Feeding Finches, Budgies and other Seed-eating Birds
I’ve written a bit about feeding parrots in the post “The Benefits of Fresh Food for your Companion Parrot.” Generally, most parrots will do just fine on a diet of pellets and healthful fresh foods. A few, like lories, do have more specialized needs, although there are commercial nectar mixes for them. Finches, on the other hand, can be very difficult to convert to pellets, and I’ve noticed that few finch keepers actually feed pellets. Budgies and Australian grass parakeets can also be extremely difficult to convince to eat pellets. Therefore, my finches, budgie. and Bourke’s Parakeet all receive a base diet of seeds. However, seeds do not provide them with all the nutrients and minerals they need. Luckily, there are some non-seed items that they will eat, and I think I’ve been successful in getting them to eat a healthful diet.
The seed mixes my finches eat are generally lacking in vitamin A. However, the majority of my finches will eat broccoli, which contains a great deal of vitamin A and some calcium, so I place some broccoli in their cages several times a week. The Society Finches in particular really snap it up.
The seed mixes also don’t contain sufficient protein or all the amino acids the birds need. There are a few ways I remedy this. I’ve found that most birds are willing to consume cooked quinoa, and that includes my finches and Australian parakeets. I frequently offer them cooked, cooled quinoa. Since the budgie and Bourke’s Parakeet don’t eat broccoli, I do get them to consume some green matter by grinding some greens very finely in a food processor and mixing it with the quinoa. They will generally eat that. Sometimes I use bulgur or millet instead of quinoa. I frequently feed a mix of chopped greens and grain and/or quinoa to my parrots as well, but I will add peas, beans and chopped vegetables to it.
Cooked egg is also a wonderful source of protein, and I also offer it to the seed eaters a couple times per week. I offer “egg food” daily to finches who are laying eggs or feeding youngsters. Gouldians who are molting also receive it daily. The egg food mix can vary slightly but it will contain ground, cooked egg (with shell if I am feeding laying females), very finely ground greens (often dandelion greens), ground flax seed and ground commercial egg mix. I more often than not leave out the egg yolk for non-breeding birds and will add more greens, so they don’t become overweight. Button Quail also seem to like this food. All of my seed-eating birds will gladly eat egg.
Another way I get extra nutrition into the seed eaters is by sprouting the seeds. That does change their nutritional content for the better. Sprouting could be another topic on its own, but I’ve provided a about it at the end of this post. I offer sprouted seeds to my large parrots as well.
Finally, I do give the finches, budgies and Bourke’s a vitamin supplement every week and they all have a cuttlebone in their cage. The supplement I use is called “Prime,” and it is designed for birds on a seed diet. I do not put it in the water but rather place it in their peanut- or almond butter. This is a trick I learned from the breeder of my Gouldians. The Gouldians I got were all used to eating peanut butter and I offered some to my Society, Zebra and Spice Finches. They loved it! Since they all eat it, I use it as a way to give them vitamin supplements.
(this article seems aimed at parrot owners, but sprouts for finches can be prepared the same way. Just use small seeds).