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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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