Is Your Bird Getting Enough Calcium?

Kale: Loaded with calcium
Kale: Loaded with calcium Dana Hoff/Getty Images

Is your bird getting enough calcium? Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body as it is found in bones as well as our teeth. Due to heavy advertising and promotion by the dairy industry, we are led to believe that dairy products are the best source of calcium. And they are an excellent source of calcium. With the rise of availability of different varieties of yogurt and cheese there are many choices to be had at the market or grocery store. But what do vegetarians and vegans do? What about our birds? What about people who have a lactose intolerance? 

What some people are unaware of is that there are some great sources of calcium found in commonly sourced vegetables. The reason I bring this up is that many of the needs of our birds are the same as people. And while we’re at it here, we might as well explain the properties of dietary requirements and how they benefit us as well as our birds. Remember, in order to properly take care of your birds, you need to be feeling good and be healthy. Maintaining a good diet is a great first step in ensuring your health.

Calcium is usually high on the list of minerals required by our parrots. And sadly, many birds simply don’t get enough calcium in their diet. But this can be fixed with the addition of six high calcium vegetables and a few other foods you can easily add to their diet. 

Calcium is required for strong bones and teeth. And they are found in dark heavy vegetables as well as white beans and calcium fortified foods such as certain juices, sea vegetables and oatmeal.

Those greens, spinach, kale, okra, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens and collard greens can be easily found in grocery stores everywhere across the country. Even almond butter is a good source of calcium. Just two teaspoons contains 111 milligrams of calcium. 

There are other sources of calcium for your birds. Dried figs, sesame seeds and almonds are rich and easily found sources of calcium so you have many choices available for your diet as well as your flock’s diet. 

There is an issue to consider when frequently feeding some of these vegetables. Spinach in particular contains oxalic acid, which binds with the calcium and reduces its absorption. So spinach should probably be fed less frequently than other leafy greens. 3/4 cup of collard greens contains as much if not more calcium then is found in one cup of cow’s milk.The same goes for quinoa. So by feeding these food items, you are boosting the calcium levels in your parrot and making this much needed mineral available to them without worrying about feeding a dairy product to them. This ensures that they are getting required calcium needed for bone health. Calcium also maintains a normal heart rhythm and helps the nerves in the nervous system communicate with each other. 

African Grey Parrots in particular need higher amounts of calcium and Vitamin A in their diet. So ensuring that these birds get their leafy greens is a crucial aspect of a healthy diet. 

Another thing to consider when ensuring strong, healthy bones is exercise. An active bird that plays, flaps, climbs and flies, be it in a safe protected area or simply by hanging on to your hand with her feet provides much needed exercise. 

The same is true of people. When we are more active: be it by running, walking or employing weight bearing exercise, we are decreasing the chance of osteoporosis and weakened bones as we age. The more active you are the better your balance and flexibility is which can work in your favor in preventing falls and the resulting injuries associated with these falls. 

An active bird that eats greens and other foods is at a lower risk of issues associated with injuries or issues So our suggestion is to pour on the healthy greens and you’ll lower that risk.