African grey diet

Discover The Optimal African Grey Diet And Help Your Bird Thrive!

Elevate your African Grey Parrot's health with our comprehensive guide on the African Grey Diet, complete with a diet conversion plan. Uncover the secrets to providing the perfect balance of nutrition for your feathered friend.

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Welcome to the enchanting realm of African Grey Parrots, these delightful avian companions have won over the hearts of countless bird enthusiasts. Known for their perfect size, remarkable intelligence, and exceptional talking abilities, these parrots require special attention when it comes to their diet and care.

In this blog post, we will embark on a journey to unravel the science and art of crafting the perfect African Grey Parrot diet. Along the way, we'll dispel myths, explore the unique characteristics of African Grey Parrots, and ultimately discover how to provide our feathered friends with the nutrition they need for a long, healthy life.

The Magic of African Grey Parrots

African Grey Parrots have earned their place in the world of avian companions as exceptional creatures. But what's the secret behind their captivating charm, and why should we be particularly mindful of their diet? Let's take a deeper dive into the unique qualities that make African Grey Parrots stand out.

1. African Grey Parrot Sociability: In their natural habitats, African Grey Parrots are far from solitary beings. They thrive in tight-knit flocks, demonstrating their social nature. They love to chatter, play, and engage with each other. This strong social behavior highlights the significance of companionship and safety in their lives.

2. Selective Eating Habits: These parrots are discerning diners in the wild. They enjoy a varied diet, including raw seeds, fruits, greens, and the occasional insect. This diversity ensures they receive essential nutrients. They are natural foragers, skilled at finding the best food sources to meet their nutritional needs. One interesting fact is that mom and dad spend a great deal of time teaching their young what foods are safe to eat throughout the year and where to find them.

3. Lifelong Commitment: African Grey Parrots have the potential for a remarkably long life. With proper care and a healthy, balanced diet, they can live approximately 50 years. This means that they are a substantial commitment as feathered companions, requiring special attention to their well-being.

Unfortunately, many people don't research their dietary needs nor learn how to teach their pet what is good and safe to eat. This brings their median age down to about 25 years.

In light of these unique traits, it becomes evident that African Grey Parrots are not your run-of-the-mill pet birds. They deserve a diet that mirrors their natural preferences, nurturing both their physical and mental health. So, let's delve into the specifics of what makes their dietary requirements special and how to provide them with the best possible care.

Dispelling Dietary Myths

Before we dive into the specifics of an ideal African Grey Parrot diet, let's debunk some common misconceptions about their nutritional needs. Here are the top myths we need to set straight:

African Grey parrot diet

Myth 1: African Grey Parrots Can Thrive on an All-Seed Diet

Fact: It's a popular belief that all birds share the same dietary needs. However, African Grey Parrots have distinct requirements. They are adapted to a diet that leans more towards grains and seeds. It's essential to cater to your bird's specific needs rather than making assumptions based on other bird species. Tailoring their diet is key to their health and happiness.

Myth 2: Seeds Are Sufficient for Their Diet

Fact: While seeds are part of their natural diet, relying solely on them falls short of their nutritional needs. A diet should be more diverse, providing a range of nutrients not found in seeds alone.

Myth 3: Store-Bought Seeds Equal a Wild Grey's Diet

Fact: It's tempting to think that bird seeds replicate the diet of wild counterparts. However, wild birds have the freedom to select from various foods, such as fruits, vegetables, greens, and insects. This diversity provides essential vitamins and minerals crucial for their health. A seed-only diet can lead to a lack of these vital nutrients. 

Now that we've debunked these myths, we're better prepared to explore the ideal African Grey Parrot diet that caters to their unique nature and requirements.

African Grey Parrots in Their Natural Habitat

In the wild, African grey parrots predominantly inhabit the rainforests and savannas of West and Central Africa. Among the various species of African grey parrots, the two most popular in the United States are the Congo African grey (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) and the Timneh African grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh).

Congo African Grey (Psittacus erithacus erithacus): These parrots are the larger of the two species and are known for their striking scarlet tails. They are primarily found in the rainforests of Central and West Africa, spanning countries such as Congo, Cameroon, and Gabon

Timneh African Grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh): Slightly smaller and distinguished by maroon tail feathers, Timneh African greys predominantly inhabit the more western regions of Africa, including Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast.

 These are Congo African Grey Parrots


In their natural habitats, both the Congo African grey and the Timneh African grey are true herbivores, relying on a diet that consists primarily of seasonally available raw, fresh, and unprocessed foods. These parrots are connoisseurs of nature's finest, and their wild diet reflects their preference for unaltered, whole foods.

While seeds are indeed a part of the African grey diet, there is a substantial difference between the raw, fresh seeds consumed in the wild and the processed, store-bought seeds commonly found in pet stores. In their natural habitat, wild African grey parrots source their seeds from a variety of native plants. These seeds are teeming with vital nutrients, including essential fats and proteins.

