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Understanding the Diet of Baby Birds

baby birds

Curious about what fuels the early days of a baby bird’s life? You’re in the right place to discover how these tiny creatures fuel their growth and development.

What Baby Birds Eat

Baby birds generally consume the same foods as their parents, which usually includes a diet rich in insects, seeds, and earthworms. When it’s feeding time, parent birds will eat the necessary food, then regurgitate it to soften the food for their young, making it easier for the chicks to digest.

Duration of Feeding

The duration for which birds feed their young varies significantly across species. On average, most birds tend to nurture their chicks for about 2.5 to 4 weeks. However, some species like swifts may continue to provide care for up to eight weeks or more.

Best Food for Young Birds

The high-energy needs of growing baby birds mean that their diet predominantly consists of protein-rich insects. While some fruits and vegetables can be included, it’s essential that insects make up the bulk of their intake. Small quantities of birdseed and finely chopped, unsalted peanuts can also be offered, ensuring they are of a size that won’t pose a choking hazard.

Feeding Tips

If you encounter a baby bird that seems injured or orphaned, it’s critical to contact a wildlife rehabilitation expert before you attempt to feed it. Here are a few guidelines for safely feeding baby birds:

  • Ensure any insects given are small enough to be swallowed without difficulty.
  • Avoid dairy products like cow’s milk, as they can disrupt a baby bird’s digestive system.
  • Always wash your hands before and after handling baby birds or their food to prevent disease transmission.

What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird

Finding a fully feathered young bird alone during spring or summer is common; these are fledglings learning to be independent. Even if parents aren’t visible, they are usually not far away, often hidden as they seek food or keep watch. Avoid interfering with fledglings unless they appear injured or abandoned.

For very young nestlings, specifically those that are bald or have only fluffy down—it’s a different story. If a nestling is out of its nest, it might need help. If you can safely return it to its nest, do so; otherwise, a wildlife rehabilitation centre is your best option for ensuring the bird receives the appropriate care and nutrition.

When to Seek Help for a Baby Bird

If you discover a baby bird that is bald, unable to fly, or shows signs of distress, such as wet or matted feathers, it likely needs professional assistance. When in doubt, contacting a wildlife rehabilitation centre is a wise choice to ensure the bird receives the necessary care.

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