african grey next to a spider plant

What to Feed African Grey Parrots

Most of us who have an African grey know that they can be picky eaters. Part of learning what to feed African grey parrots is that you must carefully and properly introduce all kinds of new foods. An African grey parrot needs various pellets, vegetables, seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts. Please do not just feed your grey a bowl of seeds; these remarkable birds deserve so much more than that.

The biggest problem is that if you have only been feeding them seeds for years, it will be challenging to get them to try new things. One trick I would try would be to give them what you want to introduce and not give them any seeds until they start eating the new foods. These parrots eat a large variety of fruit, seeds, nuts, and vegetation in the wild.

African greys must be offered all kinds of items from this list to maintain optimum health. We want to encourage good eating habits and discourage the bad ones with Africangreyss. The most effective approach to providing a wide range of nutrients is to offer a wide range of foods. If you do this daily, your African grey should start trying new foods in no time.

Since no pellet, seed, or vegetable can offer a “complete diet” for parrots, the best thing to do is provide your birds with a wide variety of foods. African Greys, like many parrots, require carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. When learning what to feed a Timneh vs a Congo there aren’t many differences between the Timneh and Congo African grey food requirements.

How many times per day should you feed an African Grey Parrot?

Our parrot, Coco, eats two meals a day. However, she always has access to pellets. We give her two meals during breakfast and dinner. They are social creatures, and feeding them while you are eating a meal is helpful for their mental well-being.

I have always eaten dinner with my bird Coco; I prepare a bowl of fresh veggies, some pre-frozen veggies, freeze-dried veggies, coconut, grains, and 1 tsp seeds. What’s in the bowl will change daily. Did you know parrots can eat bell peppers? Whatever veggies I am using for my meal, I will also save some for Coco.

What fruits can African Greys eat? (what to feed African grey parrots)

African greys should get a small amount of fruit each day. For example, when you give your African Grey fruit, you only give them a tiny piece of the fruit. Whenever I eat fruit, I will cut off a small amount and offer it to Coco, my African Grey parrot. She loves bananas, pomegranates, mangos, pears, blueberries, oranges, cherries, and more.

Here is a list of a bunch of fruits that an African grey can eat:

Apples, apricots, bananas, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, coconut, grapes, kiwi, mango, nectarines, orange, papaya, passion fruit, pawpaw, peach, persimmons, pineapple, plums, pomegranate, raspberries, strawberries, star fruit, melon, and watermelon.

Remember – You are not offering your African grey a whole nectarine; you are giving your bird a piece of a nectarine. African greys are small birds, and you do not want to overload their system with sugar.

Should I be concerned about what I feed my African grey parrot?

Yes, proper diet plays a significant role in an African grey’s health and well-being. Learning what to feed African grey parrots is essential. I’ve taken care of a few African Greys over the years, and while they can be difficult at times to feed–since some tend to reject new foods — they need variety! I think it’s a good idea to make sure you’re providing your pet bird something nutritious and not just giving them a bowl of seeds that they could eat for days straight.

Often an African grey will ignore new foods for many days in a row. Just know that if you keep offering them fresh foods and stick to the plan, you will eventually have a bird willing to try any food you offer.

What do African Grey Parrots Eat in the Wild?

In the wild African greys are often seen ground foraging and climbing trees. The African grey diet in the wild consists of the outer layer of oil palm nuts, red berries from the Cola plant, and many other nuts and seeds. Not only that, but in the wild, you will see them going after maize crops in western Africa! Wild African grey parrots also eat plenty of seeds, nuts, berries, and fruits, anything they can forage in their natural habitat.

African greys in the wild also like to forage around on the ground and dig in the dirt.

What should I feed my African grey for optimal health? [what to feed African grey parrots]

If you are wondering “what to feed African grey parrots,” we are here to help! Just to put it out there, the best thing to feed your African grey would be a mix of bird pellets, fresh vegetables, freeze-dried vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts. Variety like this is a pretty good diet for any parrot and will ensure that they get the proper vitamins and minerals.

However, many people will tell you not to feed your parrot seeds and nuts, but there is more to it than that. You see, many people will argue over the diet of an African Grey Parrot and claim one has to feed them only pellets, while others will say you should never give a parrot such foods.

