Parrots are omnivores, so they eat meat and plants. While they’re more likely to eat nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, captive parrots can be fed bones occasionally.
Parrots enjoy cracking bones open to eat the bone marrow inside. While it’s high in fat, marrow is packed with nutrients that can benefit your parrot in small doses. However, bones can contain excess saturated fat depending on how you cook them. Small fragments can also get stuck in your parrot’s crop. While bones are okay for parrots to eat, you should watch them while they do so to prevent problems.
Parrots are one of the only animals that can eat cooked bones. They have a unique digestive system that can cope with them.
Can You Give Bones To Parrots?
While parrots don’t eat meat very often, if at all, in the wild, they’ll appreciate the tasty treat. Similarly, it’s not the bones that parrots are particularly interested in – it’s the bone marrow inside.
Though all parrots can eat bones, you should break them into easier-to-eat pieces for smaller birds. They might struggle to crush them otherwise.
As described by Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, parrots can move their upper beaks independently of their skull. This is called cranial kinesis. It allows them to crack down on hard foods, such as shelled nuts and bones, to open them.
However, be careful when feeding parrots bones, as there are plenty of things to watch out for, including small parts that can get stuck in your parrot’s throat or crop.
Are Bones Bad for Parrots?
While parrots enjoy bones and the marrow inside them, they do come with risks. They’re also not completely healthy. When feeding your parrot bones, be mindful of the following to keep it safe:
As already mentioned, small parts from where your parrot’s cracked down on the bones can splinter off and become lodged in its throat. Depending on how large the bone is, your parrot could choke.
When this happens, the parrot will extend its neck back and forth in an attempt to gasp for hair. However, what’s more likely is that the bone fragments become impacted within the parrot’s crop.
As described by VCA Hospitals, crop impaction is caused by the entrapment of foreign objects. In the worst cases, trapped bones can lead to infections.
Many bones are a by-product of junk foods, such as fried or BBQ chicken. These aren’t things your parrot should eat because they’re loaded with calories, sugar, and saturated fat.
If you feed your parrot bones, remove all unhealthy skin and remnants of fried meat first. Plain roasted chicken bones are the healthiest kind.
Similarly, bone marrow is naturally high in fat. While small amounts won’t harm your parrot, too much will cause obesity.
Can Parrots Eat Bone Marrow?
When we talk about parrots eating bones, it’s actually the bone marrow inside them they enjoy. Parrots crush the bones open to scoop out the marrowbone and discard the bones.
While bone marrow will have a different nutritional content depending on the animal it comes from; the good news is that it’s healthy, as it contains the following nutrients and minerals:
|Collagen:||Helps create supple, pain-free joints|
|Fatty Acids:||Contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which keep the heart healthy|
|Protein:||Helps produce healthy blood cells, builds muscle tissues, and improves brain health|
|Vitamin A:||Maintains good vision and improves reproductive health|
|Calcium||Responsible for strong, healthy bones and regular nerve function|
|Iron:||Prevents anemia by carrying oxygen around the body|
|Zinc:||Produces insulin and helps vitamin A function more effectively|
|Glycine:||Builds proteins and supports healthy sleep patterns|
Bone marrow is rich in collagen, which is beneficial for parrots because it helps keep their joints healthy and free from pain. While there are few studies on the requirements parrots have for collagen, it certainly won’t do them any harm.
Bone marrow contains both omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Parrots need these nutrients to support their heart, keeping them healthy. They can also protect the parrot’s body against tissue damage.
It’s also thought that fatty acids protect against the development of chronic diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Kidney disease
Cod liver oil is another excellent source of fatty acids, but many parrots don’t enjoy the taste.
A 100 g serving of bone marrow contains 6.7 g of protein. Parrots are omnivores, so they benefit from a little bit of meat in their diet. Similarly, proteins aren’t created equal, so parrots benefit from receiving protein from different food sources.
Parrots need protein because it’s the muscle tissue’s main building block. It improves brain health and provides parrots with energy. It can also:
- Improve their cardiovascular health
- Produce healthy blood cells
- Sharpen cognitive function
- Feel full for longer
Parrots get most of their protein from nuts and seeds, but bone marrow can give their levels a healthy boost.
