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6 Parrot Myths Debunked

Is parsley toxic? Are sunflower seeds addictive? We separate fact from fiction.

Patricia Sund

Before the computer and the internet became the greatest teaching tools in the world, a lot of myths about birds were floating around like a mosquito infestation. Sunflower seeds are addictive! Our birds can eat anything we eat! Parsley is poisonous!

Well, let’s just take a few of these myths, rumors and occasional total rubbish and take a look shall we?

Myth No. 1: Parrots Need Grit In Their Diet
Nope. Parrots do not need grit. Birds that need grit are those that consume seeds without removing the husk. The grit aids the digestion of these seeds with the hull still on them. Grit can actually cause crop impaction. So no grit.

African greys
Birds often love to bathe!

Myth No. 2: Parrots Don’t Need To Take Baths Or Showers Because They Preen Their Feathers
Wrong! Birds in the wild often take showers in puddles, small streams of water and in lake shallows. A shower helps remove dander and exfoliated skin and will indeed improve the overall condition of their feathers and skin. Many actually enjoy taking baths or showers. And they appear to feel really good after having been bathed.

Myth No. 3: Sunflower Seeds Are Addictive
No, this is patently false. Many birds just really like sunflower seeds and will eat only those if they can get away with it.

Myth No. 4: Never Feed Spinach To Your Bird
Okay, somebody got a part of a truth. Here is how that wild horse got out. Spinach contains oxalic acid. Oxalic acid inhibits the absorption of calcium but is only an issue when fed either in very large quantities or to the exclusion of anything else. Spinach is very good for your parrot when fed in moderation. Spinach is a wonderful source of folic acid, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamin K, carotenes, vitamin C. It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that helps maintain healthy eyes.

Parsley
Parsley is fine for parrots.

Myth No. 5: Parsley Is Toxic To Birds
This is not at all true and I have no idea where this came from. I do remember reading this myself over a dozen years ago. This was probably brought to you by the very same people that swear they saw pigeons explode after a wedding.

Parsley is actually quite good for your flock if fed, along with everything else, in moderation. It contains iron, beta carotene and vitamins B1, B2 and C. This tasty herb also contains much needed minerals: potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium.

Myth No. 6: My Parrot Is Omnivorous So She Can Eat Anything I Eat
I won’t even eat what a lot of other people eat. Ever check out other people’s grocery carts? Some of them are simply tragic.

I will yell it from the rooftops: Everything in moderation. Is that once a year French fry going to slay your parrot? No, but don’t make it a habit. French fries are usually loaded with fat and salt, neither of which are good for either you or your bird on a consistent basis.

Carry out Chinese food in theory sounds like a great choice, right? Vegetables, rice, etc. But the MSG, the salt, more salt from soy sauce and the fat from stir frying the food adds up to a pretty dicey offering.

It’s the same with junk food such as potato chips, taco chips, cheese curls and salted popcorn. Plain air-popped popcorn is fine for a treat. But the chemicals and additives in selections from the junk food aisle are simply not good choices.

With the huge amounts of good information now available to us out there, over time many of these myth have fallen by the wayside. And it’s about time!

Homemade chips for birds
If your bird really likes potato chips, make your own healthy version that she can eat on occasion.

Bonus Myth: Don’t Throw Rice At A Wedding Because If Wild Birds Eat Rice, They Will Explode
If this were true there wouldn’t be a bird alive in China. Migrating ducks and geese use the flooded rice fields each year during winter to add weight and build up their strength for their return to their nesting grounds in the North. Rice is a food that poses no danger to birds in the wild. The danger of throwing rice at a wedding is your Aunt Ellen slipping on the rice and falling resulting in a broken hip and a lot of drama.

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Posted: January 20, 2015, 10:45 a.m. PDT

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6 Parrot Myths Debunked

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Reader Comments
Mary here is a list of plants
Mark, International
Posted: 8/21/2015 11:09:12 AM
Patricia, the warnings about parsley stem from the fact that it and other members of it's family contain coumarins, which can interfere with blood clotting mechanisms. I actually specifically asked my vet who is a certified veterinary herbalist if parsley and cilantro were safe to feed the birds and she said unless they ate very large quantities, it is safe. I have been feeding it occasionally as a green (maybe once a month for a few days) and have had no problems.
Dee, Raleigh, NC
Posted: 3/16/2015 4:33:40 AM
What household plants and flowers are poisonous to birds?
mary, dothan, AL
Posted: 3/4/2015 9:04:58 AM
Thank you Patricia get the food police off our backs Moderation is key
Virginia, International
Posted: 2/6/2015 8:21:24 AM
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