Do Birds Eat Eggshells?

Quick Answer:

Yes, some birds do eat eggshells. Eggshells are a good source of calcium, which is important for bird health, particularly for laying hens. Birds may also eat eggshells as a way to clean their beaks or to prevent predators from detecting the scent of the eggs.

Have you ever wondered if birds eat eggshells? It’s a strange thought, right? But it turns out that many bird species actually do consume the shells of their own eggs. In this article, I’m going to explore what we know about why and how they do it!

It seems like an unlikely behavior for such intelligent creatures – after all, who would want to eat something so hard and crunchy as an eggshell? However, there are some compelling reasons behind this seemingly bizarre behavior. Firstly, eating eggshells can provide essential calcium and other minerals that birds need in order to remain healthy. Secondly, shell fragments may act as grit which helps break down food in the gizzard.

Finally, research has found that consuming eggshells is associated with increased breeding success among certain bird species. While most of us humans don’t find ourselves reaching for our old eggshells at breakfast time – for birds, it could be just another part of getting ready for spring!

Overview Of Bird Eating Habits

As the adage goes, “You are what you eat”, and this holds true for birds as well. A bird’s eating habits can tell us a lot about its diet and lifestyle. From small songbirds to large raptors, all birds have different dietary requirements based on their digestive system anatomy. In this article, we’ll explore the various bird eating habits in order to better understand their food preferences and nutritional needs.

Birds need energy-rich foods such as seeds, nuts, insects, fruits, nectar and even carrion in some cases. They also require plenty of water either from puddles or dew drops collected off vegetation. Bird species living in desert climates have adapted over time to survive mostly on dry seeds which they find scattered around the ground. Similarly, aquatic birds rely heavily on fish found in rivers and lakes while forest dwellers feed primarily on insects like caterpillars due to the dense vegetation that surrounds them.

Most bird diets consist of a combination of these items depending on where they live or migrate during certain times of year. For example, migratory shorebirds often switch between land-based plants and animals along with marine invertebrates depending on abundance at any given location throughout their travels. It is important for them not only to consume enough calories but also stay hydrated in order to make long journeys with successful outcomes. To sum up, the variety of food sources available plays an integral role when it comes to understanding how different species of birds use their habitats most effectively . Looking further into digestive system anatomy will help explain why certain types of food are more suitable than others for our feathered friends

Digestive System Anatomy Of Birds

I’ll start by taking a look at the anatomy of a bird’s digestive system. A bird has two main components to its digestion: the crop and the gizzard. The crop is where food is stored before it passes into the rest of the body, while the gizzard breaks down larger pieces of food using muscular movement.

Eggshells are made up of calcium carbonate and other minerals, which can be difficult for birds to digest in their natural state. To aid in this process, many birds secrete an enzyme called ‘gastrointestinal lipase’ that helps break down eggshells so they can absorb nutrients from them. This enzyme also helps with breaking down fats and proteins found in eggs as well as aiding in nutrient absorption.

The breakdown of eggshells requires energy and specific enzymes, including those mentioned above, but once broken down these shells provide important nutrition for birds including calcium, protein and trace minerals like phosphorus and magnesium. With each intake of eggshells, a bird’s diet becomes more balanced as it gets all the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to keep healthy.

It’s clear that even though eggshells may be hard to digest initially, when broken down properly they become an important part of a bird’s daily diet. Now let’s take a closer look at how much nutritional value eggshells have for birds…

Nutritional Value Of Eggshells

Having explored the anatomy of a bird’s digestive system, it is important to understand why birds may eat eggshells. Eggshells are rich in nutrients that can be beneficial for birds. Here’s a look at some of the potential nutritional value contained within eggshells:

  • Eggshell Nutrition– Eggshells contain high amounts of minerals such as calcium carbonate and magnesium which help keep bones strong and healthy. They also provide valuable vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Eggshell Mineral – In addition to being packed with essential minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and phosphorus, eggshells are also a great source of protein. This helps keep your feathered friend feeling full yet energized throughout the day.
  • Eggshell Calcium – The main mineral found in egg shells is calcium carbonate, an important nutrient for skeletal health and development. Calcium is necessary for laying eggs; without enough calcium, hens cannot make strong eggshells or lay many eggs each year. It can also benefit other species too!

These benefits mean that by eating their own shells or those from other bird’s eggs, birds can get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and happy. Not only does this offer them vital nutrients but it also reduces waste since there is no need to discard the shells after hatching has taken place. So if you see your pet bird munching on its own discarded shell – don’t worry! It could just be getting a little extra nourishment! With all these reasons why birds may eat eggshells in mind, let us now explore reasons why they might not do so.

