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Recommended Foods Part One: Formulated Diets by Scott Stork

The Basics

Formulated Diets, Often called pellets, should make up the base of every bird's diet. (With many of the smaller birds we recommend mixing the formulated diets half-and-half with seed to form the base.) This base should make up 1/2 to 3/4 of the bird's diet.

There are a number of formulated diets on the market. There are three factors to consider when rating a food for birds:

  1. Nutrition: The hardest for us to judge, we rely on the amount of research the manufacturer has done, on their track record and on reliable third party recommendations.

  2. Palatability: Many companies try to sell foods to you rather than to your bird. Color's, shape's, flavors and smells though not always bad, often are marketed at the owner not the bird. The only way to be sure your bird will eat a food is to try it over an extended period of time.

Additives: Because of the limited long term research done on parrots and their reaction to unnatural chemicals, and because of their tendencies to retain and build up toxins in their bodies, we strongly recommend avoiding artificial additives in foods. Also, because of how poorly animal foods are regulated, we recommend using as much human consumption grade food as possible.

With these factors in mind we have chosen what we feel are the best formulated diets available. These are Harrison's Bird Diet, Roudybush (no Ethoxoquin), TOPS (Totally Organic Pellets), ZuPreem All Natural (not the artificially colored formulas they also make) and Scenic Bird Food from Marion Zoological (only the Corn Flavor as we are certain it has no artificial colorizers added).

Harrison's: The research done by Harrison's has made it one of the only 'Veterinary Grade' bird foods. It is made from 100% organic and human consumption grade ingredients, with no added colors, flavors or preservatives. For most birds it is very palatable. They have different formulas for different needs.

Roudybush: The company has done some of the most extensive long-term studies on bird nutrition. It is a slow steamed pellet and is very palatable.

TOPS: or Totally Organic Bird Pellets. Made with exceptional quality, all ingredients that are human consumption grade and certified as organic. It contains all natural sources of vitamins, minerals, amino acids as well as many other nutrients.

ZuPreem All Natural: An extruded diet, naturally tan in color. It is a formula without colorants or artificial flavors. Naturally preserved with Vitamins E and C with no added preservatives.

Scenic: Marion Zoological, the manufacturer, supplies formulated diets to zoos around the world. They use all natural vegetable colors and flavors in the Corn Flavor formulas we carry. This food is naturally preserved with vitamin K, and is made from human consumption ingredients.


For mental health and because we may never know exact nutritional requirements for all birds, a diet with numerous and changing components is best. HBD, Roudybush, TOPS, ZuPreem Natural and Scenic Cheese Flavor are all very good foods. We mix three to five of them together when feeding our birds. Rotating several of them mixed together as the base of the diet is recommended.

Other diets: There are at least a dozen formulated diets on the market, some are much better than others are. We chose the five that we think are the best, for the reasons stated above. If you find a formulated diet that you would like to feed your bird, inspect it. If it compares well to the foods described, then it should be fine. If you are not sure call us or your veterinarian and get a second opinion.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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