Spices and Herbs That Can Benefit Parrots

Photo credit: Buzzle.com

I love to put things into my birds’ food that adds a special oomph to a meal that might be just a little too familiar – variety being the spice of life and all. It is a real plus when it brings something else to the table like extra nutrition or acts as a natural remedy to common problems or symptoms.

Here is a list of common herbs and spices that can safely be used as needed medicinally with parrots:

Ginger is often used as a preventative for motion sickness. You might be surprised how many birds suffer from this affliction, but transporting our birds by car is sometimes necessary. You can offer your bird fresh ginger root or make a tea out of it by steeping fresh ginger slices in hot water (allow to cool thoroughly before serving). Replace your bird’s drinking water with this a couple of hours before your trip.

Dill is very useful in both settling digestive disorders and has calming properties. It can be offered fresh, dried (added to wet foods) or steeped in a tea.

Mint is used for a number of digestive discomforts from nausea to indigestion, but it has stimulant properties and it is best that it not be used right before bedtime. The leaves can be serves fresh or steeped to make a tea. Dilute full strength tea with plain water (1/4 tea with 1 cup water). If you have a bird that takes a special interest in your chewing gum or toothpaste, he will enjoy mints leaves.

Chamomile is great for a restless or nervous parrot. If you are traveling with, or boarding, a bird that is uncomfortable with new surroundings, or have a cockatiel that has frequent night frights, chamomile tea might help. I offer it warm to my birds in a mug just before bed time. Dilute ¼ cup of your tea with about 1 cup of warm water for your bird. Just the act of having a warm cup of tea with your bird is calming.

Sage is used for digestive disorders, but it is also supportive of the liver and is used to boost its functionality. I sometimes add a sprinkle of dried sage over my bird’s food and I occasionally add fresh sage to batches of the BirdTricks Seasonal Feeding System.

Photo credit: homenewconcept.com

Have you ever considered growing your own herb garden? Basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme all do well when grown on a sunny window sill. These are all safe for our parrots and will add flavor, variety and nutrition to their meals. Here are some tips to help you grow a great indoor herb garden:

  • Choose a window that gets about 6 hours of sunlight – a southern exposure will provide strong light that won’t burn leaves.
  • Water plants regularly but make sure there is proper drainage to prevent root rot.
  • Turn the plants often to ensure even growth.
  • Resist the urge to harvest the from the plants until they are about 8” tall and never clip away more that ¼ or the plant.

NOTE: Not all herbs and spices are suitable for parrots and you should use caution before adding them to the diet. Many are surprisingly potent and may have side effects that you may not be aware of.

Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.



Jill Frazier

I had a Gold cap conur, who passed away about a month ago. Her and my Cockatiel got along, now that she is gone my Green Quaker and him don’t get along to well. So I am in the process of getting another Green Quaker that I just found out is a boy, he is about a month old.

Jill Frazier

I recently lost my 3 year old amazing parakeet just hours after feeding him a basil leaf (fresh basil was his absolute favorite treat) from a fresh basil plant I had bought at the grocery store 😭 It could be coincidence but I kinda doubt it. Sad way to find out there’s probably some pesticides in it… Lesson learned

Stacey Bacon

Are there particular teas that you recommend? I’m interested in chamomile for my grey who plucks.

Stacey Bacon
Carol Lindenmuth

Very good information on one more way to expand our birds diet and help keep them healthy. I also use bee pollen for immune health. Grind a small batch at a time and add to warm breakfast.

Carol Lindenmuth

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