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Gardening for Pet Birds – Growing Your Own Food and Fodder – Part 2

Blue Orchid BeeAlong with providing your pets with a variety of nutritious foods, “bird conscious” gardening will ensure that you are visited by an assortment of interesting native birds and insects.  Wild-caught insects are also a valuable food item for many cage birds, and may be easily collected with the Zoo Med Bug Napper.

Please see Part I  of this article for general bird-gardening information.

Fruit Trees and Bushes

Trees and bushes can provide limbs for gnawing, leaves for shredding and tasty fruits, flowers and buds.  The branches of those listed here are also useful as cage perches, and will provide your pet with a variety of grip widths and surfaces.

Canaries and other finches and most softbills will also enjoy poking though foliage for caterpillars, beetles and other small insects.

Nearly all of the fruits that we consume can be used as bird food.  Those listed below grow well in temperate climates.  If you live in a warm locale, you can include mango, banana, papaya and other tropical varieties as well.

Apple and Crab Apple





Most berries, including North American natives (elderberry and juniper)


Flowers and buds are relished by many birds – lorikeets and honey creepers will try to extract the nectar, and others will consume flowers outright, search among them for insects, or just enjoy tearing them up.  Some hearty favorites include:









Seeds, Grains and Grasses

Don’t forget your seed-eaters…in addition to nutritious seeds, the following provide leaves that make excellent foraging toys and nesting material:


Canary Grass



Most Native Grasses

Some of my earliest bird-gardens sprang up quite accidentally – the result of bird seed that spilled while I was cleaning bird and small animal cages, and wild bird seed missed by visitors to my feeders.  The seeds used in such foods are apparently quite hearty, as I gave the plants no care at all but had quite an assortment sprouting throughout the summer.  Try planting some of our wild bird seed and see what happens.

Toxic Plants

A number of common household and garden plants are potentially toxic, and should not be fed to birds.  Please see my article on Toxic Plants for further information.

Further Reading

You can learn more about gardening for pet and wild birds at the following informative blog:


Orchard bee photo referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Artic.

Dogwood photo referenced from Wikipedia.


Gardening for Pet Birds: Growing Your Own Food and Fodder – Part 1

With warmer weather (finally!) here, I’d like to present some thoughts on plants that can be grown and provided to finches, parrots, softbills and other pet birds as both food and “playthings”.  Wild plants provide important nutrients that are often in short supply in commercial foods.  Also, your pets’ enthusiastic attacks on novel foods will leave no doubt as to the value these have in stimulating appetite and behavior.  In some cases, the provision of fresh leaves and branches, or a new flower or fruit, even helps to spark breeding behavior, much as similar factors do in the wild.

Wild Visitors

Your “bird food garden” will provide the added benefit of attracting local birds, perhaps some that you have not seen in the past.  If their attentions become “too enthusiastic”, consider installing one of our bird feeders and keeping it well supplied with wild bird food  – most birds will prefer ready-to-eat foods over those which they must harvest themselves!

Using Home-Grown Foods

Bark, leaves and flowers provide exciting play and beak-trimming opportunities.  Some of these, along with seeds, buds, fruits and berries, are also readily consumed – having your pets work at breaking up a fruit or seed head will be of great value in keeping them occupied and active.

Do not limit your thinking to parrots when considering food and activity opportunities.  Canaries and other finches also take quickly to poking about leaves and sharpening their beaks on rough bark.  Leafy branches are particularly attractive, and will be investigated thoroughly for the presence of small caterpillars, aphids and other insects.  Softbills such as Pekin robins and shama thrushes will do the same, and many enjoy sampling flower nectar as well.


Be sure to avoid the use of pesticides in your garden, and to collect wild plants only from areas that are not sprayed with such toxins.

Consult your local pest-control authority for information concerning West Nile Virus control efforts – the toxins used are said to be mosquito-specific, and to dissipate within 24 hours, but harvesting should probably be avoided during peak treatment periods.

Further Reading

Information on pesticide free gardening is posted at http://groups.ucanr.org/slomg/documents/Pests_&_Diseases3865.htm.


Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Snowmanradio.

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