How to Feed a Baby Bird: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re interested in learning about baby birds and what to feed them, you’ve come to the right place. One day you might have been out in your yard, tending to your garden when you hear a small “tweet tweet” coming from somewhere in the grass. You’ll walk towards the sound and it takes you to s shady spot just under your large oak tree. This is where you’ll find a small baby bird nestled in the grass, crying out for their mother who is nowhere in sight. 

If you have already found yourself in such a situation, it’s beneficial to know how to feed such a small baby bird, because it is likely that their mother is not coming back for them. If you feel that you can take on the responsibility of feeding and nourishing this baby bird until they are old enough to live on their own, here’s what you’ve got to do. Start by identifying whether you should take in this baby bird and feed it. 

Should I Feed this Baby Bird?

First things, first, you need to determine whether this baby bird does in fact need you to take them in and feed them. If you do come across what seems to be an abandoned baby bird that is in need of some nourishment, you should first call your local wildlife rehab center and see if they can offer some help. 

If you’ve tried to reach your local wildlife rehabilitation center but have had no luck on reaching someone to give you information, there are some foods that you can try to feed them. If it’s clear that this baby bird is in need of some nutrition, there are some foods that you may have on hand at home. These foods include hard-boiled eggs or moistened dog biscuits/food.  Raw liver is also a good emergency food option for baby birds. 

Keep in mind, the food that you might typically feed the birds who live in your back yard is not suitable for a young baby bird. The seeds and water that you leave out for the adult birds are not what you should try and feed to a baby bird. 

What NOT to Feed a Baby Bird

So, you’ve determined that you do need to try and get some food into this little baby bird. Feeding them soft foods that are high in protein, such as hard-boiled eggs or raw liver are great ideas. There are a few food choices that should be avoided at all costs when considering what to feed your baby bird. 

A few things that you should never feed a young baby bird include water, bread, milk, birdseed, worms, or kitchen scraps. These foods should especially never be fed to nestlings. They are far too young and could not handle eating these foods. 

Feeding a Nesting Bird: How To

All baby bird food must be freshly prepared for each feeding. This may sound tedious, but you can’t be too careful when feeding such a young bird. Food that is kept from one feeding to the next is an automatic breeding ground for harmful bacteria. 

Baby birds require food that is all one temperature. The ideal temperature is between 102-106 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, food that is too hot could burn the crop while food that is too cold will not digest properly. (the “crop” is a small pouch on the front of their chest where food goes when swallowed. You will be able to visibly see this become full as they eat.)

The younger the baby bird that you are feeding is, the more watered down their food should be. As they grow older the food can become thicker and thicker. Using a syringe to feed your baby bird is probably the best and easiest approach. That way you can measure and record their intake at each meal. 

Naturally, a baby bird will bob its head up and down as they eat. So, if your baby bird begins to do what looks like a happy dance, this is a good sign. If the baby bird does not have this response, it may not be safe to feed them at this time. 

The frequency and volume of feedings will change as the bird grows older. Initially, if the bird is under a week when you find them, feedings should be as frequent as 6-10 times a day. Once they’ve hit the milestone of opening their eyes, feedings can decrease to 3-5 times per day. 

As your baby bird grows and their diet changes, you will want to have kept a written record of all their changes. This record can include how much and how often you fed them and what was included in each meal. Additionally, recording their weight as they grow is also a good idea. 

Conclusion

Taking on the responsibility of feeding and caring for a baby bird is a lot for one person to handle. Especially if that one person is not a trained bird rehabilitation technician. That doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Anyone could feed a baby bird safely at home if they take the time to learn how to feed them and what they should be eating. Raising and feeding a baby bird is a unique and heartwarming experience for anyone who has the opportunity to do so.

What do you feed a baby bird?

Small baby bird food needs to be soft and high in protein, just like what their mother would give them. This includes hard-boiled eggs, moistened dog or cat food, or even raw liver.

How often do you feed a baby bird?

How often you feed them depends on their age and weight. For instance, if they are less than one week old, they will likely need to eat 6-10 times a day. Once they open their eyes, feedings can go down to 3-5 times per day.

How much do you feed a baby bird?

There is a sac called a “crop” in the front of the baby bird’s neck, right over the chest. You can see this sac visibility fill and distend when they eat. You will want to stop feeding once the crop has become filled.

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Written by Leo Roux

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