An African grey will eat both seeds and pellets and eat fresh vegetables and nuts; they are very motivated and love to eat. You need to remember that African greys require a proper diet that includes everything from fresh vegetables to pellets.

African grey parrots will eat different foods from palm nuts, roots, berries, fruits, and palm fruit in the wild. Also, in the wild African grey parrots will find themselves digging around in the ground for roots and insects.

Everything I am listing under each category is the food I have offered to my parrot. There are some that my bird likes one day and not the next. However, the most crucial thing with feeding African greys is variety, so offer them plenty of things from each category.

african grey eating a pomegranate
Part of an African Grey Parrot Diet is Pomegranate – what to feed African grey parrots
an african grey parrot trying to steal some food from a human

African greys are social birds and like to eat with their friends!

African Grey Parrot Diet – What to Feed African Grey Parrots

The Ultimate African Grey Parrot Food List

Fresh vegetables

Asparagus, arugula, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chili peppers, corn, fennel, ginger root, kale, nettles, parsnip, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, & tomatoes.

Learn what to feed African grey parrots. These are a few ideas for fresh vegetables that your grey can eat, if you want to improve your African grey parrot’s lifespan then give them a variety. Some of them like the peppers I always provide raw, and others like the sweet potatoes I cook. If I give my bird a piece of red bell pepper, I will leave the seeds attached to the amount I give her. She likes to pick the inner pepper seeds off and toss them. Since African greys like to forage on the ground, it’s ok for you to let them throw some food down; she will always eat the ground food later on in the day. Just do not leave it there for days; we change her papers on the bottom of her cage twice a day, so there is never old or rotting food sitting there.

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Freeze Dried Vegetables and Fruits

Coco loves her freeze-dried mango every morning.

A company also makes nutritious parrot food bundles that you can order through the mail. The owner has a large Instagram following @ParrotsRUs.

Check them out: ParrotsRUs has freeze-dried snack bundles that are awesome!

mango, pistaccio, Tops pellets, and freeze dried rasberries, - for african grey parrot diet
An african grey parrot with a piece of orange on her beak

Grains

I lightly cook for most of the grains I list below before giving them to my bird. However, I give my parrot some Kamut puffs, it’s for humans, and she loves them. You do not have to cook these, and you can give them to your bird straight out of the bag. One bag will last two months or more since you only put a few puffs into her bowl each day.

Amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, Kamut, oats, whole-wheat pasta, & gluten-free pasta.

Legumes/Beans

It’s better to use dried beans and soak them yourself since beans from a can will have salt. However, if you want to offer your parrot a few canned beans here and there, it should be ok, just do not make it a staple part of their diet.

Adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini beans, edamame/soybeans, garbanzo beans/chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, & pinto beans.

Frozen vegetables

Sometimes I keep a mix of frozen veggies on hand to use in a pinch. I usually keep a pack of organic peas, carrots, corn blend. These are awesome if you don’t have a lot of fresh produce and need to supplement. Once in a while, I have organic haricot vert beans, organic broccoli, and a few others. I just take a few spoonfuls of the pea/carrot/corn blend, run it under warm water to defrost it, and add it to my bird’s bowl along with seeds, pellets, and whatever else I have.

Homemade Birdy Bread

Before baking, you can easily make homemade birdy bread and add fresh veggies into the batter. There are also plenty of bird bread mixes on the market, like Harrison’s omega bird bread mix.

Harrison's Bird Bread Mix - Millet and Flax
  • Provides a healthy alternative for bird owners who choose to prepare their own bird food or those who give regular treats to their birds.
  • Can be offered instead of table food to birds that like to eat at family mealtimes.
  • Can be used to assist in converting birds to a formulated diet. Can be used as a weaning food to transition to a formulated diet.
  • Can be hidden as a foraging reward. Can be used as a vehicle for administering liquid medications.
  • Provides an easy-to-use transition for hospitalized or boarding birds until acceptance of the appropriate formulated diet. Can be moistened and offered to birds that are feeding chicks as a soft food

Seeds

Our veterinarian wants me to take my bird off of all seeds completely. However, I only feed her two teaspoons of seeds a day. The African greys forage for all kinds of seeds in the wild, so I believe cracking seeds is essential for their well-being; however, it does not make them the most significant part of the African grey diet. I use the two brands of seeds, Volkman avian science seed mix, and Higgins VitaSeed California Blend. Both of these brands have a great blend of safflower seeds, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, dehydrated peas, and other goodies! Use seeds that do not contain sunflower seeds or peanuts in the mix.

