Parrots enjoy eating seeds because they’re fatty and flavorful. Given a choice, many parrots will avoid eating all other foods in favor of a seed-based diet.
Parrots can eat seeds such as sesame, chia, pumpkin, and watermelon seeds because they’re a good source of healthy fats and protein (amino acids). Unfortunately, the overconsumption of seeds can lead to obesity, fatty liver disease, vitamin deficiencies (A, D, and K), and malnutrition.
Sprouted seeds are better for parrots than dry seeds because they’re captured during germination. As a result, they contain more nutrients and are easier to digest than dried seeds.
Why Do Parrots Like Seeds?
Parrots remove the hulls with their beaks before consuming the tasty seed within.
Providing seeds in their shells on a food tray inside the parrot’s cage allows them to carry out this natural behavior in captivity. It’s something that parrots enjoy as part of their daily routine.
However, the problem with parrots liking seeds so much is that they can become addicted, refusing to eat all other foods. Seed addiction is a genuine problem among pet parrots.
Also, parrots will cherry-pick the seeds they like the most, abandoning the others.
Are Seeds Bad for Parrots?
A diet consisting almost entirely of seeds harms a parrot’s well-being. The following health problems are caused by a diet that’s too high in seeds:
Seeds are high in fat and carbohydrates, meaning overconsumption can lead to obesity.
Coupled with a lack of exercise, which is common among captive parrots, they’re prone to gaining weight. Obesity is anything over 15% of a parrot’s ideal weight.
Becoming overweight is harmful in the following ways:
- Joints: Extra weight places more strain on the joints.
- Cardiovascular system: The heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body.
- Liver: Parrots develop fatty deposits around their organs and can get fatty liver disease.
The signs a parrot has gained too much weight include:
- Balding areas.
- Refusal or inability to exercise.
- Fatty chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Widened stance.
Cut down on the number of seeds each day, but don’t remove them entirely.
Seeds are deficient in vitamins and minerals, including calcium. When seeds are provided for prolonged periods, a parrot will become deficient in the nutrients essential for:
- Strong bones.
- Respiratory health.
- Feather and skin quality.
The most important vitamins and minerals are calcium and vitamins A, B, and D. Without these vitamins, parrots can develop the following afflictions:
- Painful lesions.
- Ulcers in the passageways.
- Dry, scaly feet.
- Poor feather quality.
- Swelling around the eyes and mouth.
- Loss of hearing.
Upper Respiratory Infections
A lack of vitamin A, often caused by an all-seed diet, is responsible for many respiratory problems.
Vitamin A normalizes skin cells lining the respiratory tract. Without vitamin A, parrots develop abnormal skin cells, which can become infected by bacteria and microorganisms, leading to breathing problems.
The signs of a respiratory infection include:
- Watery eyes.
- Nasal discharge.
- Voice changes.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Failure to perch.
- Eyes permanently closed.
What Type of Seeds Do Parrots Eat?
It’s easy to assume that all seeds are good for parrots, but this isn’t true. Also, parrots may enjoy a range of seed varieties you haven’t yet considered.
Here are some of the best seeds to feed parrots:
Can Parrots Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are safe for parrots to eat alongside the pumpkin’s flesh. While high in calories, pumpkin seeds provide many healthy minerals, including iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
They’re also high in fiber and antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress. Each ounce of kernels contains 7 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat.
To make pumpkin seeds suitable for parrots:
- Remove them from the pumpkin’s core, removing the pulp and strings.
- Dry the seeds with a clean towel and place them on a baking tray.
- Bake them for 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees and turn them regularly.
- Once they’ve cooled, they can be safely fed to your parrot.
Cut the pumpkin flesh into bite-sized cubes before steaming them for 35-40 minutes until they turn soft. For smaller parrots, mash the pumpkin and allow them to pick at it.
Can Parrots Eat Papaya Seeds?
Many parrots like papaya seeds more than papaya flesh. Papaya seeds have a peppery taste and a high fiber content, so parrots eat the seeds from the fallen papaya, picking through the flesh.
They contain a natural digestive enzyme, which helps parrots break down food so nutrients can be absorbed. They also contain healthy fats, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Papaya seeds should only be given to a parrot once the papaya is at the peak of ripeness because green papaya contains a higher number of salicylates, a blood-thinning agent.
Also, overly ripe papaya contains more histamines.
Can Parrots Eat Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, a member of the mint family.
Since 50 grams of chia seeds contain around 18 grams of fiber, they assist the digestive system, enabling a parrot to avoid constipation.
The high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus content benefit bone health. This is important, given that parrots find the lactose in milk difficult to digest because they don’t have lactase.
