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Safe Plants for Parrots

Expert Question

Dear EB,  I am moving my blue-fronted parrot Manitou to a conservatory where he will be able to enjoy the moonlight, extra light from the double glazed windows and see the bird-feeders we have in the garden. I am wanting to make his environment interesting and stimulating and would like to grow the palm nut plant (palm oil palm) out there as I would love to see him pick off his own from the tree itself.

Also we are planning to grow the passion fruit and Kiwi plants, and an olive tree.

I would be grateful if you would kindly advise me if any of these plants would be harmful to him as he will be flying free in the conservatory as well as using a Double Nova cage.

Also please can you recommend sources of information regarding safe conservatory plants as we will always be developing a leafy green environment for him.

Thank you for your help.


Expert Answer

Dear Sarah, It sounds like you will have room for many different plants in your new bird atrium. All varieties of palms will usually fruit different cluster styles of palm nuts once they are mature (usually seven or eight years or more) so you need not look for the really tall palms. We like cluster palms and arecas since they are easy to control and will take more chewing by large parrots without dying.

We have used a variety of olive in the past and our birds showed no ill effects. They liked to eat the tiny green olives and buds.

Passionfruit is not listed as toxic on any of the lists I have seen, but from years of having it here, we notice that our parrots, including the once wild adopted ones,  never chew the vine or flowers. That prompted us to stop giving it and only offering the fruit which all our birds love dearly. I think other potential non-toxic vines and berry trees would be a better idea. Also consider the bamboos, prolific orchids, banana, juniper and some other evergreen like Norfolk Island Pine or casuarina.

There is good information online if you google “safe plants for parrots” or “toxic plants parrots.”

Good luck in your endeavor.


EB Cravens
About EB Cravens

“If we TRULY believe our captive-raised hookbills are important to world parrot conservation, we must work ceaselessly to ensure that these same psittacines retain as much of their wild instinctual behavior as is possible,” affirms avicultural writer and hobby breeder EB Cravens, from his small organic farm on the slopes of the Big Island Hawaii.

“Our goal is to birth and raise only a few baby parrots who know that they are parrots, but choose to befriend humans, because humans are nice to them… feed them… and are fun to be with!”

EB has bred, trained, raised, kept and rehabilitated more than 75 species of psittacines during the past twenty plus years both at his home and while managing the notable exotic bird shoppe, Feathered Friends of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His emphasis on natural environments for birds, the urging of babies to fully fledge during the extended weaning process, and the leaving of chicks for many weeks inside the nest box with their parents in order that they may learn the many intangibles of their species, have succeeded in changing for the better the lives of so many captive parrots.

A science writer by training, he was for years a regular contributor for AFA’s Watchbird Magazine and the Companion Parrot Quarterly. EB currently writes a monthly column entitled “The Complete Psittacine” in PARROTS Magazine out of England; and another, “The Hookbill Hobbyist” down under in the well-regarded Australian Birdkeeper. His monthly series of articles “Birdkeeping Naturally,” is sent out to bird clubs and individuals around the U.S.

“As devastating pressures continue upon avian species in the wilds,” he says, “it is critical that those keeping birds in captivity do so with responsibility and foresight.”