Whether you’re taking care of backyard birds and new baby birds just hatched out of the eggs, or you found a nest of lost baby birds that didn’t get visited back by their mothers you probably wondered whether you should take care of them and how to feed them in the first place. Taking care of baby birds that are helpless and without their mothers is not rocket science. However, if you want to do it right there are certain things that you should do and shouldn’t do. One of those things includes knowing what to feed baby birds.
Baby birds aren’t picky eaters, and by the sounds they make, you can tell that they’re constantly looking for attention. However, one of the things you can do if their mother is gone for too long and didn’t provide them with food is to ensure that their bellies are full and they’re not starving.
The birds will appreciate it, and by feeding them with proper food, you can ensure that the birds are getting the right nutrients and will soon be ready to stand on their feet and eventually start learning how to fly.
If the birds are in your backyard, you can consider placing their nest somewhere where they won’t injure themselves if they fall but also aren’t exposed to potential predators such as cats, wild animals like foxes, and other larger birds with more predatory instincts.
If you don’t know what to feed to baby birds, regardless of what species and breed they are, continue reading this article to learn what food you should provide to them to ensure that they’re growing steadily and developing into healthy birds that will be able to provide foods to themselves and take care of themselves.
Should You Feed These Baby Birds in the First Place?
Let’s get one thing straight. Not all birds will need to be provided with feed in order to survive. When they’ve just hatched, mother birds work around the clock to find an adequate food source for their baby birds which may sometimes take too much time. In that case, where the mother is hunted and babies were already provided with necessary food, you’ll likely not need to feed them.
Many things account for how much food different baby birds found in the wild need. Their nutritional needs are different than that of domestic flock birds such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, and other flock birds you may own in your yard for different needs.
Wild birds have more demanding dietary needs, and genetically, they’ve already been adapted to eating raw feed from the wild their mother will provide them with instincts. Also, you may need to know which bird species these baby birds are and what their age is exactly.
Knowing these things will help you determine whether you should provide the food for them in the first place and what their dietary needs are. However, unless you already have some knowledge about avians and their needs in the wild, it may be very difficult to establish these two things.
Technology has gone a long way, so it may be easier to identify the birds now. For example, websites such as eBird and Merlin Birds contain large databases that allow you to instantly identify the birds you see in the wild. The best part is that you can use these apps on Android and iOS devices.
Thanks to the exponential development of AI, you will also be able to recognize the birds based on pictures, which is possible with AI for Birds app.
Now, to understand the dietary needs of baby birds in general, you need to understand that they will have periods of eating for 12 to 14 hours a day, which means they need to eat a lot of insects and other sources of protein to grow properly.
In general, it’s not advised for humans to interfere with the eating process of wild baby birds, and it’s only recommended for a licensed bird rehabilitator provide the necessary help to baby birds that lost their mothers. So, if you feel like you can’t help these birds, it’s best to search for one for help.
Additionally, even if the mother bird is not in the nest with their little ones, that doesn’t mean that she’s not nearby watching over them. You may not see her, but she may be just on any branch nearby watching for potential threats.
Chances are, that mother birds will see you as a threat if it notices that you’re keeping yourself too close to the bird nest and may attack you, so if you notice a bird flapping her wings or threatening with the sound she makes stay away and let her take care for her little ones.
If you want to help, you can always leave the food on the ground and if she considers that the food is safe for her little ones, she’ll provide it to them.
However, if the mother bird wasn’t returning for a while, for more than a day and you notice that the baby birds are growing weaker in their nest, the first step you should do is call an animal rescue service or a licensed rehabilitator and see whether they can help.
Providing the necessary information like the species and age if you know it may help them decide whether the birds need saving or you could be the one who will provide help to them. Make sure to note all the suggestions the rehabilitator makes and stick to them so you can provide the necessary care for the little ones.
Most Popular Foods to Feed to Baby Birds
So, a professional, licensed bird rehabilitator and animal rescue service suggested you provide food and care for abandoned baby birds? If you watched a lot of cartoons as a child or animal documentaries, you may have noticed that baby birds are depicted as feeding their baby birds with worms and insects.
However, in nature, that approach is a bit different and there are rules to adhere to when feeding worms to baby birds We’ll detail more below.
Continue reading to learn what food for baby birds is the best to give and give them the provisions that will help them grow up into healthy and strong adult birds.
Moist Dog Food
If you have a pet, particularly a dog, some of the foods you provide to them, you can also provide to your newly found baby bird pets. However, that’s not just any food for them, but moist dog food.
Depending on their age, if baby birds are only a few days old, they get hydration from other food. They can’t drink water as their bellies are not developed enough to eat pure water, so they get it through other supplements and food. Moist dog food is one such food.
Keep in mind to give them small quantities, and not whole food as their beaks and throats are too small and they may start to choke. The wet food has more than 65% of water and contains dietary fibers that will help birds’ digestion systems to develop.
As mentioned earlier in the article, it’s also necessary to provide birds with enough protein. The adult birds may provide limited amounts of protein through insects and other small crawling creatures which it distributes among the other birds as they grow.
One of the best sources of protein to provide to baby birds is the raw liver. Make sure to cut it into small slices or strips that will be small enough to pass through the baby’s throat. Make sure that it’s 100% raw, regardless of which animal it belongs to, the baby birds will appreciate it because the liver is full of proteins and minerals.