Volkman Avian Science Super African Grey Parrots Bird Food for 4 Lb- 2pack
  • Pack of 2 special nutritious bird food mix for African Grey & Amazon parrots
  • Diet that offers ingredients for balanced nutrition
a bag of african grey seeds - Volkman

Pellets

I usually rotate between the TOPS pellets and the Bird Tricks Life-Enhancing Pellets. They are both similar, and I have each of them on a subscription, so I can rotate her brand of pellets every few months. The best pellets will have plenty of green vegetables and healthy grains without peanut, corn, or soy fillers. My bird pulverizes her pellets into a fine powder (like the photo below).

TOP's Parrot Food Pellets Hookbills, Small, Medium, Large Birds - Non-GMO, Peanut Soy & Corn Free, USDA Organic Certified - 1 lb / 453 g
  • We use suggested bird sizes but you ultimately choose depends on both the size of you bird and what size food pieces your bird normally prefers.  Generally, if you go a little smaller with the pellet size then you will have less waste. TOP's All Size Hookbills Pellets is best suited for large and medium parrots, such as macaws, amazons, eclectus and cockatoos.
  • TOPs is the only non-corn based USDA Certified complete diet bird food.  Most other competing brands use GMO corn as the main ingredient.  We don't eat GMO corn and do not think your bird should either
  • Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients for a happy and healthy parrot. Naturally preserved with Rosemary, Rose Hips, Lemon and Orange Peel.
  • TOP’s outstanding pellets (1 lb)do not contain any fillers, like soy or corn, or BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin. We use only fresh, natural ingredients and avoid all artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sucrose/sugar.
  • Measures 1/4" in diameter - Feed your companion approximately as much as they want each day, the pellets are cold-pressed to keep the natural nutrition intact.
pellets in a parrot food bowl
Pellets that are pulverized by an African Grey Parrot

Nuts (no salt)

African greys can have a few whole nuts in the shell each day. Buy a few varieties so that of nuts in the shell. We buy almonds, walnuts, and a few other types. Do not give your bird a handful of nuts; instead, offer them 1-4 nuts per day. Usually, I save them for certain times of the day; my bird expects to get an almond in the shell every morning around 10-11 am, and then she also gets one in the evening. If you want to do any training with your bird, make sure to use a high-value reward like a nut.

Oh! Nuts Raw Walnuts in Shell | Resealable 2-Lb. Bulk Bag for Ultimate Freshness | All-Natural, Whole Walnuts for a Healthy Vegan Snack | Ideal for Keto & Gluten-Free Diets | Full of Protein & Omega 3
  • PERFECT FOR SQUIRRELS, HOLIDAYS, OR SPECIAL OCCASIONS: What a freshness overload! Our walnuts are hand-picked, packed freshly & delivered to you fully intact in their hardwood shell. These delicious walnuts boast a rich taste & creamy texture.
  • HAVE MORE FUN WITH OLD-FASHIONED NUT-CRACKING: Don’t skip the satisfying fun of cracking the shells of these delicious walnuts yourself. There is nothing like treating yourself to a mouthwatering taste explosion that comes right out of its shell.
  • NUTRITIOUS PREMIUM NUTS FOR KETO, VEGAN, PALEO DIETS: High in protein, low in cholesterol – no matter if you are on a paleo, keto, vegan, low-carb, gluten- or dairy-free diet, these whole, kosher walnuts will make your taste buds go nuts!
  • CRUNCHY FRESHNESS THANKS TO RECLOSABLE ZIP LOCK: This two-pound bulk bag contains fresh walnuts that stay intact including their shells. The heavy-duty zip-lock bag keeps them fresh and flavorsome so you’ll have more cracking and snacking fun later.
  • GREAT NUTS FOR SNACKING, BAKING AND COOKING: These fresh walnuts are great for snacking on a handful of healthy goodness, featuring a rich taste that goes a long way when added to salads, dips, sauces & baked goods such as bread, pies or scones.

