What Are The Best Greens For Your Pet Bird?

Find out why kale, watercress, Swiss chard and other greens are all great for your bird's food bowl.

Arugala is an excellent choice for bird veggies. Via Thinkstock/iStock

I was at a veterinarian conference a while back and happened to run into Dr. Greg Harrison. Yes, that Dr. Harrison. He seemed like a nice enough guy, and we had a pleasant talk about nutrition and the “Chop Concept.” I explained that the entire concept was based on the fact that people need the convenience of a freezer full of beautiful frozen dinners for their bird. He felt that fresh was better. Naturally, I agree with him that fresh is better. And that works great if you have a pant load of birds and a lot of help so you can cut fresh every day. However, sometimes it’s simply necessary to be practical. And Chop is about as practical as you can get.

It gets the nutrition into the birds that otherwise might not be getting it any other way. It has to be easy on the caregiver or they’ll most likely slide back into simply serving up just pellets and/or seed.

If you are retired, don’t have a family to look after twice a day or don’t mind getting up early in the morning to chop up vegetables before you tear down the road to a job, please do feed fresh.

But for many, this simply isn’t very practical. And that’s where Chop comes in. It may not be fresh, but it only loses about 10 percent of its nutrition if it’s kept frozen over four or five months. For the most part, I make Chop about every three or four months so it isn’t an issue for me. But nevertheless I’ll take that 90 percent any old day.

One very important feature in Chop is the greens. And that was something Dr. Harrison really liked about Chop. If you do it right, these greens will add an amazing amount of good nutrition to your parrot’s diet.

So what greens should you use? Like anything else, you’ll want to use what’s fresh, in season and available.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Watercress gives your parrot a big serving of nutrients.  Via Thinkstock/iStock

Watercress gives your parrot a big serving of nutrients. Via Thinkstock/iStock


I love this stuff for my birds. Watercress is absolutely loaded with great nutrition for them and I now put it in every batch of Chop I make.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is nice to use because it has so many colors. The greens are a very dark green bordering on purple-maroon and the stems come in different varieties. Some varieties have orange or dark yellow stems and some have that beautiful maroon color. It adds a spicy snap to your Chop and the colors really make your Chop gleam.

Kale is a powerhouse vegetable.  Via Thinkstock/iStock

Kale is a powerhouse vegetable. Via Thinkstock/iStock


Kale has gotten a lot of press lately and people are throwing kale around in their dishes like confetti in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. They’re putting it in smoothies, drying it to make kale chips in their ovens and jamming it in casseroles. It’s the new fad in food. And it is quite a nice green for your birds. I use it raw and chopped up in any food I make for my African greys.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are the old standby south of the Mason Dixon line. This traditional Southern staple in soul food cooking, collards are traditionally cooked down with some sort of meat with a little vinegar and water added to make what was called “pot liquor.” It was cooked low and slow and simmered a long time before serving. However, they work beautifully in Chop chopped fresh and mixed in. Turns out collards were probably the healthiest thing on a plate of soul food.


Another one of my favorites, arugula is nice because it adds such a snappy and spicy twist to any dish you put it in. Sometimes called rocket, salad rocket, garden rocket, roquette, rucola, rugula, or colewort, arugula can easily be mistaken for dandelion greens. You can read about arugula and its benefits here: Have Your Parrots Tried Arugula?

Broccoli Rabe

Another standout for Chop. I like it because it has all of the nutrition of broccoli without the obnoxious smell that seems to permeate my semi-lovely home every time I use it. So I stopped using broccoli and switched to broccoli rabe. You can read more about broccoli rabe here: Skip The Broccoli! Feed Broccoli Rabe Instead

I know you probably have your favorites. Please let me know by leaving a comment in the comments section below so I can explore your favorites!

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Birds · Food and Treats