How Do Mother Birds Feed Their Babies? (Video Included)


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

how do mother birds feed their babies

How do mother birds feed their babies? They feed their chicks with the food they have partially digested, a process called regurgitating.

Regurgitation is an effective method to provide baby birds with the nutrients they need until they can forage for food by themselves. By sharing their meals this way, mother birds can bond with their little ones.

Are you hearing about mother birds feeding baby birds through this process for the first time and want to hear more? We have facts and interesting information to share with you in this article. Keep on reading!

How Do Mother Birds Feed Their Babies


How do birds feed their young? First, the mother bird eats and swallows the food. They let it stay in the crop or the esophagus enlargement, where it is softened.

During feeding time, the muscles in the esophagus will contract and send the food to the adult bird’s mouth. Then, mother birds will give this food straight to their babies’ mouths.

Regurgitation is the best way to ensure that young ones can safely get nutrition from the food they eat.

The feeding method might be different for each bird species. What’s customary is that baby birds completely rely on their parents for a few weeks after being born. This is because, at this stage, hatchlings cannot digest food yet, which means the parents had to do it for them.

How Do Mama Birds Ensure All of Their Young Get Enough Food?

Mother bird feeding their chicks know how to make sure they feed their babies well. It is tricky but good thing mama birds have an excellent memory and remember which of their children they feed last and which turn it is next.

Moreover, chicks are fed small amounts at a time. These are separated as equally as possible by the mother and distributed to everyone in the nest. They also give the food starting from the biggest hatchlings.

When a hatchling is hungry, it will open its mouth and let out a piercing scream. Those who had their mouth wider and screamed louder tended to eat more. It’s because they can swallow their food easier and the mother notices them more.

Types Of Baby Bird Foods


What do mama birds feed their babies? Whatever mother bird eats, they feed to their hatchlings. What’s in the adult birds’ diet is partially digested and given to their young. The difference will depend on the avian species like how finches and sparrows will eat nuts and seeds.

Generally, even birds with fruits as their main diet will feed on protein-rich foods such as worms and insects and regurgitate them to their hatchlings. Baby birds require protein-laden and several food varieties to develop strong feathers and muscles for healthy overall growth.

Whatever the situation might be, whether you found an abandoned baby bird or if your pet recently hatched some eggs, here is a list of suitable foods for them:

  • Wet cat food
  • Soaked dog food
  • Raw liver
  • Boiled eggs
  • Mealworms
  • Caterpillar
  • Nectar solution
  • Fruits
  • Sunflower hearts
  • Vegetables
  • Peanut granules

Before feeding these, make sure they are grounded up, and slightly moistened. This will make it easier for baby birds to swallow and digest.

When feeding, patience is a virtue. Use a food dropper of a baggie with a corner cut. Feed them slowly and never force the food.

Avoid feeding them the following at all costs:

  • Food waste
  • Water
  • Milk
  • Bread

It is a common myth that baby birds should be fed bread and milk. Their digestive system is not fully developed yet, so they cannot tolerate this food. Adult birds, on the other hand, can comfortably nibble and consume these.

Frequently Asked Questions


How long does a mother bird feed her babies?

Mother birds take care of their babies by feeding them for around 2 to 4 weeks. This can vary depending on the bird species, but this is the general time frame. Some younglings will start exploring outside their nests and nibble on solid food at 6 weeks. But there is still a chance they’ll still ask for food their mother had partly digested.

How often do mother birds feed their babies?

They feed their younglings on and off every 10 to 20 minutes for 12 to 14 hours. This is the usual frequency and time frame for most avians, but it can vary depending on the bird species.

The older the hatchlings get, the less frequently they are fed by their parents. Fledglings that open their eyes are given food 3 to 5 times per day, while those with sprouting feathers can make do with 2 to 3 times feeding each day.

When do they feed their babies?

At night, birds are mostly asleep. This means mother birds and their hatchlings are resting and feeding is temporarily on hold. Baby birds don’t usually ask for food during the night around 10 PM to 6 AM.

However, nocturnal birds are an exception, since they are inactive in daylight. They forage and hunt for food at night and feed their young ones with it.

Do father birds feed their babies?

Yes. There are males of some bird species such as cardinals, sparrows, orioles, and downy woodpeckers that feed their young. Male robins share feeding duties with female robins and also provide substance for them.

But male hummingbirds do not take part in feeding their younglings. Nor do they help in nest-building or incubation of the eggs.

Can you feed baby birds?

If you found an abandoned or starving baby bird in your backyard, you can opt to feed them if you are yet to find the nearest wildlife center in your area. Make sure you understand the unique nutritional needs of the bird by knowing their diet and how often to feed them.


After getting the answer to the question “How do mother birds feed their babies?” and learning more about this topic, what do you think? Did you find some useful information to help avians in your area or your pet bird?

We hope this article gave you some interesting insights about the mother birds’ feeding method, what baby birds can eat, and when. Did we miss anything? Do you have some knowledge you want to impart to us that is related to this matter? You are always welcome to share them with us in the comment section!

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