how much to feed a fledgling bird

Hand-feeding baby birds is a substitute for parents raising birds, but it does have certain advantages. Hand-raised baby birds usually make better pets, as they have been completely socialized with humans. Hand-raised babies grow up with less fear of humans or other potential dangers such as cats, dogs, and young children.

Hand-feeding is a huge responsibility and requires time, patience, and commitment. Hand-fed baby birds are entirely reliant on you for everything. Hand-feeding is a job best left for the experienced bird breeder or aviculturist. If you are considering hand-feeding a baby bird, you should contact your local bird breeder or avian veterinarian for help. This handout is designed to provide some basic guidelines on how to hand-feed.

Where do I keep a baby bird?

For newly hatched birds to grow and be healthy, the enclosure’s precise temperature and humidity levels are essential. Initially, relative humidity greater than 50% is required. Hatchlings (without feathers) should be maintained at 95°F-97°F (35°C-36°C). The chick grows older and more tolerant of temperature changes as it grows feathers. Young birds can be housed in glass aquariums, plexiglass enclosures, brooders, incubators, and storage containers. If there isn’t an enclosure, one should be installed with thermometers and humidity gauges.

As feathering develops, the temperature can typically be dropped by one degree every two to three days. Depending on how the feathers develop, chicks with pinfeathers should be okay at 75°F–85°F (24°C–30°C). Chicks that have been weaned and fully feathered can be kept at room temperature. Always keep an eye out for symptoms of overheating or chilling in your bird if you are raising a chick. Panting, and wings extended or drooping indicate overheating. The chicks may be cold if they shiver and curl up together.

Inadequate growth or delayed crop emptying due to poor digestion could be a sign of poor health (including the existence of gastrointestinal tract infections), incorrect hand feeding formula consistency or mixing, incorrect formula temperature, or incorrect environmental humidity and temperature. There are high-quality brooders out there that meticulously control humidity, temperature, and air circulation.

To give birds safe, hygienic, and dry feet, the bottom of the brooder can be lined with paper towels, diapers, hand towels, or other soft, disposable items. To keep birds clean, the bottom liner needs to be replaced on a regular basis. Chicks’ legs may spread out sideways if the bottom texture is excessively smooth, resulting in long-term leg abnormalities. It is important to thoroughly inspect the brooder to make sure that nothing could injure or deform the birds or cause their wings or legs to become stuck.

How often and how much do I feed?

The amount and frequency of feeding depends on the age of the bird and the formula. The frequency of feeding for young birds is greater than that of older birds. The following are general guidelines.

For the first 12 to 24 hours after hatching, the yolk sac provides the chicks with nourishment. Less than a week old chicks should be fed six to ten times a day, or every two to three hours.

Some birds benefit from feeding at night during their first week of life. If they haven’t opened their eyes yet, chicks may need five to six feedings a day, or every three to four hours. Birds can eat three to five times a day (one every five hours) once their eyes open. They might require feedings only twice or three times a day (every six to twelve hours) once their feathers begin to grow in. Their crops should appear full when they are done.

Feeding between 10:00 p. m. and 6:00 a. m. is not required because the baby bird should be sleeping at this time. A robust and healthy feeding response at each feeding, along with regular droppings (feces) production and crop emptying in between feedings, are the best indicators of a healthy and growing chick.

Using a scale that weighs in grams at 1-gram increments, track and record weight gain at the same time every day to identify minor increases or decreases in weight. The weights of birds may vary daily, but they should generally trend upward over a few days to a few weeks. An avian veterinarian should examine birds that are not gaining weight as soon as possible.

When should birds be weaned off hand-feeding formula?

It can be tough for both the bird owner and the bird to decide when to wean the bird off of the hand-feeding formula. A bird should be encouraged to wean off formula and start eating more on its own as it grows older and has full plumage. Some babies start weaning themselves by refusing certain feedings.

To promote exploration and experimentation, provide a range of foods for birds, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and prepared, pelleted diets. When the baby bird starts eating pellets or fresh veggies on its own, hand-feeding can be stopped for a while, usually beginning with midday feedings. Over time, skipping the morning meal and finally the evening meal is a possibility. Some birds learn to feed themselves more quickly by observing other birds or older babies eating.


How often should you feed a fledgling?

Chicks that have not yet opened their eyes may take 5–6 feedings per day (every 3-4 hours). Once birds’ eyes open, they can have 3–5 feedings (one every 5 hours). As their feathers start to grow in, they may only need to be fed 2–3 times per day (every 6–12 hours). Their crops should appear full when they are done.

How do you know when a fledgling is full?

Careful observation and experience are necessary in order to determine when the crop is adequately filled. Frequently, the bird will stop gaping when the crop is filled; however, some birds, will continue to gape even when filled. Watch closely when filling for any evidence of food material backing up into the mouth.

How much does a baby bird eat per feeding?

A baby bird should be eating 10 percent of its body weight per feeding. (A 500-gram bird would need 50 milliliters of formula per feeding). A baby this age should be fed approximately three times per day.

How do you feed abandoned fledglings?

There is a lot of information on the internet as well but one can start with using canned dog food, hard boiled eggs or moistened dry pet food carefully delivered to the baby birds. Consistency of the gruel is important so make sure the food is room temperature, mushy and soft, but not too wet.