Reasons Why Birds May Eat Eggshells

I have often wondered why birds eat eggshells. After all, they don’t need to consume them for nutrition since the nutrient-rich yolk and albumen provide enough sustenance for their needs. Here are some potential explanations for this behavior:

Habit DevelopmentBirds may become accustomed to eating eggshells due to repeated exposure in the wild or captivity. This habit can be passed down from generation to generation.Fledglings learn how to crack open eggs from adult birds who teach them the skill as part of their upbringing.
Avian ScavengingEggshell consumption is a form of scavenging that provides additional nutrition when food sources are scarce. It has been observed in many species of bird including starlings, pigeons, parrots, and other backyard favorites like cardinals and blue jays.During times of drought or famine, birds will seek out alternative food sources such as eggshells which contain calcium carbonate that helps with bone growth and strength.
Nutritional DeficiencyIf a bird’s diet does not include adequate amounts of calcium or other minerals, they might resort to consuming eggshells as an easy source of these nutrients. Many pet owners supplement their bird’s diets by providing crushed eggshell powder mixed into their feeders.In areas where there is a shortage of natural foods containing crucial vitamins and minerals, birds may turn to eggshells as a way of meeting nutritional demands on their bodies during breeding season or migration periods.

These possible explanations make it clear that eggshell consumption could be linked back to either habit development, avian scavenging, or nutritional deficiency – each one having its own unique set of circumstances associated with it. Understanding why birds eat eggshells can help us appreciate the complexity behind animal behaviors and hopefully better protect our feathered friends going forward! With this knowledge in hand we can now move onto discussing health risks associated with eggshell consumption…

Health Risks Associated With Eggshell Consumption

To cut to the chase, consuming eggshells poses a range of health risks for birds. Eggshells contain an abundance of calcium, which is essential in avian nutrition; however, it can be detrimental if consumed in large amounts. Similarly, raw eggshells may also contain bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses and other diseases should they not be cooked before ingestion.

Here are some potential health risks associated with eating eggshells:

  • Digestive issues – Eating too many unprocessed or uncooked eggshells could lead to blockages in the digestive tract due to sharp edges on pieces of the shell.
  • Bacterial contamination – The shells of eggs may contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella that can potentially cause illness when ingested.
  • Calcium overload – Excessive consumption of calcium through eating eggshells has been linked to problems like kidney stones and hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the bloodstream).
  • Nutritional deficiency – Bird owners who feed their pet exclusively on whole egg shells may inadvertently deprive them from getting other important nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development.

It’s clear then that there are several causes for concern when it comes to bird’s safety concerning eggshell consumption. Moving forward, we’ll explore solutions for preventing this behavior.

Solutions For Preventing Eggshell Consumption

I have encountered this problem myself and it can be very discouraging. There are several solutions to prevent eggshell consumption from taking place. One solution is to use an eggshell deterrent, such as some type of mesh or plastic covering around the eggs in the nesting boxes. This will discourage birds from picking up the shells and eating them. It is important to make sure that the material used for these covers does not interfere with air circulation in the nest.

Another way to prevent eggshell consumption is by providing ample food sources for birds, including a variety of fruits and vegetables. Offering foods like apples, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, leafy greens and nuts helps keep birds full and less likely to eat their own shells. Additionally, offering bird feeders filled with high-quality seed mixes may help reduce shell consumption because they contain easily digestible proteins and fats that provide more energy than just consuming eggshells alone.

Finally, encouraging natural predators like owls or hawks may also help dissuade birds from eating their own eggs by creating a sense of danger within their territory; this could work especially well if you live near an area where there are already established owl or hawk populations. All of these strategies should be considered when trying to discourage eggshell consumption among your feathered friends!


In conclusion, it is clear that birds do sometimes eat eggshells. While the exact reason why this happens is not certain, there are some theories as to why they might consume these shells and what possible health risks may be associated with doing so. Fortunately, there are solutions available for preventing eggshell consumption if necessary.

One interesting statistic I found while researching this topic was that chickens have been known to break their own eggs in order to get at the calcium-rich shell inside! This shows just how important a source of nutrition eggshells can be for birds.

Ultimately, bird owners should take care to monitor their flock’s behavior when it comes to eating eggshells. If you notice your birds consuming any type of discarded shells or other materials, make sure you seek guidance from an avian veterinarian immediately. With proper management and oversight, we can help ensure our feathered friends stay healthy and happy!