Parakeets eating together.

The Best Foods and Feeding Ideas for Parrots

The Best Foods and Feeding Ideas for Parrots

Food is more than a bowl full of requirements. 

Considering your parrot's natural state, you'll soon find answers to why they act the way they do on so many matters. Cockatoos in huge flocks show their propensity and audacity around food stuffs that they require and just plain want. The hunt itself is their social structure expressed. Food foraging, selection, dissemination and consumption is their past time. Cockatoos are bodacious in every move they make around and towards a food source. They are destruction with a purpose and joy only the flock members understand.

A bowl may not measure up to their social and mental expectations.

Cockatiels, a type of cockatoo, are ground foraging armies. Exploding groups of song, communication, and flight patterns setting up their groups for landing. Once a flight of cockatiels lands, the real communications start. Some are watchmen, some are gatherers, some are simply hunting for the next good collection of seeds, grasses, and flowerings. Once located they call out to cause an explosion of flock members to shoot straight up into the sky and make their way to the next location. The rolls between flock members change with each landing and takeoff. It's an amazing cloud of communication making its way down a swath of grassy lands and patches. Once satiated and slightly tired. Nearby trees and bushes will allow rest and safety. In those places a flock chatter, sing, and remind each other they are safe and together.

A bowl may not measure up to their social and instinctive expectations.

Macaws are systematic flockers with micro flocks contained in each larger group. They gather and separate during specific times of day for specific food and safety requirements. Large and small, and large again, the group modifies for the individual or paired needs throughout the day. Foods are shared, argued over, inspected and notated for location and quality. Youth shows their sheer desires while the elders save energy and time with specific choices. They are loud, messy, and always thinking one morsel ahead of the morsel in their mouth.

A bowl may not measure up to their work expectations.

Feeding our companions isn't just a nutritional question, it's a question of project management and immersive food experiences. In the wild, there are simple and complex food foraging events. Some foods are easy, some are hard, and some are so difficult but so virtuous and delicious a parrot may spend all day revisiting that morsel trying to figure out how to get to it.

Companion parrots that always seem to be unsettled, getting into things or flock calling mercilessly can benefit greatly from retooling how they find and eat their daily nutrition.

Retool their food service.

  • Foraging boxes, filled with dry snacks.
  • Hanging stainless steel baskets, filled with whole vegetables and fruits.
  • Multiple locations are another angle. Multiple food bowls containing varied items in different locations, varied states of preparation. From whole to chopped, freeze dried, dehydrated, nuts in shells, seeds on stems. All this requires flight time and investigation time. Then dismantling time.
  • The bigger the parrot the less the processing. They need things to think about and manipulate. Generally, their project needs are based on mechanics of destruction.
  • Smaller parrot's project needs are based on mechanics of location and travel/foraging. 

Consider what type of parrot you're pleasing.

  • Our cockatiels would prefer wandering the floors and the floor of their aviary discovering hays, grasses, straw and small edibles of pellets, ground nuts and pieces, seeds and flowers than pulling apart a small foraging box. They are more like lawn mowers in action than a lawnmower mechanic.
  • Our macaws prefer mechanic options of destruction and deconstruction for their food sources. Things inside things inside things. Wood blocks for beak conditioning are staple toys. The longer their day in the cage is, the more whole options I leave behind. They have their mix bowls of food in their cage as well.

Water bowls vs Water bottles.

Water bowls and water bottles are a conversation that can spark debates as well. I understand the value of bottles securing healthy water, somewhat. The water lick itself can become contaminated and defeat the stance of that argument, but nevertheless there is no arguing the convenience for the human.

Human convenience is rarely good for the Parrot.

I prefer water bowls because every bird in the world is a water source seeker. They will go from drinking to bathing to soaking a bit of food at the very same spot. They may sit next to a water source for the humidity. They may lay in the water, drop things in the water, grab things out of the water, and most definitely rinse things in that water source. Water sources offer an enormous mental and physical impact for a companion parrot. Snickers must have at least one bowl of water for sheer play and food/cup manipulation. He prefers drinking water from a cup he filled in his water bowl. I cannot imagine the frustration he would feel not having a water source. 

A water bottle removes all natural instinctive actions and reactions created at a water source.

Food and water are more than bowls of obligation and requirements. Bowls are the invention of the human in the room for convenience. Pellets were created for humans and their convenience needs. Our convenience is rarely their true nature.

Once you find yourself settled in the foods list in your lifestyle, it's time to consider the mechanism and project management you'll use to enrich not only their body but their minds.

  • Start with who they are as a parrot in nature.
  • Add your personal relationship knowledge of them as an individual.
  • Consider your lifestyle and how it can offer immersive interplay.  
You'll find their nature and your imagination meet in the most amazing ways.
Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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