Do you own an African grey and are looking for great parrot food treats? You may be surprised to learn that, not only will your grey eat chicken bones, but they are one of best treats for African grey parrots.
Your parrot will love this treat, and will love you for giving it to him or her.
Are Chicken Bones Safe For Parrots To Eat?
We have been giving chicken bones to our African grey parrot for several years, without any issues at all.
Our total experience with chicken bones for parrots revolves solely around our single African grey parrot. While it should be safe to give chicken bones to other medium-sized and larger parrots, we cannot vouch for this. If you want to try this, you do so at your own risk.
As for parrots smaller than African greys, we’re not sure whether we would consider offering chicken bones to a smaller parrot if we owned one. Again, if you want to try this, you assume all responsibility for doing so.
Strictly speaking, the parrot does not eat the bone itself. Instead, it cracks it open to get to the marrow inside, and discards the bone when it has finished eating.
In the process of cracking it open, the parrot may unintentionally ingest tiny particles of bone, but this should not cause any problems. If anything, the small amount of calcium contained in the bone particles would probably be good for the bird.
Selecting And Preparing The Bones
While we may be a little over-cautious by doing this, we only give our parrot the bones from the chicken’s leg (the drumstick), or from the thigh. Never from the wings, or other parts of the chicken.
There is very little marrow in the smaller bones anyway.
We also make sure to remove the very thin fibula, which sits right next to the much thicker tibula bone of the leg.
Make sure that the bones come from a chicken that was cooked thoroughly.
If you have more than 1 bone you can place surplus bones in the refrigerator for up to 1 or 2 days. Heat them in a microwave oven for 10 – 15 seconds and allow them to cool before serving them to the parrot.
How Much Of A Treat Is A Chicken Bone?
If our own African grey, Kokkie, is anything to go by, a chicken bone is a great treat. He doesn’t just like chicken bones, he absolutely loves them.
Allow me to illustrate just how much he enjoys this delicacy.
Whenever he gets offered any other treat, he’ll usually accept it and start to work on it immediately. But occasionally, he’ll accept a treat and discard it right away. That’s just the way African grey parrots are. Sometimes they’re just full of it.
Not chicken bones though. He’s never discarded a chicken bone and whenever he is offered one he always devours it enthusiastically.
When it’s time for his evening meal, we usually move him to a smaller cage in our living room.
Together with the pellets and fresh water in this cage, we’ll also put down a small bowl containing his fresh fruit and vegetables. This usually consists of some sweetcorn on the cob, some gem squash and a slice or two of whatever fruit we have available.
The bowl is already in this cage when we move him from his larger cage, but he very seldom starts to eat immediately. He prefers to settle for a few minutes – sometimes even for an hour or more – before showing any interest in his food. The routine is the same, regardless of the contents of his food bowl.
That is, unless the food bowl contains a chicken bone. Then, he can’t wait to grab a hold of it and start to eat with gusto. Often, he does not even wait for the cage door to be closed before he reaches down to grab it and begin eating.
Why Does He Like It So Much?
It’s really hard to say.
Taste is an obvious possibility. Maybe his body instinctively craves a nutrient that he gets from the bone or the marrow, and that is somehow lacking in his usual diet. The act of cracking the bone open and digging out the marrow could be exciting or pleasureful for him. It could be any one, or it could be a combination of these factors.
We really don’t know. What we do know is that he enjoys it immensely.
The Nutritional Value Of Chicken Bone Marrow
Nutritional information for any kind of animal bone marrow is extremely hard to find.
In fact, the only trustworthy source that we could locate for any kind of bone marrow was for caribou. We won’t reproduce the data here because of the obvious differences between caribou and chicken. However, you can follow this link if you wish to know more.
Generally, though, bone marrow is very high in fats. When choosing to give your parrot a chicken bone, you should consider what other fatty treats it has consumed recently. Moderate its intake accordingly. Nuts are the other obvious high-fat foods that are often fed to parrots.
Bone marrow is also high in collagen as well as other compounds that assist in the functioning of joints. Unfortunately, all of the available data is based on marrow obtained from ruminants like cattle and sheep. So, there’s no evidence to suggest that these, or other nutrients, may also exist in the bone marrow of chickens.
All nutritional information relating to bone marrow should therefore be taken with a pinch of salt. That is, until someone eventually provides actual bone marrow data for chicken.
Why Should You Feed Chicken Bones To Your Parrot?
Even though we don’t have hard data to back this statement up, the marrow in chicken bones is almost certainly good for your pet.
Just don’t forget to keep your parrots fat intake under control. Remember, chicken bones are meant to be a treat, not part of your parrot’s regular diet.
Bone marrow is a completely natural product. With commercially-produced parrot treats you’re never really sure what processing the treat has undergone during the manufacturing cycle, and what it contains.
Variety is the spice of life and there’s not much that’s more depressing to us humans than having to eat the same thing day in and day out. Pets are no different, and chicken bones add to the list of food and treat choices that you can offer to your parrot.
It’s free. Chicken bones would normally be thrown out together with other food waste, but they can be a great treat for your parrot that won’t cost you a penny. What a deal.
We said it earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Your bird will love the chicken bone that it gets from you, and it will love you too.
About the only negative around giving your parrot a chicken bone is the mess that it will make. But hey, it’s a parrot. When are they not messy?
Have you offered chicken bones to your parrot? What about other unusual treats or foods? Share your experience with us. Drop a comment below and let us know, even if it’s just to say whether this article was helpful or not.
4 thoughts on “Chicken Bones – Best Treats For African Grey Parrots”
My Grey loves chicken bones! Recently she had egg binding and the Vet said it was large and hard. I asked if the chicken bone caused her to have high calcium, he replied no but to be honest I’m a little weary of giving it to her
I’m sorry to hear about your grey. Egg binding can be serious and you did the right thing to take her to a vet. I hope she is better now.
Greys crack open chicken bones to get to the marrow that’s inside. In the process they may ingest tiny fragments of bone but any calcium intake that may result should be negligible and not be cause for concern.
Some parrot owners occasionally mix crushed eggshell into their bird’s food for the calcium content. This should provide a lot more calcium than your grey is likely to consume from chicken bones, but we’re not aware that this causes any problems.
We’ve tried hard to locate nutritional info for the marrow in chicken bones without success, but if cattle bones are anything to go by, there is no calcium in bone marrow, so I tend to agree with your vet.
Good luck and let us know how things go with her.
I was concerned about the calcium levels too. My grey LOVES chicken leg bones, but he seems to consume the bone portion as well. I put them in the pressure cooker so I can easily cut it in half. If anyone has more info on how often it’s safe to give this? Thanks!
Some of the literature I have seen suggests that African grey parrots need a higher proportion of calcium in their diets than other bird species do, and that greys in captivity are more likely to have a deficiency in calcium rather than an excess. This is probably why some owners mix finely crushed eggshell into their parrot’s food. My guess is that a parrot is likely to take in more calcium in this way that by swallowing the odd chicken bone fragment. Also, your bird would probably have to ingest quite a lot of bone fragments, on an on-going basis, for them to have an adverse effect on it’s calcium levels.
Our own grey gets a single cooked chicken bone daily, but only when they’re available, i.e. when we cook chicken meals for ourselves. The longest run he has had of being offered a chicken bone was every day for about 2 weeks, but that was an exception. We didn’t detect any problems and I think that as long as they are offered in moderation everything should be fine.
As always, if you have serious concerns about your bird’s diet, or if it starts looking out of sorts in any way following a diet change, you should always consult your avian vet.
I hope this helps.