Birds have very specific dietary requirements and it can be quite overwhelming trying to find out what they can and cannot eat. This is especially true if you have a rare, exotic bird like the lovebird.
The lovebird is a genus of parrots and there are a total of 9 lovebird species. Now, don’t start panicking. You don’t have to memorize long lists of foods to avoid for all 9 of these species’.
Luckily, the foods that lovebirds can’t eat are all pretty similar to the foods that other species of birds should avoid. This makes it a whole lot easier in the sense that a quick search on the internet for “can a bird eat X?” will confirm the answer.
That being said, we think it is still very important to keep a handy list of all the bad foods for your lovebirds. This way you can refer to this directly when you get stuck.
As well as this, we will also be including some of the yummy snacks that you can feed your lovebirds. This way you will be sure that they will always have the best diet possible.
Sure, we all know that Polly wants a cracker….but you need to make sure these crackers are unsalted! Salt can be very unhealthy for your lovebird (or any type of bird for that matter).
Salt is not good for humans when consumed in large amounts. The same goes for our little flying friends. Lovebirds in particular have small bodies and cannot easily deal with salt, even if we think it is in relatively small amounts.
Food that has too much salt added to it can cause dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance, kidney failure, and even death in our little feathered pals.
With this in mind, it is important that you avoid giving them any food that has salt added to it, as well as any salty snacks such as pretzels, crackers, and salted nuts.
Chocolate and caffeine
Okay, so as much as we love caffeine, imagine that feeling you get when you get a particularly strong espresso or have one too many cups of coffee in the morning…jitters, racing thoughts, and of course the feeling that our heart is going to burst through our chests.
Well, if it only takes one strong cup for it to happen to use, imagine how little a lovebird would need to have! Caffeine should be avoided at all costs since even a drop can prove lethal to your lovebird. They do not need caffeine to keep their energy, as their diets should cover this.
Likewise, chocolate is a caffeine containing food product, and so it should be avoided at all costs. Not only that but it is also a compound called theobromine.
This is toxic in many animals, lovebirds included. It can cause vomiting, sickness, diarrhea, and can even induce seizures. Ultimately, too much of this can cause death.
The only sweet foods your bird should eat are small pieces of fruit (but check that the fruit is suitable for them first).
This artificial sweetener is a feature in many of our favorite things, specifically gum. It is also featured in diet foods as it is a low calorie alternative to sugar.
However, in animals, xylitol is toxic. You should not give xylitol or any foods containing xylitol to your pets, whether that be dogs, cats, lovebirds, or any other animal.
Xylitol can cause all sorts of issues, from hypoglycemia (this is low blood sugar), liver diseases and damage, poisoning, toxicity symptoms, and ultimately death. As such, it should be avoided at all costs.
Bear in mind that whilst there are no studies out there about the effect of this artificial sweetener on lovebirds specifically, it is lethal to dogs, and given that birds are even smaller with a faster metabolism, it is very likely to have the same dire consequences.
Whilst we are on the topic of sweeteners, it is worth noting that you should avoid giving your lovebird any type of sweetener, as well as excess amounts of sugar. They simply do not need it. If you want to treat them to something sweet you can feed them some safe-to-eat fruit!
Spicy food (including onions and garlic)
The compounds allicin (in garlic), and sulfur (in onions) are both very harmful for lovebirds. They can cause all kinds of nasty symptoms such as anemia, sickness, diarrhea, ulcers, and overall body weakness.
In large amounts, these compounds can be fatal. Do not feed them onion, garlic, or any other spicy food that might contain these two ingredients.
That being said, that does not mean all veggies should be avoided. There are some vegetables that are very healthy for your feathered friends, some of which we will explore at the end of the article.
Fruit seeds and pits
Whilst many different types of fruit are healthy for your lovebirds, there should be care taken when feeding them fruit that has seeds or pits. Seeds from apples and pears are dangerous, as well as the pits from cherries, apricots, plums, nectarines, and peaches.
They can, however, eat the flesh of all of these fruits, provided you take utmost care to ensure all traces of the seeds and pits are removed.
You should keep in mind that there are actually some fruits that have seeds that are absolutely fine to feed your birds. Not all seeded fruits need to be avoided. For example, melons, berries, pomegranates, and grapes all have seeds and are totally safe for your lovebirds.
Avoid feeding avocado to your lovebirds. The reason for this is because there is a compound in avocado leaves that is toxic to them. It may cause issues such as respiratory problems, heart issues, and even death.
It seems that some types of avocado are eaten by birds in the wild, but it can be difficult to know, as an owner of a lovebird, what is good and what is potentially lethal. With this in mind, it is best to avoid giving your lovebird any avocado.
Excessive amounts of fatty foods should be avoided. It is fine for your lovebird to have small slivers of nuts every now and then. You can feed them unsalted nuts daily, in very small portions such as one piece of walnut or a slice of almond.
However, in general, they do not need that much fat. Limit their consumption of fatty foods to help prevent issues such as obesity, stroke, heart disease, and more (yep, just like we humans!). Encourage lots of exercise for your bird to help ensure they remain fit and healthy.
What can lovebirds eat?
Lovebirds should be fed plentiful diets with all the nutrients they need to be healthy. Pick out some from our list below to feed them or to give them a safe treat:
- Specially made parrot mix available from pet stores
- Corn on the cob
- Parsley (in small amounts)
- Apples (without seeds)
- Kiwi fruit
- Pears (without seeds)
- Unsalted nuts in small portions (they like walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts)
- A number of different garden herbs are also suitable such as thyme, sage, dill, mint, alfalfa, and chicory)
Use specially formulated parrot food as their main dietary source, and complement this with some of the safe foods from our list above. You should also make sure that your lovebirds have constant access to fresh, clean water.
They need between 5 to 10 ounces of water each day. If you want to give them a little sweet treat, they can drink some pure 100% fruit juice (preferably freshly squeezed by you). However, this should be a very small amount and only every so often rather than daily.