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Complete Lovebird Nutrition

For any animal to remain in peak
physical fitness and to maintain
its biological functions at an
efficient level, it is essential for it
to receive a balanced diet.
Different birds feed upon various
items in the wild, but they always
insure that they get sufficient
variety of food to provide an
intake of the necessary
quantities of essential dietary
constituents. Taken in the correct
ratio, these dietary constituents
will ensure that the animal
remains healthy. The study of
food intake and its effect on the
body is known as nutrition.
Before considering a suitable
diet for captive lovebirds, let us
first consider nutrition in
general, thus giving us a greater
understanding of our birds’ food

Carbohydrates: These are split
into three major groups-sugars,
starches and cellulose. All
carbohydrates are organic
compounds of carbon, hydrogen
and oxygen in various molecular
combinations. The sugars are all
sweet to the taste and are water
soluble; thus they are the easiest
form of carbohydrate to digest.
The most common sugar types
include glucose, fructose and
Sucrose. Starches are converted
to sugars by the digestive
processes so that they are also
easily assimilated. Cellulose is
indigestible to many animals but
is important in adding bulk
(fiber) to the diet. Carbohydrates
form the largest part of the diet,
and they are essential to provide
energy and body warmth.

Excess carbohydrates are converted tob
fats and stored in the tissues.
Fats: Fats are also composed
of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen,
but have a different molecular
structure. All fats are insoluble in
water but are assimilated by the
digestive processes. They
provide energy, help to insulate
the body against extremes of
temperature, and may also act as
shock absorbing material-on
the soles of the feet, for
example. Excess fat is deposited
in the body in the form of
adipose tissue and represents a
considerable reserve energy
source in starvation conditions.
Proteins: These contain the
same three basic elements as
carbohydrates and fats but, in
addition, they contain nitrogen
and sometimes sulphur and
phosphorus. Proteins are
essential constituents of all livingg
cells and are necessary for
growth, repair and replacement

of body tissues. They can also
provide energy, and excess
proteins can be stored as fat.
Vitamins: These are contained
in food in minute quantities but
are essential for life and health.
The most important vitamins are
listed below.
VITAMIN A- Also called retinol,
this vitamin is essential for
efficient growth in juveniles, for
adequate eye function and for
protection of the mucus
membranes. It is found widely in
fruit and green foods.
considerable number of vitamins
in the B complex group, the
most important being thiamine,
riboflavin and nicotinic acid. A
deficiency of B vitamins can
cause diarrhea, poor appetite,
convulsions and wasting
muscles; but, as most seeds are
rich in these vitamins, a
deficiency is unlikely in

VITAMIN C-A lack of vitamin C
(ascorbic acid) in the diet can
cause hemorhage of the
mucous membranes and swollen
joints. It is found in many
foodstuffs but is most abundant
in fruit and greenfoods.

VITAMIN D-This vitamin, also
known as calciferol, is important
in coordinating the function of
phosphorus and calcium in the
body, important elements in
bone building, especially in
growing chicks. A deficiency of
this vitamin will lead to rickets.
Most of the vitamin is
manufactured in the body, aided
by the effects of sunlight on
adult birds, and it is transferred
to the embryos through the egg
yolk. Sunlight is therefore an
important commodity to
breeding birds.
VITAMIN E- Also known aas
tocopherol, this vitamin was first
identified as being necessary for
the normal fertility of rats. A
deficiency can result in various
reproductive disorders. It should
be assumed that it is important
for normal metabolism in
lovebirds. It is found in
vegetables, fruits and in the
germ of many seeds, so a
deficiency in lovebirds is
VITAMIN K-Found in many
green plants and vegetables, this

vitamin is essential to the
clotting function of the blod
Mineral Salts: These, like
vitamins, form a small but
essential part of a balanced diet.
Sometimes referred to as trace
elements, mineral salts form the
organic part of the diet. A great
number of different elements in
salt form are required for the
body to function normally.
Mineral salts are required for four
main purposes:
1) As constituents of the bones
(the rigid structures which
support the muscular system of
the body), beak, nails and the
eggshell. The major minerals in
this group include calcium,
phosphorus and magnesium.
2) As constituents of the body
cells of which muscle, blood
Corpuscles, liver and so on, are
Composed. These include iron,
Sulphur, potassium and

