What Do Baby Doves Eat? (Food List & Feeding Guide)

Baby doves are not capable of eating all the foods which adult doves can easily eat. So, it is important to know the eating behavior and what do baby doves eat?

The popular food is crop milk for baby doves and is usually fed by parent’s dove birds. Also, the grains of solid food are sometimes mixed with crop milk to feed baby doves served by their parent birds. Let us dive into this topic deeply.

What Do Doves Feed Their Babies?

Baby doves are the cutest fluff balls of nature. These little birds are as sensitive as cute they are! Baby doves cannot open their full mouth for eating, and they can only eat through their beaks.

what do baby doves eat- feeding

That’s why mother doves only feed them crop milk. What is crop milk? It is the first feed that all birds give their babies. Crop milk is produced in the digestive system of the parent bird a few days before hatching.

This food is semi-solid and contains Fat, Protein, Minerals, Antioxidants, Antibodies, and Bacteria.

This food is continued until the baby is ready to digest a solid meal. Baby doves eat by lapping up crop milk from their parent dove beak. Usually, they stick their beaks inside their parents to gradually intake crop milk.

Adding crop milk to the diet of baby birds develops immunity and growth factors in baby birds. Consider an essential part of the overall health development of baby doves.

What Do Newborn Baby Doves Eat?

As mentioned earlier, newborn baby doves can’t eat solid food. Parents dove only feed them crop milk when necessary, and parent doves mix some grains of solid food with the crop milk.

So, the baby dove can gradually start to digest the normal solid food. Crop milk is full of nutrients and essential elements. But these little doves grow very fast hence their parent doves increase the semi-solid meal with time.

If you are taking care of a baby dove at your place, you can feed them the crop milk formula cereal. Make sure you use a very small feeding tube to replicate parent doves.

One more important thing here is that the feeding tube must be warm enough because baby doves cannot feed on cold feeding tubes.

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

Baby doves often fall out of their nest while they are completing their nesting stage. Predators or falling nests might attack some other reasons that may cause a baby dove to fall out of the nest.

When you find a baby dove that has fallen out of the nest, firstly check the bird whether he has completed the nesting stage or not. There are several ways to detect that. Let’s discuss that later on.

After determining the growth stage of the baby dove, you select what to feed a baby dove that fell out of a nest. Most commonly, you can find parent birds feed mix or crushed oat mix suitable for feeding baby doves.

If they are still in the nesting stage (where they mostly feed only crop milk), try to feed them a food mix in semi-liquid consistency.

To replicate semi-solid crop milk consistency, you can use egg yolk. Mix seeds or bird feed with it and feed the baby dove by stimulating the parent dove sucking method through tiny droppers or straws.

If you don’t get a bird food mix as soon as possible, then you may go with parrot seeds, finely crushed oats as they can eat them easily. Both of these foods have ample nutrition for your little friend.

To add diversity and more healthy nutrition, you can always add crushed fruits to your baby dove’s diet. Another crop milk substitute is baby soy milk and baby food or bird food. You can also use honey alongside mentioned substitutes of crop milk.

Never feed your pet baby dove normal cow or buffalo milk as these have a high concentration of calcium, which is not suitable for the metabolism of baby doves.

How To Feed Baby Doves?

Feeding the baby doves in a proper way is very crucial. You have to replicate the parents’ dove feeding methods where baby doves can suck their food easily. For this purpose, you can use dedicated tools now available in the market.

But it is not that common to get hands-on bird feeding tools. Usually, you have to shop for them online. So what if you don’t get your bird feeding tools? Then how to feed baby doves?

Don’t worry! You can use some stuff at home to feed your little fluffy buddy. The most common practice is hand feeding or syringe feeding.

Check out Hand feeding baby bird syringe on Amazon

You have to fill in the syringe (obviously without a needle) and keep pushing the food to the opening of the syringe. Remember that baby doves cannot open their mouths for feeding. They suck the meal like a straw.

So, hold the food very close to the baby dove’s beak and let the baby dove suck it. Make sure to wipe the baby dove’s face gently after every feeding.

In another way, you can feed them using your hands, put the food in a plastic bag and cut open the end, and then push open the beak enough so the baby dove can suck the food through it.

Never push the food directly in the mouth and let the baby dove suck it through. Always be nice and slow while feeding baby doves.

Do not forget which tool you are using to feed the baby dove. It should be warm, around 105.0 Fahrenheit, and it replicates the parent’s beak stimulus. If it’s cold or too hot, the baby dove will not eat the food, or you may cause harm to the dove.

How Often Does A Baby Dove Need To Be Fed?

Believe us or not, these little doves are very enthusiastic eaters. They love to be fed with several time limits. You can determine the amount of feed per day according to the age of the baby’s dove.

Given feeding patterns are a general estimate. It can vary from bird to bird. Just remember to feed them a little after every 2 to 3 hours. Because if their crop is empty, they need to be fed and feel full for proper growth.

  •  0-5 days old: 5 feedings per day
  •  5-10 days old: 4 feedings per day
  • 8-17 days old: 3 feedings per day
  • Fledgling: seeds

The best way to determine how often a baby dove needs to be fed is to let them create their eating patterns.

While feeding, start noticing how many teaspoons they are taking per feed, and you can tell how much food is required for the next feeding session.

