What do baby birds eat? What to feed them and what to Avoid

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What do baby birds eat

A wild baby bird’s natural diet includes insects, worms, and small vertebrates such as mice, lizards, or amphibians provided by their parents in the nest. If you come across a baby bird in the wild, you may ask yourself, what do baby birds eat when considering whether to help and feed them.

Before you do, it’s best to proceed with caution. Not all baby birds have been abandoned, so check your surroundings and try to use your best judgment when coming across a baby bird.

Feeding wild baby birds can be a great way to help them survive as they grow and develop. The problem is, not all feedings are created equal! Some types of food you might think would be good for the bird might make it sick or kill it.

This blog post will discuss what to feed wild baby birds and what not to feed wild baby birds. We’ll also talk about some dangers and ways of providing them.

What do Baby birds eat?

A baby bird eats Insects, Worms, and Seeds as part of its natural diet. Baby birds can eat different things depending on their age and species, but for the most part will eat the same food as their parents.

What do baby birds eat and drink in the Wild?

Baby birds eat and drink a lot. What they eat depends on how old they are.

For example, if it is a newly hatched bird, the parents will feed them regurgitated food that they have partially digested.

This process helps to protect the baby from harmful bacteria and viruses by passing through their digestive tract. It allows for easier digestion of any nutrients in the food before being passed on to the baby bird.

Baby birds are also given other things to help them grow. Depending on the species, they may have various bugs, or worms swallowed whole by the baby birds, which allows for their development of specific organs before birth.

If you have to feed a wild baby bird, It’s important not to feed a baby bird anything high in salt since this can dehydrate them.

Foods like bread, crackers, and chips are the worst for this reason. Breads and crackers are high in salt, while chips can get stuck in their throat or cause choking.

Feeding baby birds the wrong things can be dangerous for them, but there’s even more, to worry about than that! Even if you feed a bird something good for it, too much of it might also do damage because of how quickly they eat.

As mentioned before, baby birds eat a lot of food and drink a lot of water. Another problem that can come up is when they get too much water.

While some people think it’s good to give them things like fruit juice, which has lots of nutrients, this could be harmful since liquids don’t have the same properties as solid foods.

What to feed a baby bird?

While wild baby birds are often left alone, there have been many cases where people think that something has happened to the parents and try to intervene by feeding them.

This is a great idea in some circumstances, but not always! Many times, these animals will leave their young on purpose to go find food or avoid being eaten by a predator.

Before feeding a baby bird, it’s best to try to determine the age. If the baby bird has most of its feathers, can fly a little bit, and hops around, it has likely already fledged.

A fledgling, at this stage in their development, should be out of the nest. They will be jumping around, trying to hide in small trees. They should be able to fly in a few days. It’s best to leave them alone.

Some types of food you might think would be good for the bird might make it sick or kill it. Below are some ideas on what to feed a baby bird to mimic their natural diet and what not to feed a hungry baby bird.

  • Fruit – The best fruits for feeding baby birds have high water content, such as apples, pears, peaches, and berries (especially blueberries). These can be provided whole or in small pieces (Preferably). It is essential not to give them too much fruit as this can cause diarrhea. 
  • Vegetables – The best vegetables for feeding baby birds include carrots, potatoes, and greens such as kale or spinach (in moderation). These should be fed in pieces instead of a whole to avoid a choking hazard. It is important not to provide them with too many veggies because they have a lot of the same sugar that fruits do.
  • Seeds – When birds are young, they need protein to develop strong bones and muscles. They can have things like sunflower seeds or other bird seed mix products but be mindful of the size to prevent choking.
  • Insects – It is essential to give baby birds insects that are safe for them to eat. A good rule of thumb is that if it looks like food for a bird, then you can feed it to your little feathered friend! This includes things like mealworms or crickets (in moderation). Do not use earthworms as they may contain parasites!
  • Water – It is essential to give baby birds clean water. Clean water means not using tap water or filtered water that has gone through a system with chemicals in it (including boiled, non-chlorinated, or distilled). Use either spring or bottled natural water for the baby bird’s drinking needs.

What not to feed wild baby birds?

