Calcium may be the most difficult nutrient for a cockatiel owner to give in the right amount. Too much calcium is equally dangerous as little calcium (hypercalcemia)
Calcium is important for cockatiels’ health because it strengthens their bones, beaks, and the way they reproduce.
To give your cockatiels calcium, you need to provide them with supplements, cuttlebones, and certain foods. Calcium can be found in dark, leafy vegetables, as well as in some fruits and seeds. Also, some supplements can round out your cockatiel’s nutritional needs if it’s calcium-deficient.
What Is Calcium?
The National Institutes of Health state that calcium is a mineral that all living creatures require. It is frequently retained by the bones and teeth, which gives them strength.
But it’s also crucial for heart health, muscular growth and use, neuron health, and blood clotting.
Why Do Cockatiels Need Calcium?
Cockatiels need calcium for the following reasons:
The International Journal of Avian Research states that females are oviparous (egg-layers), and they require calcium for the development of their eggs. Therefore, a calcium deficiency can cause egg binding (dystocia).
Egg binding results in eggs with fragile shells and distorted shapes. Being unable to lay eggs is an uncomfortable situation for the female. Dystocia is a potentially fatal ailment that frequently needs surgery to be treated.
Without enough calcium, a mother cockatiel can’t form strong, healthy eggs. So, cockatiels that are going to lay eggs need more calcium about a month before the season starts.
Even cockatiels that haven’t mated can lay unfertilized eggs due to certain environmental triggers.
A cockatiel’s bones are different from those of other animals since they are hollow. This makes it easier for cockatiels to fly and lets them fly higher without being slowed down or stopped by heavy bones.
However, this makes individuals more susceptible to bone fragility and fractures. If cockatiels don’t get enough calcium, their less robust bones are more prone to damage.
According to the Veterinary Clinics of North America, calcium is needed for many things, such as blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve conduction, hormone release, and more.
Symptoms of Calcium Deficiencies in Cockatiels
The symptoms of calcium deficiency include:
- Lack of coordination
Younger cockatiels deficient in calcium may encounter developmental problems
Their bones won’t form right, and as the cockatiel grows, the weight of its body causes them to change shape. This can cause pain, make it hard to walk or eat right, or even cause death.
Adult cockatiels can develop egg abnormalities. Egg shells can be misshapen or thin, and embryos can have skeletons that aren’t right. Also, eggs may be placed later, reducing their chance of hatching.
How To Feed Cockatiels Calcium
If your cockatiel is not breeding, the majority of its calcium should come from its diet.
But if your cockatiel shows signs of not getting enough calcium, you might need to give it calcium liquid or supplements to fix the problem.
High Calcium Foods For Cockatiels
Some foods contain more calcium than others, such as the ones listed below:
Dark, leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium for cockatiels. This includes:
- Bok choy, or Chinese cabbage
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
However, not all dark, leafy vegetables are as healthy for cockatiels as others, such as spinach and beets. While they contain calcium, they are high in oxalates.
Oxalates stick to minerals and make it much harder for the body to take them in. So, although these vegetables provide calcium, they are also rich in oxalates.
Oxalates are also associated with the production of kidney stones.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds that are high in calcium are:
All of them, particularly those high in fat, should be consumed in limited quantities.
Typically, dried fruits have more calcium than fresh fruits. When fruit is dried, the number of vitamins and minerals can go down, but the calcium content often goes up.
Dried fruit high in calcium includes:
Beans are a great source of calcium and protein, but they are not all safe foods. When giving your cockatiel beans, make sure they are fully cooked, as raw beans are poisonous.
Here are some good beans for cockatiels:
- Pinto beans
- Split peas
- Cooked lentils
Calcium Supplements for Cockatiels
These calcium sources will boost your cockatiel’s mineral levels:
Cockatiels know when they are low in certain minerals and will seek them out. So, if a cockatiel thinks that it needs more calcium, it will peck at its calcium block (or mineral block).
In addition to calcium, calcium blocks may also contain iron, salt, and other minerals. Calcium blocks are squares and rectangles that can be hung from a cage’s bars.
Calcium comes from cuttlefish bones, which fit perfectly between the bars of the cage. They also provide enrichment by assisting with beak wear and shaping.
To prepare eggshells for offering, boil them for 10 minutes to disinfect the exterior. Then, crush the shells into a fine powder (or use a blender) and sprinkle them onto your cockatiel’s food.
You can disguise crushed eggshells by mixing them into your cockatiel’s seed tray.
Liquid Calcium For Cockatiels
Calcium in liquid form is regarded as one of the most effective calcium delivery methods. It’s formulated especially for birds, which means that calcium is easily absorbed.
It frequently contains vitamin D3 and is easier to consume than solid calcium sources.
How To Make A Calcium Block For Cockatiels
Calcium or mineral blocks can be obtained in pet stores, but they can also be made at home.
Gather these key ingredients before you begin:
- Oyster shells
- Plaster of Paris
- Molds, like ice cube trays, baking trays, or muffin cups
- A piece of wire
Plaster of Paris is predominantly composed of calcium sulfate (gypsum). It quickly hardens when coupled with water, making it the ideal “glue” for your calcium block.
Here is how to make a calcium block for cockatiels:
- Grind the eggshells, cuttlebone, and oyster shells into a fine powder.
- Place each ingredient individually into a blender or food processor.
- Weigh the total amount of these three ingredients.
- This amount should be multiplied by two to determine the quantity of plaster required.
- Halve the amount to get the amount of water you will need.
- Mix the ingredients.
- Pour the mixture into your mold.
- Bend the wire in half and place it in the center of the mixture so that two of its ends protrude in the same direction. This will allow you to attach the block to the cage of your cockatiel once it has hardened.
- Allow the block to harden. For blocks that are the same size as those sold commercially, you will need to wait for a day. Thinner blocks will dry more quickly than thicker ones, which may take twice as long.
With these steps, you can make a calcium supplement for your cockatiel to make sure it gets all the minerals it needs to stay strong and healthy.