The addition of plants and weeds to a budgie’s diet can have health benefits but you need to ensure the weed is safe for consumption.
Non-toxic weeds that budgies can eat include dandelions, chickweed, sage, milk thistle, ribwort, nettle, white clover, teasel, wormseed mustard, shepherd’s purse, broadleaf plantain, and cow vetch.
Most weeds can be found outdoors or sourced from a pet store. Regardless, wash them thoroughly to remove any contaminants and pesticides.
Wild and captive budgies enjoy eating weeds as part of their diet. To help you source the right weeds for your budgie’s diet, here are some non-toxic varieties:
Although dandelions are regarded as weeds, the Review of Diabetic Studies found that they contain high amounts of Vitamin A, C, D, and B and minerals such as iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium.
Your budgie will enjoy chewing on the thick stems and munching down the delicious flower petals.
Budgerigars enjoy eating chickweed, so it can be included in their diet. Chickweed isn’t only more nutritious than most leafy greens, but it can also be harvested all year round.
Chickweed is high in vitamin A, which helps boost a budgie’s immunity. The plant is also rich in vitamin C, amino acids, and minerals, including potassium, zinc, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus.
Chickweed can be consumed both fresh, dried, or as tea.
Sage is a plant with a potent, earthy aroma and an intense flavor that most birds are attracted to. It contains minerals and vitamins and over 160 polyphenols, which are antioxidant compounds.
Since sage is an aromatic herb, only offer it to your budgies in small amounts. The over-consumption of sage can overwhelm the digestive system.
Milk thistle (sow thistle) is a weed with tender, bright green leaves.
Budgies eat all parts of young milk thistle, including the leaves, stems, and roots. While aphids are frequently found on the milk thistle leaves, they’re safe for your bird to consume.
Mature milk thistle plants have a woody stem and stronger leaves, which you can give your budgie. Also, fully developed plants produce a seed head, which can be served as a treat for birds.
Ribwort plantain is a grassland and field plant that grows in gardens.
While most gardeners consider this plant a nuisance, budgies enjoy eating its seeds, which are rich in potassium and phosphorus.
It blooms from April to October. Unlike greater plantain, which has long flower spikes, the short, oval flower heads of ribwort appear to be balanced on top of its thin, spindly stems.
Ribwort plantain has spear-shaped leaves that grow in a rosette at the plant’s base. Short stems emerge from its leaves, bearing compact flower heads with protruding white stamen.
At the peak of the blooming period, the flower heads turn brown and begin to seed.
The stinging nettle (common nettle) is distinguished by its stinging leaves. The stem of the stinging nettle has toothed leaves, and the leaves and stems are also covered with plant hairs known as trichomes.
Nettles are rich in vitamins A, C, B, and K, essential oils, amino acids, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
White clover is a perennial herbaceous plant with creeping stems that produce stalks and roots at nodes along the stem, allowing the plant to spread.
Trifoliate leaves define this weed with three oval-shaped leaflets with a distinctive white, crescent-shaped band.
While white clover is commonly used as livestock fodder, it’s also nutritious for budgies. Its leaves are rich in proteins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium while low in fiber and lignin.
Teasel is a weed distinguished by its brown, spiny stems and cone-shaped seed heads that linger long after the plants have died for the winter. When teasels bloom (between July and August), the spiky flower heads are mostly green with purple flower rings.
They’re found in damp grassland, field edges, and disturbed ground, such as roadside verges and waste grounds. They are visited by bees and birds when in flowering and seeding seasons.
Wormseed mustard is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows to about 1 m.
It’s easily identifiable by reddish stems that are multi-branched and covered with tiny, spiny-toothed leaves. That’s paired with small yellow flowers that grow in clusters all over its stems.
It yields black seeds in small fruit clusters after the flowers start to bloom. Because of the numerous seeds it produces, it’s easily spread and re-propagated, so some consider it an invasive weed.
Wormseed mustard is rich in nutrients, including vitamins A, C, K, E, and folic acid. It’s also high in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, and manganese.
Shepherd’s purse is a flowering plant that belongs to the mustard family.
It’s native to the Asian continent and Eastern Europe, where it’s commonly used as a kitchen ingredient, particularly in Asian culinary traditions.
It’s seen as a weed in many Western cultures, but it’s frequently used in herbal medicine to treat:
- Cardiovascular problems
- Menstrual cramps
- Bladder infections
- Other medical conditions
Shepherd’s purse is distinguished by its long stems, deeply lipped leaves, and clusters of tiny white flower petals. Its name is derived from the plant’s triangular-shaped seed pod, which resembles a purse.
Broad-leaf plantain is a perennial weed found in many gardens, pasturelands, and waste areas. It’s commonly found in abandoned pastures with little grass and clover growing around them.
Broad-leaf plantain is non-toxic and is often eaten by livestock. However, farmlands with an abundance of broad-leaf-plantain tend to be low-yielding.
The entire broadleaf plantain plant, from root to seed, is safe for budgies to eat. The weed is rich in Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals such as zinc, potassium, and silica.
Cow vetch is a vined plant that serves as a home and food source for birds and pollinating insects.
The plant produces one-sided flowers on its stems that resemble the bristles of a brush. Each vine comprises two tendrils that wrap around other plants to support itself.
A leaf has 8-12 pairs of leaflets that have a striking similarity to garden peas. Cow vetch thrives best in dry, sandy soils and requires plenty of sunshine.
According to INIFAP, cow vetch has good protein quality.
Dill has a potent citrus taste that is delicious for budgies. Its feathery, soft leaves also have a delightful texture for birds to peck at. It has high concentrations of Vitamins A and C, folate, iron, and manganese.
Dill has been used to treat various medical issues throughout history, including digestive problems and colic in newborns. Including this weed in your budgie’s diet will improve its digestion.