Despite having a varied diet in the wild, pet budgies often just want to eat seeds and millet in captivity. Consequently, they may refuse fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and pellets, despite their health benefits.
Once your budgie gets used to the flavor, it’s more likely to sample and enjoy its new food. If your budgie is very picky, introduce food that looks similar to what it knows.
Are Budgies Picky Eaters?
Budgies aren’t picky eaters in the wild. They have a highly adaptable diet, ranging from fruits to veggies to nuts and grains, and beyond. This ensures that they don’t run out of food sources.
Pet budgies become picky eaters because they have been socialized to develop strong preferences.
One budgie may love strawberries, while another detests them. Likewise, a budgie may like eating chopped strawberries but refuse whole strawberries. Even frozen vs. room-temperature berries can be a turn-off. When kept as pets, budgies are limited to what you offer and how you offer it.
Rearing can play a role in how fussy your budgie is with its food. If your pet budgie has eaten nothing but millet since it was a chick, the chances are that it has been socialized to be selective and will refuse anything unfamiliar.
Unfortunately, budgies can’t thrive off a single food group, so you need to train them to eat a wider range of foods.
Budgie Won’t Eat Anything But Seed
Budgies eat seed and nothing else because that’s all they know. Perhaps you’ve bought an adult budgie from a pet store that’s eaten nothing but seeds all its life, so it’ll prefer this food above all else.
Also, your budgie may find the seed oily and fatty, both of which have a pleasant taste. According to Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, seed-eating birds prefer seeds because of the energy boost.
How to Get Your Budgie to Try New Foods
The best way to get a budgie to try new foods is to introduce them at a young age.
A young budgie is still highly exploratory and won’t have any preconceptions about which foods it likes and dislikes. So, feeding new food to a young budgie is a good way of incorporating new food into its diet.
Older budgies are often used to one or two kinds of food. Over time, they become too set in their ways to try new meals without great persistence from their owners.
Here are tried-and-tested methods to get a mature budgie to eat new foods:
1/ Trick Them Into Eating
If a particular food is new to your budgie, it may consistently turn it down because it doesn’t recognize it as food.
If this is the case, your goal is to trick them into tasting it. Once it’s tested the flavor, it’s likely to be curious enough to eat more, eventually warming up to the new meal.
Place some new food in a familiar dish with other familiar foods. Your budgie will likely eat the entire content of its bowl. If done consistently, your budgie will begin to recognize the new item as food.
It’s recommended that you offer your budgie new foods that are bright in color. According to Scientific Reports, birds are more likely to eat brightly-colored fruits.
2/ Mix the New Food with Treats
Some budgies are picky, so they eat around unfamiliar food to sample their old favorites.
You can circumvent this issue by introducing treats into the mix. Fill the food dish with the new meal, and hide some treats in the mix.
This makes it harder for budgies to pull out the treats without tasting the new food. Your budgie will also smell the new food as it hunts for the treats and may be curious enough to take a bite.
Only use a couple of treats, so your budgie is forced to dig through the new food. If the treats are too easily accessible, it’ll merely bypass the new food to reach it.
3/ Feed Them in the Morning
Budgies forage in the morning, so this is the time of the day when they’re most likely to accept a new food. Your budgie will also be hungry, so it’ll be keener to eat what it finds.
The best approach is to offer your budgie some new food early in the morning and offer the regular food a couple of hours later. This prevents your budgie from going hungry if it chooses to be overly selective.
4/ Experiment with Different Foods
Your budgie may dislike the option you’ve given it, which can be circumvented by offering a wide variety for your budgie to sample. Perhaps it hates strawberries but would like to sample sliced banana.
As a bonus, all the different smells, tastes, and colors are likely to intrigue your budgie. It might find introducing these new meals to be a form of enrichment or a game.
If you’re keen on the budgie eating one kind of food, change the way that it’s offered. For example, cooked vegetables rather than raw vegetables, or fruit chunks rather than sliced fruit.
5/ Use Cage Clips to Hang the New Food
Budgies eat food from trees, bushes, and off the ground in the wild. They’re used to foraging in many locations, with various difficulty levels. Your budgie may resist new food simply because it’s boring.
Instead of placing the new food in a dish, hang it on the side of the cage using a clip. This is best done with leafy greens and sliced vegetables.
The budgie can then pull the food down and grind its beak against the texture as it feeds. Since it’s an interesting new addition to the cage and at an angle that requires some work, the budgie is more likely to be curious.
Only use wooden or stainless steel pegs or clips for this method. A zinc-coated clip should never be used, as this could lead to zinc poisoning.
6/ Eat in Front of Your Budgie
Budgies are often curious about the food you eat, so use this to your advantage by sampling some of the new food in front of your budgie. It’ll see that you find it interesting and may mirror your action.
7/ Trick Them Into Taking the New Food
Budgies like to tease each other and their owners, so they’re also more likely to nibble on something during a game.
To trick your budgie into eating the new food, take a bite and enjoy the food right in front of it, but refuse to give the budgie a taste. This will encourage your budgie to try and steal the food from you.
Leave some of the food within the budgie’s reach. Then, turn away without looking to give your budgie the impression that it’s successfully whisking the meal away, an act that most budgies can’t resist.
8/ Make Your Bird Forage for the New Food
You can get your budgie to try new food by activating its foraging instincts.
Place bits of the new food underneath tiny paper cups. Then, place these cups at random around your home, a table where your budgie is playing, or inside a large cage.
Some of the paper cups should be empty, and some should have toys inside. Play this game for a couple of minutes, where your budgie knocks over or nudges a cup before you lift it. In this way, your budgie is rewarded with something pleasing every time it finds the toy cup.
Once it’s grown used to the system, place the new food under the toy cups instead of toys. If your budgie believes it’s foraging for hidden food, it’s more likely to eat the new food hidden inside the paper cups.
No matter what method you employ, persistence, consistency, and gentleness are necessary. With these approaches, your budgie should eventually get with the program.