What to Feed Baby Birds? A Detailed Guide

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Whether you’re caring for backyard birds and just born young birds, or you discovered a nest of stray birds whose moms never returned to visit, you’ve certainly worried about whether you should take care of them and how to feed them in the first place. It’s not difficult to care for young birds that are defenseless and without their moms. There are, however, certain things you should and shouldn’t do if you want to do it correctly. Among such is being aware of what to feed young birds.

In addition to not being fussy eaters, baby birds are clearly seeking attention based on the noises they make. Making sure their stomachs are filled and they aren’t hungry is one of the things you can do, however, if their mother leaves them unattended for an extended period of time.

The birds will be grateful, and if you give them the correct food, you can make sure they’re receiving the nutrition they need to stand on their own and ultimately begin learning to fly.

If the birds are in your backyard, you may want to think about putting their nest someplace they won’t fall and won’t be vulnerable to creatures like foxes, cats, or other bigger birds who have more predatory tendencies.

Whatever species and breed of bird they are, if you don’t know what to feed baby birds, keep reading this article to find out what to feed them to make sure they grow healthily and become self-sufficient individuals who can take care of themselves.

Should you feed these baby birds?

Let’s be clear about one thing. Not every bird will need feeding in order to live. Mother birds search nonstop for a sufficient food supply for their fledglings when they have just hatched, which may sometimes take too long. You probably won’t need to feed them in that situation, when the mother is being hunted and the young have already been given the food they require.

How much food various young birds observed in the wild require depends on a number of factors. For several reasons, their dietary requirements vary from those of domestic flock birds like chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, and others you may have in your yard.

The nutritional requirements of wild birds are higher, and they have evolved genetically to consume unprocessed food from the outdoors. Their mothers will naturally give them with this food. You may also need to know the precise age of these young birds and the kind of bird they belong to.

Understanding these factors will enable you to assess their nutritional requirements and decide whether or not you should give them food in the first place. However, it could be quite challenging to determine these two elements unless you already have some understanding of avians and their requirements in the environment.

With the advancement of technology, it might now be simpler to recognize the birds. For instance, you may quickly identify birds you encounter in the outdoors by using the extensive databases found on websites like eBird and Merlin Birds. The fact that these applications work on both iOS and Android smartphones is the finest part.

With the help of the AI for Birds app, you will also be able to identify birds from photographs thanks to the rapid advancement of AI.

Now, in order to comprehend the nutritional requirements of young birds in general, you must realize that they will feed for 12 to 14 hours every day, which implies that in order for them to develop healthily, they must consume a lot of insects and other kinds of protein.

Generally speaking, it is not advisable for humans to impede wild young birds’ ability to feed, and it is only encouraged that a certified bird rehabilitator provide the required assistance to baby birds who have lost their moms. It is thus recommended to look for a bird for assistance if you believe that you are unable to assist these birds.

Furthermore, just because the mother bird isn’t in the nest with her young doesn’t mean she isn’t keeping an eye on them from a distance. She could be sitting on any nearby limb, keeping an eye out for any dangers, even if you are unable to see her.

If you approach a bird nest too closely, it’s likely that the mother may see you as a danger and may attack you. Therefore, if you observe a bird flailing its wings or making a menacing sound, remain away and let her tend to her young.

You are welcome to assist by leaving the food on the ground, and she will give it to her children if she thinks it is safe for them to eat.

However, the first thing you should do is phone an animal rescue organization or a certified rehabilitator to see if they can assist if the mother bird hasn’t returned for a while—more than a day—and you observe that the young birds are becoming weaker in their nest.

Giving them the details they require, such as the species and age, if you know it will enable them to determine if the birds can be saved or whether you will be the one to assist them. To ensure that you can provide the kids with the care they need, be sure to take note of and follow all of the recommendations made by the rehabilitator.

The Most Popular Foods for Young Birds to Eat

So, an expert, certified bird rehabilitator and animal rescue organization recommended that you feed and tend to abandoned young birds? If you grew up watching a lot of cartoons or animal documentaries, you may have observed that young birds are often seen feeding their offspring insects and worms.

But in the natural world, things work a little differently, and there are guidelines to follow when providing worms to young birds. We go into greater depth below.

Read on to find out what’s best to feed young birds and provide them with the necessities to help them develop into robust, healthy adults.

Dog Food That’s Moist

Some of the items you feed your pet dog—or any other pet, really—you may also feed to your freshly acquired young bird pets. But that’s wet dog chow, not just any old food for them.

When young birds are only a few days old, they may acquire their moisture from various foods, depending on their age. They get water from other supplements and food since their tummies are not evolved enough to consume pure water. One such food is moist dog food.

Because of their tiny beaks and necks, they should only be given little amounts of food rather than complete foods, as they may choke. The wet meal includes dietary fibers that will aid in the development of the birds’ digestive tracts and is more than 65% water.

Uncooked liver

As the article previously said, it’s also critical to provide birds an adequate amount of protein. As the other birds mature, the adult birds may transmit little quantities of protein among themselves via insects and other crawling things.

Raw liver is one of the greatest foods to give newborn birds to get protein. Make sure the pieces are thin enough to fit through the baby’s throat by slicing them into thin slices or strips. The liver is rich of nutrients and minerals, so the young birds will love it if it’s 100% raw, no matter what animal it comes from.