Wild African grey parrots are experts at finding sources of vital nutrients. Their diet often includes foods rich in beta carotene. Beta carotene is like magic for their skin health, feathers, and eye sight, keeping them colorful and sharp. Their favorite source of beta carotene is red palm fruit. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, a crucial nutrient for maintaining healthy feathers and vision in parrots. In their wild environment, African grey's can access these foods with ease, ensuring their dietary needs are met. 

Additionally, wild parrots have access to calcium-rich foods like leafy greens and a variety of nuts. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and beaks. In their natural habitat, African grey parrots have the opportunity to consume these foods regularly, supporting their overall health.

African grey parrots in the wild lead active lives, covering considerable distances daily as they forage for food, socialize with their flock, and explore their natural surroundings. This high level of physical activity requires a diet that keeps them well-nourished but lean, ensuring they remain agile and capable of flying several miles each day.

It's crucial to understand the nutritional demands of these active wild parrots to craft an African grey parrot diet that meets the physical and mental needs of our avian companions in our homes. By mirroring the nutritional variety and freshness of their wild diet, we can provide our African grey parrots with the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling life.

The Trouble With Bird Seed Diets

When it comes to the dietary needs of our charming African Grey Parrots, there's a prevailing myth that has misled many bird enthusiasts—the belief that vitamin-coated seeds are the ultimate answer to avian nutrition. Let's clear the air and explore the truth behind this misconception and its potential repercussions on the health of these exceptional feathered companions.

Some African Grey Parrot owners may assume that seeds coated with essential vitamins offer a well-rounded and wholesome diet for their beloved pets. These seeds are often marketed as a one-stop solution to cater to all the nutritional requirements of African Grey Parrot.

However, it's time to bust this myth.

African Grey Parrots, just like most pet birds have a hookbill for eating. They meticulously remove the outer shells of seeds before consuming the inner kernel. Here's where the issue arises—the vitamin coating primarily adheres to the seed's hull. As these intelligent birds discard the hulls, they unintentionally leave behind a substantial portion of those crucial nutrients. Consequently, your African Grey Parrot won't ingest the essential vitamins and minerals they require, potentially resulting in severe malnutrition that can significantly reduce their lifespan.

A diet that substantially relies on seeds can predispose African Grey Parrots to a range of health problems. Among these, obesity stands out as a prevalent issue. Seeds are rich in fat and calories, and excessive seed consumption can lead to unwanted weight gain plus malnutrition. The extra pounds exert pressure on their hearts, potentially contributing to heart disease—a condition that poses a considerable threat to the well-being of African Grey Parrots.

Furthermore, a seed-based diet can also increase the risk of fatty liver disease, a condition that affects birds when their nutrition falls short of the mark. A high-fat diet can lead to the accumulation of excess fat in their livers, which, in turn, can result in various health complications, including the potential for liver failure. It's crucial to understand that while fresh, raw seeds have a place in your African Grey Parrot's diet, they should form just one part of a comprehensive and well-balanced nutritional plan. This holistic approach is pivotal in warding off potential health issues and promoting the overall vitality and wellness of your African Grey Parrot.

How can you tell the weight of a bird?
Diane Burroughs, ©2020

Myth 3: Afiran Grey's Are Picky Eaters

Wondering how to spot if your bird isn't receiving the essential nutrition it requires? Birds are masters at concealing signs of illness or discomfort, but you can observe your pet to detect these telltale indications:

  • Dry, scaly, itchy skin
  • Dull and lackluster feathers
  • Inadequate engagement with their environment
  • Clogged nasal cavities

The Proper African Grey Diet - Variety Is The Key


bird diet
© Diane Burroughs

Now that we've debunked the myth of vitamin-coated seeds and examined the potential health concerns linked to seed-exclusive diets, it's time to delve into the critical components of a well-rounded diet for your African grey parrot. Diversity is the key, and it's the secret to ensuring your fine-feathered companion's health and contentment.

Foundation of Pellets: To ensure your African Grey Parrot enjoys a balanced and nourishing diet, we advise incorporating top-quality pellets as a fundamental component of their meals. Trusted brands such as Roudybush, Harrison's, and Zupreem Naturals stand out as exceptional options, as they provide a well-rounded blend of essential nutrients. These pellets are expertly designed to meet your African Grey's unique dietary requirements, guaranteeing they receive the necessary vitamins and minerals for their overall health and well-being.

" Greys’ can suffer from calcium deficiency more easily than other species, a lack of which can cause seizures, possibly feather plucking, and poor health."

—Dorothy Schwarz


To introduce diversity into your African Grey Parrot's diet, you should contemplate providing a wide selection of bird-safe "superfood" vegetables. Ensure to incorporate options like kale, alfalfa leaf, moringa leaf, spinach, and broccoli, as these veggies are brimming with vital nutrients that promote your African Grey's well-being.

