Quinoa is an extremely popular grain, and has been successfully used in bird diets for years.
Quinoa is a seed from the goosefoot family, and its mild nutty flavor makes it a great alternative to grains and seeds.
But while quinoa is on the list of available grains, birds don’t typically eat quinoa grain by grain, instead preferring pellets or mixtures that include other grains. Is quinoa okay for birds? Do birds eat quinoa?
Quinoa Benefits For Birds
Quinoa is a very healthy addition to any bird’s diet. The protein in quinoa contains all the essential amino acids that your pet birds needs for good health.
It also has smaller amounts of fatty acids and minerals, as well as fiber and carbohydrates, all of which are necessary components for a balanced diet.
Because it is so nutritious, quinoa can substitute for other grains and seeds in most recipes for healthy homemade bird treats.
It can also be used as a high-protein addition to your pet bird’s diet, and it is often included in commercial seed mixes or pellets made just for parrots.
- Quinoa is an excellent source of 18 amino acids, including 9 that are essential.
- It is also a source of dietary fiber;
- It is a good source of iron.
- It is a good source of magnesium,
- folate and,
- With 20% to 25% protein by dry weight, quinoa is one of the most protein-rich plant foods which is why it is considered to be a super food.
- It is also a good source of fatty acids, minerals, and fiber.
Quinoa contains up to 20% protein, which makes it an excellent substitute for other grains with lower protein content.
Without the right amount of protein in their diet, your pet bird can develop a deficiency which can lead to feather picking and poor plumage.
Quinoa also contains amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins C and E (Alpha Tocopherol), which are essential for the health of your pet bird or parrot.
Different Types Of Quinoa Birds Can Eat
Red quinoa is a little less common but is still available in most health food stores. It seems to be preferred by finches, canaries, and even some of the more rare parrots such as rose-breasted cockatoos.
The red quinoa bird seed will provide your birds with an excellent source of dietary fiber;
It will also provide your birds with important minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and copper.
White quinoa in bird seed mix is very popular with larger parrots such as macaws, cockatoos, and African Greys. It contains about 2% more protein than the red variety does; this can be beneficial if your birds are molting or breeding.
Black quinoa can be quite difficult to find in stores on its own and usually comes in tri-color mixes.
These tiny black seeds are very popular with budgies; this may be because they have the highest protein content of all the types available. This type of quinoa also contains essential amino acids.
The best bang for your buck, a combination of all three colors of quinoa is the most commonly found and purchased by bird owners. It’s a great source of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron and copper for your pet birds.
If you’re looking to give your bird some variety in its diet, or just want to save, purchasing this type of quinoa is a great idea.
You can also use it to make your own seed mixes for your small birds such as parakeets, finches, conures etc.
How To Feed Quinoa To Birds
You can mix quinoa into your birds regular seed mix to create a healthier and tastier meal for your birds. You can also add it as a treat or perk after training sessions or in between meals to prevent obesity, especially if you have a larger bird.
As quinoa isn’t part of the regular diet of most parrots (sunflower seeds are more common), be careful not to feed too much of it, and rather, slowly introduce it as an addition to their normal diet.
Can Birds Eat Quinoa Raw?
Birds can eat quinoa raw or dry-cooked, as long as they have a well-balanced diet of regular seeds. For an older bird that is only eating seeds and treats, you may need to add some variety.
Can Birds Eat Quinoa Cooked?
Yes. As well as eating it raw, they can eat it cooked and it is suitable for all types of pet birds when cooked.
How To Cook Quinoa For Birds?
- Quinoa takes about 15-20 minutes to cook and you will need one part quinoa to two parts water (or broth).
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer covered until the grains are soft.
- Turn off the heat and let it stand covered for 5 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and serve while still warm.
- Remember, as well as providing your bird with more protein, quinoa is also one of the most economical foods to feed pet birds. It really is a great alternative grain for your small birds which are usually fed seeds!
Where Do I Find Quinoa?
In most supermarkets and online health stores. We like to buy our tri-color quinoa in bulk for our birds here.
I always recommend buying organic where possible to ensure you are giving your birds as natural a product as possible.
Alternatives To Quinoa To Feed Birds
If you find your bird does not like quinoa then you could try millet, which comes in white and red (most birds prefer white)
Make sure that whatever you choose to add to your bird’s diet is food-grade, including oils.
Quinoa vs Corn:
Your bird will enjoy quinoa more than corn, as it is the sweeter of the two.
Quinoa vs Wheat:
Your bird will eat wheat more readily than quinoa, especially when mixed with seeds and nuts.
Quinoa vs Rice:
Many birds do not naturally eat rice in the wild. Your bird might have become accustomed to eating rice in its bird mix, however.