Herbs and spices are something that almost everyone has a cabinet full of. Some more committed folks even grow their own herbs on balconies, windowsills and in gardens. If you’re a big fan of Italian food, one herb you’re probably familiar with is oregano. It’s healthy and tastes great on pizza, pasta and even in a stir fry! But if you own a parrot, you might not know how much your pet will appreciate some some of your homegrown oregano as well.
Oregano (and all herbs) are interesting tasting plants, and your bird will love trying them. A variety of plants are a major part of a parrot’s natural diet, and so the addition of the odd Oregano leaf to your parrot’s feeder fits in with the rest of your bird’s dietary requirements. Don’t be afraid give it to them either; Oregano has many health benefits for humans and birds.
Oregano and A Parrot’s Diet
Parrots eat a wide variety of plant life in the wild. Their diet consists mostly of seeds, nuts, fruit and insects. Additionally, certain species of parrots have been known to hunt for edible foliage in the wild. This predisposition to eating plant life is what makes it possible to incorporate Oregano into your parrot’s diet. However, herbs alone are not enough to sustain a parrot, and owners should include herbs as a part of your bird’s regular mixture of food.
Also, don’t try to gauge how much to give your pet based on your bird’s reaction to trying oregano. Parrots love fresh herbs of all kinds and will happily eat as much of the herb as you can provide for it. If herbs begin to replace the bird feed or other food that your parrot usually eats, your bird may not be getting all the nutrients it needs to survive and be healthy. Use your judgement and be smart.
Health Properties of Oregano
Oregano contains more properties that are beneficial to your health than nearly any other plant on earth. It’s antibacterial, can help with digestion and can fight colds and Giardia in both humans and animals. For centuries humans and animals alike have used the properties of plant life to help cure or avoid problems. Oregano is an example of a plant that is popular for this purpose, and it is used by humans and animals alike.
The most well-known use of oregano is as a cure for digestive problems and for colds. However, birds don’t exactly get a ‘common cold’. Instead, they are prone to respiratory complications and various forms of the flu. Oregano will help your bird fight off any other respiratory illnesses or flu-bugs that they might have come into contact with. Parrots are also susceptible to digestive problems, and oregano can help to mitigate or even stop ailments effecting your pet’s stomach.
Dried Oregano and Oregano Oil
Parrot’s love fresh oregano, but the reality is that most of us don’t have a herb garden that we can just go collect from every day. Most of us have a preserved stash of oregano in our pantries.
In our daily lives, oregano is generally found as a dried herb, or reduced to an oil that can be drank. As humans, we take these different forms of the herb for granted. But how does it effect birds when the herb is given to them in another form?
A dried herb will have no negative impacts on your bird. The herb’s health properties do not change very much when it is dried, so it is safe to say that your bird can get the same benefits out of dried oregano that they would have gotten out of fresh herbs.
However, you may notice that your bird is less interested in eating oregano once it has been dried. This is because leaving dried oregano out over time results in a loss of its taste.
It may be futile to try and get your bird to eat dried oregano though, as many of the juices that give oregano leaves a satisfying texture for your parrot to eat are lost in the drying process.
Nonetheless, if your bird enjoys dried oregano, you can feel good about sharing some treats from your spice rack.
Oregano oil, however, can be an entirely different thing for your bird’s digestive system.
If you give your parrot oregano oil, it has the potential to eat through the wall of your bird’s stomach.
This is because the oil of oregano is an internally caustic substance. Birds are far from the only animal that oregano oil has a caustic response to, but their smaller immune systems mean that smaller amounts could be more dangerous than for other forms of life, such as humans, dogs and even cows.
To prevent the damaging side effects of oregano oil, dilute it in water or olive oil before giving it to your bird.
One last word of warning: be careful that what you’re buying is genuine ‘oil of oregano’.
With the rise of the essential oil industry, many companies mass produce weak, ineffective or misbranded bottles of oregano oil.
These brands won’t provide any of the health benefits you may be looking for, and may contain toxins like perfume that neither you or your pet want to eat.
If you don’t know where to look, Nature’s Answer is good company that can provide quality oils.
How to Grow Oregano
If you know you only want your feathered friend eating fresh oregano, it can be expensive to constantly be buying fresh herbs. Luckily, growing oregano is incredibly easy no matter how little space you have to grow it.
Many people opt to plant oregano in outdoor herb gardens, especially if they live in warm climates. Experienced gardeners or people who have access to large areas to plant in might already know that growing oregano grows back each year, and is as simple to grow from seeds as planting it in soil with a little moist dirt.
If you live in an apartment, there are two popular options to grow oregano that your parrot will enjoy. The first is a window-box herb garden. These gardens are popular because they provide space for more than one kind of plants to grow, so if you want to grow other herbs in addition to oregano, this is a solid choice. Parrots love almost all herbs, and basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary and sage are all healthy snacks for your bird.
If you don’t feel like growing herbs in larger amounts though, oregano can easily be grown in a small pot indoors. Because the plant itself is small, it doesn’t need a big pot to hold its root systems in place.
Like any plant, however, make sure you place your budding oregano in a place where it will get plenty of light and warmth like under a window or on your porch.
Be careful that you don’t leave oregano growing somewhere that your parrot can steal it, otherwise you might find yourself without a treat to give them when you need it.
Oregano is far from the only herb that parrots like! They like just about anything that tastes interesting, and they do prefer their herbs fresh. If dried herbs are all you have, than don’t be afraid to use them! Looking through your spice cabinet, let’s explore some other herbs that your parrot will love.
Cayenne powder: Can stop bleeding if your bird gets a cut. Just rub it into the wound and let it clump up to stop the bleeding. It may sting your bird briefly when you apply it, but it actually works to reduce pain fairly quickly as well! Of course, be careful rubbing powder into your parrot’s wounds. They’re probably scared and in pain, so treat them with care!
Aloe Vera: Truly the miracle plant. It has a bevy of uses for humans, and it’s also good for your parrot too! Some parrots get irritated skin under their feathers, and will use their beaks to try to scratch the itch. Unfortunately, this process usually destroys your bird’s feathers, affecting their ability to stay clean and beautiful. Rubbing some aloe on the skin helps lessen your parrot’s itch and stops them from destroying their feathers.
Camomile: An extremely powerful tool for eliminating stress that your parrot could be feeling. Useful in a variety of situations, camomile is a herb that all bird owners should be aware of.
Ginger: Can calm parrots down by eliminating motion sickness while traveling. Since traveling is often a time when parrots encounter stress, ginger and camomile are frequently given to parrots together during stressful periods of travel or upheaval.
Overall, oregano is one of many herbs that can have medical advantages for both yourself and your parrot.
Your parrot will love the unique taste of the leaves, and you’ll feel good knowing that your parrot is eating a natural health booster with their dinner.
If your parrot grows sick, oregano can be used to slow or cure certain diseases that might otherwise prove to be life threatening, or could help prevent complications that come with huge vet bills.
Since it’s so easy to grow, it can be an accessible form of medicine for anyone to offer their parrot. So next time your bird is coughing or has an upset stomach, try oregano before you go to the vet. You parrot will thank you.