Friday, March 26, 2010


Recently had an instructive conversation with master bird breeder, Bob Nelson, and thought I’d pass on some of his wisdom.

Our conversation winged its way to something flying about online (sorry, couldn’t pass up the pun).

Apparently, there’s been a misconception traveling over the internet that grit and oyster shell aren’t necessary, and perhaps even harmful, to birds. Stuff and Nonsense.
Bob says this was sparked by an article written by a young veterinarian after the death of a Blue & Gold Macaw. The Macaw that died was brought to this vet. Upon examination, the vet found that it had totally filled up on grit and nothing else, causing blockage and death. From this, the young vet assumed other birds might eat too much grit or oyster shell and have this happen to them. His article reflected a warning about giving grit or oyster shell to birds.

However, according to Bob’s information, all care for the Blue & Gold Macaw had been assigned to a child. As children will, the child forgot to feed the bird. In desperation and hunger the Blue and Gold filled up on the only thing in its cage, grit and oyster shell. It had nothing else.

There’s conjecture that parakeets and other seed eating birds don’t need grit. It’s true they can survive without it, unlike birds that don’t hull seed to survive. Yet, in the wild, seed-eating birds still consume grit, and oyster shell is a valuable source of calcium. I believe you are better off providing both, rather than not. Let your birds decide what they need and when they need it by always making it available.

By following their instincts, birds eat what is good for them. No bird, domestic or wild, is going to kill itself eating grit or oyster shell unless it’s starving. The tragic story of the Blue & Gold Macaw’s unnatural death doesn’t make a valid argument for not supplying pet birds with grit and oyster shell.

No comments: