What Do Baby Birds Eat? (Foods & Feeding Tips)

Feeding baby birds is a crucial thing. Baby birds are not capable of eating all the foods which adult birds can easily eat.

So, it is important to know their eating behavior. Also, many people have asked questions on online platforms about what do baby birds eat.

Baby birds can eat various types of foods, including seeds, insects, mealworms, and grains. But those baby birds who are not having feathers have different kinds of foods, including crop milk substitutes, moistened dog foods, etc.

Table of Contents:

Can You Feed A Baby Bird?

Yes, you can feed baby birds. If you find a baby bird fallen out of the nest or just hit by a predator, it’s a good idea to rescue them. But, there are many countries where having a wild bird is considered illegal.

what do baby birds eat-Feed baby birds

If you live in one of those countries, the best idea would be to call your local wildlife rehabilitation center. Until then, make sure you feed the baby bird appropriately. If the bird is injured, give them basic first aid and keep them in a warm place.

Feeding baby birds is not everyone’s piece of cake, and you might end up harming the little bird. That’s why if you aren’t familiar with birds and how to feed them, don’t try to do it.

This can cause more harm than good. Wild rehabilitation centers have trained experts and modern facilities. This ensures your little friend is in a safe place because baby birds aren’t yet ready to face the world all alone by themselves.

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What To Feed A Wild Baby Bird?

Wild baby birds who have fallen out of the nest or were pushed by predators and weather conditions need demanding feed to survive. So, it would be best if you will feed wild baby birds a proper protein and nutrient-rich diet for their healthy growth.

Majorly, the type of food is based on the age and species of the baby bird. Following are some common options to feed wild baby birds.

These foods are 100% safe for all baby birds, whether they are nestling (without feathers) or fledging (with feathers).

Dog Food

Dog food is one of the most easily available food options for baby birds. It is formulated with all essential nutrients for healthy pets. Dog food can also be an excellent source of food for baby birds.

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It has protein, fiber, and the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals. Always try to serve moist dog food or biscuits to baby birds, as dry dog food can cause choking.

Also, the baby birds are used to eating the food through crop milk, a semi-solid food given by parent birds. So, the moistened dog food will also replicate their nest food, making it easier to feed them.

Cat Food & Kibbles

If you don’t have dog food available, you can also use cat food or cat kibbles to prepare the baby birds’ food. Like, dog food and cat food is also good and quick food option for baby birds.

As mentioned above, serve moistened cat food to baby birds. But remember that food is only moistened. It should not be water dripping. That can also cause choking in baby birds.

Boiled Eggs

Apart from multi-nutritional feed options like cat and dog food, you have to feed an ample amount of protein to the baby birds.

Because protein is a very important part of healthy baby bird food. Birds won’t grow properly unless they have a significant portion of protein in their diet.

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As we all know, eggs are a great source of protein. So, you can boil an egg and crush them into tiny pieces. And the protein-rich food is ready for baby birds.

Raw Liver

Raw liver is another amazing source of protein and fat for developing the growth of baby birds. You can include the raw liver in baby birds’ diet now and then.

Raw liver should be unseasoned and cut into tiny sliced pieces. The raw liver will help them to intake a large amount of protein and develop their digestive system. This will result in fast and healthy growth.

What To Feed Baby Birds That Fell Out Of A Nest?

Baby birds falling out of the nest is most difficult to take care of if you aren’t professional. Generally, major causes of a baby bird falling out of the nest are being pushed by weather, an attack from a predator, or being in a fledging phase where they learn to fly.

So, if you found a fledgling bird, first of all, look if there are any injuries. Because in case of predator attack, the baby bird may have got injured, and to survive they need immediate care and proper feed.

Once you figure out the growth phase of a baby bird, do you know how to feed them? Here are some options to feed the baby birds that fell out of the nest.

Crop Milk Substitute

The majority of birds feed crop milk to their young ones. Crop milk is a semi-solid mixture of essential nutrients and antibodies. The crop milk is only feeding for nestlings as their stomach is so small for digesting solid feed.

