What Human Foods And Spices Are Good For Pet Birds

What Human Foods And Spices Are Good For Pet Birds

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

relating to or characterized by anthropomorphism.
having human characteristics.
“anthropomorphic bears and monkeys”

I love that word.

I like how it feels on the tongue.

It’s also a big reason we see so many failures and pet bird care.

We make chop because salads are healthy for us.

And yet although it fills a bird up it provides no protein which is necessary for things like feather growth.

Also, one question will always be “what spices are good for parrots”?

First I’ll answer the question by asking why do we need to introduce spices arbitrarily into our bird nutritional profile.

GoldenfeastHagen – HarrisonsHigginsLafebersL’AvianPretty Bird is the name brand bird any parrot foods we offer of the brands we offer.

Did you know that Higgins and Hagen seed and blended seed/fruit/nuts contain pellets?

Bird food companies spend millions and millions of dollars developing bird food by testing pet bird food on birds.

Besides introducing fruits and vegetables to round out your bird’s diet what is your motivation and why do you hope your bird eats what you eat?

If you say “I read it in a Facebook bird group”, let me put it like this, last year I stopped posting in Facebook bird groups.

Regardless of my expertise which most of you appreciate – thank you, let me share some example threads.

her “I’m making my bird a smoothie now”.

me: I posted the ingredients of a smoothie, containing 90 grams of sugar.

me: this much sugar is not good for an animal having a standing heart rate of 200 BPM.

her: All my bird friends do it – it’s just fine.

Another thread 

her: My bird won’t play with any of its toys.

The picture showed six all plastic toys.

the general comments were “too many toys are freaking the bird out get rid of half of them”.

“the bird will get used to them”.

“put them all in the center of the cage”.

me: remove 3 of the plastic toys, then add 5 leather toys and 5 shreddable toys lining all 4 cage walls”.

This will help provide a privacy wall for less daily stress.

Her response (and I remember this well) “so YOU say”.

Facebook bird groups are a terrible place to get accurate pet bird care advice because it’s all based on anecdotal content IMHO.

Back to the questions and answers

Human food will never be an improvement over top-level bird food brands that come in sealed bags, meny flushed with nitrogen to reduce or eliminate flour moth production.

Just a reminder, birds got along splendidly without humans for 99 million years up until about 1000 years ago.

I make chop for my Senegal almost daily – what other ingredients should I add?

The problem is that chop is not a balanced diet and does not provide enough protein.

Senegals are about 118 – 120 grams, a little more than 3 oz.

If only make a quarter pound of chop, that’s 125% of the bird’s body weight.

How much will be eaten before it turns brown?

I would advocate introducing a product like Lafebers Avi – cakes.

They are usually considered just a treat but offer 100% nutrition for your bird because they contain 50% pellets.

(Nutriberries are 8% pellets) The pellets are wrapped with seeds, nuts and fruit held together with molasses.

In addition to the Higgins seed blend that our cockatiel Popcorn would feed on regularly, she goes through a package of Avi-cakes about every two weeks.

Because of molting and reproductive activity as well as the stress of ever-changing North American light cycles we use a saltshaker to sprinkle a mixture of avian vitamins and calcium supplements on top of the Avi-cakes.

This is used in conjunction with full-spectrum lighting over a bird’s cage on a timer set for 12/12 hours on and off.

Dusting Lafeber Avi-Cakes with supplements is very effective because of the molasses thus providing all of the nutrition she needs is confirmed by our avian vet who sees her about every three months. 

Shelly C asks

My family loves to cook, but we often wonder if the spices we use are safe for our birds.

For example, this morning our banana pancakes included some ingredients I am not sure about, such as nutmeg and ginger.

Then I wonder about other spices in other dishes.

Is there any trusted resource that you recommend to reference or overall people’s food lists?

So much conflicting info is found on the internet that I don’t know what to trust.

Thank you.


Hi there

Unfortunately, the best site for this subject has shut down but fortunately, I put this list of spices that are good for birds together which may be helpful.

If you’re trying to step up the flavor in your bird’s meal you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing this.

Feathered Factoid: Humans have about 9000 tastebuds, and parrots have approximately 350.

Birds are also immune to the heat in capsaicin which puts the “hot” in peppers.

This is nature’s way of helping spread peppers to faraway locations.


WindyCityParrot.com’s List of spice recommendations for pet birds 

Alfalfa Leaf is an assimilation provider. Lots of beta-carotene vitamins K as well as lots of calcium, phosphorus iron, and potassium.

