What do budgies eat? [by Budgerigar Expert & 2 videos]

What do budgies eat?

I promised Elan_tawa on Instagram to publish a blog post on budgie nutrition after she asked me to make a special contribution from a world-leading specialist. Here you go, Bob Wilson is one of the most respected budgie keepers in the world since 1959 and therefore, answer the question, what do budgies eat.

Introduction:

By: Bob Wilson

Over the years I have tried plenty of seed diets, additives, and supplements for the birds… and have come to one conclusion. It’s best to stick as close as possible to nature with a little help to supply extra nutrients needed by the exhibition budgerigar of today.

Basic feed mix:

I buy my seed in bulk (50 lb bags) from a local farmers’ feed store and mix it in-house.

basic seed mix

The basic seed mix consists of 4 parts Plain Canary, 2 parts White Millet, 1 part Oat Groats, and one part Finch Mix (a tonic seed comprised of several Millets, vegetables, and Grass Seeds).

This mix is fed year-round, however leading up to breeding season the percentage of Oat Groats is increased.

TONIC SEEDS:

what do budgies eat tonic seeds

Finch Mix is offered in a separate dish twice a week… Additional grass, herb, and vegetable seeds are added to the tonic seed as available.

what do budgies eat finch mix

Sunflower, Safflower, Hemp, and Niger (higher oil content) are also offered during the cold months and during times of heavy molt.

Seed Nutritional Values: Since the nutritional value of the same seed type varies based on growing conditions, the fertility of the soil, amount of rainfall, etc, I always attempt to use seeds grown in different regions. The more variety the better. I have found excellent sources of herb and vegetable seeds are health food stores and ethnic supermarkets.

Herbs, vegetables, and fruit that budgies eat:

herbs vegetables and fruit for budgies

Excellent sources of natural vitamins, minerals, and vegetable protein… the birds get a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruit each morning.

Based on seasonal availability the vegies provide variety the birds would also find in nature.

Spinach, cilantro, parsley, swiss chard, red chard, broccoli, red beet, golden beet, striped beet, carrot, apple (minus core), wheat grass, barley grass, celery, garlic (cloves & leaves), chicory, endive, turnip greens, fennel, basil, mint, tarragon, oregano, thyme, apple, pear, grapes, sweet potato (yams).. whatever is available at the stores, or leftover after preparing meals… all cut into strips or large pieces so the birds gnaw it down like they would in the wild.

Any uneaten fruit or vegies are removed after 3-4 hours.

Sprouted seeds for budgies:

sprouted seeds for budgies

My birds get sprouted oats 3-4 days a week, year-round. Care must be taken to ensure the oats do not sour or go moldy, otherwise, the birds will become ill.

I initially soak the oats overnight and then thoroughly wash them, allow them to drain, and repeat the process twice each day until the small shoots start to appear. They are then ready for the birds.

Before feeding wash and drain the seed an additional time, then add any soft food or supplements. Allow sitting for 15 minutes so any moisture is absorbed. Add any chopped vegetables, fruit, and freeze-dried mealworms, and they are ready to feed to the birds.

My breeding pairs get a scoop (a couple of tablespoons) twice a day, and the balance is fed in a dish in the flight. Any leftovers are removed after a couple of hours.

Animal protein sources for budgies:

animal protein sources for budgies

Budgies need both plant and animal protein to eat. The plant protein comes from seeds, grasses, and vegetables you feed.

I load up on animal protein when the birds are in a heavy molt and when young are in the nest. I find the youngsters that have animal protein in their diet are much more robust and put on weight faster.

Many of the “starter crumbles” used for chickens and game birds are high in protein content. The birds will take to them fast if moistened and fed with soaked seed.

