While there is a lot of information about bird nutrition, there is little information out there about nutritional requirements for parrots. And if you have one at home, it can be challenging and frustrating to let the nutrition of your bird be based on guessing and trial and error. A parrot, just like other birds and animals can also suffer from nutritional deficiency and an all-seed diet I not enough to provide the required minerals and vitamins your parrot need, especially if it is large.
Another danger of an all-seed diet is that they provide too much fat, and since your parrot doesn’t exercise, and spend most of its time in the cage, it can lead to obesity. Moreover, if you got your parrot from the wilderness, you should know that this kind rarely feeds on safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, or peanuts. With that said, your parrot needs, among other nutrients, vitamin A-rich foods or at least beta-carotene, to help maintain its healthy skin, eyes, linings of their intestines, feathers, as well as respiratory and reproductive systems. And vegetables are the best source of this vitamin A, so one of the vegetables we are going to look at today is watercress and if your parrot can benefit from it.
So, yes, parrots can eat watercress. It is similar to the cress that you usually have with salads, and your parrots can benefit more from eating. Watercress is also a good source of calcium, which is essential for the bird in terms of the health of the feathers and bones. It is advisable to give your parrot watercress as well as other vegetables and fruits daily, preferably organic kinds.
Watercress is one of the most respected vegetables these days. Studies have shown that eating two cups of watercress every day could reduce decrease any damage to the DNA that is associated with cancer by up to 17%. Aside from calcium and vitamin A, watercress is also loaded with vitamin K.
What is the nutritional value of watercress?
Watercress helps enhance the overall health of your parrot. Among the nutrients found in this vegetable include:
Watercress is packed with vitamin A, which is essential for normal vision including night vision, structure and function of the mucous membranes and the skin, cellular differentiation, reproduction, and proper immune system functioning.
Watercress is also rich in vitamin C. Your parrot needs vitamin C for the normal function of the blood vessels as well as connective tissues required for normal skin, cartilage, and wound healing. Vitamin C also boosts the gastronomical absorption of non-haem iron – a form of iron found plentifully in plant foods. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to avoid the cell and tissue-damaging effects of the free radicals.
Iron is an important nutrient that is required for energy production as well as the normal transport of oxygen throughout the body through the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells and the myoglobin in muscle cells.
Your parrot needs calcium to maintain its health. Calcium is essential in enhancing the skeletal structure of the parrot, enabling the muscular and nervous systems to function properly. It is also required for blood to clot in wounds.
Should I cook watercress before feeding it to my parrot?
Generally, watercress should be served raw. Make sure you wash it thoroughly before giving it to your parrot. You can sometimes mix things up by slightly steaming it, which will also make it taste less peppery. Slight steaming might reduce the health benefit of watercress.
How do I feed my parrot watercress?
The best thing about watercress is that you don’t have to cook it for your parrot. Just give it to your bird as it is, or if you wish, you can snip with scissors to put in chop. Generally, watercress is a bit bitter, it tastes like arugula; however, once your parrot develops the taste for it, there will be no going back.
You can serve watercress in a number of ways to entice the parrot to try it; including fresh whole, chopped, cooked and fed a little warm. Consider hanging watercress from the side of the cage of your parrot in a clip, or giving them in chunks that larger parrots can pick up using their feet to gnaw on.
If your parrot likes to gnaw holes in paper, try to hang watercress in the cage bars and it just might mistake it for a green paper!
Can I give watercress with other foods?
Yes, you can give your parrot watercress with other greens and veggies.
Does watercress has any side effect on parrots?
This is still a grey area, but when consumed in small amounts, watercress is safe. However, some reports suggest that when used in large amounts or for long, watercress could be unsafe and can cause stomach upset in your parrot. There is currently not enough information to give a clear answer to this question; however, you should be careful with any water plant that you feed your bird.
Fascioliasis is a virus caused by a bacterium known as fasciola hepatica, which can be transmitted as a result of eating uncooked water plants such as watercress. Water plants are usually home for numerous bacteria including liver flukes. This can cause severe damages as well as liver inflammation during the early stage of infection, and later skin inflammation.
What if my parrot is afraid to eat watercress?
This is normal, but seeing the benefits that watercress has, it is essential that you get your parrot to try it out. If your parrot is a little paranoid about eating this veggie, try to show it that it is safe and not poisonous. Have one end of whole watercress in your mouth and the other by the parrot’s beak, thereby proving to your bird that the food is not poisonous, and if it starts eating, sever the next round in its normal feeding bowl.
How often should I feed watercress to my parrot?
First, you need to always keep your bird’s feeder full to provide a reliable supply of food. How often you should feed watercress to your bird depends on many factors including spills, availability of scavengers such as mice, raccoons, or squirrels, and the size of the feeder. It also depends on the size of your parrot. However, the best way to gauge how often you should feed watercress to your parrot is by using the previous data – how much did it eat and discard the last couple of times.
When should I feed watercress to my parrot?
In the woods, birds usually go out in search of their first food at daybreak, and spend the late morning as well as early afternoon playing, preening, bathing, and napping. They feed again in the late afternoon, before returning to call it a day. If you want to mimic how they do in the woods, this is the answer.
But it is unlikely that your schedule will coincide with nature. However, it is advisable to feed vegetables to your parrot in the morning.
My parrot is picky, what should do?
Not all parrots are keen to try out new foods. If yours is like this, try the tips below to get it to try watercress.
- Mix things up: Try whole, sliced, chopped, diced, mixed, shredded, mashed, skewered, and so on. Avoid serving watercress the same way consecutively.
- Show the parrot it’s yummy: Arrange the mealtime of your parrot to coincide with yours. Parrot is known for mimicking, and when it sees you eating and enjoying your meal, it sure will also try some.
- Fresh foods in the morning: Watercress is better served to parrots in the morning
- Serve it under the light: Without the light, the world of the parrot is quite dull and grey, so try putting the food in the light – sunlight or UV light so it can view the food in a more appetizing way.
- Let the parrot see other birds eat: This, of course, will only work if you have other birds at home, but it is the best way to convince your parrot that watercress is safe.
- Be consistent: Don’t give up just because your parrot didn’t like watercress the first time you served. It can take days, weeks, months, and maybe longer to get your bird to get used to watercress if it is the first time.