If you’re looking to kick up your bird’s fructo-oligosaccharides for fertility, healthy bacteria and make bad bacteria go away like Candida, alfalfa leaf is your friend.

Astragalus Powder is an immunomodulator (from Wikipedia – Medical Definition of immunomodulator. : a chemical agent (as methotrexate or azathioprine) that modifies the immune response or the functioning of the immune system (as by the stimulation of antibody formation or the inhibition of white blood cell activity).

Astragalus Powder contains Glycosides, Polysaccharides, Choline, Betaine, Rumatakenin, and Beta-Sitosterol.

It kickstarts the immune system to help a bird’s body for fighting against nasty diseases as well as helping the body protect against any number of toxins.

Barley Grass is another great source of beta-carotene vitamins B and C as well as potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chlorophyll and eight essential amino acids along with some enzymes.

Barley Grass has 92 minerals and 22 vitamins – (makes me want to graze).

FYI amino acids are the backbone of feather production.

Bee Pollen contains 35% Protein, 55% Carbohydrate, 2% Fatty Acids, 3% Minerals, and Vitamins.

You’ll find lots of B complex vitamins A, C, D, and E.

Look for bee pollen to have, crazy as this sounds, almost all known minerals, enzymes, amino acids and trace elements.

We all know bees are crazy important to this earth and if we didn’t have them, humankind would be doomed.

Bee pollen literally has the essence of every plant from which bees extract pollen along with a combination of digestive enzymes coming from the bees themselves.

At the end of the day, bee pollen is the perfect source of antioxidants and is easily absorbed into the bloodstream helping stimulate immune all immunological responses.

Cayenne Pepper a very popular spice is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, and calcium. In it, you’ll also find some magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, and to round it all out B complex.

Directly in high doses, it may actually help increase the risk of cancer but in moderate doses it may help heal other cancers.

I’ll be working on finding the proper dosage.

Chickweed contains Vitamins A, C, and some B, Flavonoids, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

It has many purposes and is used in the treatment of arthritis, gout, blood disorders, and skin problems.

Chili Flakes help aid in digestion. Acting as an anti-inflammatory will actually help control pain.

Cinnamon is loved by most parrots. It’s a digestive aid and may even help eliminate E. Coli in food.

Dandelion Leaf helps your bird’s liver function. Contains nutritive salts, and protein, and is a rich source of Vitamin A.

You’ll also find lots of vitamins B, C, and E. And let’s not forget the sodium, calcium, and potassium.

You’ll see trace amounts of iron, nickel, cobalt, tin, copper, and phosphorus (sounds like an iPhone).

Dill Weed is where you see a lot of calcium which makes it ideal for routing birds.

It also soothes digestion.

Dulse contains a lot of protein more than almonds whole sesame seeds or chickpeas.

Oodles of vitamin B6 and B12. Not a lot of sodium but a lot of potassium.

If you’re looking for trace minerals, Dulse is your go-to spice.

Flaxseed provides a lot of essential fatty acids richer than the fatty acids you’ll find and fish oil but they also have a better flavor.

People find flaxseed makes for strong nails and bones as well as healthy skin.

Garlic has allicin, which “may” cause Heinz body hemolytic anemia in birds – google it. Not recommended for birds.

Ginger powder is loved by parrots. It’s a great herb for their complicated respiratory system and helps cleanse the digestive system.

Ginger powder contains potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, calcium, as well as vitamins A, C and B complex.

Milk Thistle Seeds are a godsend to your bird’s liver function. 

Believe it or not, milk is a more powerful antioxidant than vitamins C and E.

Parsley is considered a preventative herb. Lots of vitamin B and potassium and some research indicates that it may subdue cancer cell multiplication.

Overflowing with chlorophyll vitamins A and C, iron as well as copper sodium thiamine riboflavin silicone calcium sulfur and cobalt.

Red Clover Blossoms and Leaf offer vitamins A, C, B along with chromium magnesium iron and calcium complex this is the shown to be effective as an antibiotic and blood purifier.

Red Raspberry Leaf contains Vitamins A, C, D, E, and B. Calcium is a core component of spice.

Rose Hips is full of vitamin C and may be a stress reducer.

Turmeric Root is a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin E, it contains curcumin and many other phytochemicals.

