can i feed a baby bird

If you come across a hungry baby bird and can’t find their nest, there are three options: feed them, try to put them back in their nest, or let them be. For most of us, the idea of leaving the poor creature to their own devices is unthinkable. Some birds don’t like when humans touch their young, so option two might be just as likely to result in the fledgling’s death.

But if you do choose to save and feed the little bugger, how exactly does one go about feeding a baby bird? Article continues below advertisement

Is the bird a nestling or fledgling?

First, ascertain the age of the rogue baby, advises McMahon. And there’s one obvious sign: feathers. Nestlings are small and usually naked, or have a few fluffs on them, whereas fledglings are larger and nearly entirely covered in down and feathers. Stated differently, one appears like a gawky young bird, while the other resembles a tiny pink alien. Another way to tell the age of a bird is by its movement; fledglings can hop, but nestlings may just drag themselves along the ground on their bare wings.

If you come across a healthy fledgling, McMahon advises you to “walk away from the bird.” Not only is it unnecessary to rescue healthy fledglings, but it may also be harmful to their development. She claims that if babies are raised by hand, they may mistake people for their parents—much like the geese in the film Fly Away Home. According to McMahon, if that occurs, “they don’t know how to be a bird.”

If you’ve found a nestling: Help. First, search the surrounding bushes or trees for the baby’s nest; if you find it, just return the chick, and the parents will take up their care again. And don’t worry about touching the bird: Susan Elbin, director of conservation and science at New York City Audubon, says that it’s untrue to think that touching a baby bird will result in rejection. Elbin claims that although birds have a sense of smell, it is not very developed. “They’re not going to abandon their chick. ”.

Make your own nest if the one you’re looking for isn’t there or is too far away, advises Furr. Take a tiny container, such as a strawberry basket, and fill it with a straw or a piece of T-shirt—any dry material will do. After carefully putting the fledgling inside, attach the fake nest to a tree near the location where the bird was discovered. Furr states, “You want to get it as high up as possible.”

Once youve returned the bird to a nest—whether real or homemade—keep an eye out for the parents. If they don’t return within an hour, call a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Should I feed a baby bird in the first place?

OK, we will level with you. Baby birds that youre raising yourself are one thing. We hope those birds, which you keep as pets, were given to you lawfully and are receiving proper care. We are discussing here the needy wild birds that you happened upon. Sadly, the majority of experts advise against trying to feed a baby bird if you know its parents are still alive. Article continues below advertisement.

According to Birdwatching Bliss, feeding a baby bird can do more harm than good, though they do recommend leaving the baby some water just in case. In most cases, the best course of action is to contact animal control so that they can come to rescue the bird. You could even take the injured bird to a local veterinarians office to see if they can help .

Local wildlife rehabilitation centers will also do the trick, such as the Wild Bird Fund in New York City . Whatever you choose and whatever happens after, well, most people will understand that your heart was in the right place.Article continues below advertisement

What to feed a baby bird

If you do decide that feeding the baby bird in question is important, you will discover that the right food depends entirely on the species and age of the particular bird. If you’ve decided to take care of this baby bird, we suggest consulting a veterinarian to find out what your little one needs in particular. Having said that, there are a few dietary recommendations we can make. Article continues below advertisement.

According to The Spruce, there are many commercially available formulas out there for hand-feeding baby birds. They recommend choosing one at the start and sticking with that brand and composition until the baby is weaned off it. Baby birds are particularly susceptible to changes in diet, which can be stressful for the baby and their digestion.

Worms can be consumed by baby birds as early as five days of age, but at that time, they should be crushed and given through an eyedropper. Although it may seem like a gory process, it’s essential to prevent stress in the birds. When they are about five weeks old, they can begin to eat halved worms, and when they are adults, they will accept whole ones. Article continues below advertisement.


What do you feed a wild baby bird?

For most baby birds a mixture of mynah bird pellets or dry dog food soaked in hot water, with a bit of baby food, turkey, and cooked egg yolk and a bit of water (until it is the consistency of oatmeal) will provide them with adequate nourishment.

How do you take care of an abandoned baby bird?

If you think you’ve found a sick or wounded fledgling or nestling, call a rehabber, state wildlife agency, or veterinarian immediately. If it’s after hours, take the baby to a safe and warm location, Furr says, such as a closed box with air holes and a heating pad beneath it.

What to do if you find a baby bird on the ground?

Baby birds: Nestlings and fledglings These birds are nestlings and aren’t ready to leave the nest yet. If you can locate the nest nearby, the best thing to do is simply place the nestling back in the nest. If you cannot locate the nest, leave the nestling where you found it or move it to a shaded area.

Is it OK to take care of a baby bird?

In most cases, it is best not to interfere. The natural parents do a much better job at raising their young than we could ever do. A featherless baby bird must be fed every 15 to 20 minutes from sunrise to 10 p.m. – a significant time commitment for any foster parent.