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What Are the Different Types of Baby Bird Food?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Different species of bird have different nutritional needs when they are first hatched, so many different types of baby bird food, each aimed at specific types of bird, are available. Most birds are omnivorous or carnivorous and require high-protein diets in order to thrive, especially when they are young. Bird seed or fresh fruit, which may be suitable for some species of adult birds, is not often adequate for baby birds because it does not have enough protein in it.

One of the most common types of baby bird food is used to feed chicks, ducklings, goslings, and other farm birds. Many people who raise these birds raise them by hand rather than allowing their mothers to care for them. This increases the likelihood that all of the birds will survive to adulthood to produce eggs or meat or to take care of pests or weeds on a farm. There are a few types of baby farm bird feed and most are made from a combination of grains, including wheat, corn, millet, and oats. These grains are supplemented with vitamins and minerals and enriched with other nutrients then formed into small pellets that young birds are able to swallow easily.

Other common types of baby bird food are used to raise baby pet birds by hand. Parrots, parakeets, finches, and canaries can all be raised by hand so that they will be tamer easier to bond with as they mature. The main ingredients in these types of feeds are also grains, fortified with vitamins and minerals. In most cases, these types of baby bird food are ground into a powder that can be mixed with water and then fed to a baby bird through a syringe. When fed to baby birds as a liquid mush, this type of food mimics the food that a parent bird would regurgitate for one of its hatchlings.

People who are caring for wild baby birds must give these birds other types of baby bird food as well. Birds of prey must be fed ground meat, and baby song birds will require a mixture of grains and protein, similar to what is given to baby pet birds. There are a few brands of pre-mixed baby bird food available, but for wild birds many veterinarians and zoos will mix their own foods. Many of these include pureed meats, like turkey or chicken which is found in human baby food, because of its high protein content. Ground insects and invertebrates may also be fed to baby wild birds because many species of adult birds will feed their young regurgitated worms, beetles,flies, and other bugs.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On Apr 12, 2014

@clintflint - Another important point is that a surprisingly large number of birds are protected species. Even if you're trying to save a life you might be doing something illegal. So you're better off calling a vet or a wildlife sanctuary if you find an injured or young wild bird.

If you absolutely must raise baby birds, it can be fun and rewarding to breed parakeets or some domesticated species like that.

By clintflint — On Apr 12, 2014

@Fa5t3r - I know people want to be compassionate about saving animals, but the best advice if you find a baby bird on the ground is to leave it alone, or put it back in the nest. You might even make a temporary nest from an ice cream container nailed into a tree where you found it. The parents will almost certainly come back for it and, contrary to popular belief, they won't know that you've touched it, or care if they do.

Baby birds are extremely fragile and difficult to raise and each species comes with a different set of problems. Very few people in the modern world are going to have the time and knowledge to raise a bird and in most cases they don't need to. Babies often fall out of the nest and the parents don't abandon it unless it is dead.

The only exception is if you find a baby bird in your cat's mouth and don't know where it came from. But in that case the baby will almost certainly die anyway, because they will usually get an infection from the cat, if they don't pass away from shock.

By Fa5t3r — On Apr 12, 2014

My mother found a baby bird recently and I was feeding it worms and bugs I dug from the garden as well as some grains. I would kill the worms in boiling water so they died quickly and then cut them up and give them to the baby. Apparently this might have also sterilized them, which is something people don't realize they should do for little birds.

Unfortunately, I had to go back to school and my mother wasn't able to keep feeding it the bugs, which she thinks is why it ended up dying after I left. So if you find a baby bird, maybe feed it any bugs you are willing to find.

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