Last Updated on: 2nd July 2023, 12:00 pm
Parrots need a highly nutritious, balanced diet to stay healthy. One way to achieve this is to add fresh or dried herbs to their meals because they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, 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, like 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 its shape, anise contains oils that bolster immunity due to terpineol, anethole, and thymol. This means that anise may lower the risk of respiratory infection.
Anise may also improve the digestion of parrots, ensuring that food is processed efficiently, which reduces the risk of gas, bloating, stomach pain, and constipation.
Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)
Celebrated for its scent and fresh taste, basil is a natural antioxidant and antibacterial agent. Introducing this herb to a parrot’s diet may 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 may reduce the risk of cancer, heart conditions, and diabetes.
Bay Leaf (Laurus Nobilis)
As part of the laurel family, bay leaves – fed dry or boiled into a tea – have various health benefits.
A range of compounds found in bay leaves breaks down the proteins in food, enabling parrots to absorb amino acids and digest food efficiently.
In addition, bay leaves are a good source of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Avoid overfeeding bay leaves to birds because excessive consumption can lead to diarrhea.
Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)
Calendula has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, potentially warding off sickness. It may also benefit 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 that can ease uncomfortable symptoms.
Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum)
Cardamom promotes the release of urine, so be mindful that overconsumption may 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 may calm a parrot and prevent heart disease.
Like many herbs, cardamom is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla)
Famed universally as the most effective calming herb, chamomile can be offered to parrots as dry leaves or boiled into a refreshing tea and left to cool.
In addition to providing a relaxing sensation, chamomile may ease digestive concerns.
Chervil (Anthriscus Cerefolium)
Chervil has many medicinal benefits, including treating gout. This concern can arise in parrots that consume too much protein, meaning that chervil may balance a bird’s nutritional profile.
Chervil may also remedy early-onset kidney issues, reduce blood pressure, and improve immunity and skin conditions. Chervil is a flavorful herb that appeals to parrots’ sense of taste.
Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum)
Coriander is a staple of Eastern cuisine, loved and loathed due to its strong taste and scent. It may lower blood sugar levels, aid the digestive and immune systems, and protect the heart.
Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum Officinalis)
Gardeners consider dandelions a weed, but dandelion leaves are a healthy addition to the avian diet. Dandelion is a natural antioxidant with detoxifying properties, most notably related to the kidneys.
Dandelion leaves are an appetite stimulant, so adding them to a parrot’s meal will encourage it to consume other healthy foods, which is particularly beneficial when recovering from illness.
Dill (Anethum Graveolens)
Dill is a good source of vitamin A and calcium which are essential.
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 may be less likely to get respiratory infections.
Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare)
Fennel is sometimes called sweet anise due to its similar taste and hint of aniseed.
Fennel may improve the development of red blood cells, minimizing the symptoms of anemia. It’s also a good source of fiber, which 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. It may be an effective remedy for parrots with anxiety or low mood.
Ginger can ease nausea, especially when linked to motion sickness. Feeding this herb ahead of a lengthy automobile journey may make a parrot feel more comfortable.
The International Journal of Preventive Medicine stated that ginger is high in antioxidants.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis)
Hibiscus is frequently consumed in tea because it’s believed to benefit the liver and heart. Hibiscus also burns fat, making it ideal for parrots struggling to control their weight. It also contains antioxidants.
Horseradish (Armoracia Rusticana)
Horseradish is a spicy herb from the mustard family with a spicy kick that may not appeal to all parrots. If a bird enjoys the flavor, it’ll benefit from glucosinolates that may detoxify 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 is highly regarded for its soothing, calming effects. This herb may help keep a parrot calm down, 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) may promote the growth of strong feathers, reduce blood pressure, and alleviate muscular pain in senior parrots.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus)
Lemongrass is a natural detoxifying agent, potentially reducing uric acid levels in a parrot’s body. This means the consumption of lemongrass may enhance kidney and liver performance.
Lemongrass may also reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression while easing digestive concerns and preventing stomach bloat and gas.
Poultry Science explains how lemongrass may lower body fat levels and improve growth in young parrots.
Common garden mint is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorous.
Mint also contains antioxidants, with rosmarinic acid being the most notable. Allergologia et Immunopathologia found that rosmarinic acid may reduce asthma symptoms and aid breathing.
This herb contains vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Nettle Leaf (Urtica Dioica)
Grinding the leaves into a tea or soup can create a remedy for muscular swelling and pain, skin conditions, anemia, and even the symptoms of avian gout.
Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)
Oregano is often used as an essential oil. Carvacrol, limonene, terpinene, and thymol are all present in oregano, slowing the impact of aging in birds.
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 high in chlorophyll, which kills oral bacteria and freshens breath.
Parsley is a natural diuretic that may reduce the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
It’s also a good source of vitamin K, promoting strong and healthy bones. Fed regularly, parsley may reduce the incidence of arthritis in older parrots.
Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
Peppermint may help parrots maintain a robust immune system, staving off respiratory infection while optimizing the digestive system and relieving bowel irritability.
Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus)
Rosemary may 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 worldwide. Even a small amount of sage is high in vitamins A and K, contains antioxidants, and promotes 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 may affect birds similarly.
St. John’s wort may be beneficial if a new parrot finds adjusting to life in captivity difficult.
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 the mental health of all avian species.
Tarragon may reduce blood sugar while reducing the problems associated with inflammation and muscular pain. This makes tarragon invaluable for senior parrots.
Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris)
Thyme has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic qualities.
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 toxic plant to parrots. This includes hippeastrum psittacinum, also known as 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.
This oxidant causes free radicals in a parrot’s body, destroying red blood cells and leading to kidney damage. Just a quarter clove can have deadly consequences.
Can Baby Parrots Eat Herbs?
Nutrition is especially important to chicks and juvenile parrots, who experience rapid growth, relying on a well-optimized nutritional profile to develop strong and healthy skin, muscles, bones, and feathers.
Herbs can play a role in the growth of a baby parrot if fed in moderation. The earlier you introduce herbs to a parrot’s diet, the likelier it is to accept them in adulthood.
Should Parrots Have Organic Herbs?
Shop organic when feeding fresh foods, like herbs and spices, to parrots.
Applied Sciences stated that organic herbs usually contain more phenolic acids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, although some carotenoids are sacrificed.
Can I Grow Herbs for My Parrot?
Consider growing herbs for pet birds in the kitchen or garden. This way, you can be sure that the herbs haven’t been contaminated with harmful pesticides and insecticides.
The easiest herbs to grow are perennials, like sage, rosemary, oregano, mint, and thyme. Once grown, you’ll have access to herbs all year, even during the winter.
How To Give Herbs To Parrots
Here are the main ways to feed herbs to parrots:
- Finely chop or grind dried herbs and sprinkle them over pellets or other foods.
- 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 in moderation, but the best choices are basil, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.