  • Bread and other bread products like biscuits, crackers, and chips can quickly end up causing diarrhea if they have too much. It is important to note that this applies to bread made with whole grains, not just the regular white sliced variety.
  • Human baby food – This should go without saying, but it is important enough to say anyway. It might be easy (and cheap) for you to feed a baby bird these products instead of getting natural foods. Still, it contains sugar and other ingredients that will be harmful to the bird. 
  • Meat products – Birds, mostly eat fruit, vegetables, seeds, insects, and bugs which makes their systems able to digest these foods better than meat products.
  • Milk – This is important for baby birds, but not in the way you may think! Baby birds’ digestive systems cannot process cow’s milk or any other mammal’s milk aside from their own. This type of milk is called Crop Milk, found primarily on Pigeons and Doves. 

DIY baby bird food

Before you start feeding a baby bird, you need to know what type of bird it is. Not all birds eat the same things; some eat only seeds, some eat insects and worms, and some eat meat.

If you feed a worm to a bird that only eats seeds, it will likely die. Below are some ideas for DIY baby bird food:

  • For insect eaters: Chopped Mealworms and insects like flies, grasshoppers, crickets, and moths. You can find chopped mealworms at most pet stores.
  • Seed eaters: Blend wheat germ or oatmeal until it has turned to powder in the blender. Mix with water.
  • Meat Eaters – Meat eaters are the least likely bird that you will come across. They are bigger and tend to be more aggressive. You can feed them high-protein kitten or dog food that has been soaked in water.

What are the dangers of feeding wild baby birds?

Diseases

Unfortunately, baby birds can carry diseases. The most common is salmonella. Humans can catch salmonella by touching the droppings of an infected bird.

Parasites

Birds can carry fleas, mites, and lice that are very dangerous to humans if not appropriately treated. These parasites can also transfer to other pets that are in contact with the bird.

Nutrition

Birds need a lot of nutrients and vitamins to grow strong, healthy bodies. Too much sugar or not enough protein will cause long-term problems like a weakened immune system and a lifetime of obesity. It is essential to ensure your bird gets enough exercise and the proper balance of these nutrients to grow strong!

Allergies

These reactions can range from minor rashes and itchy skin to wheezing and trouble breathing.

How do you feed wild baby birds?

  • Make sure you have the proper equipment before feeding wild baby birds. You will need a high-quality bird feeder as well as a cuttlebone for calcium and vitamin D to help them grow strong bones and healthy bodies!
  • Be sure to keep your bird feeders clean. 
  • When feeding wild baby birds, be sure to remove any uneaten food or seeds after a few hours. Removing uneaten food will not only keep your little one from eating spoiled food, but it will also prevent the spread of parasites and diseases.
  • You can feed wild baby birds by hand or through a bird feeder. Just be sure to watch the bird closely for signs of distress, aggression, and trouble breathing, as this may indicate that they have an allergic reaction!

How do you know when a bird has eaten enough?

You can tell if a bird has had enough to eat by checking their crop after feeding them. The crop is the part of the bird’s stomach that fills up with food and then empties when birds are full, so you will know when it’s time to stop.

If there is still seed in the crop or on the ground around it, they still have more to eat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to tell the age of a wild baby bird?

When trying to figure out how old a wild baby bird is, you should check the color of its beak. They are very young, if it’s light brown, while adults have black or dark gray bills. If you see any red, pink, or orange spots on the bill, then this means that your little friend has serious health issues and needs help from a professional as soon as possible.

You can tell the age of wild baby birds by checking out their feet. If they are still pink, then this means that you have found an infant, while if they are covered in downy feathers or after molting, it is likely to be one year old or older.

Am I allowed to feed wild baby birds?

You are allowed to feed baby birds in the wild as long as you follow the necessary guidelines and safety precautions. Make sure that it’s ok with your local authorities before beginning this process.

You should never feed baby birds directly if you are not a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, as this can be dangerous. If there is an injured bird in your yard, it’s best to call animal control or a rehab center for help.

So, What Do Baby Birds Eat?

It’s tempting to swoop in and rescue what looks to be like an abandoned baby bird, but it’s best to proceed with caution. There are many things to keep in mind before taking on the responsibility to feed a baby bird. 

Always try to determine the age of the baby bird before you feed it or try to rescue it. It is also important to wait to see if the parents come around to feed the baby before stepping in. When in doubt, give your local wildlife rehabilitation center a call. 

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Author
I am an avid birdwatcher with a passion for learning all I can about these fantastic creatures. I love finding new species of birds in my backyard, neighborhood, or when I travel. I enjoy sharing everything I learn about how these creatures live their lives; feedback and experience is much appreciated!

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