Bird Facts

Ultimate Guide!What to Feed a Baby Bird

The baby bird is waiting to be fed

what to feed a baby bird?", "how to feed a baby bird" Do you understand this knowledge? Ensuring it receives optimal nutrition is crucial.

Every backyard birdwatcher has probably seen fledglings. These "hungry babies" flap their wings and squawk pitifully. Just to get attention. The desire to nurture these fluffy featherballs may be strong at the moment. But the question arises, "what to feed a baby bird?", "how to feed a baby bird" Do you understand this knowledge? A fledgling bird's diet is a special need and it is vital to ensure that they receive optimum nutrition.

What to Feed (and Not Feed) a Baby Bird

Does this baby bird really need to be fed?

The dietary needs of baby birds are very specific and vary depending on their age and species. They may need to eat intermittently for 12 to 14 hours a day, preferably food rich in bugs, to ensure they get enough protein. The average person does not have the proper equipment, food supplements, or patience to handle this onerous feeding requirement. Unless you are an expert with a Professional Bird Rehabilitation License. Otherwise, feeding a baby bird is not an easy task.When you notice a baby bird that seems to need feeding, the best thing to do is to be patient and watch. See if any of the bird parents return within an hour to feed it. In many cases, these poor baby birds were not abandoned and their parents were probably nearby. It's important to note that it may only take a few seconds for the mother bird to feed her chicks. A parent pair may care for several chicks at different locations, so parent visits may be irregular. Be sure to pay close attention, as you may miss several feeding cycles accidentally.

If you are concerned about feeding, rest assured that the bird parents are usually able to meet their needs and unless the baby bird is injured or sick, immediate intervention is not required. Because your interference may do more harm than good. The mother bird may be nearby, foraging for food or observing her young from a safe distance. Your presence may even scare them away in the first place! You should only touch or remove a nestling if you know it is injured or are sure it has been abandoned.

The baby birds to be fed

If a baby bird has not been fed for an extended period of time and appears increasingly weak and lethargic, the bird may need human help. If a bird appears to be injured or orphaned, your best bet is to contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center. These centers are staffed with experts who can look after the bird and ensure it gets the proper food and medical care it needs.

If they advise you to feed baby birds, they may provide some advice as an emergency measure, which you should follow carefully.


If yes - what to feed a baby bird?

If you find a baby bird that needs feeding and you are unable to contact an avian or wildlife rehabilitator, it is important to know how to feed the baby bird to provide nutrients similar to a natural diet. When feeding, you need to determine the appropriate food according to its species and age. Different species of baby birds may have different dietary needs, and at the same time, understand that the nutritional needs of baby birds are very different from those of adult birds, and the food often fed to backyard birds is not suitable for baby birds.


Good foods for baby birds:

Small Insects: Most baby birds need a high-protein diet, and insects are ideal. You can provide finely chopped worms, grasshoppers, mosquito larvae, or other small insects. Make sure the insects are fresh and non-venomous.

Fully cooked eggs: Eggs are also a good source of nutrition for young carnivorous birds. You can boil eggs and feed them to your pups by finely crumbling or mashing them. Make sure eggs are fully cooked and avoid raw or undercooked eggs.

The fully cooked eggs

Protein Supplements: For some baby birds, especially featherless baby birds, specialized baby bird diet formulas or protein supplements may be available. These supplements are often based on insects, larvae, or proteins and provide a rich source of nutrients.

Soft fruits: Some bird chicks, such as pigeons and corvids, can gradually introduce soft fruits as supplementary food. You can offer them chopped blueberries, strawberries, or ripe cherries to make sure the fruit is easy to swallow.

Bird Feed: For some baby birds, specially designed baby bird feed is available. These feeds are often formulated with pup-friendly ingredients to provide balanced nutrition. You can buy these feeds at pet stores or bird specialty stores.

Water: In addition to food, make sure to provide your baby birds with a clean water source. Use a shallow dish or small container and change the water frequently to keep it clean.

While every wild bird has a different diet, there are several foods that can be used as emergency rations in a pinch:

· wet dog food

· Raw liver (without any seasoning)

· Dog biscuits (moist)

· Dog or cat kibble (moist)


What not to feed a baby bird

The worst foods for baby birdsSome common foods should not be fed to baby birds because they may be harmful to their health.

Bread: While small amounts of bread can be fed to birds as a rare and special food, large amounts of bread are inferior, unhealthy food with little nutritional value.

