Have you ever gone to your favorite pet store and found that they were out of your finch’s food?
Maybe you were tempted to grab some parakeet food instead. Or, perhaps you own a parakeet and a finch and are tired of buying separate food for them.
Either way, many bird owners wonder if parakeets and finches can eat the same food.
The answer is slightly more complex than a simple yes or no, so let’s explore the various acceptable foods for these birds.
A Quick Answer
They both also enjoy a varied diet, with a mix of seeds, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
However, this is where parakeets and finches may not be able to eat the exact same food. Some supplemental foods work well for one type of bird, but not the other.
We will go into more detail below about what foods are safe for both, and which things to avoid when feeding parakeets or finches.
The Difference Between Parakeet and Finch Mixes
If you go to the pet store and see separate birdseed for finches and parakeets, you may think that these birds need different mixes to stay healthy.
However, the reality is that the birdseed blends are essentially the same. Most include a mix of seeds, millet, grains, and select fruits and vegetables. The reason they sport different labels is mostly for marketing and branding purposes.
Therefore, if you see that the store has run out of your preferred parakeet food, you can grab a bag of finch seed – or vice versa.
Many brands also produce birdseed that is labeled for finches and parakeets. If you own both types of birds, this might be the best option so you don’t have to worry about keeping their food separate.
Seeds and Pellets
While many people believe that birds – parakeets and finches included – only need seeds to have a healthy life, seeds should only be a portion of their diet. Because they are high in fat, you should limit how much you give to your birds.
Still, seeds a crucial part of their diet – and a favorite for parakeets and finches. They both enjoy millet seed, canary seed, flaxseed, and poppy seed.
While their seed diets are comparable, pellet mixes are more particular to each species. You can get away feeding finches and parakeets the same pellets for short periods, but try to give them food specific to their species most of the time.
When you buy a birdseed mix it will probably include nuts. However, if you would like to give them some yourself, both finches and parakeets love nuts.
The rules for feeding nuts to your birds are the same for finches and parakeets. Make sure that they have no shells, and chop them up into small pieces that your bird can easily swallow.
Some favorite nut options for both breeds are pecans, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.
There is some debate about whether to feed peanuts and peanut butter to finches and parakeets. The safest route is to limit how much they eat.
Peanuts can be a danger to birds because they routinely get moldy, and that mold growth produces a toxin. Plus, they have phytates and goitrogens, which can be harmful in large amounts.
If you want to give your parakeet some peanuts to boost their protein intake, peanut butter is better than raw peanuts. For finches, it’s best to avoid peanuts altogether.
One of the biggest differences between parakeet and finch food is their source of protein. While they may get small amounts of protein from nuts or corn, you should include other options to ensure a balanced diet.
If you have a finch, buy wax worms or mealworms from your local pet store. You can place them in your bird’s cage in a small, shallow container and wait for the bird to enjoy their tasty treat.
Parakeets prefer cooked protein, like turkey, egg, or chicken. No matter which option you choose, ensure it is fully cooked and cut into small pieces.
Just like how humans may get bored of eating the same food every day, finches and parakeets enjoy a sweet touch in their diet.
You can feed them a wide variety of fruits, but make sure they comprise 10% or less of their daily meals. Also, avoid buying fruit that may have remnants of pesticides. Always look for organic options, and thoroughly wash the fruit before feeding it to your finch or budgie.
Some popular options for both birds include apples, peaches, melons, blackberries, pineapple, and strawberries.
As you feed these fruits to your birds, be sure to remove any fruit pits (like cherry and peach) and apple seeds. Not only can small pits become choking hazards, but many fruit pits have cyanide.
Also, never feed either type of bird avocado. This fruit can be potentially fatal for birds due to the fungicidal toxin persin. Another toxic fruit is rhubarb. While humans can eat the stalk, don’t give any part of the plant to your birds to avoid oxalate poisoning.
For finches, limit the following fruits:
- Bananas: While fine in moderation, a lot of bananas in a finch’s diet may stop the digestive enzymes from working properly.
- Grapes: Like bananas, grapes may be harmful if given excessively. Plus, they are not very nutritional for finches.
- Raisins: Since raisins come from grapes, they are also not an ideal fruit.
- Citrus: An excess amount of citrus fruits can cause stomach issues because of the acidity.
As part of their varied diet, both parakeets and finches should eat some vegetables, which are an excellent source of vitamin A, B, and C, as well as other minerals.
Both birds enjoy nutritious veggies such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, dandelion leaves, squash, kale, cooked corn, and leafy greens.
However, make sure to not provide too many carrots or spinach, since they contain tannins. In excess amounts, tannins can cause liver damage. As with fruits, any vegetables you give your bird should be in small portions as a supplement to the seeds and pellets.
Make sure that any vegetables you feed your finch or budgie are organic and free of any pesticides. Also, there are some veggies that are safe for one type of bird, but not the other.
When feeding your finch, stay away from the following:
- Asparagus: It may cause some stomach problems in finches.
- Iceberg lettuce: While leafy greens are safe for finches, iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value.
- Raw Peas: Like raw corn, raw peas have protease inhibitors, which lower your finch’s capacity to process proteins. However, as we listed cooked corn above, you can feed cooked peas to your finch.
While parakeets can enjoy a bit more variety, you should still avoid tomatoes, which have a high level of acidity. Finches will enjoy a slice of tomato, but a parakeet may get an upset stomach. However, you may feed them cooked or dried tomatoes.
Generally speaking, grains shouldn’t make up a huge part of a bird’s diet, whether it is a finch or a parakeet. While they can provide healthy carbohydrates, grains should act as a treat for your bird or as a minimal portion of their diet.
The healthiest grains for both parakeets and finches are barley, quinoa, and buckwheat. Oats are another option, but you should cook them before giving them to your bird.
What Not to Feed Your Birds
We touched on potentially dangerous and fatal foods above, but there are a few more to consider.
In general, there are several foods that you should never give to a bird, no matter the type. Most of them have some sort of toxin or substance that is poisonous to animals.
Never offer your bird foods high in sugar or salt, as they can cause dehydration or kidney failure. Even if you find sugar-free candy, that is still a dangerous option because it has xylitol, which can harm birds.
Likewise, chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine are all foods you should never offer your bird. Garlic and onions can also be toxic due to high levels of thiosulphate.
Finally, keep anything with dairy or lactose away from your bird. As humans, we have enzymes that can easily digest lactose, but birds don’t.
Finches and parakeets have very comparable diets. They both love a variety of foods and need balanced meals. In an emergency or for short periods, you can feed them the same birdseed mixes and pellets.
However, for long, healthy life, your best bet is to personalize their diet and accommodate the specific needs of your parakeet or finch.
One option is to not buy birdseed from the store and feed them fruits, seeds, veggies, and nuts from the lists above. That way, you know exactly what your bird – or birds! – is getting. Plus, if you own both a parakeet and a finch, you can give them food that works for both species.
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