what herbs can parrots eat

17 Herbs Parrots Can Eat Safely

Parrots are social eaters and will be more than happy to share a meal with you. New owners are discouraged from seasoning any food they offer their parrots, though. These birds have fragile digestive systems and can’t eat all the food that humans can. Herbs exist in a grey area as both an additive and a natural plant. That makes it important to review what herbs you’re offering your parrot.

Herbs safe for parrots include mint, parsley, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, dill, thyme, and bay leaves. You can also feed your parrot dandelion leaf, anise, oregano, cumin, and cilantro. Fennel, turmeric, and sage are fine choices, as long as you don’t burn the sage. Even chamomile tea will be a relaxing treat, but your parrot will enjoy chewing on the flower whole.

In particular, mint is used by owners when their parrot is undergoing a molt. It can soothe discomfort and balance your parrot’s mood. Calming herbs for parrots are a great DIY medicine, as long as they’re given in moderation.

Can Parrots Eat Fresh Herbs?

Parrots can eat dried, crushed, or powdered herbs. The texture differences will not harm your pet. Parrots can still enjoy the flavor and the health benefits, regardless of their form.

With that said, parrots usually opt for fresh herbs. The leafy texture is more natural, so it mirrors what parrots find in the wild. The aroma of bay leaves, mint, and even chamomile will be more enticing when fresh. This can encourage finicky parrots to sample the new treats.

Powdered herbs should always be sprinkled on a different food or mixed with the parrot’s water. Trying to make your parrot eat fine powder out of a bowl can lead to the parrot accidentally inhaling the herbs. Since parrots have complex and delicate lungs, that’s a significant health risk.

Safe Herbs For Parrots

Of course, you need to choose your herbs carefully. Randomly picking through your spice rack can have detrimental effects if you choose the wrong kinds.

For example, while Ceylon cinnamon is perfectly healthy for parrots, cassia (or Chinese) cinnamon is not. It can result in liver damage and toxicity for your parrot. Here are safe herbs for parrots to eat. Each has its benefits, and your parrot may choose favorites based on the different flavors.

calming herbs for parrots

Can Parrots Eat Parsley?

Parsley is one of the most common herbs globally, and it’s a great addition to your parrot’s diet. It contains high levels of vitamin K, which has been linked to healthier bones. It also contains significant amounts of vitamin A, so it will aid your parrot’s sight.

Nonetheless, it’s important to feed parsley in moderation. Parsley contains oxalic acid, which can reduce the absorption of minerals. It also increases the chance of developing kidney stones. If fed in small amounts, though, oxalic acid should not have any negative effects.

When getting parsley for parrots, opt for fresh over dried. If available, use the curly variety as well. Chop it finely and add it to your parrot’s bowl. This spice will stick to other ingredients, which makes it difficult for parrots to ignore.

Can Parrots Have Mint?

Mint is a great herb for calming parrots. It is a common at-home medicine for anxious parrots or those that self-mutilate out of boredom, discomfort, or a rough molting period. This is because of the compound menthol, which has been proven to be a natural muscle-relaxant.

According to the Journal of Gastroenterology, mint’s muscle-relaxing effects can also aid in your parrot’s digestion. As a natural remedy for irritable bowel syndrome, it can soothe indigestion and help your bird better process its food.

Can Parrots Eat Catnip?

Some owners claim that catnip is a great herb for parrots. While there are currently no official studies to confirm this, it does belong to the mint family. That means it’s unlikely to have any compounds that are toxic to your parrot.

While catnip may have a calming effect, it can also work as a stimulant in some parrots. Be sure to approach with caution. Any mind-altering effects can be very uncomfortable for these easily-scared birds.

Can Parrots Eat Ceylon Cinnamon?

Ceylon cinnamon, also known as true cinnamon, is a great herb to give to your parrot. Just note that there are two kinds of cinnamon on the market.

As mentioned, Ceylon cinnamon is safe, but Chinese cinnamon is not. This is because of the presence of coumarin in Chinese cinnamon. It has blood-thinning effects, which can cause liver damage (and failure) in your parrot.

Are Parrots Allowed Basil?

Basil, a member of the mint family, is a popular herb found in many dishes. It comes in about 150 species, but only a small number of these are used in cooking. Parrots should not be given all kinds of basil, but the varieties found in your kitchen are perfectly safe.

  • Parrots will enjoy sweet basil, the most common type. This basil has a licorice flavor mixed with clove.
  • For a stronger licorice flavor, you can offer Thai basil.
  • Lettuce basil has large, wrinkled leaves, giving your parrot’s dish an interesting texture.

Can Parrots Eat Rosemary?

