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what herbs can parrots eat

27 Herbs Parrots Can Eat Safely (And Why!)

(Last Updated On: April 26, 2023)

Parrots need a nutritious and balanced diet. One way to achieve this is to add fresh or dried herbs to their meals because they contain various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Parrot-safe herbs include anise, basil, bay leaves, calendula, cardamom, chamomile, chervil, chamomile, dandelion, dill, echinacea, sweet fennel, ginger, hibiscus, horseradish, lavender, lemongrass, mint, nettles, oregano, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, sage, St. John’s wort, tarragon, and thyme.

Avoid feeding parrot herbs from the allium family, such as chives, garlic, or onions. Allium herbs contain allicin, which traps inflammatory free radicals in the parrot’s body.

What Herbs Are Good for Parrots?

Here’s an extensive breakdown of herbs that can be safely added to a bird’s diet:

Anise (Illicium Verum)

Also known as star anise due to the shape of this herb, anise contains oils that bolster immunity due to the presence of terpineol, anethole, and thymol.

This means that anise minimizes a parrot’s risk of respiratory infection.

Anise can also improve the digestion of parrots, ensuring that food is processed efficiently, which reduces the risk of gas, bloating, and constipation.

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)

Celebrated for its scent and fresh taste, basil is a natural antioxidant and antibacterial agent. Bringing this herb into a parrot’s diet will lead to healthier skin health and superior digestion.

Basil is rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, manganese, and Vitamins A and K. Providing a parrot with fresh or dried basil also reduces the risk of cancer, heart conditions, or diabetes.

Bay Leaf (Laurus Nobilis)

As part of the laurel family, bay leaves – fed dry or boiled into tea – have various health benefits.

A range of compounds found in bay leaves breaks down the proteins in food, helping the parrot absorb essential amino acids and digest food.

In addition, bay leaves are rich in Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Just avoid overfeeding bay leaves, as excessive consumption can lead to diarrhea.

Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)

Calendula has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so it wards against sickness. It can also be vital for aging parrots by reducing muscular pains and keeping them mobile.

Consider adding calendula to a parrot’s diet when recovering from illness or injury. This herb has antimicrobial and antifungal qualities, so it’ll ease the symptoms.

safe herbs for parrots

Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum)

Cardamom encourages the release of urine, so be mindful that this herb doesn’t lead to polyuria.

As per the Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, cardamom flushes toxins from the body through waste while lowering blood pressure. This can calm a parrot and prevent heart disease.

Like many herbs, cardamom is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla)

Famed as arguably the most effective calming herb, chamomile can be offered to a parrot as dry leaves or boiled into a tea and left to cool.

In addition to providing a relaxing sensation, chamomile can ease any digestive concerns.

Chervil (Anthriscus Cerefolium)

Chervil has many medicinal benefits, including treating gout. This concern can arise in parrots fed excessive protein, so chervil offers an opportunity to balance a bird’s dietary intake.

Chervil can also remedy early-onset kidney issues, reduce blood pressure, and improve immunity and skin condition. The fact that chervil is also a tasty herb that appeals to parrots is a bonus.

Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum)

Coriander is a staple of Eastern cuisine, loved and loathed for its strong taste and scent.

If a parrot can be convinced to eat coriander, it’ll enjoy various health benefits. Coriander lowers blood sugar, aids the digestive and immune systems, and protects the heart.

Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum Officinalis)

Gardeners may consider dandelions a weed, but dandelion leaves are a healthy addition to a parrot’s diet. Dandelion is a natural antioxidant with detoxifying properties, most notably related to the kidneys.

Dandelion leaves are also an appetite stimulant, so adding these herbs to a parrot’s meal will encourage it to consume other healthy foods, which is beneficial when recovering from illness.

Dill (Anethum Graveolens)

Dill is a good source of Vitamin A and calcium which are essential. A little goes a long way with this herb, so don’t offer a bird too much in one serving.

Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity explains how dill can lessen the effects of strokes in parrots, minimizing cognitive impairment and encouraging recovery.


Many people use echinacea as a natural remedy for coughs and colds. If a bird regularly consumes echinacea during the coldest months of the year, it’s less likely to get a respiratory infection.

Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare)

Fennel is sometimes called sweet anise, as it has a similar taste with hints of aniseed.

Fennel can improve the development of red blood cells, minimizing the symptoms of anemia. It’s also a good source of fiber, which helps keeps parrots regular.

Avoid feeding a parrot bitter fennel. As well as being unappealing, it can be an appetite suppressant.

Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)

Frequently used as a flavor-enhancing spice in cuisine, ginger enhances the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. This makes it an effective remedy for a parrot with anxiety or depression.

Ginger can ease nausea, especially when linked to motion sickness. Feeding this herb ahead of a lengthy automobile journey can make the parrot more comfortable.

The International Journal of Preventive Medicine stated that ginger is rich in antioxidants.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis)

Hibiscus is frequently consumed in tea because it benefits the liver and heart. Hibiscus also burns fat, making it ideal for parrots struggling to control their weight, and it contains various antioxidants.

Horseradish (Armoracia Rusticana)

Horseradish is a spicy herb part of the mustard family, so it has a spicy kick that may not appeal to all parrots. If a bird enjoys this herb’s flavor, it’ll benefit from glucosinolates detoxifying the liver.

Horseradish is believed to ease the symptoms of urinary tract infections, bolster the digestive tract, and clear the respiratory tract to prevent infection.

Lavender (Lavandula)

Lavender is regarded for its soothing, calming effects. This herb will help keep a parrot calm, so it’s a worthy addition to the diet of a skittish bird prone to screaming and separation anxiety.

