While driving down the road on a snowy winter day you might notice flocks of birds sitting alongside, or directly in, the road. While driving down a rural country road recently, I saw a group of mourning doves sitting in the middle of the road. I wondered at this, but soon realised why the birds were there. Upon seeing a large flock of European starlings sitting on a relatively busy state route, I remembered what I had learned some years ago: the birds were eating the salt put down to melt the ice and snow on the road. Reflecting on this, I find it odd that I have never seen this behavior before. Perhaps... ok. I just don't know why this would be... Back to the point, this is one interesting way the birds get some of the needed salt and minerals in their diet. While many bird species do this, one main species is infamous for this behaviour. Dwelling in the cold climes of the far north, Evening Grosbeaks are commonly seen at the side of roads eating the salt put down on the road.
However, this raises one question. It has often been said that you shouldn't give the birds salted peanuts or sunflower seeds, etc. Experts say that even a small ammount of salt can make a bird ill, because they are so small that it only takes a wee bit of salt to affect them. But assuming this is true, how then, can birds eat road salt and not get sick from it? I acknowledge that multiple types of salt are used on the road, but it seems to me that eating road salt would affect the birds more than eating some salted seeds. On the other hand, perhaps these 'experts' reason that a bird willingly eating some salt versus them eating it on seeds that would otherwise not contain it, is, quite a different circumstance. Whichever is correct, I don't know. But to me, the fact that you shouldn't feed birds salted products seems like alot of baloney, all things considered.