3) As soluble salts which give
the body fluids their composition
and stability. These include
sodium, potassium and chlorine.
4) As factors involved with
chemical reactions in the body,
especially those concerned with
the release of energy duringg
normal metabolism. These
include phosphorus, magnesium
and iron.
In addition to the more
Common minerals mentioned
above, many others, such as
cobalt, copper, iodine,
molybdenum and nickel, are
required in minute quantities.
Fortunately, most of these trace
elements are contained in the
types of foods commonly
available for captive lovebirds.
Although the foregoing
information may seem Overly

difficult to provide lovebirds with
a balanced diet containing all of
the essential dietary
constituents. A mixture of seeds,
some greenfood or fruit, and a
vitamin/mineral supplement will
occasionally provide all they
require. The greater part of the
diet consists of various seeds,
especially canary and millet.
Seed mixes for lovebirds can be

obtained from specialist
avicultural suppliers, but it is
often more fun (and cheaper) to
buy individual seed types in bulk
and to make your own mixtures,
based on the types of seeds your
particular lovebirds show
preference for.
Lovebirds can show individual
preferences in food intake, and
while one bird may be crazy
about canary seed, for example,
another may only take it in
extreme emergency (i.e. when
there is nothing else!). The
following menus are examples of
seed diets to try during the
breeding season and during the
resting period.” The first is
richer in protein and fat than the
second, thus ensuring that

breeding pairs are thoroughly
equipped for the strenuous task
of brooding and rearing thee
young, and that the youngsters
themselves receive adequate
protein for development. Outside
the breeding season, things are
much more relaxed, so a slightly
less rich diet is provided, which
will help ensure that the birds do
not become overweight.

Seed mixture for
breedin/molting periods
45% millet (of various types)
30% canary seed
15% sunflower seed
5% oats
3% hemp
2% niger seed
Seed mixture for resting
60% millet (of various types)
20% canary seed
12% sunflower seed
3% oats
3% hemp
2% niger seed
Note: Sunflower seed or hemp
should never be given in greater
percentages than those indicated
above. They are both very high in
oil (fat) content and, althouggh

the birds like to eat thenm very
much, excessive consumnption
will lead to obesity and poor
breeding results.
Various seed from avicultural
stores is usually supplied in
sacks or paper or plastic bags. It
should not be stored for long in
Such containers, however, as
they are subject to easy entry by
rodent or insect pests. Seed
Should preferably be stored in
metal bins (clean, galvanized
Lrash cans are ideal) and, when
not in use, the lid should be lert

tightly closed. This will protect
the seed from mouse droppings
(which can harbor unpleasant
diseases) and keep it dry. Damp
seed will develop mold and can
have detrimental effects if it is
fed to the birds.
The seed should be given to
the birds in stainless steel
porcelain or strong plastic dishes
or hoppers. The latter are self
filling and only require
occasional replenishment, but
one should ensure that empty
seed husks are regularly

removed from the feeding
surface. This can be done by
stirring the surface of the seed
and gently blowing away the
empty husks. As most birds de-
husk the seeds before
Swallowing the kernel, the husks
frequently drop back into the
food container, eventually
concealing the uneaten food. It
is not unknown for birds to have
starved, when having an almost
full container of food, because
their owner failed to remove the
empty husks. Open seed
containers should be emptied
and cleaned out at regular

intervals. Never place them
below perches, where they wil
Soon be fouled by the birds’
droppings. In an open aviary, it
is best to place the seed tray off
the ground on a special shelf,
under cover to prevent rain
wetting the food.
Soaked Seed: Providing
soaked bird seed is an excellent

way to vary the diet and increase
its nutritional value. If seed is
immersed in water for not more
than 24 hours (any longer will
cause it to ferment), the
germinating process begins and
chemical changes in the
structure produce greater levels
of protein. Additionally, the
whole seed becomes more easily

digestible. Soaked seed is of
excellent value during the
breeding season, particularly
while youngsters are in the nest;
the partially digested seed
passed to the nestlings by the
parent birds will be in a more
acceptable and nutritious form.
Soaked seed can also be used as
a tonic for birds suffering from