Parrots that are on an all-seed or nut diet are deficient in vitamin A because they struggle to get what they need through their diet. Bone marrow is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is essential for:
- Reproductive health
- A strong immune system
- Membrane integrity
- Good vision
When parrots are deficient in vitamin A, they’re at risk of poor eyesight and hearing, respiratory disease, and weak bones.
Bone marrow contains high levels of calcium. According to the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, there are higher calcium concentrations in bone marrow than in bones, meat, tallow, and liver.
Calcium is one of the nutrients parrots need the most. Most don’t get enough, particularly African greys and blue-fronted parrots.
Calcium’s responsible for creating healthy, strong bones and keeping muscle contractions regulated. Breeding parrots need higher levels of calcium to ensure their eggshells form properly.
There’s approximately 4.5 mg of iron in every 100 g of bone marrow. Iron is essential because it transports oxygen around the body through the hemoglobin it creates.
Parrots that don’t get enough iron from their diet are at risk of anemia, which causes tiredness, lethargy, and weakness.
However, you must be careful not to give your parrot too much iron, as it can lead to iron storage disease.
Parrots need trace amounts of zinc. It helps them produce insulin and allows the proper function of vitamin A. However, too much zinc can be harmful to parrots, so don’t let them have too much bone marrow in one go.
Bone marrow contains many amino acids, including glycine. As described by The Journal of Nutrition, budgerigars need glycine more than most other parrots.
It’s also involved in creating proteins. It can also support healthy sleep patterns. That’s why the occasional bone treat can help boost your parrot’s amino acid levels.
Can Parrots Eat Chicken Bones?
Parrots enjoy chicken bones. They like them even more if there’s meat on the bone. They pick the cooked flesh off first, then crush the bones with their strong beaks and jaws to get to the bone marrow inside.
Parrots don’t have access to chicken bones in the wild, so they’re a tasty treat for captive birds.
However, junk food is bad for parrots, so if you’re giving your bird chicken bones as a treat, make sure it isn’t the fried kind. Fried chicken is greasy, which contributes to obesity.
Similarly, parrots shouldn’t eat meat with flavorings or coatings. They usually contain additives and sugar, which are harmful to parrots. It’s best to take the skin off entirely beforehand.
Can Parrots Eat Chicken Wing Bones?
There’s very little bone marrow in chicken wing bones, so many parrots won’t touch them. This also means there’s almost no nutritional value in them.
Similarly, small fragments are more likely to break off and become stuck in your parrot’s crop, so chicken wing bones are one to be avoided to be on the safe side.
Can Parrots Eat Pork Bones?
Pork bones are hardier and thicker than chicken bones, so they are less likely to splinter off and harm your parrot’s internal organs or digestive tract.
However, pork isn’t commonly associated with parrots, so there’s little research to suggest whether pork bones are healthy or harmful.
If you do choose to feed them to your bird, monitor it to ensure it doesn’t swallow any small fragments and limit the bones to an occasional treat.
Can Parrots Eat Turkey Bones?
Turkey bones are very similar to chicken bones. Parrots love the taste of turkey meat but prefer to crack the bones open to eat the marrow inside. Most parrots won’t attempt to ingest the bones, so it may help if you remove the marrow for them. This reduces the chances of crop impaction.
Like all bones, too much isn’t a good thing. You must also watch your parrot eat turkey bones in case of small pieces.
Can Parrots Have Dog Bones?
Dog bones are likely too hard and thick for your parrot to eat. Dogs have canines that they use to tear off chunks of raw bone. Parrots don’t have this luxury – they’re limited to their beaks and jaws.
While they’re strong enough for cracking open nuts and snapping small bones, they’re not suitable for the kind of large bones dogs enjoy.
Similarly, because dog bones are as big as they are, you’re at risk of overfeeding your parrot, causing it to gain too much weight. This can lead to joint and feet problems, as they struggle to withstand the parrot’s heavy bulk.
Can Parrots Eat Milk Bones?
Milk bones are an entirely different thing from animal bones and are predominantly designed as a dog treat. While milk bones shouldn’t cause your parrot much harm if they eat one or two, they’re made to suit a dog’s nutritional requirements, making them little more than junk food for parrots.
If you’re looking to increase your parrot’s vitamins and mineral intake, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables instead. Similarly, real bones provide animal-based protein that could help parrots stay healthy.
While bones make a tasty treat, like all good things, you should only provide them in moderation. Otherwise, parrots may get the taste for bones and refuse their everyday pellets.