“Game Bird / Pheasant / Turkey Pick Blocks” are a favorite in my flights and are offered year-round. The blocks I buy from a local farmer’s feed store are approximately 18″x18″x18″ and are 26% protein. The birds make short work of them.. Gnawing holes and tunnels, especially in the weeks leading up to the breeding season. This activity sends the hens into a breeding frenzy and they are ready to go to nest as soon as they are paired up. I am not sure how much of the block they actually eat but seed consumption is certainly less than when the blocks are not available.

Chicken Carcasses don’t last long in the flights either. After removing all the meat for a meal I boil the carcass for 30 minutes to make sure everything is thoroughly cooked, then baked in the oven for an additional half-hour. After cooling, it goes in a dish in the flight. Within 15-20 minutes, it is totally stripped and everything eaten except the larger bones.

mealworms for budgies
Mealworms

Mealworms:

Mealworms are a big hit, and again fed year round, 2-3 times each week. Despite what others may say budgies love them and take to them fast. It is not unusual for outcrosses, that have not had them in the past, to line up as soon as they see how the other birds enjoy them.

The breeding pairs get freeze-dried mealworms so they will not wriggle away..these are soaked in warm water to plump them up and thoroughly rinsed before feeding. Live mealworms are fed in a steep-sided dish in the flight. They don’t last long .. a feeding frenzy as soon as the dish goes in.

Mealworms are easy to breed if you buy a few hundred to start. Mine breed in plastic tubs in the birdroom that are loaded with bran flakes. Vegetable scraps are all they need for food and moisture. Eventually, the mature worms turn into beetles that lay eggs for the next generation. Just be careful not to empty out the “fine sand” material at the bottom of the tub during the dormant phase of the life cycle. It is loaded with eggs that will hatch in the coming weeks.

Grit and extra calcium:

grit and extra calcium

Budgies also eat cuttlebone and are always available in the flight and breeding cages. I usually buy cuttlebone pieces. They may not “look as nice” but the birds don’t know the difference and the cost is way lower.

Like with seeds, I try to obtain grit from as many sources as possible.

Chick (fine poultry) grit, usually crushed granite, is the base. Finely crushed oyster shells, crushed egg shells, crushed cuttlebone, mineralized pigeon grit, and sea sand are mixed together along with a little powdered kelp (seaweed), crushed charcoal, and coarse sea salt. Interesting to observe that the small shells in the sea sand are the first things to go.

Over the year “Grit or No Grit” has always been a debatable topic… The only thing I know is that when birds come home after 2-3 days off at a show, the first thing they go to is the grit pot. They must be looking for something.

Extra Calcium – Calcium is used in the formation of bones and eggs, and is needed for normal nerve and muscle functions. I do not rely solely on the “grit pot” to supply this essential mineral in the necessary quantities. To avoid problems like soft shell and chalky eggs, egg binding, rickets, splayed legs, and feather plucking, a liquid calcium supplement with vitamin D is added to the drinking water on a regular basis, and calcium powder is included in the soft food. 

Dry Food Mix

A dry food supplement called “Birds Choice” is available in a separate dish year-round.

what do budgies eat dry food mix

It is surprising how much time certain birds spend picking around in this dish. The mix contains Canary Grass Seed, Whole Oat Groats, Ground Corn, Dried Brewer’s Yeast, Rape Seed, Niger, Flax Seed, Lettuce Seed, Sesame Seed, Soybean Meal, Cod Liver Oil, Powdered Eggs, Wheat Bran, Anise Oil, Calcium Carbonate.

Mineral Blocks are offered year-round. Large blocks in the flights and mini-blocks in the breeding and stock cages.

Of course, your birds should always have access to good clean drinking water. The drinking water, and the supplements I add, have a major impact on the health of my birds.

By: Denny the Budgie

By: Alen AxP


Here is another post that can guide you:

Budgie feeding guide (Info for the best nutrition for budgies.)

World Wide Birds Magazine highly recommends Hagen Tropimix as it contains food that budgies eat.

Hagen Tropimix
Click on photo for more information.

To find out more about what budgies eat, you can download:

Info graphic 2 – Avian Health Care Tips – Five categories of bird diet

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