, among other factors. That is why we have taken the liberty to make this guide for you, so that all your doubts are answered and you can feed your bird well.

Key Facts

  • The diet of birds should vary throughout the year in line with seasonal changes, as physiological needs change in the same way. For example, during winter, birds require nutrients that provide more calories than in summer, due to the cold.
  • Not all types of birds eat the same food. It is important to consider the breed of your bird and the type of food that it likes to eat. The nutritional needs of these cute little pets is made up of seeds (of many kinds) and pieces of fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh water. You may even find that your pet develops gourmet habits for specific delicacies.
  • To help you, we’ve written in this guide everything you need to know to give your pet quality bird food. Keep in mind that sometimes the right food alone may not be enough and you may have to go to your vet, especially if your bird has a special need.

Our selection: The best bird feed

If you have just been given a bird as a pet, you are in luck: in this list you can choose the product that suits you best, depending on the type of bird you have. Don’t forget important factors such as your bird’s stage of growth, because if it is a baby, you will have to look for a different type of food than if it is an adult.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about bird feed

In order to have a bird at home that grows healthy and strong, both mentally and physically, it is important that you learn about bird feeding and how to choose food that is right for your bird. To help you with this, we answer the most frequently asked questions that are asked by bird owners below.

smiling father and daughter enjoying their purchase of canary bird in pet shop

It is best to alternate between different types of food to offer your bird a well-balanced diet.
(Source: Iakov Filimonov: 81020635/

What is bird food and what are the advantages of good bird food?

Bird food, broadly speaking, consists mainly of a mixture of seeds, along with other types of food, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. If necessary, food supplements may be added to a bird’s diet.

It is logical to have many doubts about bird food, especially if you have never had a bird as a pet at home before. Our advice is not to offer your bird any food, rather, always try to make sure the food you buy is of the highest quality. The worst thing you can do is to look solely at the price of the product and buy the cheapest, since what you save on food will likely cost you more at the vet in the long run.

How can I supplement bird food?

Birds not only feed on seeds, but they also need fresh vegetables and fruit for a complete diet, as well as always having clean water available. Of course, you’ll need to adapt the level of supplements to the size and tastes of your bird. As an example, a parrot may require up to 3 pieces of fruit or vegetables a day along with the required servings of bird food.

As not everyone can have a parrot or large bird as a pet, we advise that birds of smaller breeds should have just one or two pieces of fruit or vegetables per day. Are you wondering what fruit is good for birds? The following five fruits are typically the best fruits for birds: banana, cherry, apple, grape and raspberry. As is obvious, fruit or vegetables should always be well cleaned and washed before being fed to your bird.

Did you know that when a bird is healthy and happy, it sings?

Finally, if you want to give a reward to your bird, you should have a variety of snacks and nutritious treats available, such as bars (made of honey, with cereals and egg or multivitamins) and popcorn (homemade, not from a bag, as they contain many toxic ingredients for the birds).

What kinds of bird food are there?

Not all birds eat the same or in the same way. It is true that the base of all bird food is exactly the same (the seed), however there are larger and smaller birds, all with very different needs. It goes without saying that the type and size of your bird is very important when selecting bird food.

With this in mind we’ve prepared a table below of the most common breeds of domestic birds, so with a glance, you can know what kind of food your bird consumes the most. As we always say, if you need more information or specific dietary consultation, you can feel free to consult a veterinarian.

Species Type of food
Canaries and parakeets Seeds of all kinds, such as birdseed, oats, flax, turnip rape, black, hemp and rapeseed
Goldfinches Birdseed, lettuce, rapeseed, sesame, black and white knob
Parrots Oats, wheat, sunflower seeds, corn, peas, nuts, dried fruit, rice and boiled vegetables
Lovebird Dry portion (seeds and nuts) or wet portion (vegetables and fruit)

What bird food can a chick take?

The needs of a chick (a young bird) are very different from those of an adult bird. While adult birds can eat canary seed and other hard foods, chicks have a less developed beak and digestive system, so you must adapt the food to its stage of growth.

On the market today, it is possible to buy a multitude of bird feed that is suitable for chicks. The products available are mainly powders to which hot water (about 38º) is added, stirring carefully to avoid the formation of lumps. The mixture is then placed in a syringe to feed the chick directly in it’s beak. In case of an emergency or you run out of speciality baby bird food, you can make a homemade porridge using a boiled egg, breadcrumbs and water.

What nutrients are in bird food?

When we carry out an in-depth analysis into what our bird eats, you will find that each bird basically requires four types of food: seeds, fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables. With a good combination of all these ingredients, you will be offering your pet a well balanced diet.

You must keep in mind that it is not advisable to offer just one type of food to your bird. Just like with human beings, they cannot eat just meat everyday without developing health issues. In the case of birds, they feed mainly on grains and seeds, but as they carry so little water in their body, they also need other inputs, such as the freshness of the fruit or the digestive properties of vegetables.

