If you love your budgie, then you want them to have a long and happy life by your side. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion and ignorance around what makes a healthy budgie diet. And, as we all know, a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to staying healthy.
When you’re a new budgie owner, it’s easy to get the impression that all a budgie needs is bird seed. After all, everyone knows that you feed birds on seed, and nobody at the pet shop will tell you any different.
The truth is that budgies need much the same diet as people to be healthy. Where we eat wheat, corn or potatoes, they can have seed or pellets instead, but they need a good mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, just like we do.
In the wild budgies feed almost exclusively on ripening grass seeds and wheat germ, but ripening seeds have a different nutritional content than fully mature ones. Green seeds are low in fat, and packed full of vitamins and minerals, but once they’re ripe they’re full of fats and low in nutrients.
What makes things worse is that seeds lose even more of their nutritional value during transport and storage. Your budgie’s seed mix might say it’s got added vitamins, but that just means they’re sprayed on the outside of the seeds, the part your budgie peels off before eating.
Without fruits and vegetables, to accompany their seed, budgies quickly become malnourished, and sadly many birds each year die painfully from diseases that are caused by a simple lack of vitamins.
A slightly healthier alternative to seed is pellets. Bird food manufacturers have designed these pellets to have much the same nutritional content as your budgie would get in the wild. That’s why many bird experts can be heard fanatically preaching that everyone should switch their birds to pellets.
It’s true that pellets are healthier than seed, but they’re not a cure all. A budgie which is fed on pellets still needs fresh fruits and vegetables – after all, you wouldn’t eat only breakfast cereal because the manufacturer has added extra vitamins to it; it wouldn’t be healthy.
And the truth is that many budgies fed on seed live long and healthy lives, because their overall diet is well balanced.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the deeper the colour the more nutritious they are for your bird. The deep colours of apple peel, broccoli and spinach mean they’re packed full of good stuff. Apple flesh, grapes and lettuce, on the other hand, aren’t that healthy.
It can be difficult to get your budgie started on their greens, especially if they’ve been fed exclusively on seed for years. But your patience and perseverance will be worth the effort when your pet lives ten or fifteen years, instead of the five years the average budgie lives.
If you’re having trouble getting your budgie to eat their greens, you can give them a vitamin supplement in the short term. These supplements can be added to your budgie’s water, however budgies that are on seeds instead of pellets don’t drink too much, because they get their water from their food.
The lesson to take away from this is that variety and balance in their diet are essential to your budgie’s well being, just as they are to yours.