Now, if you find a nestling bird fell out of the nest, make a crop milk substitute by mixing some finely crushed seeds, oatmeal, or dog food with the yolk. This will stimulate baby birds to feed as they are used to being fed crop milk.

Dog & Cat Food

Mixing dog and cat food with a tiny amount of water or egg yolk can be served as food to develop the proper growth of baby birds.

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This is also considered one of the great sources of food for baby birds that fell out of the nest.

Protein Food

Boiled eggs, raw liver, and small mealworms or insects are the perfect food for fledgling birds. As they are in the rapid growth phase, they crave protein. These foods will satisfy their cravings.

What Do Baby Birds Eat From Humans?

As far as it comes to humans, baby birds may not be able to identify that. When you pick up a baby bird and take care of it, they are supposed to think of you as their caretaker. Baby birds can eat crop milk, seeds, insects, and other prepared foods from humans.

With proper guidelines and care, the baby bird soon will suppose your place as their nest, and they will eat anything (appropriate) given by humans.

As we have discussed above, there are a few go-to baby bird food options you can find easily.

Apart from that, different birds eat different things. With time, you can add more options to the baby bird diet, and they will happily eat them.

You need to ensure they are in a safe, warm place with proper attention and care. If you don’t follow the guidelines and if a baby bird feels unsafe, it might refuse to eat anything.

Hence, if you are a bird’s rehabber or just feeding a baby bird in your backyard, make sure you have proper and safe habitat stimulation. So they will feel safe, cozy, and happy. Can baby birds eat grapes?

How To Make Baby Bird Food?

Now, you have a clear idea about baby bird food. But you must know how to make baby bird food properly. Because if you don’t know, you might have problems while feeding a baby bird.

You need to look after several factors while preparing food for baby birds as they are in the developing phase and need almost similar feed, which they are used to getting in their nest.

Steps To Make Baby Bird Food

Here is a general example of how you can make baby bird food with cat food.

  • Fill a bowl of water.
  • Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of cat food.
  • Add the cat food to the bowl filled with water. Push down the cat food, so it is soaked completely.
  • Now close the bowl with its lid and place it in the fridge for a few hours.
  • After a few hours, when you take it out, the cat food will be mushy and soft.
  • Drain the excess water.
  • Now smash the soaked cat food gently.
  • Voila! You have perfect consistency, baby bird food.
  • You can even store this for up to 3 days in the fridge.
  • Consistency should be semi-solid. It shouldn’t be too thick or not too thin.
  • All the excess water should be drained. Because watery feed can cause choke baby birds. And being too thick is also problematic for baby birds.
  • You can use cat food, dog food, and bird food, all in a similar way to prepare a semi-solid feed for the baby bird.

If the consistency is slightly thinner than required, you can mix an egg yolk to balance it. In the case of thick feed, use plain water to achieve the recommended consistency.

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When your baby bird grows to fledge phase, you can feed them crushed bird seeds, mealworms, and insects as they will be able to digest and eat solid feed.

How To Feed Baby Birds?

Now, you have your baby bird food ready, and you must be thinking that’s all I can now feed the baby bird easily. No! It is not that easy or neither too difficult. You need to learn some preventive measures and follow the guidelines mentioned below.

Place the baby bird on a warm platform. Make sure the temperature of the feed is not too hot or too cold. Otherwise, baby birds will refuse to eat it.

Fill the feed in a syringe or a plastic bag and cut open the end. Because baby birds don’t open their mouths to eat feed, they suck the feed as their parents feed them through their mouths.

To replicate that, you need to use some tools as mentioned here. Just push the feed slightly enough that it can easily reach the baby bird’s beak and can be sucked. Never push the feed directly into the baby bird’s beak.

Make sure whatever tool you use must be warmed up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Because this will replicate the temperature of their parent, especially the bird’s beak, and baby birds will eat the feed easily.

