About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Keep the birds from pecking the paint off your house: Put out eggshells

As birds prepare for nesting season some people in the upper Northeast could find that Blue Jays seem to have acquired a fondness for eating the paint off their house.

Research has shown that songbirds need calcium during the breeding season for egg laying and nestling growth. Paint manufacturers have used calcium carbonate, or limestone, as an extender pigment in paint for hundreds of years.

Some songbirds in search of calcium may have started to look in unusual places, unfortunately, because pollution has depleted it in the environment.

To stop birds from pecking off paint you can offer them alternative sources of calcium. It was discovered through trial and error that birds love eggshells, over paint. Eggshells are about 95% calcium carbonate.

To prepare this treat for the birds, rinse the eggshells and put them in a bag in the freezer. When you have a lot stored up, spread them out on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 250 degrees to make them safe for bird consumption. Or have fun smashing the shells of your hard boiled eggs into pieces and scatter them on a platform feeder or mix with your seed.

When you put eggshells on the menu you may even attract species that don’t usually come to seed feeders, like orioles, gnatcatchers, and some species of wood warblers. My squirrels also like eggshells.

And for gardeners, eggshells around the base of plants deter snails and slugs from crossing the sharp eggshells barrier to reach your plants. It also boosts the nutrients in the soil and can be mixed together with dried coffee grounds, which provides a high content of nitrogen, to keep your plants healthy.

Related articles:
Sources: 
- Johnson, Anne Marie, What Are Those Jays Eating?  Birdscope, newsletter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Summer 2001. www.birds.cornell.edu
- Chu, Miyoko and Stefan Hames. Wood Thrush Declines Linked to Acid Rain. Birdscope, newsletter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Autumn 2002. www.birds.cornell.edu

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