Emphasizing variety is crucial because each vegetable offers a distinct set of vitamins and minerals. When you introduce a broad spectrum of options, you're ensuring that your African Grey Parrot enjoys a comprehensive and balanced diet. This is where the importance of Organic Bird Greens truly shines!


Fruits offer a delightful inclusion in your African Grey Parrot's diet, it's essential to provide them in moderation. The natural sugars in fruits can accumulate, possibly resulting in weight gain and other health concerns. Nevertheless, options like apples, pears, berries, and melons can serve as both a delicious treat and a source of vital vitamins for your African Grey Parrot

Herbs, Flowers, and Red Palm Oil:

Elevate your African Grey Parrot's diet by incorporating organic herbs, edible flowers, bird sprouting seeds, and a hint of red palm oil. These enhancements not only diversify the flavors but also introduce a spectrum of new nutrients into your parrot's nutrition plan. Parsley, for instance, is a valuable source of vitamins, while edible flowers offer both nutrition and tantalizing flavors for your African Grey Parrot. Additionally, a modest amount of red palm oil serves as an excellent supplement, contributing to your feathered companion's overall health and vitality."

By introducing this range of food items, you'll establish a varied and well-balanced diet that aligns with your African Grey Parrot's natural inclinations. Diversity is the secret to guaranteeing your parrot gets the vital nutrients required for their optimal well-being. So, unleash your culinary creativity for your feathered friend and witness them prosper with robust health and vitality.

Convert To A Healthy African Grey Diet With The 'Slow and Steady' Method

🩺 Important Reminder: A sudden switch in diet can potentially cause severe weight loss and even be fatal for some birds. To effectively track your bird's well-being when changing its diet, make sure to weigh the bird regularly and watch for regular droppings. If your bird becomes unwell, it's crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's diet.

Converting your African grey's diet to pellets can occur quicker than you think when you use this evidence backed method described by Dr. Scott Echols,(1998). Here's a simple step-by-step guide to help you do it:

Materials Needed:

    • Pelleted bird food
    • Your bird's current food

Setting the Stage:

1. The evening before introducing the pellets, remove all food from your bird's cage.

2. The next morning, offer only the pellets for 4 hours.

3. In the afternoon, provide a small serving of your bird's previous food in a separate bowl if needed.

4. The previous diet should be removed in the evening, leaving the pellets as the only food overnight.

5. Make sure to have fresh pellets available at all times, refreshing them daily.

Ideal Bird Types:

This method is recommended for birds that eat from their feet or those with less friendly dispositions.

In a recent research study involving 90 parrots from different species, an impressive 90% of these feathered friends successfully transitioned to a pellet diet in just under a week. This quick adaptation brought immense peace of mind to their owners.

The time is now! As the old bird adage goes, "Singing is believing!" 🎶🎵

In conclusion, your African Grey Parrot's diet is a critical aspect of their well-being, and the journey to providing the best nutrition is a rewarding one. We've explored the myths surrounding vitamin-coated seeds and the potential health issues they pose, emphasizing the need for a diverse and balanced diet. High-quality pellets, a variety of bird-safe vegetables, occasional fruits, and beneficial supplements like red palm oil and herbs are all essential components of a nutrition plan tailored to your parrot's needs.

As a dedicated African Grey Parrot owner, your commitment to their health and happiness is commendable. By following the guidelines and recommendations discussed in this article, you're on the path to ensuring a vibrant and fulfilling life for your beloved feathered companion. So, keep providing them with the love and care they deserve, and enjoy every moment of your journey together with your African Grey Parrot. Their cheerful chatter and vibrant plumage will serve as a testament to your excellent care and unwavering commitment to their well-being.

Now, with all this knowledge at your fingertips, it's time to take action and implement these dietary improvements into your parrot's daily life. Watch as your African Grey Parrot thrives, radiating health, vitality, and a true zest for life. It's an exciting adventure, and your parrot is the feathered treasure at the heart of it all. Thank you for joining us on this educational journey, and here's to many years of joy and companionship with your African Grey Parrot.


Three Problems With An All Seed Bird Diet

Feeding Your Parrot a Well-balanced Diet

Top 5 Nutritional Needs Of Parrots


 Bingham, B. Harmony Animal Behavior, Dr. Scott Echols Series.

Cummings, A. M., Hess, L. R., Spielvogel, C. F., & Kottwitz, J. J. (Year of publication). An Evaluation of Three Diet Conversion Methods in Psittacine Birds Converting from Seed-Based Diets to Pelleted Diets. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 36(2), 145-152. URL: 

Ford, S. Balancing Your Parrot's Lifestyle., Transitioning Pet Parrots Away From a Seed Diet.

Schwarz. D. What can African grey parrots eat?; 22 February 2021.

Stahl, S., & Kronfelt, D. (1998). Veterinary Nutrition of Large Psittacines. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Medicine.

Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

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