Q: Is it safe to give my bird meat? -Joann, Athens, GA
A: Meat is not part of the natural diet of a parrot. However, when offered a piece of chicken, many parrots will accept. Offer them a cookie, they will do the same. I think we all went to school with a kid that ate the paste that glued pieces of construction paper together. I doubt that it was ever on the dinner menu at his house. Just because a parrot (or kid) eats something, it doesn’t mean it should. Yes, meat has protein, and yes, a parrot requires protein in its diet, some species more than others. However, the natural diet we should be feeding our parrots has enough protein to cover that dietary requirement. Legumes (kidney beans, garbanzo beans etc), nuts and seed will fulfill all their protein needs (and more) without having to resort to animal proteins. Excessive amounts of protein in your birds diet (taking pellets into account, which are also high in protein) will almost certainly lead to kidney problems in his future. Further, meat is high in saturated fats and cholesterol, which are not good for us or our birds. To answer your question, meat is not a necessary part of your bird’s diet, and can complicate his health if his protein intake is already high. However, it isn’t unsafe. I will occasionally (accent on occasionally) allow mine a bite of lean, well cooked meat, like chicken or steak. Some parrots enjoys a bone with bits of meat on it. If this is done in careful moderation, a parrot can enjoy a taste of meat as a snack without causing him harm.