stress, or during treatment of or
recovery from a disease.
However, it should not replace
the nomal dry seed but should
be offered at regular intervals
throughout the year and daily
during the breeding season.
Most foms of bird seed are
suitable for supplying to the
birds in soaked form, and one
can either soak a seed mixture or
soak individual types to be fed
on a rotating basis. The required
quantity of seed is placed in a
shallow container, and cold (or
very slightly lukewam) water is
poured over it until the grains are
fully immersed (you may have to
stir it about to ensure that all the
seed is wet). The container is
then put in a wam place (such as
an open cupboard) and allowed
to stand for 12-24 hours, after
which it should be drained
through a fine meshed strainer
and rinsed thoroughly with
clean, cold water. The seed
should then be partially dried by
tipping it onto a clean, absorbent

towel. It may be served in a
shallow dish. Only small
amounts of seed at a time should
be prepared in this way, as it
soon sours, particularly in warm
weather. Uneaten soaked seed
should be removed at the end of
each day and discarded. For
reasons of economy, you are
advised to assess the amount of
soaked seed which can be easily
consumed by your birds each
day and to prepare no more than
that amount.
Millet Sprays: The natural
ears” from the living millet plant
are dried out without being
thrashed and are then supplied
as millet sprays. The removal of
seeds from the sprays is a
natural method of feeding for the
birds-they will derive great
pleasure in feeding from them.
When sprays are available, birds
will often ignore the seed in the
dishes and concentrate on the
sprays. Millet sprays may be

obtained from your seed supplier
and should be given
conservatively to your bird
(perhaps one spray per pair
every other day). If you give
them too much, they may eat
only the spray and therefore
receive an inadequate diet (this is
not to say that millet is not a
nutritious seed, but variety is
important). The spray should be
tied high up on the cage wire so
that the birds derive some
exercise in reaching it.
Greenfood: Fresh greenfood
contains certain vitamins which
may not be present in seed in
sufficient quantities. It is
important, therefore, that the
lovebird’s prime diet of seed is
supplemented with a variety of
greenfood and fruit. Lettuce is
eagerly accepted but, as it has
little nutritional value, it should
only be given sparingly. Spinach,
which can be grown in the
garden for most of the year, is
more nutritious, containing
valuable vitamins and minerals.
Wild seeding grasses of various
ypes are universal and it is eassy
to collect them, tie them in

sheafs, and suspend them in the
cage or aviary. There are many
wild herbs in different parts of
the world which can be used as
food for lovebirds; in Europe and
the USA, chickweed, groundsel
and dandelion can be collected.
Wherever you are, try to find out
what other hobbyists select as
wild greenfood for their animals.
What is enjoyed by rabbits or
chickens is also likely to be
suitable for lovebirds.
When collecting wild
greenfood, great care must be
taken to ensure that there are no
poisonous or suspect plants
hidden in your bundle. Avoid
collecting along roadsides,
where plants are likely to be
polluted with vehicle fumes or
the droppings of domestic
animals. In addition, never use
anything which is suspected to
have been treated with
insecticides, fungicides,
herbicides, or chemical
fertilizers. Twigs from non-
poisonous trees or shrubs can be
given, and the birds will eat
some of the leaves or buds and
strip the bark. Most lovebirds will

nibble at fruit or vegetables, and
you can try to tempt thermn
regularly with a piece of apple,
pear, plum, banana or carrot.
Not all birds will take everything
you offer them, but it will do no
ham to experiment with various
fruits and vegetables to see what
individual birds prefer. Should
the birds get diarrhea at any
time, the feeding of fruit and
greenfood should be temporarily
suspended, at least until the
cause of the ailment has been
A bird’s digestive system
demands that it has grit in its
gizzard. The bird swallows small
stones, pieces of gravel and
other insoluble materials, and

these are used in grinding up the
food by the muscular actions of
the gizzard walls. The food is
ground up into a fluid mass, so
that it can pass on through the
system while the grit remains in
the gizzard. The bird may also
gain valuable trace elements
from the grit as it is gradually
wom down. A bird with no access
to grit would be unable to digest
its food properly, and this gives
rise to problems such ass
nutritional deficiencies, anemia
and constipation. Various grades
of grit may be purchased from
your pet shop. This may consist
of a mixture of crushed stones,
crushed seashells and pieces of
cuttlefish bone, all of which have
been thoroughly washed,
sterilized and dried out. Bird
sand, supplied for use on cage
floors, may also contain a
proportion of grit. It is best to
supply grit in special shallow
Containers, separate from the
food, so that you may monitor
how much of it is being taken. If

