1. ALL ADULT BIRDS NEED CALCIUM
- Calcium is more than a third of the total mineral content of an adult bird, with the skeleton holding about 98%.
- Interestingly, the proportion of the body weight that is skeleton is similar in birds and mammals.
- Calcium is the most challenging mineral that birds need because of the extreme changes in periods of demand (like egg laying and chick development) and because many foods are likely to be deficient in calcium.
- Adult birds eating a diet without enough calcium will utilize calcium from their own bones…which could lead to weak and porous bones.
- Birds find calcium in natural forms but these sources can be insufficient, especially during nesting time for females and chick growth.
- In egg-laying females, most dietary calcium is used for shell formation.
- The amount of calcium in the seeds and insects of the natural diet of many birds is inadequate for the production of eggs. Birds will seek calcium-rich foods as a supplement.
- Birds that lay more than 2-3 eggs must markedly increase their calcium intake during the days the eggs are laid.
3. EGGS WILL BE MORE NUMEROUS AND STRONGER
- Without enough calcium, eggs will have thinner than normal shells which may cause embryos to dry up due to excess evaporation.
- If adult birds don’t eat enough calcium they may not lay as many eggs as normal.
4. DEVELOPING BABY BIRDS NEED CALCIUM
- In chicks, calcium is required for formation of bone.
- In growing chicks, a calcium deficiency causes skeletal abnormalities including rickets, lameness, enlarged & painful joints and misshapen bones.
5. BIRDS SEEK OUT CALCIUM
- If given a choice between two foods that are identical in every respect except calcium level, chicks and egg-laying females will select a calcium-adequate food more frequently than a deficient one.
- When given the opportunity, birds often consume concentrated calcium sources, especially in the evening as they are forming eggs overnight to lay them the next day. Watch for increased evening feeder activity by female birds during nesting time if you are offering calcium-supplemented foods.
A number of Wild Birds Unlimited birdfoods contain added calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is the mineral found in our WBU foods; it is quickly and efficiently broken down in the digestive tract to be easily absorbed and used by the bird.
Calcium-added products are available seasonally at Wild Birds Unlimited - Saratoga Springs, at many other WBU stores, and online. Nesting season for most backyard feeder birds runs from March through July.
Source: Wild Birds Unlimited Inc.