Most people don’t think of parrots as meat eaters. Parrots are considered omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals.
At one time, parrots’ diets consisted strictly of vegetation and seeds, but as environments changed, parrots were forced to modify their diets.
While meat isn’t usually a part of the parrots’ diet, many occasionally enjoy eating it. Kea parrots from Australia and Rainbow lorikeets from New Zealand are two types of parrots that eat meat regularly.
Most other parrot species supplement their regular diets with meat.
Do Wild Parrots Eat Meat?
Meat makes up a small percentage of the diet of most wild parrots. Usually, wild parrots eat fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, and even insects.
Over time, parrots have adapted their eating habits to evolve with the ever-changing environment. Parrots have developed slightly carnivorous taste buds, putting them in the omnivorous category.
Since most wild parrots aren’t hunters, they don’t search for animals to kill for meat. They may consume the meat of already dead animals that they run across, including fish.
Although wild parrots may eat meat, it’s more likely that captive birds will eat more meat than wild birds. This is because wild parrots pick what they want to eat, while captive parrots only have the choice of eating what their owners give to them, which may include meat scraps.
Parrot Species that Eat Meat
Many parrot species eat meat, some more than others. Long ago, parrots were considered herbivores, but their diets have adapted to include insects and meats, making them omnivores.
Here are some of the parrot species that eat meat:
Kea parrots are native to New Zealand and are considered carnivorous parrots.
According to Nature, the natural diet of keas was thought to be fruit, insects, and vegetation, and it’s only been in the last 30 years or so that keas developed a taste for meat.
However, it’s been discovered that kea parrots have attacked and eaten sheep for over a century. To this day, they continue to eat various types of meat. Their diet consists of the following:
- Beetle larvae
- Other birds, like shearwater chicks
- Animals such as sheep and rabbits
African Grey Parrots
African Grey parrots eat an herbivorous diet but are omnivores, so eating meat occasionally isn’t unusual. Usually, African Grey parrots in captivity eat more meat than wild birds.
African Grey parrots can be given chicken, fish, and other types of meat in moderation.
According to the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, some African Greys exposed to a carnivorous diet have developed iron storage disease.
Iron storage disease occurs when parrots consume too much iron; the iron goes to their organs and is stored there, leading to damaged organs and organ failure.
Meat, especially red meat, contains high amounts of iron and should be given to parrots occasionally.
The best meat for Quaker parrots is chicken, turkey, duck, and fish.
The main diet for Quaker parrots consists of fruits, vegetables, and seeds, but supplementing the occasional meal with some lean meat shouldn’t be an issue.
Rainbow lorikeets are an Australian parrot species that usually consume fruits, seeds, nectar, and pollen. However, recently it’s been discovered that lorikeets like eating meat.
According to the Suburban Wildlife Research Group, Rainbow lorikeets, which had been thought to be herbivores, were seen eating meat from bird feeders in backyards across Australia.
This enticed researchers to discover if this was a localized event or if lorikeets in other areas also ate meat. It was found that meat-eating among lorikeets is a species-wide event.
What Kind of Meat Do Parrots Eat?
Although it’s okay for parrots to eat meat sometimes, it depends on the meat they’re offered. Certain types of meat are healthier than others.
Here are some types of meat that are healthy for parrots:
Chicken is lean, meaning it doesn’t contain a lot of fat, and it’s also a good source of protein (amino acids) and vitamin D. The chicken should be skinless and cooked without seasonings or oils.
Turkey offers many of the same nutritional benefits to parrots as chicken. It’s a good alternative to chicken, especially if your parrot favors the flavor of turkey more than chicken.
Duck has half the fat content of meats like beef and pork. So, duck is lean and a good protein source.
Fish contains healthy fats that aren’t usually found in plant-based diets. Be sure to feed your parrot fish with low amounts of mercury, such as anchovies, sardines, trout, and mackerel.
Unfortunately, the list of unhealthy meat is much longer than healthy meats for parrots. What makes meat unhealthy is usually the way it’s cooked or the way the meat is processed.
Beef and other red meats aren’t good for parrots to eat due to their high cholesterol content.
While it may be okay to give your parrot a small piece of beef occasionally, if you want to include meat in your parrot’s regular diet, give it poultry and fish options.
Pork is on parrots’ list of unhealthy meats due to its high saturated fat content. If you decide to give your parrot pork, ensure the pieces are small and only offer it on rare occasions.
While ham is the same as pork, ham has already been processed and cooked, so it’s ready to eat.
This makes it a quick and easy meat choice to give to parrots, but ham and other cold cuts and lunch meats, contain a lot of saturated fats, sodium, and preservatives.
Lamb falls into the red meat category, which makes it high in saturated fat, so it isn’t recommended to give lamb to parrots. If you do give lamb to your parrot, do so sparingly.
Processed meats such as sausage, bacon, meatballs, burgers, and chicken dippers shouldn’t be fed to parrots. They’re high in fat and contain seasonings, oils, and other unhealthy additives.
Do Parrots Eat Bones?
Parrots enjoy breaking bones open with their strong beaks to eat the bone marrow.
Parrots can digest bones, but some types of bones splinter easily, so your parrot could choke if one gets stuck in its throat. Bones that are okay to give to parrots include:
- Chicken (except wing bones)
Bone marrow contains an assortment of nutrients, such as:
- Collagen – Good for strength and skin health.
- Protein – Promotes healthy blood cells and muscle tissue health.
- Fatty acids – Keep the heart healthy.
- Vitamin A – Helps maintain vision and boosts reproductive health.
- Iron – Carrying oxygen through the blood to prevent anemia.
- Calcium – Keeps the bones strong and healthy.
- Glycine – Creates protein and improves sleeping patterns.
- Zinc – Helps the body produce insulin.
Usually, parrots won’t eat the bones. Normally, they’ll open the bones to reach the bone marrow. Once they’ve cleaned the bones of the marrow, they’ll leave the bones.