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What Seeds Are Good for Parrots?

Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Parrots eat seeds because they’re tasty and nutritious, wear down the beak, and supply energy for flight. Sesame, chia, pumpkin, watermelon, coriander, and flax seeds are recommended for parrots.

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.

Too many seeds can lead to obesity, fatty liver disease, vitamin deficiencies (A, D, and K), and malnutrition.

Type of Seeds Parrots Eat

Here are some of the best seeds to feed parrots:

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are safe to eat alongside the pumpkin’s flesh. While high in calories, pumpkin seeds provide many healthy essential minerals, including iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

They’re high in fiber and antioxidants, which ward against oxidative stress and the onset of disease. Each ounce of kernels contains 7 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat.

To make pumpkin seeds suitable for parrots:

  1. Remove them from the pumpkin’s core, separating the pulp and strings.
  2. Dry the seeds and put them on a baking tray.
  3. Bake them for 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees. Turn them over regularly.
  4. Once they’ve cooled down, they can be safely fed to parrots.

Cut the pumpkin flesh into bite-sized cubes before steaming it for 35-40 minutes until it turns soft. For small parrots, mash the pumpkin and let them peck at it.

can parrots eat seeds?

Papaya Seeds

Many parrots like papaya seeds more than flesh. The seeds have a peppery taste and a high fiber content, so parrots eat the seeds from fallen papayas, picking through the flesh.

Papaya seeds contain a natural digestive enzyme, which helps parrots break down food so nutrients can be absorbed. The seeds also contain healthy fats, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

They should only be fed to parrots once the papaya is at the peak of ripeness. Unfortunately, green papaya contains salicylates, a blood-thinning agent. Also, overly ripe papaya contains more histamines.

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 with digestive transit. They’re also high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Their polyunsaturated fats, fiber, and anti-inflammatory properties may reduce blood pressure (hypertension) and benefit heart health. Chia seeds contain the following nutrients:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fiber.
  • Magnesium.
  • Manganese.
  • Phosphorus.
  • Folic acid.
  • Niacin.

Sunflower Seeds

Most parrots choose sunflower seeds over all other seeds. Unfortunately, sunflower seeds aren’t the healthiest, as too many can lead to weight gain and 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.

Sesame Seeds

According to Sciencing, birds are fond of the seeds of the sesame plant.

As sesame seeds are tiny, parrots enjoy foraging for them. Raw sesame seeds are more nutritious than roasted seeds. They’re a good source of:

  • Magnesium.
  • Manganese.
  • Iron.
  • Calcium.

Sesame seeds also contain sesamin and sesamolin. These unique fibers increase vitamin E levels and may help prevent high blood pressure.

Watermelon Seeds

Feeding watermelon seeds along with the rest of the watermelon has health benefits. Watermelon contains vitamins A and C, which improve the immune system and skin health.

Watermelon seeds are safe and healthy. They’re a source of:

  • Magnesium.
  • Copper.
  • Folate.
  • Zinc.
  • Potassium.

These minerals benefit heart health, metabolism, feather quality, and bone strength.

Pomegranate Seeds

The seeds and arils of the pomegranate are nutritious. Pomegranates are a source of:

  • Vitamin C and K.
  • Folate.
  • Potassium.
  • Fiber.
  • Protein.

Pomegranate juice is a good source of antioxidants (polyphenols), notably tannins, flavonoids, and anthocyanin. Antioxidants protect parrots from free radical damage and inflammation.

One way to provide parrots with pomegranate seeds is to poke holes through the middle and place a string through them. Then, hang the string on the side of the cage so the parrot can forage.

Guava Seeds

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.

Guava seeds taste sweeter than most, making them tempting for parrots. They’re high in natural sugars.

Pepper Seeds

Parrots enjoy all parts of the pepper, including the seeds. The seeds can be given to parrots raw or cooked. Pepper seeds may heal intestinal lesions and contain high amounts of vitamin A.

Parrots can’t taste the heat of pepper seeds because they’re immune to capsaicin.

Mustard Seeds

Mustard seeds have a zesty flavor. When mustard seed sprouts and comes into contact with water, ally isothiocyanate is formed. This gives mustard its spicy, pungent taste.

Mustard seed sprouts are safe 4-5 days after being harvested, but some owners soak them first.

Tomato Seeds

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. Tomatoes are very acidic.

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds have a nutty flavor that appeals to parrots. There are two kinds of flax seeds: brown and golden. They have the following benefits:

  • B vitamins.
  • Lignans.
  • Protein.
  • Fiber.
  • 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. Consequently, some owners grind them into a powder and add it to meals.

Milk Thistle Seeds

Milk thistle is a flowering herb that some owners use 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:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Loose stools.
  • Mild tummy upsets.
  • Dark green to black stools.

Milk thistle seeds are bitter-tasting, so many parrots refuse to eat them. As a result, milk thistle extract is usually preferred by parrots.

Why Too Many Seeds Are Bad for Parrots

A diet comprising almost entirely of seeds harms a parrot’s well-being. The following health problems may be caused by a diet that’s too high in seeds:

Weight Gain

Seeds are high in fat and carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Coupled with a lack of exercise, which is common among captive parrots, they’re prone to gaining weight. Obesity defines 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.

what type of seeds do parrots eat?

Vitamin Deficiencies

Seeds are deficient in vitamins and minerals, such as calcium. When seeds are provided for prolonged periods, a parrot will become deficient in nutrients essential for:

  • Strong bones.
  • Respiratory health.
  • Digestion.
  • Feather and skin quality.

The most important nutrients are calcium and vitamins A, B, and D. Without them, parrots may develop:

  • Painful lesions.
  • Ulcers in the passageways.
  • Dry, scaly feet.
  • Poor feather quality.
  • Swelling around the eyes and mouth.
  • Loss of hearing.
  • Lipomas.

Upper Respiratory Infections

A lack of vitamin A (retinol), often caused by an all-seed diet, is responsible for 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.
  • Sneezing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing.
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Voice changes.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Failure to perch.
  • Eyes permanently closed.

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 enables them to carry out this natural behavior in captivity. Parrots enjoy this as part of their daily routine.

The problem with parrots liking seeds so much is that they can become addicted, refusing to eat all other foods. Seed addiction can be a problem among pet parrots, such as budgies.

Also, parrots will cherry-pick the seeds they like the most, abandoning the others.