by Kenneth S. Karsten, Ph.D.
I feed egg food all the time, not just when the birds are nesting. They need it for help with molting and staying fit. Most of the time, I serve it with frozen peas and corn to supply fresh vegetables. I also give romaine lettuce up to two or three times a week. Hard-boiled eggs are well known for their value in supplying what breeding and growing finches, canaries and other birds need. Seeds are not enough. You can find many articles on egg food for birds in magazines and books. Some say to crumble the hardboiled egg and offer them to the birds. Others include many other ingredients. The main problem in feeding hard-boiled eggs to finches and other small birds is presenting it in a form they can eat. Birds with small beaks do not readily pick up chunks of food. The food must be in a fine enough form to allow them to eat it. My birds eat thawed frozen peas and corn. Society finches will pick up peas and corn, then take them to a perch, hold one piece with their feet and eat it. Others, such as Gouldian finches, usually eat it from the dish without taking it anywhere To make a batch of egg food, all the ingredients you need are two hard-boiled eggs and a 15-ounce container of bread crumbs. The only equipment needed is a pan in which to boil the eggs, a stainless-steel bowl for preparing the mix and a hand-held dough blender. What could be simpler than that?

Preparing the Mix
Preparation of the egg food is quite simple. Boil two eggs for at least 20 minutes. Cool the eggs and remove the shells. Dry the shells in a microwave or toaster oven. That makes the shells brittle. Place the dry shells in a 2-quart stainless steel mixing bowl. Grind the shells into small flakes with the dough blender, then place the eggs in the bowl and chop them. The eggs will be somewhat sticky, so add breadcrumbs and mix with the dough blender. Continue adding the rest of the breadcrumbs and blend completely. Put the mixture in a closed container and keep in the refrigerator.

Most small birds eat this egg food recipe quickly but may not eat all of it immediately. The food will dry out within an hour when served in a shallow dish. From then on the food will not spoil, since it is completely dry. My birds eat the dry food for 24 to 36 hours when I have been away. I find it is insurance that the birds will not run out of food. They do not scatter the mix and blow it out of the dish when flying away from it. The calcium from the egg and from the eggshells is sufficient for my birds. I do not find it necessary to supply cuttlebone or mineral blocks as calcium supplements. You can add other ingredients, such as soy protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. I find that the plain, easy-to-make formula does just fine.

The Benefits of Bread Crumbs
It is easier and practically as cheap to buy breadcrumbs as it is to make them yourself from bread. The contents of a can of crumbs and a loaf of bread are very similar. The analysis is different, as can be seen in Table 1. You will find this type of information on the packages.

Table 1

Bread Crumbs Compared With Fresh Bread Ingredients

                  Bread Crumbs        Fresh Bread

                  15-oz. can          20-oz. loaf

Ingredient        Weight (Grams)      Weight (Grams)

Total Fat            16.16                 88

Carbohydrates        297.49                176

Sugars               28.33                 44

Protein              70.80                 44

Table 2 lists the abundant vitamin content of eggs, seven amino acids,

plus six foodstuff materials.

Table 2

Nutrient Analysis of One Large Hard-Boiled Egg (50 grams)


Vitamin A            260 International Units

Vitamin B-1          0.04 milligrams

Vitamin B-2          0.14 milligrams

Vitamin B-6          0.06 milligrams

Vitamin B-12         0.66 micrograms

Vitamin C            0 (Birds make their own from glucose)

Vitamin D            27 International Units

Vitamin E            0.88 milligrams

Vitamin K            25 micrograms

Folate               24 micrograms

Pantothenic Acid     0.86 milligrams

Nutrition Content

Carbohydrates        0.6 grams (1.2 %)

Cholesterol          274 milligrams (0.005 %)

Fat                  5.6 (11.2 %)

Protein              6.1 grams (12.2 %)


Fatty Acids          0.7 grams (1.4 %)


Fatty Acids          1.7 grams (34 %)

Water                37.3 grams (74.6 %)

Amino Acids

Arginine            388 milligrams

Cystine             145 milligrams

Histidine           147 milligrams

Isoleucine          380 milligrams

Leucine             533 milligrams

Lysine              410 milligrams

Methonine           196 milligrams

Threonine           298 milligrams

Tryptophane         97 milligrams

If egg is so good, why mix it with bread crumbs? Egg by itself is difficult to prepare in a form that small birds will eat. Crumbled hard-boiled egg particles tend to stick together and are unwieldy. Bread crumbs not only condition the egg so that it s free flowing but also keep it finely divided so that small birds can pick it up and eat it. Table 3 lists the nutrition breakdown of a large, hard-boiled egg listing calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. So, you can see that adding egg to bread crumbs greatly improves mineral nutrition values.

Table 3

Mineral Content of One Large Hard-Boiled Egg (50 Grams)

Calcium           28 milligrams

Iodine            26 micrograms

Iron              1.04 milligrams

Magnesium         6 milligrams

Phosphorus        90 milligrams

Potassium         65 milligrams

Sodium            69 milligrams

Zinc              0.72 milligrams

Table 4 gives a simple ingredients statement for bread crumbs, two hard-boiled eggs

and the mixture of one 15-ounce can of bread crumbs mixed with two hard-boiled eggs.

Table 4

Ingredients--Bread Crumbs,

Eggs and Egg/Crumbs Mixture


                  Bread Crumbs     Two Hard-Boiled Eggs     Bread Crumb

                   15 0z Can             (100gm )           Egg Mixture

                     Weight               Weight              Weight

Ingrediant           Grams                 Grams              Grams         Percent

Total Fat            14.16                 11.2               25.36          4.83

Carbohydrates        297.49                1.2                298.69         56.88

Sugars               28.33                 0                  28.33          5.39

Protein              70.80                 12.2               83             15.80

Formerly a research chemist, Kenneth Karsten, Ph.D. has been breeding birds for the past five years, focusing on Gouldian and society finches, and canaries.


E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.