Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an herb commonly used in the kitchen as a condiment, both the leaves and the stem are usually used, although it is a very popular vegetable as a condiment, it is rarely used as direct food for birds, such as budgies.
Both half-ripe and mature cilantro leaves and stems can be fed to budgies and birds. But because coriander in its composition contains some essential oils, is considered slightly poisonous. In very large quantities, it can cause liver damage, headaches, drowsiness and nausea, but a bird will never eat such excessive amounts.
Coriander contains medicinal properties, coriander is used to treat various conditions such as stomach cramps, colic and headaches. The seeds and leaves have a germicidal effect and are very useful against salmonella.
A bird salmonella infection manifests itself mostly with diarrhea, which can quickly become life-threatening.
There can be many reasons for diarrhea, so a veterinarian must always be consulted to obtain samples and find the precise reason for diarrhea. In the case of birds, diarrhea is often associated with Salmonella infection, which is why the diagnosis must be taken into account.
There are many other vegetables with better nutritional qualities than cilantro, but the fact that a person feels the need to feed cilantro to a budgie or any other bird may be because cilantro has recognized medicinal qualities, especially for alleviating salmonella in birds.
The dilemma of culinary herbs as food for budgies
I have noticed a general pattern in terms of the topics I have had to research regarding culinary herbs as food for budgies.
Herbs, as vegetables always provide a significant amount of nutrients, plus they are easy to supply, natural and inexpensive.
However, there is the dilemma that most culinary herbs contain essential oils and therefore have created a reputation that they can become toxic as food for birds.
Budgies and other pet birds enjoy eating plants with tender leaves. Several culinary herbs are fine-leaved and also highly aromatic. This makes them a true delight for the birds.
They are easy to cultivate in the garden, balcony, or even on the windowsill. Potted plants are commercially produced in grocery stores as well.
It is always advisable to choose herbs that are not organically grown to make sure that the plants are not contaminated with pesticides. Some details about culinary herbs that can be given to birds as food must be considered.
Due to the strong odor, birds usually do not accept the plants as food immediately, but then they get used to eat them with pleasure. The main precaution to take is regarding the quantity.
Only feed these plants in very small quantities, since they are rich in essential oils, which in larger doses could cause irritation to the mucous membranes of the birds.
I have read over and over again during my research that plants, such as parsley, which belongs to the same family as cilantro, are poisonous to birds, and it is true that these plants contain potentially toxic substances.
However, these substances only constitute a very small part of the components of these plants, and to be clear: for a bird to be poisoned by parsley or cilantro, it would have to eat several bunches at a time.
If you only occasionally give small amounts of parsley or cilantro to your birds, you are not endangering the animals, as it is known that it is the excessive doses that produce the toxicity.
Benefits and properties of cilantro for budgies
Cilantro is a highly nutrient-dense food that, even when used in small proportions, can provide a large number of micronutrients as well as being a natural antiparasitic and relaxant.
About 10 grams of coriander can provide:
- 56 mg vitamin C
- 340 ug of beta-carotene
- 124 mg of calcium
- 48 mg of phosphorus
- 4 mg of iron
- 446 mg of potassium
- 3 mg of selenium
- only 27 Kcal
Is cilantro toxic or safe for birds?
In fact, cilantro contains essential oils that could be toxic to birds if consumed in large quantities. That said, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cilantro consumed in moderate amounts is completely safe.
But obviously, the FDA refers to consumption by humans, you must take into account the proportions in relation to the size and weight of a bird like a budgie, the average weight of a budgie is approximately 30-40 grams.
Among the toxic components of cilantro are considered to be linalool and furanocoumarins, these substances are responsible for the characteristic odor of cilantro.
Linalool is a substance produced naturally by many plants and vegetables, it is safe both in use and consumption, but only in moderate amounts, this element is widely used in food as a flavoring agent.
Linalool is produced by some plants, such as cilantro as a defense mechanism against insects, as it has an insecticidal property.
Furanocoumarins are compounds found in coriander, according to the research I conducted this compound is phototoxic, that is, they are toxic compounds only in the presence of light.
They are also a defense mechanism developed by cilantro against herbivores and pathogens, this type of element is much more common in celery, which is another vegetable belonging to the cilantro family.
How much cilantro can you give to your budgie?
As a general rule for feeding vegetables, it is usually given between 8-10% of the total weight of the bird, this is usually some 4 or 3 grams, but this refers to mixed feed.
Using common sense, a couple of cilantro leaves as food once or twice a week would do absolutely no harm to a budgie, when we talk about excessive amounts I mean several bunches of cilantro, or give it as daily food.