For many pet birds their diet predominantly consists of seeds. The addition of greens can make great treats for pet birds and can have many health benefits. While there are a large number of fruits and vegetable that us humans eat that are suitable for our birds there are also plenty of backyard weeds that make great birdy treats.
The likes of budgies, finches, canaries, cockatiels and parrots all enjoy some fresh greens in their diet and you don’t have to go far to find them, just have a look around your yard to see what birdy treats are available.
Below we list some of the favourite greens of birds, which can be found in Australian backyards.
1. Panic veldt grass (Ehrharta erecta)
This is a type of Poa grass and is a real favourite amongst budgies. They can eat any part of it from the leaves to the seeds, stems and roots. For an extra treat, offer a clump of this grass with the soil left on the roots. The soil has many beneficial minerals and grit for good health.
Panic veldt grass grows year round in shaded areas and also yields seed all year round. This is a great option for a daily treat.
2. Winter grass (Poa annua)
This is another type of Poa grass and has light green, fine bladed leaves. The small seeds are loved by birds and thankfully this wonderful winter treat is capable of withstanding frost.
3. Summer grass (Digitaria sanguinalis)
Summer grass grows in most areas of Australia in the warmer months of the year. It has fine, widely branched spikelets almost like the framework of an umbrella.
4. Clover (Trifolium Repens)
Clover has recognisable trifoliate green leaves and fast growing stems. It is rich in carotenoids which enhance fertility, improve immunity and enhance feather colour.
5. Medic (Medicago polymorpha)
Medic has a similar appearance to clover and is fine for birds in small quantities. Beware though, as the plant matures it produces sharp burrs.
6. Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chickweed has tender, small, light green leaves on scrambling stems with tiny white flowers. It is rich in vitamin A and also contains great amounts of vitamin C and the minerals potassium, silicic acid, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and copper.
7. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion’s are a true superfood and are known for being beneficial to liver health and aiding in the removal of toxins from the body. Liver disease and liver related ailments are common in caged parrots and the addition of Dandelion to their diet can help prevent issues from arising.
All parts of the dandelion including the seed head, flowers and leaves can be included in a bird’s daily diet and they are very good for overall bird health. Dandelions look similar to a number of other garden weeds so it’s important that you choose the correct one to feed your bird. A true Dandelion has a yellow daisy flower on a single hollow stem.
8. Cats ear/Flat weed (Hypochoeris radicata)
Another plant that looks similar to a Dandelion is Cat’s ear which has branched stems with two to three yellow flowers. Thankfully it doesn’t matter if you misidentify Cats ear as a Dandelion as it is also safe for birds to eat.
9. Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
Sow thistle, also known as milk thistle has bright green, very tender leaves when it is young. Birds enjoy eating any part of the milk thistle including the leaves, stems and roots. Often there are aphids on the milk thistle leaves and these are perfectly fine to feed your bird as many species including budgies and canaries can benefit from insects in their diet.
A more mature milk thistle has a woody stem and stronger leaves which can still be feed to your birds but may be less appealing. The mature plants also produce a seed head which can also be given to birds as a treat.
There are many common backyard weeds and seeding grasses that form part of the diet of wild birds, and it’s not surprising that aviary birds enjoy them too. Fresh seeds and greens are very important for the happiness and well-being of pet birds and make a great treat too. Why not have a look around your yard and see what you can treat your birds with.
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