E Rosellas eating ash

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: E Rosellas eating ash
From: "Sandra Henderson" <>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 10:21:30 +1000
 Some other refs of interest:
Baldwin, M. (1965). Bird eating charcoal. Emu, 64, 208. (mentions Fairy
Martin, Dusky Wood-swallow, Double-barred Finch and Zebra Finch) Coate,
K. (1985). Black Honeyeaters feeding on ash. Western Australian
Naturalist, 16, 51-52. ("Analysis showed this had high levels of
calcium, and the behaviour may be explained by female birds seeking
calcium before egg-laying.") Hutchins, B. R. (1988). Black Honeyeaters
feeding among charcoal and ash. South Australian Ornithologist, 30, 160.
Mollison, B. C., & Green, R. H. (1962). Mist-netting Tree-Martins on
charcoal patches. Emu, 61, 277-280.
Pescott, T. (1985). Black Honeyeaters and charcoal. Geelong Naturalist
22, 37-39.

The publication Australia's Biodiversity - responses to fire, includes
the statement:
An unusual relationship between birds and fire is the consumption of ash
and charcoal by a range of bird species, which may be related to mineral
requirements for breeding, but limited analysis has failed to establish
any pattern or compelling explanation of this feature.

Sandra Henderson

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Andrew Taylor
Sent: Monday, 11 September 2006 9:58 AM
To: Birding-Aus
Subject: E Rosellas eating ash

Wood ash can be rich in calcium and birds may resort to various unsual
sources for this key nutrient so its a good possibility thats what they
were after, from

"Most birds eat insects and/or plants that are relatively low in
calcium,  so these cannot fulfill calcium requirements. For some
species, restricted  calcium availability limits geographical
distribution. However,  many others supplement their diet by eating
calcium-rich material such  as bones, owl pellets, mortar, grit, and the
shells of snails, crabs,  marine mollusks, and other birds. Boreal
chickadees consume ash rich in  calcium; sandpipers eat grit, lemming
bones, and teeth; sandwich terns  eat shell fragments; and crossbills in
coniferous forests eat bones,  putty, and cement.  Graveland provides a
table of literature citations  covering 28 species of birds that consume
calcium-rich material."

And specific observations at:


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