Do Baby Birds Drink Water? How to Take Care of Baby Birds?


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

do baby birds drink water

Nutrition is important for baby birds and this includes adequate food and water. Hatchlings and those in the nest are still physically immature so if you are wondering about this question: Do baby birds drink water?

The answer is no, they do not drink on their own at the early stage of their life. To learn how they get hydrated to survive then read this article about how baby birds get water with the help of their caregivers.

How Much Water Do Baby Birds Drink?


The water requirement of baby birds would depend on their age and weight. So, what do baby birds drink? Adults give a baby bird water from the food that they deliver straight into their mouths. The chicks that are a few days old cannot drink directly from a water source since this function is still undeveloped in hatchlings and nestlings.

As a general rule, young birds need to eat around 10% of their body weight at every feeding and around 30% of their body weight per day to subsist. Chicks less than one week old usually need to be fed every 3-4hours.

They should get at least 50-80mL of water per day to survive. Chicks need more water than adults. They will become weak and die if these young birds live without water.

How to Get Baby Birds to Drink Water?

Chicks need water but they cannot drink on their own yet since they cannot look for water themselves because they cannot fly yet. These are all hard for them to do as babies because their eyes are still closed in the first week of life.

The parents of the chick can feed a baby bird water through the predigested food that it puts into the baby bird’s mouth. This is the usual way that nestlings get hydrated with the exception of pigeons, doves, flamingoes and emperor penguins who are fed a special milk by their mothers called crop milk.

If you find yourself caring for a baby bird and it needs water for hydration you can use a formula or make a mixture of baby bird food yourself.

You can feed it to the bird via a syringe or a small spoon. It is recommended that newborn birds eat food that contains 70-75% liquid.

Young birds are supposed to drink water independently when they are able to fly. By then they can find water and drink without any adults to help them.

How Should You Take Care of an Abandoned Baby Bird?

Hand-raising and hand-feeding go together when taking care of abandoned birds. It’s easier to hand raise a young bird compared to older ones. Here are some tips to remember when caring for a wild baby bird:

1. Keep them warm.

Newly hatched birds need sunlight and they tend to sleep a lot but the temperature should be well-regulated in the brooder or wherever you keep them since baby birds are unable to regulate their own temperature.

To maintain optimum temperature you need a heat lamp for the young birds to properly grow and survive.

2. Use a commercial formula for feeding.


There are a lot of available hand-feeding formulas in the market. If you don’t have access to formula you can give the nestlings sugar water.

  • How to make sugar water:

Mix 1 teaspoon of sugar with ¼ cup of clean water. Use a dropper to feed this to the baby bird, put one drop at a time and feed them every hour only when they are awake.

3. Always feed them fresh food if you intend to make baby bird food.

Do not feed the birds with leftovers from a previous meal. Make sure that the food is warm and mixed thoroughly.

Poorly prepared mixtures and cold leftovers can cause indigestion and other bacterial diseases that can make the baby bird sick.

4. Ask for help from the experts.


If you have difficulty feeding the chick or you see signs of distress, call your local veterinarian or an expert bird breeder near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do baby birds start to drink water?

Baby birds start drinking water when given by their parents as soon as they hatch but they cannot drink on their own until they can learn how to fly and look for food and water themselves.

How often do baby birds drink water?

Baby birds can only drink water when they are fed by their adult caregivers. Frequency of feeding would depend on the age of the bird.

Less than one-week old baby birds eat as often as 10 times a day and this is where they also get their water from the food that they eat. Older chicks are fed once every 5-6 hours since fledglings need water but not as much as the newborn birds.

Why do baby birds drink water?

Birds of any age need water to survive. Hydration is important for growing birds for their survival and nutrition.

Most birds do not drink directly from a source of water. They get water from their food. Eagles drink water and seagulls drink water but they do this by consuming food that is rich in water that is how they “drink”.

Is it safe for baby birds to drink tap water?

In general, tap water is safe for birds and they can drink tap water. If you are unsure of the source of the water and its safety, you can use filtered water for your bird.

For baby birds, mixing its food with clean tap water is acceptable. Fresh water may also be used.

Is water bad for baby birds?

No. Water, like in humans, is a basic need for baby birds. Food is the source of water for young ones since they are unable to drink water on their own.

Do baby birds drink milk?

No, they don’t. Baby birds’ digestive systems cannot handle milk. Therefore, they only drink water. That’s why you should never feed them any kind of milk.


It is vital to know when caring for young birds to know what to feed them, how to feed them and what is safe for them. It is okay to ask this commonly asked question: “Do baby birds drink water?” 

By reading the article you already know the answer to this and how you can give them the proper nutrition in case you find yourself hand-rearing a baby bird. When in doubt, always remember to consult your local bird rehabilitation experts.

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