Do You Need to Supplement Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot? Why and Why Not?

African Grey parrots, like all parrots, do require calcium in their diet for several reasons we will list below. However, there may be no reason to add calcium if you feed your bird a balanced diet. Most African Greys will need increased calcium when they are laying eggs. Plus, you don’t want them to become egg-bound.

Before adding any supplements to your African Grey’s diet please check with your avian veterinarian. If your bird is on a balanced, formulated diet with added fresh vegetables, you do not have to add extra vitamins or minerals. Actually, in most cases, it’s recommended that you do not add any additional supplements.

If your African Grey Parrot has a calcium deficiency, you’ll need to work with your veterinarian on a good supplement and add some of these calcium-rich foods to their diet.

You’ll also want to check out our ultimate care guide to African grey parrots!

Do You Need to Supplement Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot

Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot?

Only a veterinarian will be able to tell if your parrot is in a state of hypocalcemia syndrome. (when calcium levels in your blood are too low)

Bone Health – Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot

Calcium is crucial for strong bone formation. Calcium is essential for African Greys, who are known to have a higher incidence of calcium deficiency-related issues such as hypocalcemia, which can lead to weakened bones and even seizures.

Feather Health – Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot

Calcium plays a role in feather health, ensuring that feathers are strong and healthy.

Muscle Function – Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot

It is essential for proper muscle function, including the heart muscle.

Nervous System – Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot

Calcium is vital for the functioning of the nervous system, aiding in nerve transmission.

Egg Formation – Calcium for Your African Grey Parrot

For breeding females, adequate calcium is crucial for eggshell formation.

However, excessive calcium supplementation can lead to problems such as kidney damage, calcium deposits in tissues, and interference with the absorption of other minerals. It’s essential to strike a balance and provide a diet that meets their calcium needs without over-supplementation.

Vegetables High in Calcium

Here are some vegetables and grains that are high in calcium and can be suitable for your African Grey when offered in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Check out our complete guide on what to feed an African grey.

Collard Greens

One of the richest sources of calcium, collard greens also offer vitamin K, essential for blood clotting and bone health in African Grey parrots.


Arugula is my African grey parrot’s favorite green veggie to eat! Besides its high calcium content, arugula is packed with vitamins A and C, crucial for maintaining good vision and a healthy immune system in African Grey parrots.

Dandelion Greens

Not only are they high in calcium, but dandelion greens also provide several vitamins and minerals, including iron and vitamin K, which can further support bone and liver health in African Grey parrots.


This peppery leafy green is an excellent source of calcium and contains antioxidants that can help protect African Greys from cellular damage and support overall health.


High in calcium, kale also provides antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene, vitamin B6 which can help support the immune system of African Greys.

Mustard Greens

Besides being another excellent source of calcium, mustard greens offer a variety of phytonutrients that can help support eye and cardiovascular health in parrots.

Bok Choy

It contains calcium and is low in oxalates, making it easier for African Greys to absorb and utilize for bone strength and muscle function.


you can get one dog more interested by using another dog to help!

It offers a decent amount of calcium and is rich in dietary fiber, which can aid in digestive health for African Grey parrots.

Turnip Greens 

High in calcium and beneficial for overall health, turnip greens also provide vitamin A, supporting skin, vision, and immune health in African Greys.

Grains and Other Sources High in Calcium:

Chia Seeds

These seeds are not only high in calcium but also in omega-3 fatty acids.

Sesame Seeds

Including tahini, made from sesame seeds, can be a good calcium source.


african greys can eat almonds as a treat plus calcium source

Nuts like almonds contain a good amount of calcium.


african greys can eat hazelnuts as a treat

They can offer small amounts of calcium that can promote good bone structure and feather growth!

Fortified Grains

They fortify some grains and cereals with calcium.


Tofu set with calcium sulfate can be a significant source of calcium.

Providing a varied diet that includes these and other foods is crucial, ensuring your African Grey gets all the necessary nutrients without relying solely on supplements. Always consult a veterinarian or an animal nutrition expert to tailor the diet to your bird’s specific needs, especially if you’re considering supplements.

Pellets Have The Right Amount of Calcium

Whether you use TOPS pellets or other brands, they are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals. I like TOPS or the Bird Tricks brand (which is essentially TOPS rebranded) because they make the pellets by cold pressing various greens and other whole vegetables.

Check out these awesome pellet brands for parrots.

Make a Birdy Bread with High Calcium Greens

make your african grey parrot some healthy birdy bread!

Every few months, I make my parrot a type of birdy bread. Sometimes, I use a mix like this one, but I’ll often add whatever healthy parrot-safe veggies I have in the fridge.

UV Light, Vitamin D, and Calcium – How They All Tie Together Regarding Parrots

Like many other bird species, African Grey parrots can indirectly benefit from UV light in the process of calcium metabolism, although they do not directly obtain calcium from UV light.

The mechanism involves the synthesis of vitamin D3 in the skin, which is crucial for calcium absorption and utilization in the body. Here’s how it works:

UVB Light Exposure 

When birds are exposed to natural sunlight or artificial UVB light, their skin synthesizes vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). UVB rays specifically are required for this process, as UVA rays do not contribute to vitamin D synthesis.

Vitamin D3 Synthesis

The UVB light converts a substance in the skin (7-dehydrocholesterol) into vitamin D3. This process is similar to how humans produce vitamin D3 when exposed to sunlight.

Calcium Metabolism

Vitamin D3 is then transported to the liver and kidneys and converted into active form. This dynamic form of vitamin D3 enhances calcium absorption from the diet in the intestines, and it also aids in calcium deposition in the bones.

Effective Calcium Utilization

The result is that the calcium in the diet becomes more effectively utilized in the body, contributing to stronger bones, proper muscle function, and overall health.

How to Get Your Bird More UVB Light

Given the importance of UVB light in vitamin D3 synthesis and calcium metabolism, it’s crucial for African Grey parrots, especially those kept indoors, to have an appropriate source of UVB light. You can achieve through:

Direct Sunlight

If you allow the bird to bask in natural sunlight for a part of the day, they’ll benefit from the light. Ensure that you do not filter the light through glass or plastic, which can block UVB rays. 

Special UVB-emitting Bulbs

Using avian-specific UVB lamps can provide the necessary UVB radiation for vitamin D3 synthesis for indoor birds. We only recommend these if you speak with your avian veterinarian. 

It’s essential to manage UVB light exposure carefully, as too much UVB can be harmful, while too little can lead to deficiencies. Consulting with a veterinarian or an avian care specialist for personalized advice on UVB lighting for your African Grey is recommended.

Final Thoughts for Does Your African Grey Need a Calcium Supplement?

Ensuring your African Grey parrot receives adequate calcium is crucial for their health and well-being, but balance is critical. Over-supplementation can be harmful, so incorporating calcium-rich foods and proper UVB light exposure for natural vitamin D3 synthesis is essential. Consult with an avian veterinarian to tailor the proper diet and care plan for your feathered friend.

Read More About cage liners for birds and what to put on an African Grey’s cage.