Food What properties does it provide
Seeds  It is the food base.

Contains almost no water due to the drying process (this avoids mould).

Contribution of carbohydrates.

Some seeds have a high percentage of fat.

Multivitamins: A, D3 and B12, among others.

Fresh Fruits Freshness, especially for the summer.

Water and natural sugars.

Do not contain much protein.

Dried fruits High levels of fat.

Do not contain enough vitamins,

Vegetables Beets contain high levels of sugar.

Vegetables contain large amounts of fibre and water.

Legumes are high in protein.

What can’t bird food contain?

Many people believe, because they have seen pigeons eat anything on the street, that domestic birds can also feed on all kinds of food. This is not true, as there are many foods that are toxic to birds, so you must remember this to avoid any unwanted surprises. If you are ignorant and simply turn a blind eye to the dangerous foods for birds, you may accidentally poison your bird.

Specific foods that are poisonous for birds are: chocolate, as it causes diarrhoea and vomiting; apple and pear seeds, because they have a dose of cyanide, although very small. Avocado is also toxic to birds because it causes heart and kidney problems. Artificial salt and sugar should not be consumed by birds because they already get them naturally.

Can my bird become unwell if I offer poor quality bird food?

As it happens with people and other living beings, if your bird eats food that is in poor condition, such as rotting or mouldy food, or the food contains unhealthy ingredients, it can get sick. You should take extra care if your pet is in the reproductive stage or is already pregnant.

If your bird hasn’t been eating well for a while, in addition to not receiving the nutrients it needs on a daily basis, it may begin to lose its feathers, which can become a long-term problem. If you want your bird to stay with you for as long as possible, you must make sure it receives the food it needs.

Great Tit on a bird table. Bird feeding

Feed your bird well, so it lives for a long time. (Source: Александр Соколенко: 96648596/

My pet is moulting feathers, what bird food can I give it?

Just as snakes change their skin from time to time, or dogs and cats lose their hair, birds naturally shed their feathers. In theory the natural process of replacing feathers is simple, as they only replace old feathers by the growth of new ones. However, it sometimes becomes complicated if we are talking about sick or older birds.

If this is the case and your bird is sick or aging, the options available to you for treatment vary widely depending on the breed of bird. Generally we recommend that you always offer your pet quality nutrition (cucumber, spelt, millet, wheat and oats, as they are rich in silicic acid, contributing to growth) and food supplements such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

How often do I have to give bird feed to my pet?

Birds tend to ration their food very well which makes them less likely to gain weight. As a bird owner, your only responsibility is to clean their food trough every day and replace it with fresh food. As an example, you can clean and change the food in the morning and your bird will make sure that it has food to last until the following day.

Our recommendation is for the vast majority of domestic birds, however if you have a macaw or a parrot, it is slightly different as they consume a lot of food throughout the day. In addition to continuously keeping their containers clean, they require them to be filled constantly so that they do not go hungry.

Did you know there are bird bathtubs? In fact, instead of installing a drinking fountain, you can place a small bathtub, so that in addition to drinking, your bird can take a dip from time to time.

What if my pet doesn’t like bird food?

It is very important that changes to the diet of your bird should not be made abruptly. In other words, it’s best to alternate between different types of food and offer your bird a range to choose from. For example, each time you offer seeds to your pet, you can also include a small piece of fruit or vegetable on the side to see which one they prefer. It is natural that your bird doesn’t eat all variations of bird feed sold or every piece of fruit that your offer.

Your bird may not even like the common bird feed that is sold in supermarkets or pet store. If this is the case, the transition to another form of food can be made as described in the paragraph above. However, if your bird is not convinced by conventional bird food that is sold in packets, there are always natural alternatives that will keep your bird well nourished, such as raw seeds, fruit and vegetables.

How do I feed my bird?

It is a question that may seem absurd, but in reality we find many bird owners are making mistakes when it comes to feeding their bird. To dispel any doubts on how to feed a bird, there are main two ways to do it: put fresh feed in its cage every day or place bird feed in a seed dispenser.

If you choose the first option when offering bird food, keep in mind that it is your duty to replace and clean the container regularly, especially if you have a large bird such as a macaw or parrot.

Food for parrots close-up

The more quality nutrients the food contains, the better fed your bird will be. (Source: Serezniy: 22797159/

What do I do if I find a wounded bird on the street and what food do I give it?

Many of us have been walking down the street, minding our own business to suddenly finding ourselves close to a bird with visible symptoms of illness or injury. Some people choose to look the other way and pretend nothing happened, but others prefer to do a good deed and take the bird home. Here’s what to do if you take an injured bird home.