Editor’s note: Remember that seasonings and spices are off limits to birds. Thus, make sure the liver is unseasoned if you intended to cook it for yourself and wanted to save some for the birds.

Kidneys

Birds may consume kidneys in a manner similar to how they can consume raw liver to become larger and stronger as a result of protein distribution. Having said that, it is perfectly OK to feed the young birds liver and kidneys if you are raising farm animals as internal pets. As with the liver, make sure the kidneys are well-seasoned and sliced into small enough pieces for young birds to consume without any issues.

Solution Nectar

Because birds are not mammals, their moms are unable and unwilling to give them milk. Furthermore, milk’s nutritional value is unsuitable for birds, particularly young ones, and is harmful for them. On the other hand, birds like drinking nectar solutions, which are often found in flowers and trees.

In light of this, creating a nectar solution and adding water to it may aid in hydrating young birds and providing them with the nutrients they need to develop healthily.

Almonds

Because they are a great source of nutrients and essential electrolytes, peanuts are very popular with baby birds and birds in general. They also assist teach birds how to consume tougher food. Make sure to slice it into small enough pieces so that they may consume it without risking their health. Additionally, take careful not to use salted or even seasoned peanuts since these spices may be detrimental to bird development.

Editor’s note: Refrain from feeding peanuts to the baby birds you are caring for if they are younger than two or three days. After a few weeks or so of growth, it is okay to introduce peanuts to their diet. They are permitted to ingest peanut granules as well.

Cat Food

If you have a cat, you may feed your young birds cat kibble food, just as wet dog food is okay for them to consume. But there are a few things you need to exercise caution with. If the cat kibble isn’t thoroughly soaked in water to make it simpler to consume and digest, baby birds won’t digest it effectively.

Although it’s not a typical diet for young birds, you may give it to slightly older birds if you see that the food is spongy and has soaked into the water to make it simpler to eat.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Though it may sound a little irrational and immoral, it is really very acceptable and even natural to imagine birds eating eggs. Several birds, notably flock birds, will actually consume their own eggs to combat other inadequacies like calcium shortage.

In light of this, feeding hard-boiled eggs to your newborn birds is completely safe. You may also soak them in a little water to make them a little softer, which will make them more palatable for the fledgling birds. To make them simpler to stomach, you may also chop them into smaller pieces.

Living Worms

Whether or whether young worms should consume adult worms is a topic of debate among specialists. On the other hand, worms are readily consumed by young birds in the wild. This is because the mother bird eats the worm first, uses her beak to smash it, and then feeds it to her young.

In light of this, you may buy live worms from any pet supply shop and pulverize them so the young birds can eat them. In fact, after they reach the age of five days, it is advised that they consume this kind of nutrients. Just be sure to break them up into tiny enough pieces so they can eat them.

Caterpillar

Caterpillars are another intriguing meal that young birds consume. Every day, birds may consume up to 1,000 caterpillars. These are really nourishing foods that are essential to their development. Naturally, it could be difficult or even disgusting to locate a caterpillar in the wild; so, if you don’t want to search the natural world for insects to feed your recently discovered young bird pets, you might choose to buy store-bought worms.

In the unlikely event that you locate a reliable supply of caterpillars for young birds, be careful to smash them and give them to the birds in that state.

Editor’s notes: In addition, if you decide to feed juvenile birds caterpillars and worms, be careful to do it using an eyedropper.

Sunflower Seeds

small tummies, narrow throats, and small beaks prevent fledgling birds from consuming many kinds of seeds, while adult birds will devour whatever seeds they lay eyes on. The ideal kind to start with, however, if you believe they’re ready to eat seeds, are sunflower heart seeds.

They have an abundance of vitamins, dietary fiber, minerals, and other elements that allow them to develop healthily. To facilitate swallowing, it is advisable to further chop the seeds if your birds are still a few days old.

Foods Baby Birds Should Not Eat

Baby birds should consume a wide variety of different foods, but only once they are little older. This cuisine consists of various canine goodies, such as dog biscuits, fruits, vegetables, and berries, among other things. However, there are several items that young birds should not consume:

Milk and Water
Complete birdseed
Whole invertebrates, such as worms
Leftover kitchen leftovers
Bread Crumbs and Bread
Food for pets (up till they become older)
Popcorn corn

Editor’s note: Restrictions on some of these items will undoubtedly alter as birds mature and become more self-sufficient and able to consume bigger meals. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep an eye on the growing process and only introduce these meals gradually. Remember that you should never give birds milk. This study claims that birds cannot digest lactose, despite the fact that it is not poisonous to them.

Advice on Feeding Young Birds

Anyone who took on the duty of providing young birds with allowed nutrition must find this new position as bird parents thrilling and fulfilling. But remember that a little assistance is always welcome. Here are some pointers for giving young birds the proper care and nourishment.

Start with meals that have a spongy, watery texture and absorb water. These foods are simpler to consume.
Give up feeding the birds that particular meal if you see that their reactions to it are inferior; it’s possible that they don’t enjoy it.
Food should not be heated or cooled; birds like it at room temperature. Serving them heated meals might cause internal organ harm.
When feeding the birds, try not to handle them too firmly to prevent injuries.
When it’s feasible, feed the birds using the eyedropper.
To make the meal simpler for them to consume, cut it into little pieces.

Sources:

  1. eBird
  2. Merlin Birds
  3. AI for Birds
  4. yellow birds with black wings
  5. lactose
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