Date: 12/3/18 3:06 pm
From: Elise W <ewolf97...>
Subject: [obol] feeding mealworms
Someone commented about feeding mealworms and suet. The information in the
article is correct. Too much of a good thing (ahem...for us too LOL) is not
good for anyone. Dried mealworms in particular are a really BAD idea for
most of our birds, except the ground feeders who live on high fiber foods.

Mealworms in general have hard exoskeletons (chiton) and a bird must grind
it all up to get it though its digestive tract (thus what gizzards are for)
or throw it up (some songbirds do this). Dried mealworms are not only
dehydrating for the bird (taking a lot of moisture to process), but because
there is less innards, the bird fills up on what is essentially fat and
chiton. Sure its tasty to them, kinda like french fries, but its not good
for them.

A bird that fills up on chiton can have a full gizzard and not be able to
process anything else, and starve to death. Seed eaters in the winter, like
the chickadee, will enlarge their gizzards for winter seed eating, and
shrink them for summer bugs. Most bug eaters do not aim for the most
chitonous bugs, they forage for larvae, caterpillars, spiders, some ants,
tiny insects, etc. Some beetle eaters will throw up a little packet of goo,
like an owl does, without the fur.

Mealworms are not complete nutrition, they can cause metabolic bone disease
from lack of calcium in babies, as they have almost no minerals. In rehab,
we must make up for this in our bird diets. Calcium is required in a 2:1
ration with phosphorous, get the calculator out....quality of mealworms is
unregulated, take a guess as to what's in them...they are grain eaters (a
beetle) think pesticides, etc and there are unscrupulous places using
gross stuff for it.

Feed seeds, suet in moderation. Let the feeders go dry every little bit,
unless we're in a massive storm. Birds do what we do, store fat and seek
out tasty stuff. Never* eve*r feed mealworms in summer.! If you have to
feed mealworms, you must "guttload" , that means feed the bugs. Feed only
as a rare treat.

The commercialization of feeding birds has put a lot of misinformation out
there. A lot of it can be evaluated using common sense. Even seemingly well
meaning and 'educated' stores put out products that are bad for birds. Be
smart, do some homework on knowledgeable sites (not just any internet blog
or storefront), think logically. (like is that suet getting all over my
birds...never spread fat anywhere).

Elise Wolf
Native Bird Care
Sisters, OR

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