The basic components for a balanced diet are the same for finches and parakeets: seeds and pellets, vegetables and fruit, and protein. The types of each are different for the two birds, however. The most important ingredient for a healthy diet for both birds is variety.
Both finches and parakeets love seeds, but they're very fattening and don't provide all the nutrition they need. Pellets are specifically formulated with the nutrition each bird requires. Finches and parakeets need different seeds and pellets that are marked specifically for them. Alternating seeds one week and pellets the next week will help them accept pellets. Look for organic mixtures or those that contain few additives, preservatives and chemicals. Check the date to be sure they aren't expired. Both birds leave empty seed hulls on top of their dishes, which makes it seem as if the dishes are full. Blow or shake off the hulls several times a day to see how much has been eaten. Parakeets will pick through the dish for uneaten seed, but finches only eat from the top layer.
Vegetables and Fruit
In the wild, in addition to seeds, finches and parakeets seek out berries and other fruit as well as various plants. Both birds can have almost any fruit or vegetable as long as it's cut into pieces they can eat. Food should be diced or grated for both birds, but slightly smaller for finches' small beaks. Dark green, leafy vegetables -- such as dark lettuces and spinach -- can be left in larger pieces, which they will pick at and chew off small bites. Finches seem to be attracted to brightly colored vegetables and fruit, but parakeets enjoy a wider variety. Offer vegetables more often, as fruit is high in sugar. Remove fresh veggies and fruit after two hours so bacteria doesn't have the chance to grow.
Small amounts of protein can be added to the birds' diets daily. Parakeets like chicken, turkey and egg that's been cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces. Start with one teaspoon of either and see if your parakeet eats it. If not, remove the meat after one hour so it doesn't spoil. Continue to offer it every day, though, to give the parakeet the chance to try it. Most finches enjoy live mealworms and wax worms, which can be purchased for them. Place the worm in a separate dish that's half full of oatmeal or wheat bran. This gives the worm food but prevents it from crawling out.
Foods to Avoid
Some foods -- avocado, rhubarb, nutmeg, raw beans, chocolate and the pits of fruits like peaches -- are toxic to all birds and should be avoided. Some peanuts contain a toxic ingredient so it's best to avoid them, too. The leaves and stems of some plants are toxic, including tomatoes and many others, so remove these parts from all vegetables and fruit before serving them. Avoid all non-nutritious food, such as sugary, salted or caffeinated items. Limit spinach and chard, which are high in oxalates and can cause inflammation; and beans, grains and pasta, which can provide too much phosphorus and are high in calories.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.