  • First of all, don’t think about giving the bird wet bread or cookies, as you don’t know if the problem is related to their digestion system. This type of food is for humans and as it is processed, it could harm the bird.
  • Do not give it milk either, as it is not in the nature of a bird to drink milk. Birds do not have the natural enzymes needed to digest milk, so it could result in death.
  • Try to find out what type of bird it is and its nutritional needs, as well as providing warmth and consulting with a veterinarian.
  • Some birds are insectivorous, such as swallows. Other types of birds eat only seeds and grains, which is why they are called granivores. It is less likely to find them in the street, but some birds, like herons, are carnivorous.
  • Once you have identified the type of bird you have, you can proceed to look for the bird food you need to suit the breed of bird.

Shopping Criteria

You should pay attention to this section, as we will explain what you need to take into account when buying bird feed. We have written a short list, followed by a brief description of each criterion. By following this advice, you won’t have any doubts about which is the best product for your bird.

  • Composition
  • Brand prestige
  • Bird needs
  • Shape of beak
  • Exotic or common bird


As we have described in the shopping guide section, the ingredients in your bird’s food are very important because they will contribute towards your bird’s health. The more quality nutrients the food contains, the better fed your bird will be. Try not to save too much on your bird’s nutrition because it will cost you and your bird dearly. Now, what nutrients should you look for on the label of the packet?

  • Proteins: they should make up between 10% to 20% of your bird’s diet, depending on their breed. Proteins are essential for the growth and repair of tissue, as well as giving benefits to their immune system.
  • Carbohydrates: the main source of energy. You can find carbohydrates in seeds and cereals, such as rice, millet, oats or wheat.
  • Fat: a fundamental component in bird food, as long as it is found in balanced proportions. Fats carry vitamins and provide healthy and shiny feathers.
  • Vitamins and minerals: the ones needed in bird feed are: A, K, E, D and B2. When talking about minerals, your bird should consume phosphorus, iron and calcium.

Brand prestige

It doesn’t matter if the brand is big or small, rather that it is a good, well reputed brand. If you choose a feed without doing your own research of the particular brand, you should at least check with a professional, whether it’s a pet shop or a veterinarian, to confirm it is a reputable brand.

However, as you can not always turn to a third party such as a vet, there are many times that you will have to decide for yourself. If this is the case, you can research on the Internet or simply use trial and error method to figure out which is a good quality brand. Sometimes this can be the only viable way to learn.


Keep in mind that not all birds eat the same food or feed in the same way. (Source: Valeriya Davydova: 11893776/

Bird needs

Like all living things, your bird won’t always find itself full and happy. There will be times when they will become unwell or go through certain moments of stress, and may not want to eat. If this is the case, you must observe your bird closely and make certain decisions. One of these decisions may be to investigate if there is anything wrong with their food.

Even if you take your bird to the vet as soon as possible, your bird will not recover overnight. That’s why your bird will need specific food to help it recover after a difficult period. A good option is to buy a special porridge for sick or injured birds, as the composition of a bird porridge makes it easier to digest.

Shape of beak

You already know the diet of birds, as well as the shape of the beak will be decisive in deciding what type of bird food to buy. For example, birds with cone-shaped beaks are granivores meanwhile those with a finer beak are insectivorous. Finally, if your bird has a curved beak, it is carnivorous.

However, we can’t always be perfectly guided by this theory, as there are times when this is not entirely true. This happens with a toucan, which is a bird with a very strong, curved beak, but eats fruit, not meat. That’s why you need to understand your bird perfectly in order to select the best food for your pet.


Birds feed mainly on grains and seeds, but they also need fruit and vegetables.
(Source: Holger Schmidt: 16007290/

Exotic or common bird

Each breed of bird has specific nutritional needs and this difference increases if you have an exotic bird at home. In the below table, we elaborate on the food needs of three common exotic birds. Based on this table, you will be able to decide which bird food to buy if you have an exotic bird.

Breed of exotic bird Food requirements
Parakeet Fruits, nuts, roots, flowers, insects, barks, tubers and pollen
Lovebird Lots of fruit, such as apple, orange, pear, watermelon, peach and kiwi fruit
Parrot Fruits, branch shoots, insects, cereals and berries


We agree with bird owners that having a bird can give many satisfactions to the owner or the household. To hear your bird sing when you get home, to watch how it moves, to caress it or even to watch with pleasure how it gets used to your presence. They are unique situations that differentiate these animals from any other pet and this is why you must take care of them as they deserve.

What better way to look after your bird than by being well informed of its food requirements, among many other important aspects (cages, feeders and accessories). We understand that sometimes the standard of living requirements are not always be met, but that does not prevent you from making an effort to research and buy the best bird feed for your pet.

We really hope you have found this guide on bird feed useful and invite you to write a comment, as well as share the article on your social networks. See you soon!

(Source of featured image: tasfoto /