Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals vital to a budgie’s good health. It’s true that most of these nutritional needs will be met with a good seed mix; however, you should always make fresh food available to your birds. Exploring and tasting different textures of food with his tongue is all part of a budgie’s sensory world and it will keep him alert, curious and happy. Unlike human children, it’s perfectly okay for budgies to play with their food!
Budgie Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and veg should always be offered raw, never cooked or processed in any way. Budgies have a natural fondness for fresh food, and you’ll only have a problem getting them to take it if you have left them for too long on a diet of nothing but seeds. This often makes them fussy eaters, and you may need to remove the seed trays for a few hours, until they have nibbled at the fresh stuff. In worst case scenarios - and this is only usually a problem in smaller cages - budgies will actually be scared of the food when it is first introduced. Birds of this temperament will also take a long time to adjust to new toys or other accessories added to their cages. However, even if their first sight of fresh fruit puts them in a flap, once they’ve tried it, they’ll love it (with the proviso that all budgies are different, and some may be fussier than others!)
New foods should be served in a familiar bowl to tempt your budgie
Whether or not a food item has been nibbled or left untouched, remove it from the cage at the end of the day. Many fresh foods, especially fruits, are full of sugar, which will soon be growing bacteria as readily as a petri dish. Bacterial blooms of this nature can kill budgies.
Vegetables should form part of your budgie’s daily diet. As long as there’s seed available too, they’ll generally sort out the correct balance for themselves. If the bird’s droppings turn watery, it’s probably a sign of overindulgence in fresh foods. Simply cut back for a day or two until the droppings are back to normal.
Here’s a list of safe, healthy budgie vegetables. Your bird will take to some more than others, and may never acquire a taste for the full list:
- Aubergine (fruiting bodies only, without the stalk ‘hat’)
- Brussels sprouts (chopped up)
- Carrots (and carrot greens)
Carrots are a favourite for many budgies
- Celery (stalks only)
- Chinese leaves
- Courgette (Zucchini)
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Mustard greens
- Pak choi
- Peas (podded)
- Peppers of all kinds (even spicy ones)
- Savoy cabbage [blue_budgie_eating_greens]
- Spring greens
- Sweet Potatoes
- Tomato (ripe ones only)
- Turnip tops (the green sprouts)
Budgie Wild Food
You can supplement your budgie’s vegetable intake with some of these common weeds. Remember that picking wild flowers is illegal – this list is limited to weeds commonly found in gardens. The birds will eat both the leaves and the seeds.
Budgies are great fans of fresh herbs
A word of warning – if you have used any form of weed-killer or chemical pest-control near your source of these weeds, do not feed them to any of your pets.
- Chickweed (Stellaria media) – the whole plant and the seeds
- Cow vetch (Vicia cracca) – plant, flower and seeds alike
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – the leaves
- Nettle (Urtica dioica) – seeds and fresh plant tops (douse them in hot water first to remove the stings)
- Plaintain – Greater or Common (Plantago major) – leaves and seed heads
- Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) – leaves and seed heads
- Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) – leaves, flowers and seeds
- Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) – seed heads. This is a favourite of finches, but budgies can acquire the taste too. Teasel is not a common garden plant, but you can find the dried seed heads alongside footpaths and fields in the Autumn. Trim down the prickly defensive shell, and cut the seed heads into sections to enable your birds to access the seeds easily.
- White clover (Trifolium repens) – flowers and seeds
- Worm-seed mustard (Erysimum cheiranthoides) - leaves and seeds
Don’t feed budgies any ornamental garden flowers (or houseplants) unless an expert has told you they are safe and edible. There are far too many decorative plants to list in their entirety; but Pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) are good budgie food, and if you don’t want to sacrifice the blooms you’ve planted in your garden, harvest the seeds in August and feed them to the budgies. The birds are also partial to Chamomile seeds (Matricaria chamomilla), which is something you might have in your herb garden.
Small amounts of herbs can be offered, and most budgies enjoy them as part of a varied diet. Bunches of herbs tied at the end and doused in water will be used by your birds as a shower-cum-towel: they love rolling themselves through wet foliage.
The list below includes some common herbs that you can feed to your pet budgerigar. They are all ones you can grow yourself or easily get hold of in a supermarket.
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Borage (Borago officinalis)
- Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
- Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
- Coriander (cilantro) (Coriandrum sativum)
- Cress (Lepidium sativum)
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
- Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
- Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
- Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
- Rocket (Eruca sativa)
- Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
- Savory (Satureja hortensis)
- Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
- Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
Budgies will usually have a nibble at any new herb offered
The following herbs should only be given in small quantities, as they can cause irritation in Budgies’ digestive systems if over-indulged in:
- Dill (Anethum graveolens)
- Mint (Mentha – there are lots of different varieties)
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) needs some circumspection too. Many budgies grow to love it, but if eaten in large quantities it can prevent them from absorbing calcium. Parsley is also mildly toxic; but your bird would need to feast on the stuff for several days before feeling the worse for wear.
The rule here is to go easy on the sweet stuff. Budgies don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, but it is very easy to overfeed them with sugar-packed fruits. Offer two or three of these in small amounts about twice a week.
- Apple (segments, without pips)
Budgies enjoy fresh apples
- Blackberry (bramble)
- Cherries (de-stoned)
- Common whitebeam berries
- Currants (black, red and white – note, this refers to the fruiting shrub, not the small dried grape)
- Dogwood (bitter, but palatable to some budgies)
- Elderberry (ripe, and not the leaves or stems, which are toxic)
- Melon, all types
- Mulberry (fruit and leaves alike)
- Nectarine (de-stoned)
- Oranges and similar (clementines, mandarins, satsumas, tangerines)
- Passion fruit
- Peach (de-stoned)
- Pears (segments, without pips)
- Persimmon (ripe ones only)
- Rosehips (sliced in half)
- Sharon fruit
- Sloe (Blackthorn) (freeze the fruits first to remove some off the bitterness)
Budgie Dried Fruit
Any dried fruit offered should be organic, unsulphured, and with no extra sweetener added. Apricots, prunes, figs, mango and papaya, for example. Make these occasional treats rather than everyday goodies; and avoid dates, sultanas, raisins and currants, as these are packed with fructose and can make your birds gain too much weight.
Organic Budgie Food
Only feed your budgies organic fresh food. This ensures that there are no toxic herbicides, fungicides or preservatives on the produce. As a second best, ensure that fruit and veg are washed thoroughly. You should always try to source organic seeds and grains, too.
Budgie Food Treats
As budgies are inquisitive birds who love getting their beaks and tongues into new things, it’s fun to let them nibble on novelties every now and then. A shop-bought treat or millet spray will do the trick; or you could introduce small amounts of cooked wholemeal pasta or cooked brown rice (with no salt added to the cooking water), nuts (almond, brazil, cashew, filbert, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, walnut), a little dried fruit (see Budgie dried fruit note above), and even some dried mealworms of the kind you feed to insectivorous garden birds such as Robins and Blackbirds.
Small pieces of chopped cooked meat or fish are acceptable too, as are chopped hardboiled eggs. Never offer any of these raw, and always remove any uneaten food after a few hours.
Budgies, as a rule, don’t eat insects in the wild. Aviary birds may acquire a taste for them, however, and this isn’t a problem, unless you feel they’re gorging on this high-protein unorthodox diet. Quirky favourites include greenfly, small spiders (yes, I know they’re not insects), slow-moving flies, and even craneflies (daddy-longlegs). If your birds are indoors, you don’t have to supply them with any of this al fresco food.