It helps food become more digestible and works on antifungal and antibacterial properties while the same time protecting the liver by scavenging free radicals and detoxification. It actually helps break down fats.

Wheatgrass has so many nutrients that I’m not going to list them all.

Notably, it has a lot of protein chlorophyll well-being high in fiber and also has beta-carotene, vitamin B complex, C, E, and K.

You also find 18 amino acids and a high amount of Fructo-Oligosaccharides.

Fructo-Oligosaccharides help increase bowel mass and enable the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Let’s not forget

New subject

My parrot has recently lost feathers that have not grown back.

We have never seen her pluck them or evidence of that.

Attached are photos.

She eats well and is almost 19.


Laura, It’s impossible to diagnose things like feather plucking from a single sentence but the image that you attached poses many questions.

(sorry lost the image)

The perch the bird is on is clearly a solid hardwood slightly undersized perch because I can see the potential for the bird’s back nails to irritate the front toes.

Being a dowel perch it also has no uneven surfaces so for lack of a better explanation your bird’s feet may hurt from spending so many hours on a perch with no healthy challenges for your bird’s feet.

I noticed some perches in the foreground and appear to be manzanita perches but because of the toys on the left side of the screen your bird has no way to access those perches and is not motivated to do so because they are lower rather than higher.

The few toys that I see in the cage have similar architecture and materials while none of them seem to be frayed which means your bird is ignoring them having no interest.

I would seek other materials like palm and coconut to see if you can get your bird’s attention.

The room that the bird cages and looks to be very light and airy but the bird has no privacy which may be an irritant.

This blog post about the birdcage privacy canopy explains the concept.

I have no idea what you’re feeding your bird.

Acidic fruits like pineapple, oranges, and tomatoes could cause birdy heartburn which can be triggers for plucking activity.

me: the question you ask is simple, the solution is not.

her: Oh- those are interesting comments.

She usually goes to the back to rest and sleep and there are uneven perches in the front.

She’s very particular about where the cage is located.

We’ve tried other locations, but it seemed to make her upset.

We always keep her well-covered at night.

She does chew on her toys and when they fray too much we replace them.

But I take your point about changing them up.

me: try getting her on a soft rope perch to sleep on and see if that helps.

her: Actually, I tried that once and she jumped out of the cage and hid under the table.

I ordered more of the hard wood perches from your site and we’ll replace that one.

She has rejected countless toys.

The perch that she sleeps on in the back, I had specially made to mimic the one from her old cage.

I had to set it up identically because she refused to go in it until then. It took a couple of weeks to transition.

This parrot does not like change.

editor’s note: the more change you introduce to your bird the more easily your pet bird will accept change.

After Sandy, she stayed with me in a smaller cage in Manhattan because my parent’s home was damaged (no heat or power, but magically the upper west side of Manhattan had no problems). I took off work to be with her to help her adjust.

My parents never saw her happier than when she was able to return home to her regular birdcage.

I suppose after almost 19 years, we just go with her commands.


me: so what you’re saying is 110g of feathers is controlling your actions.

Kids don’t like to eat their vegetables or go to bed early.

The more you introduce to change the better your bird will be.

Sometimes plucking is simply out of boredom.

It can take 1 – 2 weeks or more for a bird to accept a new toy or accessory – something you saw for yourself.

Before putting the new soft rope perch IN the cage, place it NEAR the cage for a few days.

Then put it ON the cages for a few days.

By the time you install it in the bird cage, it may not be so scary.

Try finding something she likes, like millet and strap it to the new soft perch.

She doesn’t know what good for her – but you do.

You have to allow her to suffer the consequences of change which may mean locking her in a cage with something she doesn’t like at first.

How’s your lighting – do you have a full spectrum set up anywhere near the cage?

her: I do try a few times, I play with the toys outside of the cage first with her, then hang them up, but sometimes they are just summarily rejected.

I’ve had her for almost 19 years, and she’s never plucked before.

We haven’t seen a pile of feathers anywhere, just regular molting. Maybe I’ll try the soft perch again.


new subject

Can Hagen Prime vitamins be given to Eclectus parrots? Eclectus are EXTREMELY sensitive to vitamins.

They CANNOT be given the MANMADE supplements.

Hi Don

We have found that may be inaccurate.

Please read our post – Eclectus Parrot Elongated Digestive Tract – Fact Or Fiction?

Pellets work well but if you’re having trouble converting you might like this Eclectus mix from Volkman 

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

Leave a Reply

Close Menu