There may come a time in your life where you come across a baby animal on the ground that is seemingly abandoned. While this happens with squirrels and other mammals, the most common animal to find in this predicament is a baby bird.
If you find a baby bird without its mother anywhere in sight, the first thing you should do is wait and see if the mother comes back for the baby. If it seems as if the baby has been abandoned, you may be inclined to take it in as your own. In order to do this, you are going to need a firm knowledge of how to care for baby birds, including knowing what do baby birds eat.
What Should You Do If You Find a Baby Bird?
If you come across a baby bird on the ground, it would make sense that you aren’t sure what to do. You should always make sure that the bird you find is truly orphaned before taking it in, because if you take in a bird who has a mother, you are preventing it from growing up naturally. There are a few ways that you can tell if the baby bird you found is truly orphaned or not.
Whether or not a bird is orphaned depends on its age. There are two common ages of lonely baby birds that are found, those being fledglings and nestlings. Fledglings do not need assistance from people, even if they appear to be alone and on the ground, as they are being watched by the mother bird far away.
Fledgling birds are capable of hopping around on their own, can grip your finger, and are relatively fluffy.
On the other hand, there are nestlings. Nestlings have very few feathers, if any at all, and they are incapable of hopping, flitting their wings, or gripping so much as a twig. If you find a nestling, you should try to return it to its mother’s nest as soon as possible. If you cannot find the nest or if you have found the parent birds dead, it may mean that it is up to you to take the baby under your wing.
What Do Baby Birds in the Wild Usually Eat?
The first thing that you should do is think about what baby birds tend to eat in the wild. You may not be able to fully replicate a bird’s natural diet, but by knowing where to start you can get much closer than you otherwise would. An important thing to note is that birds will have different diets depending on the species. The answer to what do baby robins eat is going to be vastly different than what do baby owls or raptors eat.
All birds, regardless of their primary diet, eat foods that are high in protein. These foods would be eaten first by the mother bird, digested, and then regurgitated for the babies to eat more easily. Some sources of protein for wild birds include worms of all types, seeds and nuts, and similar natural foods that are packed with nutrition.
Keep in mind that these are all foods that birds would naturally eat and that their mother birds would feed them. This should give you an idea of the nutritional content of baby bird food. You should not feed baby birds worms or whole birdseed without modifications made to it to more closely resemble the regurgitated food that the mother bird would feed their young.
How Do You Care for a Baby Bird?
Baby birds are incredibly demanding, and most people cannot keep up with their needs. Because of this, it is highly recommended that you bring the baby bird to a wildlife rehabilitation center near you, but if you need to wait a few days before you can bring the bird in, you should have a good sense of how you should be caring for the bird.
In terms of their feeding schedule, people often find this the most difficult part of caring for a baby bird. The exact numbers are highly dependent on species, but most bird babies need to be fed every 15 minutes for up to 14 hours each day. You also need special supplies to help the babies eat the food and stay warm.
If you find that the baby bird needs to be fed, you will need to feed it slightly different foods than its parents would find in the wild. The foods you will be using are going to offer the same nutritional values as the other foods, but will be a better consistency for the baby bird to eat when it doesn’t have a mother to regurgitate the food for it.
What Do Baby Birds Eat?
When feeding a baby bird, you may not be able to find species-specific information on the types of food it should be eating that you can provide for it. As such, the following foods tend to work well as emergency rations for supplying nutritional needs and keeping the baby alive until you can get it to a rehabilitation center.
These foods include moistened dog foods, hard-boiled eggs, moistened dog biscuits, moistened kibble for cats or dogs, and raw liver with no seasoning. All of these foods have an extremely high protein content to help the baby bird grow. When the food is moistened, it should be spongy to the touch but not dripping wet, as this can cause the baby to choke or drown.
The food should be at approximately room temperature when given to the bird. You should never heat up the food when you are serving it to the baby bird, nor should you chill or freeze it. The food should also be cut up into very small pieces that are proportional to the baby’s size.
How Can You Tell What a Bird Should Be Fed?
If you have never handled a baby bird before, you may not know the signs that the bird is hungry or how you should handle the bird when it is feeding time. If you are outside, you will want to keep an eye on the area to see if the parent birds come back every couple of hours to feed it. Parents can feed their baby birds in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye out.
Birds that are not being fed by their parents, whether it’s due to abandonment or because of orphanage, will quickly begin to grow weak. The bird will stop making noise and become lethargic. At this point, you should begin contacting a licensed bird or wildlife rehabilitation center, at least for advice on what to feed the bird and how to feed it until they are able to bring the bird in.
Ultimately, there are going to be times when you come across a baby bird that seemingly has fallen from the nest. With patient observance, you will be able to tell if the baby bird is simply learning how to live on its own, or if it has been truly abandoned or orphaned.
Taking on the task of feeding a baby bird is arduous and should only be done as an emergency measure until you are able to bring the bird to a licensed rehabilitation center. However, for those emergency measures, moistened dog or cat food and hard-boiled eggs that have been mashed to be appropriate for the size of the baby bird can suffice as emergency rations.