Aside from keeping parrots calm, this herb – part of the mint family – can encourage the growth of strong feathers, reduce blood pressure, and alleviate muscular pain in senior parrots.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus)

Lemongrass is a natural detoxifying agent, reducing uric acid levels in a parrot’s body. This means that appropriate consumption of lemongrass will enhance the kidneys and liver performance.

Lemongrass can also reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression while easing digestive concerns and preventing stomach bloat and gas.

Poultry Science explains how lemongrass lowers body fat and enhances growth in young parrots.

Mint (Mentha)

Common garden mint is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorous.

Mint also contains various antioxidants, with rosmarinic acid being the most notable. Allergologia et Immunopathologia stated that rosmarinic acid reduces asthma symptoms and aids breathing.

This herb contains vitamins A, C, D, and K.

Nettle Leaf (Urtica Dioica)

While most humans avoid stinging nettles for fear of a skin reaction, grinding the leaves of this herb into a tea or soup can create a powerful remedy for muscular swelling and pain, skin conditions, anemia, and even the symptoms of avian gout.

Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)

Oregano is frequently used as an essential oil, primarily because this herb boasts some of the highest levels of antioxidants. Carvacrol, limonene, terpinene, and thymol are all present in oregano, slowing the impact of aging and reducing cancer risk.

The Journal of Medicinal Food explains how oregano has antimicrobial qualities. Fresh and dry oregano herbs can also reduce inflammation in parrots, keeping the muscles supple and active.

Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum)

Parsley, part of the carrot family, is loaded with chlorophyll, which kills oral bacteria and freshens breath.

Parsley is a natural diuretic that’ll keep a parrot from getting high blood pressure (hypertension).

It’s also a good source of Vitamin K, promoting strong and healthy bones. Fed regularly, parsley can reduce the risk of arthritis in older parrots.

Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)

Peppermint can help a parrot maintain a robust immune system, staving off respiratory infection while managing the digestive system and relieving bowel irritability.

Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus)

This herb is renowned for improving memory and cognitive function, making it increasingly likely that the parrot will learn tricks and expand its vocabulary.

Rosemary can improve blood circulation, keeping a parrot’s organs healthy. It also has a range of antioxidants, notably rosmanol, carnosol, epirosmanol, and carnosic acid.

Sage (Salvia Officinalis)

Commonly known as garden sage, this herb is found in many pantries. Even the smallest amount of sage is high in vitamins A and K, contains antioxidants, and promotes superior brain function.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

St. John’s wort is a calming herb for managing anxiety and depression. As St. John’s wort bolsters serotonin and noradrenaline production in the brain, it’ll impact birds similarly.

St. John’s wort is particularly beneficial if a new parrot finds it difficult to adjust to life in captivity due to the noises and excessive stimulation in your home.

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) aka Estragon

Tarragon is a versatile herb that can be added to most foods. One of the benefits is improving a parrot’s sleep patterns, which is vital to keeping a bird healthy.

Tarragon will reduce blood sugar while reducing the hazards associated with inflammation and muscular pain. This makes tarragon particularly useful for senior parrots.

Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris)

Thyme has a range of anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic qualities. However, avoid feeding thyme to a female parrot you don’t intend to breed.

Thyme can replicate the impact of estrogen on a parrot’s body, and as per Frontiers in Endocrinology, this can encourage the desire to mate or lay unfertilized eggs.

can parrots eat fresh herbs?

What Herbs Are Toxic to Parrots?

While many herbs are safe and beneficial for parrots, those from the allium family must be avoided.

These herbs hail from the amaryllis family, a plant that’s also toxic to parrots. This includes hippeastrum psittacinum, also known as the parrot amaryllis. The most common allium herbs are as follows:

  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum).
  • Garlic (Allium sativum).
  • Onions (Allium cepa).

Allium herbs must be kept out of a parrot’s diet as they contain a chemical called allicin, which is the reason for their strong odor.

Allicin is an oxidant that causes the spread of free radicals in a parrot’s body, destroying red blood cells and leading to kidney damage. Just one-quarter of a garlic clove can be life-threatening.

Can Baby Parrots Eat Herbs?

Nutrition is especially important to very young parrots, who experience rapid growth acceleration and rely on vitamins and minerals derived from diet to grow strong and healthy feathers and bones.

Herbs can play a role in the growth of a baby parrot, assuming they’re fed in moderation. The earlier you introduce herbs to a parrot’s diet, the likelier it is to accept and consume them in adulthood.

Should Parrots Have Organic Herbs?

Shop organic when feeding fresh foods, like herbs and spices, to parrots.

Applied Sciences confirms that organic herbs usually contain more phenolic acids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, although some carotenoids are sacrificed.

While a risk of treatment with pesticides remains with organic produce, they won’t contain artificial preservatives or flavorings that could harm a parrot.

Can I Grow Herbs for My Parrot?

Consider growing herbs for pet birds in your kitchen or garden. This way, you can be sure that the herbs are ‘pure’ and have not been contaminated with pesticides.

The easiest herbs to grow are perennials, such as sage, rosemary, oregano, mint, and thyme. Once grown, you’ll have access to these herbs all year around, including during the winter.

How To Give Herbs To Parrots

There are three main ways to give herbs to parrots:

  • Finely chop or grind dried herbs and sprinkle them over pellets or other food.
  • Handfeeding whole herbs through the cage bars.
  • Creating a chain of herbs and leaving them in the cage to make a shredding toy.

Most herbs are parrot-safe and nutritious when offered in moderation, but the best choices are basil, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.