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Nutrition for Birds

For specific information on nutrition for your bird such as ingredient listings, nutritional benefits and availability, visit our Bird Nutrition pages. To navigate the nutrition faqs, click on the topic question.


    1. What is the recommended amount of Tropican for my bird?
    2. Should we be using Prime with Tropican?
    3. Does your food contain menadione sodium bisulfite?
    4. Tropican for multispecies household?
    5. Diet conversion for Cockatiels?
    6. Weaning an African Grey?
    7. Importance of Salt (Sodium Chloride) in Bird Food

What is the recommended amount of Tropican for my bird?

Q. We just adopted a 2 year old Green Cheek Conure. How much Tropican should I feed my bird? The adoption place where we got him recommended Tropican, and they say he eats your food, but we think he really likes his seed better.

A. Congratulations on your new family addition! And, thank you for your inquiry for our Tropican diets for your Green Cheek Conure. For most companion parrots, we recommend that a bird’s weekly diet consist of at least 70% Tropican with the remaining 30% be enrichment foods. With this ratio, supplements will not be necessary. It’s no surprise that your Green Cheek Conure appears to be eating his Tropican nor is it a surprise that he really likes his seed mix! First, Tropican is very high in caloric density-which means that it takes very little food to satisfy a bird’s nutritional needs and unlike traditional seed mixes, there will be no empty shells in the bowl or on the cage floor. In fact, a green cheek conure only needs to eat about 1-2 Tbsp of Tropican daily. You can monitor his consumption of Tropican by only having this diet in his night cage, and offering this diet first thing in the morning when he’s most hungry. The enrichment portion of his diet can include fresh fruits and veggies, plus his seed mixture. It’s very normal for a bird to choose a bowl of seeds, as the seeds are yummy due to the high fat content! Keep in mind that if the 70%-30% ratio becomes lopsided, you will have to take measures to ensure his overall diet is complete with supplements and of course more exercise to burn off the excessive calories he consumes. For more information, we invite you to read more in the Nutrition section.

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Should we be using Prime with Tropican?

Q. We were wondering if we should be adding Prime to our umbrella cockatoo’s diet. He eats mostly Tropican and some vegetables, plus she shares our dinner each night.

A. Using Prime with our Tropican, or any formulated diet for that matter is a tough one. Many considerations need to be evaluated when it comes to using a vitamin supplement with a bird that eats a formulated diet. The first consideration is “how much of his diet is truly Tropican (other formulated diet) ?” Your bird can overdose and irreversible damage can be causedby adding too much vitamin and mineral to a bird’s diet, yet sometimes caretakers are unaware of gaps in their bird’s diet because they are unaware of the true amount of pellets their bird is actually consuming. We have some very valuable information available on Prime to help you evaluate your bird’s needs.

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Does your food contain menadione sodium bisulfite?

Q. I am confused as to why on your Tropican sticks packaging the ingredient list for the UK does not match the ingredient list for the United States and Canada? The list for the UK looks much healthier because it does not contain menadione sodium bisulfite complex for vitamin K… Why is this? Why do you put this awful ingredient in some of your food yet not in others? I am concerned about this ingredient and wish you would leave it out of your products. My parrots like the taste of your food better than those of others, plus your food is more affordable. I know that you are an authority on bird nutrition so this puzzles me. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

A. Thank you for expressing your concern regarding the listed ingredient “Menadione bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity)” on our old packages of Tropican diets. The plates that make up a portion of the information on our packaging were changed for UK and not for US as we were anticipating a total new package design. We do take your question very seriously and we are  happy that you are indeed concerned about the pet products you choose to feed your companion birds. We are also very happy to advise you that we actually removed this source of Vitamin K many years ago. Research has indicated that birds create their own Vitamin K in their gut systems, so it’s not necessary and actually it’s better to omit it. While the Hagen/HARI psittacine nutritional research and product development team is very up-to-date on this topic, our packaging team was a bit behind in updating the bags. We do apologize for possibly casting a doubt for you, but our new packaging includes a very accurate ingredient list. We hope to maintain your confidence in Tropican for your birds and if you ever have questions, please do not hesitate to ask us.

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Tropican for multispecies household?

Q: I have several rescue birds and I am looking for a type of pellet they might like so I can switch them. I have 3 cockatiels, 1 sun conure, 1 quaker, 1 medium sulphur crested cockatoo, and  1 moluccan cockatoo. Should they all be on the same pellet or different pellet sizes ?

