Think about the birds you see flying around your yard or foraging in your local park. They come in all colors and sizes and eat a variety of things. It's similar for pet birds who aren't one-size-fits-all when it comes to a balanced diet. A captive bird's optimal diet depends on what type of bird he is and may include insects.
Bird Diet Classifications
Birds can be classified into one of five dietary classifications.
- Florivores primarily exist on
berries, fruits, nuts, bark, roots and seeds.
- Granivores limit themselves to seeds
- Frugivores typically eat fruits and
flowers, with a few nuts and seeds.
- Omnivores eat fruits, seeds, insects
- Nectarivores focus on nectar and
pollen, with some seeds and insects rounding out their diets.
Part of owning a pet bird entails understanding what type of bird he is and ensuring he eats an appropriate diet.
If your pet bird is a species who thrives on the addition of insects to his diet, you have a variety of options to choose from when you want to give him a special treat.
Mealworms are larval beetles that live in grain. Commercially available in many pet stores, they're typically sold in small cups to be kept refrigerated. Transfer them to a larger container half-filled with oatmeal or wheat bran so they have something to eat while they wait to become your bird's snack. They may transform into beetles before you get to feed them to your bird, a snack he also may enjoy.
Wax worms are the larvae of a type of moth and are soft, fatty worms. These worms don't keep as long as mealworms, so you should feed them to your bird within a few days of purchasing so they don't die.
Whiteworms are popular among fish owners, however they also provide a nice change for some birds, such as finches. Brown crickets are easily available and enjoyed by waxbills, softbills and some parrots. Avoid black crickets as the spikes on the back of the insect's legs can harm the bird's mouth, throat and digestive tract. Other insects for captive birds include commercially grown earthworms, silkworms and cockroaches.
Birds' dietary requirements can vary widely; verify your insect choices with a qualified veterinarian to determine which, if any, insects are appropriate, as well as the proper quantity.
Your pet bird isn't going to help you with indoor and outdoor pest control; feeding him insects you've caught from the garden isn't appropriate and may be dangerous. When you feed your bird insects, choose insects that come from a pet store to ensure he doesn't ingest parasites or potentially dangerous chemicals from insecticides. Brick and mortar stores and online retailers offer a host of safe insects that will provide your bird with a bit of extra protein in the form of a tasty snack.