Flowers are not usually on the grocery list when we are shopping for our birds. It's no wonder because they don’t have a lot of nutritional value. However, through the ages both humans and animals have utilized flowers as remedies for what ails them.
Similar to tea ingredients, flowers have properties that assist with problems ranging from bladder infections to skin rashes, from bruises to nausea and from pretty much everything in between. In fact, flower parts are present in many herbal teas. In today’s world a place that seems to have forgotten the hard learned lessons of those who preceded us, flowers have been all but over-looked dietarily.
The good news is that interest in eating flowers has risen in recent years. You will see them used as a garnish on plates at restaurants and are sometimes used in a salad. Your bird will enjoy flowers because, more than anything else, they are interesting, colorful and fun to tear to shreds!
Not All Flowers Are Safe!
Many flowers are not meant for consumption. Some contain natural pest defenses such as cyanide or strychnine. Some plants are irritants, and some produce symptom that can be fatal. So that there is no confusion, this post will contain only SAFE flowers.
This list is not complete, but it will certainly give you a lot with which to work:
African violets, aster, bottlebrush, carnations, chrysanthemum, daisies, gardenias, gladiolus, hibiscus, honeysuckle, impatiens, lilac, magnolias, marigolds, nasturtium, pansies, petunias, roses, sunflowers, and violets.
The above are all safe for your bird. However, while nature produces a safe plant, humans can make it unsafe by using harsh synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Florists use chemical treatments for the growth and longevity of flowers for aesthetic purposes. Anything you feed your bird MUST be free of all such chemicals. They are NOT safe for consumption!
The safest flowers will come from your own garden where you KNOW no pesticides have been used. You may also choose to do what I often do and buy them from the store where they are sold in packages as “edible flowers.”
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.