A: Choosing Tropican is a great step in providing a nutritious diet for all of your birds. We make the Lifetime (maintenance) formula and High Performance (juvenile, breeder, or birds that are in need of higher caloric and protein base diet) formula. For your flock, it’s a matter of choosing a granule size. We recommend the Lifetime, unless any of your guys fall into the High Performance category. And, as for size, most of your birds will do best with the Tropican Lifetime Cockatiel Granule (approx. 2mm). Your Moluccan Cockatoo and possibly your quaker and sun conure might also prefer the Lifetime Parrot Granule (approx. 4 mm). You can purchase our Tropican at your favorite pet product dealer or from your favorite internet retailer.  We also have great tips on diet conversion available under Avian Care/Feeding & Nutrition and on the HARI Blog

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Diet conversion for Cockatiels?

Q. I recently took in two cockatiels when my niece went off to college. I want to switch their feed but am unsure what company to go with. My daughter told me about your company and I was wondering what products from your selection do you recommend. And how do I go about switching their feed? I thank you in advance for any advice, I am new to birds and appreciate any advice you can give.

A. Thank you for contacting us with your concerns for your niece’s cockatiels. We do recommend the Lifetime Tropican for cockatiel size birds and you can get this from your favorite pet product retailer or online store.
Having two cockatiels, especially if they are in the same cage or are within sight of each other, will make diet conversion much easier. Cockatiels are highly flock oriented, and what one does, the other will do. I would suggest that you refrain from giving them their normal diet in the morning and instead have only the Tropican in their dish. They will be most hungry in the morning, therefore to consistently offer only the Tropican at this time is recommended. You can give them their old diet and/or healthy fruits & veggies in a separate dish in the evening. The best tool in your tool box of diet conversion is you, be consistent! Watch for consumption. With cockatiels, they only need about 1 tablespoon of Tropican each, so while the dish may not look as if it’s being touched, the stool will tell all. In other words, watch the stool. If you see that the stool is getting smaller and smaller, resume their regular old diet for a while. If the volume of the stool is about the same, perhaps a little tan color due to the Tropican, they’re eating!

We have many suggestions on diet conversion for companions at the following links: Tried and True Tips on Diet Conversions as well as a podcast that includes strategies on using a bird’s natural instinct to forage in our Living World Natures Treasure Bird Toys to increase better nutritional opportunities. Hope this helps! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns!

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Weaning an African Grey?

Q: I am currently attempting to wean a 12 week old African Grey and all she wants to eat is her formula and her veggies. Can you offer any suggestions please?

A: Weaning a young parrot, especially the very cognitive African Grey is a bit of a challenge. Remember that you are in command-provided that you follow some very basic rules. There is so much more to the weaning process of a parrot than the bird just eating on its own. This is the time in which you as the avian caretaker will mentor and guide your bird into not just eating good food, but to also be a great companion pet!

  1. Do you have a scale and are you weighing your bird each morning? This aspect of weaning is very critical as the reading on the scale indicates a record of her weight over a period of time. As she is 12 weeks, she is still in that phase in which she can and should not lose more than 10% of her “plateau” weight (African Greys, usually 7-8 weeks is top weight) If she loses more than 10%, she will only view you as the source of ‘taking away’ the hunger pain-when she should also be exploring and eating some food on her own.
  2. Please only give your gal fruits and veggies after she is eating a good portion of desired food (Tropican High Performance Parrot Granules or Biscuits) on her own. The fruits and vegetables do not have the calories required for good physical and mental growth during this critical time in her life. Don’t worry-after she’s eating a solid nutritious meal that serves her well, there’s always room for the fun enrichment foods such as Tropimix, fruits and veggies. Birds are kind of like kids…they always figure out the fun stuff to eat!
  3. Encourage your Fledgling to explore her surroundings for food. We at HARI use the Tropican High Performance Parrot Granules and Biscuits in a variety of ways for our fledglings. We soak them in hand feeding formula, place the biscuits in foraging toys and always have it available for them. African Greys are highly cognitive and as she expands her horizons with your close supervision, place the biscuits in places that she can find. This builds her confidence as well as helps her to maintain a good solid nutritional foundation. We even put them in dishes full of pebbles for foraging enrichment! (Pebbles or rocks that would be too big for a parrot to eat).

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