Just don’t push the food in their mouths. Let them suck it on their own as they are supposed to do with their parent’s dove. 

How Much Baby Doves Need To Be Fed?

The ideal way to feed baby doves is to feed them a good large portion in the morning and keep checking in between until all the food is consumed. The average amount of meal per day is 2 tablespoons.

Yes, this is an adequate amount of food eaten by a healthy baby dove. But you are not supposed to finish these 2 tablespoons in 2 or sessions.

Feed them a good amount of fresh food in the morning, and ideally, a healthy baby dove should finish his food till sunset. And then you will be feeding them the next morning again with fresh food.

Two tablespoons are just an average quantity. You can always lower the amount if the food from the morning is not finished until sunset.

Because this means you are overfeeding the baby dove. In a few cases, some healthy baby doves eat all the good two-tablespoons.

As said earlier, the quantity of food varies from bird to bird. Just make sure you aren’t overfeeding them. Feed them ample meals to stay full and healthy. If the baby dove is eating less for a few days, that’s okay.

But it doesn’t mean you should continue feeding them less. With time, their feeding capacity increases as their crop start to mature. Just keep checking in now and then to maintain the perfect amount of food.

What To Avoid Feeding Baby Doves?

There are some things to avoid while feeding baby doves. As we have discussed earlier, please don’t push the food inside their beak. They aren’t mature enough to eat in that way.

Baby doves can intake food only by sucking from their parent’s beak or any stimulating way used. If the baby dove is too young, try to hold him softly so the bird can easily suck the food.

Don’t feed the bird too much solid food. Keep the food semi-solid during the early age (nesting age). The meal should be at room temperature with a similar consistency to crop milk.

Milk: You should never feed the baby dove cow or goat milk. This is one of the major mistakes done by anyone who doesn’t know that much about bird feeding.

You must be thinking, why can’t I feed milk at home to the baby dove? The cow or goat milk is in rich lactose sugar, and the dove’s digestive system cannot process the lactose.

This results in diarrhea, bloating, and respiratory distress. So, stay away from goat or cow milk.

Uncooked rice: Uncooked rice is generally safe for doves, and they love eating them. But at a very young age, uncooked rice can cause some digestive issues.

So, it’s better to avoid uncooked rice until the baby dove is mature enough to pass the nesting stage.

Here are some other common mistaken foods for baby doves, such as worms, kitchen scraps, whole birdseed, and water. Why is water on the list? Because at this young age, the feed similar to crop milk is enough to fulfill their hydration requirements.

Always use Vet. recommended bird food mix and keep reading ours to the point bird feeding guide.

What Do You Feed A Fully Feathered Baby Dove?

When baby doves are in fledging phase, they are fully feathered and healthy. Now they are mature enough to start eating solid foods. Now your baby dove is started to grow up and will soon be ready to fly.

At this age, doves can eat a hard-boiled egg, scrambled eggs, bird seeds, uncooked rice, pet bird seed food, and small chunks of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Check the price of Bird seeds for younger birds on Amazon

You can also feed your fully feathered bird some moist dog food when out of bird pet food. Just follow the feeding guide mentioned above to avoid any digestive problems.

You can now easily feed them by placing the food in any bowl or on your hand. They can now eat the food on their own.

With age, there will be a definite change in feeding patterns. Always remember to learn the ways and let the dove eat adequate food.

What Do Baby Doves Drink?

Baby doves cannot drink the water because feeding them water can cause many problems. At a young age, baby doves don’t need any extra water source.

Crop milk is enough for baby doves (if they are in the nest). If you own a baby dove, a crop milk substitute will do the job.

Although, mature doves can only drink fresh and saline water. And that too in very minimum quantity.

Can Baby Doves Eat Rice?

Yes, baby doves can eat rice. Baby doves have a rapid growth rate. After a few days of feeding on crop milk, they start to starve for more solid food. And do you know? Doves love to eat rice.

Parent doves start to mix rice with their crop milk to feed their babies. Many people have spread the myth that doves cannot eat rice.

There is nothing like that doves can eat both cooked and uncooked rice. But at an early age, cooked rice is the preferred option for baby doves.

If you are feeding rice to your pet baby dove, always provide them cooked brown rice because white rice may disturb their tiny stomach as those are full of proteins. Their stomach might not be ready to digest them at this age. Can birds eat rice?

Can Baby Doves Eat Seeds?

Yes, a baby dove can eat a seed, but not a whole seed. Baby doves can eat seeds that their parents dove already digests.

Feeding seed to a pet baby dove is possible by mixing crushed seed in crop milk substitute. The most common seeds fed to baby doves are parrot seeds, full of healthy and essential nutrients.

Can Baby Doves Eat Oatmeal?

Yes, baby doves can eat oatmeal. Just mix the oatmeal with soy milk and make a semi-liquid consistency, and you are ready to go with the food. Oatmeal is enriched in vitamin D3, and soy milk also provides great nutrients to baby doves.

Summary

The food list for baby doves can not be considered the same as the adult doves. It is important to know what are suitable and healthy foods for them and what baby doves eat, including their ability to consume them.

A comprehensive feeding guide for baby doves is given, including their stage of growing up. The various types of foods can be given to them and will be healthier for them.

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