BEACON TRANSCRIPT – The animal world doesn’t seem to stop amazing us with new things every day and birds are especially surprising as we found out that parrots use tools to make calcium.
Every species of bird has its way of feeding, whether it is by hunting down their pray or simply looking for a yummy worm. They manage to take from nature everything they need in order to maintain themselves fed and healthy, and they often do it in the most inventive ways.
Scientists have recently discovered, while studying a captive population of vasa parrots, that these birds use tools to help them create their own calcium powder. They are basically making a nutritional supplement in order to satisfy their needs.
Although the researchers didn’t have the opportunity to see when and how this ‘occupation’ started, according to their knowledge of these birds behavior, they assumed that they simply copied each other. More exactly, the vasa parrots have a certain social system in which they share tools so it is most likely that one of the birds started using pebbles to make calcium and the others simply followed.
What they do is that they use the pebbles to break apart the shells and after that they grind the shells into a very fine powder which they consume. Although they are known for nibbling shells, parrots usually do this with their beaks. Using pebbles might be a way of preserving their beaks from scraping or wearing off.
The reason these birds are interested in the shells and the calcium they get from them is that unlike mammals, they cannot store much calcium so they may need supplements especially before and during the breeding season. The calcium helps them form their eggshells, which could not develop without this substance. Therefore, in this period they need calcium for them as well as for their future ‘babies’.
The fact that such a habit of using tools to create nutrients was observed among these particular birds does not necessarily come as a surprise, because vasa parrots are extremely sociable and tolerable which makes it easier for them to cohabitate and learn from each other.
Image source: www.mascotarios.org