Rosemary is another common herb, and it is safe to feed your parrot. It’s extremely healthy. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, rosemary may improve cognitive functions. That’s paired with other nutrients known to enhance your parrot’s brain health, including vitamins A, C, and B6.

What’s more, rosemary is also easy to grow. It can easily thrive on a sunny windowsill in well-draining soil. As a beginner-friendly plant, one pot will be enough to feed your bird and flavor your dishes.

Can Parrots Have Dill?

Parrots can have dill in their diet. Dill is considered a nutrient-dense food since it contains a high amount of vitamins per calorie. It’s rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Manganese
  • Iron

These vitamins and minerals all have a positive effect on your bird’s overall health. However, the most important difference will be in your parrot’s bones and immune system.

Can Parrots Eat Dandelion Leaf

Owners commonly use dandelion leaves as an herbal remedy for digestive issues. After all, dandelions have a long history of solving indigestion and stomach cramps.

According to Neurogastroenterol and Motility, this is especially prominent in animals. Feasting on dandelions is a common habit in dogs and cats to balance their digestion. That’s because dandelions contain high levels of prebiotic fiber. This is known for preventing constipation.

Dandelion leaf is also believed to aid in weight loss, even in birds. This can make it an at-home supplement for overweight parrots. Animal studies corroborate this belief. According to Food and Chemical Toxicology, chlorogenic acid, a compound in dandelion, may be responsible for this weight loss.

Dandelion leaves are also a good supplement for healthier bones. They contain high amounts of calcium and vitamin K, two compounds that can prevent bone loss. That’s paired with inulin fiber, known to have a positive effect on bones.

Is Thyme Good For Parrots?

Thyme is another common herb and member of the mint family. It can easily add a unique taste to any dish, and it’s perfectly safe to feed your parrot. Thyme is a well-trusted herbal remedy for sick parrots. It can treat worms and diarrhea because of its natural, anti-bacterial properties.

This is credited to the compound called thymol, which is known to have many fungicidal properties. According to Letters of Applied Microbiology, thyme essential oil and thymol can treat low concentrations of mold.  

As such, if you don’t prepare your parrot’s food fresh, or if you live in a damp area, then try adding some thyme to the food bowl. Not only will it be super tasty and healthy, but it’ll also be a light defense against fungus.

Can Parrots Eat Star Anise?

You’re probably familiar with this whimsical spice as part of Chinese cooking. Star anise is named after the shape the pod is in. Unlike most spices, you use the whole pod when cooking star anise.

Each arm of the ‘star’ contains one seed. Because they come in pods, this spice can be a great source of enrichment for your bird. Parrots will love breaking these pods open to get to the seed.

Anise also has a distinct licorice taste. Paired with its interesting smell, shape, and texture, your parrot is sure to enjoy the new treat. On top of that, star anise contains many antioxidants and is rich in vitamins A, C, and B.

Note that “classic” anise is a different spice, commonly sold as seeds. Anise is safe to feed your parrot. Japanese star anise is also a different plant. This spice is not safe to feed to your parrot.

can parrots eat fresh herbs?

Can Parrots Eat Bay Leaves?

Bay leaves are often added to slow-cooked meals, like soups and sauces. Unless you cook yourself, you may not be familiar with this herb, as it’s often removed before serving. Bay leaves add an earthy, minty taste to a dish. However, some varieties have a stronger taste than others.

Bay leaves are often sold dried or in powdered form. This is because dried leaves tend to have a stronger flavor and can be kept for longer. Bay leaves are never eaten dried but are instead added to the dish to provide flavor. If your parrot likes munching on these dried leaves, however, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Can Parrots Eat Oregano?

Oregano belongs to the mint family, making it a safe herb for your parrot. It’s a popular ingredient in Italian food, found in sauces, bread, and sprinkled on meat. However, it’s been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

There are many types of oregano you can choose from. The most common type is the Spanish thyme, also known as marjoram. You can easily add a leaf into your parrot’s dish and swap out the herb for a different variety to keep things novel.

Aside from its interesting taste and aroma, oregano can also improve your parrot’s health. Oregano can be used to treat skin infections, prevent diabetes, and lessen inflammation. In fact, according to Nutrition Today, oregano is best known for its anti-bacterial properties.

This is because oregano contains the essential oils carvacrol and thymol. For that reason, oregano is commonly added to a parrot’s dish to keep it fresh and free from mold.

Can Parrots Eat Cumin?

Cumin and other spicy herbs (like chili powder and cayenne) are safe to feed your parrot. While it can be surprising to new bird owners, spicy herbs are some of the best to offer your pet.

