Feeding the Gouldian Finch

Why Shouldn’t I Give my Finches Lettuce?

This question comes up a lot. I found that I have “NO LETTUCE” posted here, but deemed it “OK to feed” here and here.

So let’s talk about lettuce. First, we have different kinds – iceberg, butter, leaf lettuce, and so on. For this article I’m going to put iceberg by itself, and all the other in the other category.

Iceberg lettuce is mainly composed of water. There’s very little nutrition in it. So the reason I put it on the ‘no’ list, back in the day, was this. I figured people who were new to finches would be using that list, and it might be better to advise them not to feed it than have them upset that their birds got diarrhea after consuming it.

It’s not actually diarrhea, it’s polyuria, but you get the point.

So I simply said don’t feed lettuce, meaning iceberg lettuce. I knew what I meant! (Sorry) This has caused confusion because some people like to feed other lettuces, and some people think it’s okay to give their birds a food that causes polyuria.

Now let’s talk about all those other lettuces. Romaine lettuce is packed with nutrition: vitamin C, K, folate, and Vitamin A for starters. Green leaf lettuce has vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Butter lettuce contains lots of Vitamin A, and a little iron and calcium. These are healthy foods that should be included in your finch, canary, or parrots’ diet.

But lettuce isn’t the only food that’s green and makes up a good finch diet. Besides lettuce, there are lots of other greens we can feed our birds. Here’s how some of them stack up.


Type Nutrients Notes
Kale `A,C,K,calcium
Spinach* A, K, C, folate High in oxalates
Beet Greens* A, K could be high in oxalates
Swiss Chard A,C,K
Dandelion Greens C, B6, calcium, iron
Mustard Greens C, K, folate
Collard Greens K, C, E
Watercress K, C
Romaine Folate, ,A, K
Leaf lettuce A
Butter lettuce A, iron, calcium
Arugula *little nutrients
Iceberg lettuce *little nutrients

So lettuce isn’t bad, or toxic. It’s just not the best food. And given how little they eat, and how poor most of our finch’s diets are – I’d pack it full of the best nutrition I could offer.

Image by Th G from Pixabay