When you find a hungry and abandoned baby bird, having the knowledge of how to feed a baby bird with a syringe can come in handy.
For instance, although this task is best left to a vet, it’s not always the case that you have medical professionals near your place. This is why you may want to equip yourself with the knowledge needed to carry out the feeding, especially if you’re a bird lover.
In this article, we will share the how-to information for feeding baby birds by hand. Read on.
Table of Contents
- Steps to Feed a Baby Bird With a Syringe
- Frequently Asked Questions
Steps to Feed a Baby Bird With a Syringe
Hand feeding baby birds syringe method is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get them to eat. Hand feeding can also teach a baby bird to eat on its own.
If you are planning to nurse a baby bird back to health through hand feeding, here is what you’ll need and how to do the feeding properly.
What to prepare:
- Latex gloves
- Nesting box
- Soft towels
- Paper towels
- Feeding syringes (must be sterile)
- Baby bird formula
- Distilled water
- Warm water
- A heat-resistant bottle or jar
- Sterile gauze
Step 1. Make the nesting box comfy.
Fill the box with soft towels and top it off with paper towels before placing the baby bird inside.
Next, fill a bottle with warm water and place it close to the baby bird. This should keep the baby warm before feeding.
Step 2. Prepare the syringe and formula.
Purchase a 12cc to 35cc syringe and baby bird formula from a vet clinic. Mix the formula according to instructions on the box using boiled water. Stir thoroughly for the heat to distribute evenly. After the food is done, let it cool, but make sure the food temperature never dips below 102°F.
You should avoid using microwaves, which are prone to creating hot spots in the mixture, which can burn the bird’s crop. If you have no other options, cook the food in 5-second intervals with vigorous stirring in between.
Step 3. Wear gloves and clean the area.
Wash your hands and put on new latex gloves. This will keep the area clean and ensure no germs and bacteria are introduced throughout the feeding.
Step 4. Carefully position the bird for feeding.
Position the bird’s head between your thumb and index finger, tilting it slightly backward. Hold the position firmly but gently to prevent the bird from lunging toward the syringe.
Gently massage its throat and chest to make the bird open its mouth.
Step 5. Feed the baby bird while checking for crop fullness.
Introduce the syringe to the bird’s mouth. Be patient. Wait until it is done swallowing before giving it more formula. Feel its crop in between feedings to check if it is full. For your information, a full crop will bloat visibly. Do not solely rely on whether the bird gape its mouth for feeding, as it’s an unreliable indicator.
In any case, you’d also want to pay close attention to the bird’s mouth. Should you see any food backing up in its mouth, stop feeding immediately. Likewise, if the bird is unresponsive to the food, do not force-feed it.
Step 6. Clean up the baby bird and the area
Once you are sure that the baby bird is full, wipe its beak with sterile gauze dipped in warm water. Clean up everything and sterilize the area before throwing your gloves in the trash.
Take note of how much the baby bird eats and discard any leftovers. Do not feed it scraps, which can be unsanitary and harmful to the bird’s underdeveloped immune system.
Note: Proper disposal of the syringe is crucial since there are cases of syringe bird nest sightings in some areas. Regulation for syringe disposal will vary depending on regions, but viable options include supervised collection sites, household hazardous waste collection sites, mail-back programs, or waste pick-up services.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often/How many times do baby birds eat a day?
The growth stages of baby birds pass by really quickly. It is important to keep up with this by ensuring that the nutritional needs of the young avian are met.
Before you proceed to feed them a large volume of formula at a time, know that a baby bird’s crop can only hold a small amount of food. Its capacity will increase as they grow older, but before then, you’ll need to feed them frequently following a schedule. Letting them eat at night is also beneficial for baby birds without feathers.
Below is a general feeding schedule that can be applied to most baby birds, such as cockatiels, finches, parrots, etc.
|1 to 2 weeks
|Every 2 to 3 hours; for a two-week-old nestling, feeding can end at midnight but should resume at 6 AM.
|2 to 3 weeks
|Every 3 to four hours.
|3 to 4 weeks
|Every 4 hours
|5 to 6 weeks
|Twice a day at 6 AM and 6 PM
|Twice a day. You can slowly stop hand feeding and introduce moist food.
What can baby bird eat/not eat?
A fledgling is fed whatever its parents eat; the only difference is they are partially digested. In the wild, a baby bird is fed insects, worms, fruits, and vegetables.
If you are feeding your newborn pet bird at home or one you found in your yard, you can also give them small amounts of bird seeds and peanuts; just make sure they are grounded up.
For foods that you should not give to baby birds, we have five things:
- Food scraps from your kitchen
How to make baby bird food?
Preparing a hand feed bird formula is easy with this food recipe. First, prepare the following:
- Sealed container
- 1 kilo of chick booster
- ½ kilo cereal with either vegetable, rice, or soya flavoring
- Vitamins and minerals specifically for birds
1. Grind the chick booster into finer particles.
Using the blender, blend the chick booster. Add small amounts at a time and shake the blender consistently for better results.
2. Strain the fine chick booster powder.
Make sure your strainer has a fine mesh to get rid of all the large particles that the blender was not able to grind down.
3. Add the cereal and bird vitamins.
We will now add the rest of the ingredients to the fine powder, starting with the cereal. Mix the two completely before adding the vitamins and minerals. Mix again. Then, store the formula mixture in a secured bottle.
To use the formula, simply mix it with water until it reaches a sponge-like consistency.
How To Feed A Baby Bird Without A Syringe?
- Gently cup the bird’s head for support. Minimize handling the bird as much as possible.
- Get a spoon or eye dropper ready with the food. Baby birds will often open their mouths, making it easy for you to feed them.
- To get a baby bird to open its mouth, tap the beak lightly with the feeding device or gently massage its throat.
- When using a spoon, move it from the left to the right of the bird’s mouth
- Wait until the bird swallows before feeding again.
Can baby birds eat bread?
Never feed a newborn bird with bread. Even a nestling bird shouldn’t be given bread. Why? It’s because a baby bird can choke on it. In addition, they cannot digest bread since their digestive system is not fully developed yet.
Besides, bread has little to no nutritional value. Most breads are also heavily processed and contain preservatives that can harm a bird.
Can you give baby birds water?
If your first instinct when feeding a baby bird is to give them water, stop! Giving water to a youngling can cause asphyxiation and result in pneumonia. This is because they still lack the body structure and skills to help them consume water.
But don’t worry about baby birds getting dehydrated. They are getting enough hydration from the food their parents provide them.
How to not overfeed a baby bird?
The rule of thumb is to syringe feed a bird 10% of its body weight. However, it can vary depending on the species and length of feeding. Refer to the feeding schedule table in the previous sections. It will help you ensure you are not giving the baby bird too much food than it can handle.
Another method to check if the chick has had enough is feeling the sagging area in its neck called the crop. Don’t make the baby bird crop too full to avoid overfeeding them.
And that’s how to feed a baby bird with a syringe. The next time you see a wild baby bird that fell out of the nest, you know what to do.
If you know someone looking for information about hand-feeding a baby bird, we have everything here. So, share this article with them. If you have any tips or stories to tell, our comment section is always open!
George and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.