When we first got Tea, I read everything there was to know about parrots, sucked down books like candy, and read online as well. Everything I read said that nutrition was vital to keeping a bird in good health. But no one agreed. So, I knew I'd have to figure things out for myself, what made me comfortable and made my birds happy.
Once we took him to the vet (and began broadening our zoo), I knew exactly how important diet was. Every one of our birds came with calcium and protein deficiencies, one of which was bad enough to cause a fractured leg with normal handling. And all of them were weaned to not great diets. Two got seeds and a random mix of vegetables (veggies, unless you're careful, tend to lack protein and calcium, as do most seeds. This is a problem for people vegetarians too). One ate Kaytee Rainbow and occasional fresh food, but never got sunlight or fresh air (petstore boy). And one ate a mix of seed, fruit, and nuts, as well as some fresh food. His protein levels were the hightest.
So, I listened to the stories of people from the 'pro-pellet' camp, the 'anti-pellet' camp, and the 'people food' camp, and this is where I ended up.
Every day, our birds get a mix of pellets that will last them the day. That mix consists of different brands of pellets that I approve of, which right now is Harrison's (Fine and Coarse), Zupreem, Roudybush, and Scenic. All of these are either uncolored or naturally colored and are free of artificial preservatives. I'm going to cut the Zupreem out once we're finished with it because I don't think it's as great a pellet, and no one likes that the best right now. Giving them a mix allows them to choose, to decide that today, they're going to eat Scenic and tomorrow, Harrison's, and the next day, Roudybush. I think this is very important for bird psychology, as well as probably gives them a more balanced diet because no pellet can be perfect.
The birds would probably be healthier than most if I stopped there, but I don't. They also get, either once a day or once every other day, a healthy addition to their diet. I use either a cooked mix (I've only used Beak Appetit so far, but I've got some Crazy Corn now that I'll try), fresh foods in a pre-chopped mix or hung in their cage, or some dried fruit and veggies.
The fresh food mix works really well for me because I work long hours and I'm in charge of bird feeding. What we do is every time we go to the store, we get a clump of big leaved greenery (today, it's some lovely leafy kale), and hang those up in the birds' cages. They eat it, destroy it, and generally have a lovely time ripping it to shreds. In addition to that, I usually pick up one type of fruit, some orange veggies (carrots are a favorite), some green veggies (often pieces of the kale already gotten), and toss in something that looks 'interesting'. I think this time we got some of the lettuce mix and we already had frozen peas, so that'll be what makes it up this time. We cut them all up, mix, and then freeze portions. Birds get a portion appropriate to their size when we feed these. (About a spoonful for the lone sun Conure, two spoonfuls for the piglet Green Cheeks and the rest for the African grey).
The dried fruit/veggies I use are the Just Tomatoes brand, and the birds seem to really love them as nice treats. (I admit that I find them quite nice too, especially the fruit ones).
In addition to that, we offer bites (small ones) of whatever it is we're eating, which some eat and some don't. I often give them a piece of cooked but unsauced pasta, which seems to go over well.
I don't know if this is the perfect diet for every bird. What I do know is how much healthier mine seem after eating like this for a while. And how much they enjoy their food, which is all that matters to me.
Now, the question is, what do you feed your birds? And how did you make that choice?