Potato chips: Junk food like potato chips, cheese puffs, nachos, pretzels, etc. are harmful to birds. They have very little nutritional value and are full of processed chemicals that have not been tested on birds, so their effects cannot be predicted.

Biscuit: Cookies, donuts, cakes, pies, cupcakes, and other sweet baked goods may seem perfect for birds, but like other junk foods, they do not provide good nutrition and contain ingredients that are not suitable for birds. processing ingredients and additives.

Honey: Honey is a natural sweetener that is good for human health but not good for birds. Even the best quality organic honey can contain bacteria and mold, which can be fatal to backyard birds.

Salt: Young birds' kidneys are not fully developed and cannot handle excess salt. Too much salt is harmful to their health, so feed salty foods to young birds should be avoided.

Milk: Unlike mammals, birds are mostly lactose intolerant. Baby birds meet their nutritional needs in their natural environment by receiving food from their parents, and birds' digestive systems cannot digest lactose. Feeding milk to baby birds may cause indigestion, diarrhea, or abdominal discomfort.

Raw meat: Many birds are carnivorous, but avoid offering any form of raw meat, including ground or minced meat. Without proper storage, these foods can spoil quickly and harbor dangerous bacteria.

Spoiled seeds: Birdseed can go bad if stored improperly or left to rot in harsh conditions, and bugs, mold, and bacteria in rotting seeds can cause illness in feeder birds.

Most human foods are not suitable for feeding to baby birds, especially foods that contain flavours, spices, colorings and additives. Additionally, human food often does not meet the nutritional needs of young birds.


How to feed a baby bird? (Practical tips)

Now that you know what baby birds like to eat and what they can't eat, here are some tips on how to feed them to keep in mind:

  • Provide soft-textured food without dripping water, which could lead to suffocation or drowning. All dry food should be softened before being offered to chicks.
  • Food should only be served at room temperature, never heated or reheated, and never frozen or refrigerated.
  • Food portions should be small and proportional to the size of the bird. Cut or crush food appropriately to fit the size of the bird. You don’t want the bird to choke on its food! When feeding insects to baby birds, make sure the insects are small enough for the bird to swallow easily.
  • When feeding your bird, touch it as little as possible to minimize additional stress or risk of injury. Never force the bird's beak open to eat.

Last but not least, always wash your hands before and after handling baby birds or their food. This will help prevent the spread of disease.


Take good care of the baby bird.

Remember, feeding baby birds should only be done as an emergency measure and they should be taken to a bird rescue organization or an experienced rehabilitation center as soon as possible. Rehabilitators can not only provide it with a species-appropriate diet, but also help it learn survival skills such as finding its own food and avoiding predators.

If there are no rescue groups or experienced rehabilitation professionals in your area, keep these tips in mind:

  • Identify whether the bird is a nestling (almost no feathers) or a bird that has left the nest (has grown feathers and is close to adulthood). Nestlings require longer care, while nestlings may become independent quickly. If it is a bird that has left the nest, you can place it on a high branch for its parents to find. The chicks may need several weeks of care to increase their chances of survival.
  • Protect baby birds from predators, including household pets. Usually, a simple cardboard box lined with towels and placed high out of the reach of pets will suffice. If using a container with a lid, make sure there is good ventilation. Generally room temperature is sufficient for young birds, but if the room is very cold at night, a mild heat lamp can be used. But be careful not to overheat, in most cases no heating source is needed.
  • Use a small towel or cloth diaper to make a concave shape and place it at the bottom of the box to give the baby birds a "nest". This will help support the baby bird's body until it becomes stronger. 
  • When feeding chicks, it is best to use moist and softened food and feed it very gently in small drops through a syringe. Even kitchen suction balls may be too large to be practical. As the chick grows older, you can use tweezers to dangle food in front of its mouth so it can eat it.
  • Never attempt to feed water directly to a baby bird. Nestlings meet their water needs through moisture in their food. A nesting bird can be provided with water in a shallow dish and will drink it itself if it is ready to take in water this way.
  • When the out-of-nest bird becomes fully feathered and begins to exercise by flapping its wings, you can allow it to move outdoors and encourage it to start flying. Usually, it's just a matter of placing the bird's container in a safe outdoor location, opening the lid, and waiting for natural processes to unfold.

But remember, raising a featherless chick into a nest-leaving bird and eventually an adult bird is no easy task. It’s best to leave this task to experienced professionals.


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