Cumin, chili, cayenne, and other spicy herbs gain their flavor from capsaicin. Birds cannot taste capsaicin. This means that parrots are free to get all the health benefits without having to suffer the heat.

Capsaicin is believed to have antibacterial and anti-cancer properties. Cumin itself can help treat diarrhea and keep your parrot’s brain sharp.

Can Parrots Eat Coriander?

Also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, this herb is a great addition to your parrot’s diet. Coriander is used in many different dishes all over the world, from Italian to Indian cooking. It’s known for its unique lemony taste that your parrot can find novel and interesting.

Coriander has many health benefits, too. The high level of antioxidants in this herb has been linked to reducing pain and inflammation. According to the Journal of Biomedical Science, cilantro seeds are even used to numb pain. Coriander also contains many nutrients that can boost your parrot’s overall health. These include:

  • Folate
  • Manganese
  • Lutein
  • Potassium

When feeding cilantro to your parrot, only give it the seeds and leaves. Any other part of the plant is considered dangerous and best avoided.

Can You Give Fennel To Parrots?

Fennel is considered a nutrient-dense food because of the high amount of nutrients, despite the low caloric content. Fennel contains a lot of vitamin C, as well as significant amounts of manganese. It also has many antioxidant properties. To cap it off, fennel’s crunchy texture is a sure winner among parrots.

When giving fennel to your parrot, don’t throw away the fronds. Fennel fronds are the thin parts of the plant that attach to the stem. These contain a lot of flavor and are just as nutritious as the rest of the plant.

Can Parrots Eat Turmeric?

Turmeric is another spice that is commonly used in herbal medicine for parrots. Its active ingredient is curcumin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This makes turmeric a good herb for birds with inflammation problems, especially those with arthritis. Turmeric is also commonly used as an immune system booster and prevents both indigestion and nausea.

Turmeric has antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. As such, it can be applied to cuts and burns as a paste. In homemade birdy bread, turmeric can act as a preservative, keeping the food fresher for longer.

On the other hand, turmeric is also an anti-coagulant, making blood thinner. You should avoid giving turmeric to your parrot if it has molting issues or a broken blood feather.

safe herbs for parrots

Can Parrots Have Sage?

Sage is known for its strong smell and earthy flavors, and it’s safe to feed your parrot. Sage has a long history and many uses, from religious rituals to increasing fertility. In the modern-day, it is most commonly used as an additive in food.

Sage can add an interesting flavor to your parrot’s food. It’s also very healthy, packed with vitamins and minerals. The most notable is vitamin K, which is great for your parrot’s bones.

Sage also contains vitamin B6, calcium, and manganese, which are necessary to keep bones healthy and strong. That’s paired with a large number of antioxidants, with more than 160 different types of polyphenols. Antioxidants have been linked to various health effects, like a healthier brain and lesser chances of developing illnesses due to aging.

This herb is commonly used in herbal remedies for parrots to treat digestive issues. If your parrot is experiencing liver problems, a few servings can help fortify its body.

Is Burning Sage Safe For Parrots?

While it’s mainly used as a food additive, sage is also commonly used in smudging. Smudging is believed to cleanse an area, inviting positive energy. This is done by burning plant material, the most common of which is white sage.

Although sage is OK to feed to your parrot, burning sage is not. Any type of smoke is harmful to birds. Even the smallest amount may cause serious respiratory and behavioral problems for your parrot.

This is because a parrot’s respiratory system is very different from humans. Instead of blood delivering oxygen, birds have air sacs located throughout their body. Unlike our lungs, which expand or contract, a bird’s lungs are constantly inflated, allowing them to keep their altitude mid-flight.

With these differences, a bird’s respiratory system can take in more oxygen than humans. It also means that even the smallest concentration of toxins in the air can greatly affect your bird.

Can Parrots Eat Chamomile?

Chamomile is a safe plant for your parrot to eat. It has no compounds that are harmful to birds of any kind. It is a common remedy given to parrots that are stressed or anxious.

All parts of the chamomile plant are safe for parrots, including the leaves, stems, and flowers. Chamomile flowers are a common addition to many parrot diets on the market. You can find dried flowers in pet stores or whole food stores.

Can Parrots Have Chamomile Tea?

Parrots can indeed have chamomile tea. This natural drink is a great way to calm your parrot. It’s recommended for anxious birds, transitioning between homes, or acclimating to another sudden change.  

To give tea to your parrot, make chamomile as you would for yourself. Then, dilute ¼ of the cup with 1 cup of warm water and give it to your bird. If possible, sip the tea alongside your parrot. If you have a calm attitude, your bird will be more likely to remain calm too.