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If you’re wondering what exactly would a baby bird eat or drink, then this article will give you some clear pointers on this. The feeding of the baby birds by their parents is something very unusual for us humans to watch. It involves the parents eating different types of bird food and then burping it in the mouths of the babies. This is mostly because it will fall on the parents to partially digest the food to make it edible for chicks, baby birds are unable to break down any type of food when they are really young.
It will be vital for small birds to stick around their parents as they will not only need help with eating but will also need to learn how to behave and even how to fly from their parents. This means that the best thing you can do for a baby bird you find on the ground is to take it back to its nest so that its parents can take care of it. Before even considering taking care of the bird yourself, get in touch with a rehabilitation center if you cannot put the bird back into its nest.
It is important to know what to feed baby birds however if you are either licensed to take care of different types of wild animals or you’re raising domestic birds around the house. You can even learn how to make baby bird food yourself.
If you believe a baby bird needs food, talk to an expert first
You should observe the baby bird you believe it hasn’t been properly fed for about an hour or so, to make sure its parents really ignore its needs. You should be really attentive, as it will only take a few seconds for a mother bird to feed its baby, which means that it is something very easy to miss.
There are some birds that will have to take care of a bunch of baby birds, all in different places, which makes feeding them pretty hard so this might happen at irregular intervals. As long as the parents do come at some point to feed the baby, then you know that you have no reason to intervene as they are making sure that the tiny bird has all of its needs met.
Keep in mind that your first step when noticing a baby bird not receiving food from its parents would be to call a licensed rehabilitator.
OK, but what will you do if you find a baby bird that clearly has no connection with its parents and you don’t know of any rehabilitator around you that might be able to help? You will have to feed it something as close to its natural diet as possible. There are some foods that would be great as an emergency solution, although each bird will have its own preferences when it comes to the food it eats.
So what to feed a baby bird?
While in the wild, a baby bird will usually eat exactly what its parents would, and this includes different seeds, insects, and even worms. Even so, if you don’t have any of these at hand, then you can feed a chick some other things as well. You can try to soak puppy food in some water until you notice it gets similar to a sponge and try to give it that. You can also add jam to moist cat or dog food, but make sure this is at room temperature. You can even try some fruits but only after you chop them really finely. Fruits that birds like include corns and peas. If you have any small insects around, those are also great for a baby bird.
You should always remember that a baby bird will not have the exact same nutritional needs as its adult relatives. There are some foods that can even harm a baby bird although they are safe for older ones. If you keep a bird until it gets old, then you will get to the point in which it can eat a diet more oriented toward raw meat, for the protein that it will need. You won’t usually have to give it water, aside from what it gets from the food you’re giving it.
Some foods that are suitable for baby birds are:
- Raw liver with no seasoning
- Moist cat food
- Moist dog food
- Boiled eggs
Foods you should avoid giving to a baby bird are:
- Leftover food
- Any bakery products including bread
Birds will have a really hard time digesting milk, unlike most animals out there. This is why it is really a very unfortunate misconception that you can mix milk with bread and get a perfect meal for a baby bird. Milk can really damage the health of a bird so you should really add it to the forbidden foods for your tiny bird.
As the bird gets older, it will slowly shift toward adult bird food without the risk of getting ill and will also be able to wait more between feedings.
Baby bird food you can make yourself
Of course, as I said before, one of the easiest things you can make for your baby bird will be a combination of water and pet food.
When you combine water with either kibble or dog biscuits, you will get food with a mushy consistency which is very easy to digest by baby birds. This type of food will be very high in protein, a very important thing for nestlings, while also perfectly mimicking the texture of food they might get from their parents.
How to feed a baby bird
Keep in mind that birds are fragile and baby birds are especially vulnerable. This means that you will have to be very careful when you feed it not to cause it any additional injury or stress. If the bird doesn’t want to eat, don’t force it.
Always cut the pieces as small as possible to be proportional to the size and capabilities of the bird. The tinier the bird the tinier should be the pieces. Prepare the food properly for the bird by crushing or cutting it into tiny bits.
Don’t refrigerate or heat the food before feeding the bird. Instead, offer the food at room temperature.
Food that is dripping with water might drown or suffocate a wild bird, so you should go for a more spongy consistency for the food instead. Never give it dry food. Soften it first with water before giving it.
Keep in mind that you should only resort to feeding a baby bird yourself as a final solution. You should first consider taking an abandoned baby bird to an experienced rehabilitator or a bird-rescue organization.