If the baby bird is not opening their beaks for sucking or refuses to eat the feed, check the temperature of its environment. You can stimulate the feeding by putting gentle pressure on the beak of the baby bird.

Once you successfully stimulate the baby bird for feeding, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Hand-Feeding Baby Birds

In some cases, baby birds may refuse to eat because they were entirely reliant on their parents’ birds. To stimulate that feeding environment, you can then try out hand feeding the baby birds.

Take a syringe and fill it with the feed (a little bit thin consistency). Place it close to the beak of the baby bird, and gently push the feed. So the baby birds start sucking.

Hand-feeding needs patience. You need to be very gentle with the baby bird. You have to observe when the baby bird needs a break. Hand-feeding baby birds make them reliant on you.

They don’t learn to eat the food as fast as compared to other baby birds. Hand-feed is recommended when the baby bird is not eating the feed and needs the parent’s stimulation.

How Often To Feed Baby Birds?

On average, you must feed baby birds every 2 to 4 hours from sunrise to sunset, which means 5-6 average feeding per day. You can change the feed between the intervals.

For example, you can add protein feed in intervals to ensure the baby bird is getting complete nutrition.

Always prepare fresh food and observe the eating patterns to set the feed gaps. Feeding patterns vary from bird to bird. Baby birds need frequent feed, so their crop is full.

Feeding average and gaps will gradually increase with the age of baby birds. Here is the average number of feedings per day according to the age of the baby bird.

Baby Bird’s AgeFeedings Per Day
One week7 to 9
Two week4 to 6
Fledging baby birds (usually more than 3 weeks)3 to 4

One week = 7 to 9 feedings per day

Two weeks = 4 to 6 feedings per day

Fledging= 3 to 4 feedings followed by a solid diet including crushed bird seeds, mealworms, insects, or finely chopped fruits

How Long Can A Baby Bird Go Without Food?

In different scenarios, if a baby bird has to survive without food, it can go for 24 hours. Yes, in situations like falling out of the nest or getting injured where the baby bird doesn’t get any rescue.

It can survive for a maximum of 24 hours, which is quite a long time for such a little creature. Apart from it, adult birds can easily survive 1 to 3 days without food.

How Much To Feed Baby Birds?

Growing baby birds need a good amount of food every day. But never overfeed them. Only serve them a small portion in single feeding sessions.

To estimate how much to feed baby birds, you can follow the formula. A healthy baby bird eats 10% of its body weight. For example, if the weight of a baby bird is 500g, you need to prepare 50 milliliters of feeding per day.

This average feeding formula could vary from bird to bird. Always observe the baby bird’s crop if it’s full and avoid feeding. Can baby birds eat strawberries?

If you overfeed the baby bird, this will affect the digestive system. As the crop will be stretched and feed will not move down through the digestive tract.

One good idea of estimating how much to feed a baby bird weighs the bird daily on a gram scale. This will help you follow the 10% ratio formula to prepare adequate food per session.

This practice will also let you know about the overall health development of baby birds by monitoring changes in weight gain or loss.

Do Baby Birds Eat At Night?

Young baby birds need to feed every half to two hours. Young nestlings might need to be fed during the night. But this feeding pattern only continues until the baby bird develops into the fledgling phase.

Baby birds do not eat at night if they have eaten enough during the day. At night they prefer to sleep and do not eat anything, but if they have not eaten enough during the day, they might get hungry and eat the food.

To ensure the baby bird doesn’t starve at night, you need to teach him how to eat on its own. You can teach them to suck food from feeding tools or can scatter some feed like wild.

Will A Baby Bird Starve Itself?

Yes, some baby birds starve themselves when you introduce anything new to their feed. Because birds are very conscious of the taste of their food, they don’t eat unfamiliar food.

So, next time you introduce something new to your baby bird, make sure they are eating it. If the baby bird refuses to eat the feed, try mixing the new feed with the regular one. This will help them to develop the taste of their new diet and won’t starve themselves.

Do Baby Birds Drink Water?

