Grit is one of the most commonly purchased items for new birds, after cages, dishes, perches, food and vitamins. A visit to any pet store selling avian supplies quickly reveals that many types of grit exist. Pet dealers, bird breeders and aviculturists will suggest just as wide a variety of uses for the types of grit available as there are bird owners. Grit is used naturally by many wild bird species and by domestic fowl to aid the digestion of hard foods, such as grains. Since birds have no teeth, they are unable to grind the hard foods they eat, and much of their digestive process takes place in the gizzard, or ventriculus.
The ventriculus is an extremely muscular organ, and its internal structure is lined with a tough substance called chitin, which replaces the teeth missing in its owner’s beak or bill. Tradition dictates that birds must consume grit. However, the average bird owner has no idea of the medical complications that can arise when grit is misused or abused by birds or their owners.
No pet Quaker needs grit. Dozens of generations of both pet and aviary birds have been raised without supplementary grit. The foods that should be offered on a proper dietary program are soft enough to be easily ground and digested by the ventrculus. Birds eating from the proper food groups require no more grit than you feel than you or I would.
If your desire to feed grit is so strong that you feel that you are accomplishing something of value for your Quaker, least do it in such a manner that no harm will come to your bird. Small pinches of the sandy material may be scattered into a feed dish every couple of weeks at the most. This prevents the Quaker from having the opportunity to overeat at will yet still supplies more than any bird really needs.