Some time ago, I wrote a Backyard Secret regarding the blue jay’s unusual habit of eating paint chips. At the time, I reported that the bird’s need for calcium might be the reason that blue jays will literally chip bits of paint off buildings and eat them.
Research conducted by Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology found that blue jays consumed more than double the amount of calcium eaten by any of the other species studied. Consequently, these findings offer credence to the theory the birds are obtaining needed calcium from the chips.
It is interesting to note that folks living in the Northeast have reported this habit more often. Here acid rain has had a deleterious impact on the region’s soils. It seems acid rain has been depleting naturally occurring calcium in the soil.
One way in which some people living in this part of the country cope with the problem is to offer feeder birds chicken eggshells. In order to thwart the spread of disease, the shells either heated in an oven or boiled before offering them to the birds.