Humans have been keeping parakeets as pets for thousands of years. These colorful birds have excellent eyesight and can live an average of 10 years in captivity. Larger birds of this species may live up to 25 years. In order to keep your parakeet healthy and happy, the Association of Avian Veterinarians recommends that you feed your bird both specially prepared store bought mixes and a mixture of fresh fruit, vegetable and proteins.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables play an important role in keeping your parakeet healthy. Fresh broccoli contains vitamins A, B, C, and calcium. Spinach and alfalfa sprouts are rich in vitamin A, E and K. Other nutrient rich choices are carrots, zucchini, asparagus and potatoes. Some parakeet owners may opt to supplement their pet's diet with baby food made from all natural ingredients that contain vegetables. These are convenient if you do not have any of these fresh vegetables on hand, but your parakeet may prefer the fresh varieties. Another important source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants comes from grapes, bananas, oranges, melons, peaches, cherries, blueberries and blackberries. A parakeet should eat approximately ½ to ¾ cup of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
Parakeets need to have protein in their diets. Although parakeets obtain some of their protein from seed mixtures purchased in the stores, they enjoy fresh sources of protein like tuna packed in water, or hard-boiled egg and turkey. Raw or cooked corn is another good source of protein. You also can allow your parakeet to try various cooked meat as long as it is thoroughly cooked. Some birds enjoy cottage cheese and peanuts, too.
Like fruits, vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that help keep parakeets strong. Green, leafy vegetables like romaine, spinach, kale and dandelion leaves provide vitamins K and C, as well as fiber, calcium and iron. Root veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots and beets are also good feeding fodder, along with asparagus, cabbage and squash. You can even try cooked corn and beans, the latter of which offers a good source of protein.
When the average person thinks about what a pet bird eats, the mind likely goes immediately to seeds. And this is partially true, but a healthy bird doesn't exist solely on seed. These mixes usually provide minimal vitamins and minerals, which are imperative for a healthy, long life. They can also have a high fat content, which can wreak havoc on a feathered friend. Keep seeds in your pet's life, but ensure it only accounts for about 10 percent of your bird's daily diet.
Snacks and Treats
Just like people, your parakeet will take pleasure in getting occasional treats. Try baking a can of garbanzo beans until they are crunchy. These serve as a treat and a good source of protein. Try almonds or 1 tbsp. of vanilla yogurt. Parakeets also enjoy peanut butter smeared on a celery stick. The Budgiemania website has a comprehensive listing of homemade parakeet treats. Other foods that you can give your bird in moderation are pasta, rice or grains. Make sure these items contain whole grains, which have a better nutritional content.
Pellets give parakeets a great deal of variety and nutrition in one bite. Though the ingredients vary by manufacturer, pellets often contain grains, protein (like egg) and several essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Pellets are generally small enough for birds to eat without your help, but if your parakeet is picky, you can also crumble it up to make it easier or more appealing. If you can, go the extra mile and select pellets that don't contain artificial flavors or colors.
There are definitely more foods that are safe for your parakeet than foods that are harmful or dangerous. You should note that the pits and seeds of the fruits listed above should not be fed to your parakeet. Make sure to clean the fruit of seeds and pits before giving it to your bird. Cherry and peach pits contain chemicals that can be toxic to your budgie. You should also steer clear of avocados. If you are unsure of whether or not it is safe to give your parakeet, it is best to steer clear of it.