how to get baby bird to open mouth

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.

When do I start hand-feeding a baby bird?

Before weaning, a chick can be taken from its parents at any point, but many advise keeping the babies with the parents for up to three weeks. Older babies may have more difficulty accepting hand-feeding.

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 do I feed my baby bird?

All food must be prepared fresh for every feeding. Food retained from one feeding to another is an ideal medium for the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast. Any food prepared or heated in a microwave oven must be mixed thoroughly to ensure that the food’s temperature is uniform and that there are no hot or cold spots. Food temperature should be at 102°F-106°F (39°C-41°C) throughout the mixture and should be measured with a thermometer.

Food that is overheated could burn the crop severely. Baby birds may reject food that is too cold and their digestion may be slowed down. Hand-feeding formulas come with packaging that provides precise mixing instructions.

Generally speaking, the mixture should be thinner the younger the bird At one day old, the chick needs a more diluted mixture (90 percent water), as it is still using the yolk sac as a source of nutrition. When a chicken is older than one or two days, it should be fed food that is roughly 75% liquid and 25% meat.

The best feeding instrument is a syringe, but some bird owners use a spoon with inwardly bent sides. Accurate feeding volumes are better recorded with the syringe. Charting daily feedings is important. A baby bird’s instinctive feeding response is to quickly bob its head up and down. Applying light pressure with your fingers to the corners of your mouth can trigger this action. The trachea closes during this head bobbing, allowing for the relatively rapid administration of large amounts of food. It is not advised to use feeding tubes because they could harm the crop or come loose from the syringe and need to be surgically removed.

Feeding should not be attempted if the bird is not showing a strong feeding response because there is a higher risk of food aspirating into the lungs and trachea, which can be fatal. When the crop is empty is the ideal time to feed. The sac that dangles over the chest at the base of the neck is called the crop. When full, the crop will be visibly distended.


How do you get a baby bird to open its mouth to feed it?

Begin feeding young birds with an eyedropper. Fill the dropper so there are no air bubbles. If the bird won’t open its mouth when food is presented, gently open the beak by slipping a fingernail between the upper and lower jaws and prying them apart.

How do you make a baby bird gape?

The baby bird may gape (open its beak) on his own once he is feeling warm. If not, he may need some encouragement from you. Softly whistling or gently nudging on his chest are good ways to stimulate him to gape. You may need to gently pry the baby bird’s beak open with your thumb.

How long can a baby bird go without eating?

Nestlings can live 24 hours without food. See more on widows/widowers and what to do if one or both parents are gone. If the bird is clearly orphaned, and does need to be rescued bring it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Some rehabbers are very busy (many mouths to feed, other jobs, etc.)