Yes, baby birds do drink water occasionally because there is no direct water availability in their nest. Their hydration requirement is mostly fulfilled through their food.

In extremely hot weather, parent birds feed water to their baby birds. So, you can feed a minimal amount of water to your baby bird.

You should not forget that baby bird feed is prepared by soaking in water; this also caters to the hydration requirements of baby birds.

What Do Baby Birds Drink?

Baby birds drink only clean and fresh water. While serving the water, I prefer to serve lukewarm water. Water is very important for growing baby birds.

But it is also necessary to only feed a small amount of water per day. Baby birds can not drink water on their own, and you need to provide them with water carefully through a syringe.

While serving water to a baby bird, don’t push the water altogether; it will only result in choking. So don’t forget to serve water to baby birds safely. What do baby robins eat? And feeding baby robins.

What Not To Feed Baby Birds?

Several foods should avoid from feeding baby birds, following are the foods to avoid.

  • Bread
  • Whole bird seeds
  • Milk
  • Worms
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Pet bird food
  • Salt
  • Fruit and pit seeds
  • Onions and garlic
  • Large chunks of fruits 

These are common items, which can cause harm to baby birds. Some people aren’t aware of it and end up harming their baby birds. All of these items are strictly prohibited for baby birds.

Worms, fruits, and whole bird seeds can only be given to fledging young birds as they develop their digestive system for solid feed.

Can Baby Birds Eat Rice?

Yes, baby birds can eat rice. However, it is not an ideal diet to include in their feed. Because both cooked and uncooked rice doesn’t have a sufficient amount of proteins.

But rice does contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals. So, it can be fed to baby birds with other protein-rich diets to avoid nutrient decencies. When it comes to feeding rice to baby birds, always feed them cooked and moist rice.

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Don’t forget to mix rice feed with protein-rich feed like a boiled egg. Because for baby birds, protein is very crucial for growth and development.

Can Baby Birds Eat Bananas?

A big yes! Bananas are one of the favorite foods of all birds. Baby birds love to eat sweet treats. Mashed bananas have the perfect consistency for baby birds.

Baby birds can eat bananas, and they are a healthy source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Feeding bananas to your baby birds can help to improve their digestive system. Fledgling baby words can easily eat banana chunks.

Can Baby Birds Eat Bread?

If you give bread to baby birds, they will possibly eat it. But should they eat it? The simple answer is no. Bread is not a good diet for baby birds. Check out the brief article, can birds eat bread?

Firstly, the bread has almost zero nutritional value for baby birds. Instead, the bread acts as an empty filler, which means bread will fill up their stomach, providing zero proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

This will cause nutrition deficiency and starvation. So never feed bread or any bread product to baby birds.

Can Baby Birds Eat Seeds?

Baby birds cannot eat whole bird seeds, as those are complete solid feed. Bird seeds are rich in protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Hence these are a good source of nutrition.

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But how will you serve the seeds to baby birds? Simply by crushing them finely and mixing them with their regular feed.

Parent birds also follow the same practice, and they mix tiny particles of these seeds with their crop milk. So yes, they can eat the bird seeds.

Can Baby Birds Drink Milk?

Baby birds can not drink milk that humans drink, and their digestive system is not capable of processing the milk properly. That’s why milk is not safe to feed baby birds.

Conclusion

When you saw a bird fall out of the nest, first figure out its age. If they are without feathers, they are nestling, and you must try to find their nest and place them back in it because nestling baby birds are very sensitive and need crucial care by humans to survive. Also, Feeding baby birds requires a lot of care.

But someone who is not familiar with guidelines and SOPs of birds feeding with proper facilities might end up harming the baby bird.

This can lead to some risks, and if you are in a country where it is illegal to have birds, you may get arrested. But, if you can not find the nest of a baby bird, keep it warm and immediately call the local rehabilitation center.

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What Do Baby Birds Eat? (Feeding Ba...
What Do Baby Birds Eat? (Feeding Baby Birds)

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