Can Birds Eat Arugula? Your Guide to This Healthy Treat

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Many birds love variety in their diets! That’s why you may see them going from feeder to feeder, trying a little of this and a little of that.

One way that many backyard birders attract new birds to their yards is by providing a variety of food items instead of just one consistent kind of suet or birdseed.

When putting food out for the birds, you might want to try some less conventional offerings. For example, leafy greens like arugula are a fun alternative food to offer. 

Not all human food items are safe for birds, but this one is. Plus, it can offer a host of health benefits. 

Nutritional Benefits of Arugula

Arugula is an incredibly healthy food choice.

Leafy green vegetables are considered to be some of the most nutritious foods for humans to eat because of how many vitamins and minerals they contain.

Arugula, which is sometimes called rocket or roquette, has a strong flavor that is often described as “peppery.” You will often find this leafy vegetable in a delicious salad. It is sold in salad mix kits and individually.

Arugula has lots of Vitamin A, Vitamin B9, and Vitamin K. It’s also incredibly nitrate-rich and contains magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.

Are Leafy Greens Good for Birds?

Birds, like people, need vitamins in their diet. Wild birds get their vitamins and minerals from foods they gather in the wild, as well as food that humans put out for them.

Pet birds need to receive all of their vitamins and minerals from their human-provided daily diet.

Leafy greens are especially good for the health of a bird’s feathers and skin. 

If a wild bird eats arugula, it gets a healthy, nutritious snack! This makes it an excellent food to offer.

Is Arugula Ever Bad for Birds?

Are there any times when arugula is bad for birds, though?

The only problem with offering arugula to wild or pet birds is if the greens have already gotten moldy. It’s never a good idea to pull a bag of arugula from the fridge, realize it’s moldy, and decide to give it to the birds in your backyard.

Mold can sicken birds, whether it has grown on bread, vegetables, or even on a birdfeeder. Never offer birds food that has gone bad or molded.

Instead of giving rotten arugula to the birds, throw the bag away or consider putting it into a compost bin.

How to Prepare Arugula for Birds

Birds may not eat a ton of arugula if you offer it. However, it doesn’t hurt to give it to them as a supplement to their natural diet or what they get from your traditional birdseed or suet bird feeders.

Offer fresh arugula on a plate or dish. You can sprinkle this natural food on the ground near your feeders. It is up to you whether or not you chop it into small pieces or leave it whole.

Because it’s so lightweight and small, to begin with, birds can fly away with what they want or eat it at the feeder.

Should You Feed Birds Raw Arugula or Cooked Arugula?

If you have ever cooked down leafy greens, you know how small it gets as it heats up. Just think about how much spinach you have to cook to make a small portion of creamed or cooked spinach!

Arugula is the same. If you cook a full bag of arugula, you will end up with a tiny portion.

Raw arugula is also a better food for birds than cooked because the birds may not end up enjoying the cooked lettuce. There is no need to cook arugula before offering it to the birds.

This is true for backyard poultry and pet birds, too.

What If Arugula Is In a Recipe?

Arugula that has been used in a recipe is just as healthy as plain arugula. However, if you choose to give birds something that has been prepared, watch for ingredients that could make a bird sick, like chocolate, caffeine, high levels of salt and fat, or xylitol.

I can’t think of many arugula-based “people food” recipes that are fatty, salty, or chocolatey, so you should be okay offering birds the most leftover foods that have arugula in them.

What If the Birds Don’t Like the Arugula?

Birds are like people in some ways. They have food preferences and enjoy some foods over others!

If the birds don’t eat your arugula, don’t feel too bad about it. Arugula isn’t an expensive food, so it’s a small sacrifice to try it out and see what happens.

I do recommend only giving a little bit of arugula at a time when you first offer it to the birds. That way, if they don’t like it, you haven’t wasted much! And if they love it, you can always get more.

Arugula is an ideal kitchen food to offer to your backyard birds. Give it a try and see if they enjoy this nutritious treat. 

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Liz Ranfeld

Liz Boltz Ranfeld is an independent educator and writer from Indiana. She lives on the edge of the woods with her husband, 2 kids, dogs, chickens, and hedgehog. One of the best things of living in rural Indiana is spotting hawks, pileated woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and other wild creatures. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, and gardening, and one of her personal heroes is the conservationist and birdwatcher Rosalie Barrow Edge, who paved the way for the protection of birds around the globe.