Their polyunsaturated fats, fiber, and anti-inflammatory properties can reduce blood pressure (hypertension) and benefit heart health.
Chia seeds contain the following nutrients:
- Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Folic acid.
Can Parrots Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Most parrots choose sunflower seeds over all other seeds. Unfortunately, sunflower seeds aren’t the healthiest for parrots, and too many can lead to weight gain and various health issues.
Sunflower seeds are high in fat, making parrots feel full. This means they’ll prioritize eating sunflower seeds to feel satiated, which can lead to malnutrition.
The fat intake from too many sunflower seeds can lead to:
- Fertility issues.
- Blood clotting.
- Low vitamin E levels.
- Fatty liver disease.
- Atherosclerosis – leads to strokes and heart attacks.
- Calcium deficiency – leads to weak bones and egg binding.
You can occasionally feed parrots sunflower seeds, but other seeds are preferred.
Can Parrots Eat Sesame Seeds?
According to Sciencing, birds are fond of sesame seeds, the seeds of the sesame plant. The plant’s pink and white flowers fertilize. Then, the sesame seeds appear.
Because sesame seeds are small, parrots enjoy foraging for them. Raw sesame seeds are more nutritious than roasted seeds. Sesame seeds are rich in the following:
Sesame seeds also contain sesamin and sesamolin, which are unique fibers that increase vitamin E levels and can prevent high blood pressure.
Can Parrots Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Watermelon seeds are among the safest seeds for parrots to eat. Parrots usually eat the seeds before the watermelon’s flesh. Watermelon seeds are a valuable source of:
These minerals benefit heart health, metabolism, feather quality, and bone strength.
Feeding watermelon seeds along with the rest of the watermelon provides a range of other health benefits. Watermelon contains vitamins A and C, which boost the immune system and skin health.
Can Parrots Eat Pomegranate Seeds?
The seeds and arils of the pomegranate are nutritious. Pomegranates are a rich source of the following:
- Vitamin C.
- Vitamin K.
Pomegranate juice is a good source of antioxidants (polyphenols), notably tannins, flavonoids, and anthocyanin. These will protect the parrot from free radical damage and inflammation.
A natural way to provide a parrot with pomegranate seeds is to poke a hole through the middle and place a string through it. Hang it on the side of the cage for the parrot to forage for the seeds.
Can Parrots Eat Guava Seeds?
Guava seeds taste sweeter than most others, making them tempting for parrots. However, as they’re high in natural sugars, limiting the amount the parrot eats is recommended.
Guava fruits are native to tropical America, so wild parrots eat guava as part of their natural diet. Parrots eat all parts of the fruit, including the seeds.
Can Parrots Eat Pepper Seeds?
Parrots enjoy all parts of the pepper, including the seeds. Pepper seeds can heal intestinal lesions and contain high amounts of vitamin A.
Parrots can’t taste the pepper seeds’ heat because they’re immune to capsaicin. Both raw and cooked pepper seeds are safe for parrots to eat.
Can Parrots Eat Mustard Seeds?
Mustard seeds have a zesty flavor. When mustard seed sprouts come into contact with water, ally isothiocyanate is formed, which gives mustard its spicy, pungent taste.
Mustard seed sprouts are safe 4-5 days after being harvested, but some owners soak them.
Can Parrots Eat Tomato Seeds?
While the seeds are less of a problem, tomatoes are highly acidic. When tomatoes are given to parrots too often, stomach upsets and ulcers can occur.
Feed tomato seeds in isolation without the flesh. Also, keep tomato vines and leaves away from parrots, as they’re the most toxic part of the fruit/plant.
Can Parrots Eat Flax Seeds?
Flax seeds have a nutty flavor that’s popular with most parrot species. There are 2 kinds of flax seeds: brown and golden. Both can be consumed safely, offering the following benefits:
- B vitamins.
- Omega-3 fatty acids.
Flax seeds can improve feather and skin quality, reducing the urge to pluck out feathers.
Flax seeds have hard shells and are very small, making it hard for parrots to eat them as they come. So, some owners prefer to grind them before feeding.
Can Parrots Eat Milk Thistle Seeds?
Milk thistle is a flowering herb used to treat liver issues in birds.
The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics explains that milk thistle seeds contain at least seven flavonolignans. Milk thistle can have side effects, such as:
- Loose stools.
- Mild tummy upsets.
- Dark green to black stools.
Milk thistle seeds are bitter-tasting, so many parrots won’t eat them. As a result, milk thistle extract is usually preferred and accepted by parrots.
Seeds are tasty, but they should be fed in moderation. Owners must provide a balanced diet for parrots.