Other Proteins

While some people in various African grey parrot groups swear by feeding their parrot chicken bones, we do not provide our birds chicken bones. We occasionally offer them a hard-boiled piece of egg with the shell on and a tiny bit of cooked salmon. Other than these two items, we do not feed our birds any animal proteins.

My bird hates pellets; how do I get them to eat pellets?

If your bird is hungry enough, it will eat the pellets; we are not saying starve your bird. However, you can withhold food all day and then, in the evening, give your bird pellets. If it doesn’t look like your bird ate any of the pellets by the following day, you can try this trick. Make a batch of birdy bread and put some pellets into the bread; this will let your bird realize that the pellets are food.

Some birds who have only eaten the same few food items for their entire life will have a more challenging time making the switch. With patience, your bird can do it! You can also mix some of the pellets with baby food. Some African grey parrots go crazy over baby food or apple sauce. Doing this will get the parrot to try some of the pellets.

The trick is to get your bird to start experimenting and trying new foods. Once you have accomplished that, you can begin offering all kinds of foods to your bird.


Read More About cage liners for birds and what to put on an African Grey’s cage.


What to Feed African Grey Parrots – African Grey Parrot Food List

Can African greys eat cucumber?

Yes, an African grey parrot can eat cucumber; however, just offer them a piece of cucumber, not a whole cucumber.

Can African greys eat cherries?

Yes, African grey parrots can eat cherries. African grey parrots like to eat and then shake their head, which causes some of the juice to end up on the walls! Be forewarned that you will end up with cherry stains all over your walls.

Can African greys eat strawberries?

Yes, African greys can eat strawberries, although my bird Coco only likes them once in a while.

Can African greys eat eggs?

In the wild African grey, parrots will eat eggs that they forage once in a while. They can provide your grey with vitamin D3 and calcium. A small piece of a hard-boiled egg with the shell intact is ok for an African grey parrot to eat.

Can African Greys eat blueberries?

Yes, they can eat blueberries. They like to skin the blueberry and suck out all blueberry flesh and juice.

Can African greys eat mangoes?

Yes, my bird often makes a mess of her beak after she eats a mango. See the photo below! All parrots can eat mangos.

an african grey parrot with mango all over her beak

Are there special foods I should feed my African grey when molting?

When parrots molt, their body is replacing old feathers with new ones. Most parrot species mold 2-3 times per year. A balanced diet can help a parrot produce new vibrant feathers after a molt.

Foods that are rich in vitamin A.

  • Collards  
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Turnip greens 
  • Carrot 
  • Sweet Red Pepper 
  • Sweet potatoes

Foods that are rich in B vitamins.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Legumes
  • Almonds
  • Kale
  • Salmon
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli

Yes, you did see salmon on that list. In the wild African grey, parrots eat a tiny amount of fish. It is ok to give your parrot a 1/4 inch piece of cooked salmon every few months. The cooked fish may even help their feathers during a molting season.

Does my bird need additional vitamins, minerals, or amino acids?

If you are feeding a well-balanced diet, you should not add additional vitamins to your food. Most high-quality seeds and pellet brands have vitamins in their mix.

Does my bird need gravel or grit like the wild African Grey birds?

No, they don’t need it, although if you provide a gravel or dirt tray for them to dig in, just make sure there is no mold in the soil. Make sure that there are no fertilizers in the ground that you get. For dirt trays, you can purchase sterile topsoil at any big box hardware store. Another thing you can do is to go into the woods and collect some new soil. When you get home, it’s always a good idea to bake the soil in an oven at 200° F for 40 minutes. Doing this will kill any mold or harmful insects in the soil.

You can also get gravel instead of dirt; just make sure you bake the rock before allowing your parrot to dig.

Final Thoughts on The African Grey Diet

The most important thing with feeding African greys is variety, so provide them with plenty of things from each category. Most African Grey parrots will eat a variety of foods. The trick is to get your bird to start experimenting and trying new foods. Once you have accomplished that, you can begin offering all kinds of food items to your bird.  I hope this in-depth article helps you find some new ideas for your pet’s diet! 

Feeding an African grey the proper diet for their life stage, whether it be molting season or not, can help them produce vibrant feathers after they molt. Learning what to feed African grey parrots early on in your relationship is essential. If you’re worried about providing enough vitamins and minerals, we don’t suggest adding additional supplements unless directed by your veterinarian because most pellets contain these nutrients already in reasonable amounts!