your birds do not seem to be
taking much grit from the supply
dish in outdoor aviaries, do not
wory, as they will be picking up
items from the aviary floor.
However, to be on the safe side,
supplementary grit should
always be available.
One of the most important
minerals in the diet is calcium,
which is essential for the
formation of strong eggshells
and bones in growing chicks; it is
also important in feather growth,
especially during the molt. One
of the easiest ways of giving
additional calcium to birds is to
supply them with cuttlefish bone.
This is the internal skeleton of
the squidlike cuttlefish and is
rich in calcium salts as well as
other trace elements. Prepared
cuttlefish bones are available
from pet shops. They are clipped
to the cage wire, and the birds
can nibble pieces off as they
require them. If you’re able to
collect your own cuttlefish bones
from the seashore, they should
first be treated to remove sea salt

and dirt before being given to
your birds. To do this, soak them
in clean water for 48 hours, leave
them under running water for an
additional eight hours, then dry
them out on clean, absorbent
paper or towels and they will be
ready for use. Eggshells are also
rich in calcium, and those of
domestic hens (after you have
eaten the contents) may be
baked in the oven until they are
brittle (but not burnt), then
crushed and added to the birds’
grit supply.

Manufacturers of pet foods and
requisites are continually
brinqing out new brands of
vitamin and mineral
supplements. These vary in
quality and effect: it is best to
select well-known bran ‘s or
those with a proven track
record-there are plenty to
choose from.
Vitaminmineral tonics are
particularly effective during the
breeding and molting seasons,

when the birds’ health is under
pressure. There are supPplements
in fluid form, which may be
added to the drinking water, and
others in powder form, which
may be mixed in with the seed.
Use such tonics as the
manufacturer instructs and do
not be tempted to give
overdoses. Too much of a
vitamin/mineral supplement can
be more dangerous than none at

Lovebirds may sometimes be
observed eating their own
droppings and those of other
birds. To human minds, this may
seem to be an unpleasant habit,
but in the wild many animals do
this with a good reason. Certain
vitamins of the B complex group,
in particular B, (riboflavin) and
Bi2 (cyanocobalamin), are
actually manufactured in the gut
of a living animal during the

digestive processes. By eating
the droppings, the birds are
gaining an additional supply of
the vitamins. Unfortunately
certain enteric diseases are also
transmitted through droppings,
so the eating of droppings
should be discouraged as much
as possible by supplying
vitamin/mineral supplements
and keeping food containers
clear of perches.
This is not usually classed as
part of a diet but, nevertheless,
water is an essential commodity.
It forms more than 90% of the
body tissues of organisms and,
as it is being continually lost
through evaporation, there must
be a facility for it to be
replenished at all times. Birds
taking regular supplies of
greenfood and fruit will not drink
as much water as birds taking
mainly seed. However, clean,
fresh water must always be
available to your birds. In cages,
the water can be supplied in
special pots or water fountains
which are clipped to the wire.
Whatever form of water container
is used, however, the water must
be changed and the pot cleaned
daily. In the aviary, the water can
be supplied in a small “pond.”
This may be a simple, large,
shallow dish, with the wateer
depth not exceeding 2.5 cm (1
in). If the sides of the dish are
such that the water can bee
deeper than this, holes should
De drilled at the desired water
level so that the shallow depth is
maintained should it rain;
otherwise one stands the risk of
Dirds drowning. Some birds will
use the dish for bathing as well
as drinking, so there is not much
point in having separate vessels,
as the birds will not distinguish
between the two.

Raidel Marrero CEO

My name is Raidel Marrero, I am the creator of TampaLovebirds.Com and a bird breeder here in Tampa Florida. I love to write and share all my personal experiences here in our blog. We also ship our birds all over the US, bringing happiness and love to many homes.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Buckman Barbara

    Helpful article. Have a pair breeding right now!!! Enter me in the LOVEBIRD GIVEAWAY PLEASE!,,,

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