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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why birds eat ash

Why are my sparrows eating barbecue ashes?? - Via Twitter

Ashes can supply the birds with a number of important minerals, especially calcium. Some songbirds in search of calcium may have started to look in unusual places because pollution has depleted it in the environment.

Another explanation for birds rummaging in charcoals is for grit. The gizzard is an organ found in the digestive tract of some birds and is used to grind up food. A lot of grain eating birds swallow small stones, shells, and sand occasionally to break apart hard seeds as they pass through the ventriculus also known as the gizzard. The grinding stones in the bird's gizzard wear down eventually and pass through the bird but are replaced with new stones the bird swallows.

Finally birds may be looking for any food scraps. While most of our backyard birds visit seed feeders some also enjoy animal fat. Birds can be found pecking the fat off a dead deer's body, investigating road kill, looking for fat drippings in a barbecue or eating a suet cake in a feeder.

This was a very good observation. Thank you for sending in the question.

Related articles:
How birds chew food without teeth http://goo.gl/DbpvMc
What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/z7Eurx
What can I feed the cardinals to make them redder? http://bit.ly/vn2HK3
Choosing the best bird seed http://goo.gl/jrpDX
Keep the birds from pecking the paint off your house: Put out eggshells http://goo.gl/2SCldN