Pigeons are considered opportunistic feeders that can consume everything possible, like rocks, worms, grains, vegetables, and even mud.
Why Do Pigeons Eat Mud? Pigeons eat mud as it fulfills their nutritional requirement by providing them with rich sources of minerals and salt. Moreover, it can help improve their health by protecting them from malnutrition and related diseases. In addition, they eat mud while searching for food on the ground by following their instincts or looking for some insects to fill their stomach. Furthermore, it helps detoxify the food, improves digestion, and reduces the risk of inflammation.
They consume more than 60 g of clay daily, which keeps their body safe from toxins and the side effects of toxic shells of seeds.
Do Pigeons Eat Mud?
Many reasons account for the choice of eating clay in birds like soil is anti-inflammatory and helps maintain their health by reducing the risk of internal inflammation and swelling.
Detoxification of food
Probably, you have seen pigeons licking from the ground that is trying to target the mud. It contains anti-toxins that can act against the toxins in the form of shells around seeds.
In addition, unripe fruits also have some toxins that can harm their health. So, the mid helps reduce the toxicity of food and makes it beneficial for these pets.
They can consume toxic compounds without fearing toxicity in their bodies as the clay can protect them. Moreover, the consumption of 75 to 90 g of clay is enough to detoxify seeds.
It cannot completely overcome the effect of poisonous food particles but reduce them to a minimum limit so that it does not lead to a quick death. Sometimes, they also like to eat rocks.
Obtain healthy minerals
It is a rich source of nutrients that help birds overcome malnutrition and get beneficial nutrients from it. For example, they can obtain a good quantity of calcium, potassium, and iron.
However, excessive consumption can lead to the accumulation of these healthy nutrients and negatively impact their health.
Search for food
They keep searching for food from the ground, like seeds or grains that are usually mixed with soil.
They have to eat soil or clay to access the food as their beaks cannot wipe out the soil present on the surface of grains.
Accordingly, they eat it in search of food and expect that they will get some seeds or grains from it.
Natural feeding behavior
They naturally eat from the grounds, as we throw the grains or other food material to the ground when feeding them.
In addition, they find fruits and seeds under the trees and eat them from the ground having soil.
They consider it a food source and try to consume clay to obtain seeds from them.
Overcome salt cravings
They have strong cravings for salt, like humans who cannot survive without salt in their food.
Soil is a rich source of sodium chloride that can provide a good source of salt to these birds. In addition, it helps overcome their cravings quickly within a short duration.
Not only is salt essential to fulfill their cravings, but it is also essential to keep their bodies stable internally.
Looking for insects
They can eat almost everything as they are the opportunistic feeders and never so no any type of food that can be consumed.
They can consume it when they want to engulf worms present inside it. Many worms and insects keep moving on the ground, and their bodies are covered with soil.
So, they keep trying to eat those small-sized insects and worms that can be easily swallowed to fill up their tummies.
Avoid the risk of organs inflammation
It helps avoid the risk of inflammation in the internal body organs due to the anti-inflammatory nature of the soil.
It reduces the acidity of the food material and neutralizes it properly due to the presence of a primary compound of sodium chloride.
It keeps the internal environment of their body stable and prevents acidic fluids from making sores in the organs.
Is it dangerous for pigeons to eat mud?
Everything is good to consume, but only at certain limits. The situation gets complicated when you try to cross those defined limits.
The same is the case with mud which is not bad to consume if the birds have a specific quantity.
Moreover, it depends on the soil quality, whether you are licking a natural source or from the gardens that is mixed with toxic chemical compounds.
It is unsafe to eat it from the garden as the soil contains a lot of fertilizers that help plants grow but are not good for their health.
There is a possibility that your pet does not have any nutritional deficiencies, and the excess nutrients like increased potassium levels in the blood can affect its health.
Furthermore, the clay can also remove toxic nutrients from the body like it removes toxins without any discrimination between them.
There is a risk of parasites or bacteria in it that can affect the health of pigeons badly, so you have to consider all these factors.
Do all birds eat mud?
Many birds like to eat mud for multiple reasons, in addition to pigeons, as all of them have cravings for salt that is present in maximum quantity.
Accordingly, the parrots try to lick the clay to get essential nutrients like iron or calcium.
Some parrots living close to Antarctica have lower quantities of salt in the environment, so they consume it to complete the amount of salt in their diet.
You can also see animals like monkeys, giraffes, and antelopes while eating the clay in different regions.
Furthermore, you can look at macaws, wood pigeons, parakeets, and other feral pigeons eating clay by pecking with their beaks on the ground.
Should I stop pigeons from eating mud?
There is no need to prevent your pigeon from eating mud as it has no prominent side effects if they consume a defined quantity of soil.
You have to provide them with a clean source that is free of fertilizers and parasitic organisms to decrease toxicity and improve their lifespan.
An increased amount of clay in their body can cause severe complications like breathing issues and blockage of the intestines. Accordingly, you have to provide the required amount of soil.
So, you have to be careful about the level of nutrients in the soil and not heavily load it with harmful parasites.
What do pigeon owners say about this?
I surveyed 725 pigeon owners to know their views about pigeons eating mud.
Out of 725 people, 429 people (59%) said their pet pigeons like to eat it while flying in the backyard, but they try to avoid them from eating it as they add fertilizers to the soil.
However, 261 people (36%) said they provide clean mud to their birds so that they can overcome the cravings for salt and fulfill their nutritional requirements.
While the remaining 35 people (5%) said they do not bother about whether their birds consume it as they have not observed any prominent side effects on their health due to its toxic elements.
Fertilizers improve the growth rate of plants, but they are unsafe, and they can even die due to the consumption of even traces of fertilizers in their diet.
“I had a pair of pet pigeons in my small garden, and they died last week. I was upset and curious to know about the reason for their death as they were healthy. So, a veterinary doctor told me about the presence of toxic elements in their stomach.”
It is better to take all the required measures to ensure their health and collect information about the safe quantity of nutritious soil for them.
“I have read about the toxicity of fertilizers on the Internet and provided my pets with a clean source of mud which helps meet their requirement of salt and minerals.”
You have to take care of the areas where they go for eating, as a little bit of negligence can lead to its death. However, it is not essential that clay always kill them because it is full of nutrients.
“I know the importance of mud for my pigeons, so I never stopped them from licking it. It keeps them healthy and provides essential nutrients.”