Editor’s notes: Keep in mind that the birds can’t eat seasons and spices. So if you planned to prepare the liver for yourself and wanted to leave leftovers for the birds, make sure that it’s unseasoned.
Similarly, as how birds can eat raw liver to grow faster and stronger due to protein distribution, they can also eat kidneys. That being said if you’re keeping internal animals of farm animals you’re growing, liver and kidneys are more than safe to distribute to the baby birds. Just like with the liver, make sure that the kidneys are unseasoned and cut into tiny strips that baby birds can eat without a problem.
Birds aren’t mammals and as such their mothers can’t and won’t supply milk to them. Additionally, the content of milk is unhealthy for birds and not suitable for them, especially for baby birds. However, birds like and will drink nectar solution that is often found in flowers and trees.
With that in mind, making a nectar solution that is mixed with water can help hydrate baby birds and help them get the necessary nutrients that will help them grow while remaining full.
Baby birds and birds in particular love eating peanuts, as they are rich with necessary electrolytes and nutrients that will also help them learn how to eat harder food. Make sure to chop it into tiny pieces that would allow them to eat it without posing a health hazard. Also, make sure that you’re not using seasoned peanuts, not even salted ones, as those spices may be bad for the growth of birds.
Editor’s notes: If the baby birds you’re taking care of are not older than 2 to 3 days, avoid giving peanuts to them. Once they’ve grown older, a few weeks or so, it’s safer to add peanuts to their diet. There are also peanut granules that they’re allowed to eat.
Just like how wet dog food is safe to eat for baby birds, in case you have a cat, you can feed your baby birds with cat kibble food. However, there are a few things you should be cautious about. Baby birds won’t digest the cat kibble well if it’s not properly soaked into water so it can be easier to eat and digest.
It’s not a regular food for baby birds, but you can feed it to a bit older baby birds, as long as the food looks spongy and soaked into the water for easier consumption.
Although imagining birds eating eggs seems a bit unreasonable and unethical even, it’s perfectly reasonable and even natural. In fact, many birds, including flock birds, will eat their own eggs in order to fight calcium deficiency, as well as other deficiencies.
With that in mind, it’s perfectly safe to feed your baby birds with hard-boiled eggs. What you can do to make them more edible for the baby birds is also soak them in a bit of water to make them a bit softer. Additionally, you can cut them into smaller pieces to make them easier to digest.
Many experts argue whether baby worms should be eating worms at any time of age. However, in nature, we see that birds feed worms to their baby birds without a problem. The reason for that is that the mother bird consumes the worm first, crushes it with its beak, and then feeds it to her children.
With that in mind, you can purchase live worms from any pet store and crush the worms for the baby birds to eat. In fact, it’s recommended source of nutrients for them at ages older than five days. Just make sure to crush them into small pieces to enable them to consume them.
Another interesting food that baby birds eat is caterpillars. Birds can eat up to 1,000 caterpillars daily. They’re very nutritional snacks, and necessary for their growth. Of course, finding a caterpillar in nature may be hard or even considered gross, so if you don’t want to explore the insects and nature for your newly found baby bird pets to eat, consider feeding them store-bought worms.
If you do happen to find a good source of caterpillars for baby birds, make sure to crush them and serve them that way to the birds.
Editor’s notes: Additionally, make sure to feed baby birds through an eyedropper if you choose to feed them with caterpillars and worms.
Although adult birds will eat any seeds they set their eye on, baby birds are unable to consume all types of seeds due to their tiny bellies, tiny throats, and tiny beaks. However, if you think they’re ready to consume seeds, the best type to start with is the sunflower heart seeds.
They’re rich in nutrients, dietary fiber, vitamins, and everything else they need to grow effortlessly. Still, if your birds are only a few days old, it’s best to cut the seeds further to make ingestion easier.
Types of Foods Baby Birds Should Avoid
There are many other foods that baby birds should eat, although only when they get a bit older. That food includes different dog snacks like dog biscuits, vegetables, fruits like berries, and others. But there are some foods that baby birds shouldn’t eat:
- Whole birdseed
- Whole worms and other crawlies
- Kitchen scraps
- Bread and breadcrumbs
- Pet bird food (until they grow older)
Editor’s notes: As birds grow, they will become more independent and capable of eating larger foods, so restrictions regarding some of these foods will definitely change. Still, it’s necessary to continue tracking growth progress and only introduce these foods in small pieces. Keep in mind you should never feed milk to birds. Although it’s not toxic to birds, according to this report, birds can’t digest lactose.
Tips for Feeding Baby Birds
This newfound role of baby bird parents must be exciting and rewarding for anyone who took the responsibility to feed baby birds with permitted nutrients. However, keep in mind that a little help can always be appreciated. Here are a few tips to provide adequate care for baby birds feeding.
- Start with foods that absorb water and feel spongy and watery. Such food is easier to ingest
- If you notice that the birds react to certain foods poorer, stop giving them that food, as they likely don’t like it.
- Don’t warm or cool the food down, birds like it when it’s natural and room temperature. Giving them hot food could damage their internal organs.
- Don’t handle the birds too tightly when feeding them to avoid injuring
- Use the eyedropper to feed the birds when possible
- Cut the food into small pieces to make it easier for them to eat it.