Baby birds or fledglings do look very appealing when they want to be fed. They flutter their wings and cheep piteously at their parents until they are fed and then they start it all again. Like human babies, baby birds are demanding and when you see them calling for food, it can be tempting to step in and help feed them yourself.
So what to feed baby birds is something that preoccupies many bird lovers. But the truth is that in most cases you should not get involved.
The simple rule of thumb is to never feed baby birds. The parent birds understand that their babies need feeding and they also understand that there comes a time when their babies need to become independent and start feeding themselves. They will provide all the care the baby bird needs – the parent birds know what they are doing and they want their babies to live and thrive as much as you do.
Of course, sometimes things go wrong. The parent birds may become injured or killed so in these cases, they will not be back to feed a baby bird. If you see a baby bird in your garden that you fear may have been abandoned, the best thing to do is to watch it very closely for a couple of hours to see if the parents return. Bear in mind that this is not easy because the feeding may only take a couple of seconds so it is easy to miss.
If you are certain that the baby bird has been abandoned and you notice signs of lethargy or weakness developing, you do need to do something. Your best course of action is to call your local wild life centre and see if they can rehabilitate the bird. All birds have different diets and your local rehabbers will know exactly what to feed baby birds of the same species.
If calling in the rehabbers is not an option and you are 100% certain the baby bird has been abandoned, you can step in and feed the bird as a last resort.
What to feed baby birds is not as straightforward as you may imagine. Young birds have very different nutritional needs to adult birds so you need to be careful.
Good food for baby birds includes the following:
- Chopped hard boiled eggs
- Raw liver
- Moist dog food
- Moistened dog or cat biscuits
- Moistened kibble for dogs or cats.
Never feed a baby bird, birdseed or pet bird food. Do not feed a baby bird worms, milk or kitchen scraps such as bread. Don’t give the baby birds water or you could cause them to choke.
If you are going to feed a baby bird, make sure that the food is not too wet or the bird may choke. Also make sure the food is at room temperature and chop it up so that it is the right size proportionally for the bird.
Knowing what to feed baby birds is useful in an emergency. However you should only ever do this if there is no alternative and you know that if you don’t help out, the baby bird will die.