Budgies, finches, cockatiels and canaries
In the wild budgies, finches, cockatiels and canaries feed on a variety of grass seeds, leaves, fruit, insects, flower buds and bark. Although this is difficult to fully replicate for our pet small birds, making sure that their diet mimics their natural one, including the need to hunt and work for food, is important for their physical and mental wellbeing. As budgie, finch, cockatiel and canary knowledge has changed over the years, so has their recommended diet. Historically they were often just offered seeds, which resulted in a reduced lifespan. Small birds who feast on seeds are referred to now as ‘seed junkies’ and, if allowed, will eat only seeds and ignore any other offered foodstuffs. Although unhealthy, these seed-eating birds really do love seeds, so managing their seed consumption is important. To prevent your budgie or cockatiel from becoming a ‘seed junkie’ themselves, seeds should be offered as a maximum of 20% of the daily diet. For finches and canaries, this can be higher, up to 50% if you are using a good commercial mix.
When feeding seeds, make sure all the seeds are nearly gone by the end of the day. While fatty, giving a range of seed types is good for nutrition, and you want your bird to eat a variety. Being offered too many seeds gives budgies, finches, cockatiels and canaries the opportunity to be selective, which can affect their nutritional profile. Use seed mixes which are species specific to make sure your bird(s) get the correct nutrition.
As well as seeds, another excellent option for feeding is pelleted food. The advantage of this is that all the pellets are the same, preventing your bird from picking just the tastiest and fattiest parts and leaving the less tasty pieces. Pelleted food is also often supplemented with essential vitamins and minerals to make sure your bird is getting everything they need. Seed-lovers may find pelleted food not to their taste, but persevering to make sure that they are eating mainly pellets is much better for their long-term health. Finches and canaries do not need pellets if they are getting a good seed mix, but they can be used in a mixed diet and can help supply essential minerals and vitamins.
Fruits, vegetables and greens are a great way to supplement your budgie, canary, cockatiel or finches diet, and provide variety and interest. Ideally, these would make up at least a quarter of your bird’s diet and should be washed and ideally organic. Fruit should be a treat, as it is very sugary, and vegetables should make up the bulk. Variety is key, and if your bird is only eating one offering, remove this the next day to promote eating of other fruit and vegetable types.