What Do Baby Birds Eat? Feeding Tips & Dietary Needs

Spring is a busy time of year for wild birds with vigorous breeding, nest building and baby-rearing. Once baby birds emerge from their shells, they are completely dependent on their parents for everything. Because they are so vulnerable, baby birds have no choice but to depend on their parents for food. Newly hatched baby birds cannot break down food which means their parents have to partially digest the food to make it safe for their young to eat.

In the wild, baby birds eat the same foods their parents eat, such as insects, seeds, and worms. When a mother bird hunts for food to feed her young, she will pick up insects, worms, or seeds and eat them. After returning to the nest, the bird will regurgitate what it has just eaten to soften the item before giving it to the baby.


What Feeds Baby Wild Birds

bird's nest_Gerhard G._Pixabay

If you find a baby bird in the wild that appears to be abandoned and in need of care, you may be wondering what you should do. If possible, immediately contact a bird rescue organization near you to find out what they recommend. If this is not possible, you must do whatever you can to save the little bird.

Drift birds that cannot fly will not last long on the ground because they are easy targets for predators. If a predator such as a cat, fox, or eagle does not catch the bird, it will most likely die of dehydration or starvation. That’s why time is working against you when you find a baby bird left alone.

It is possible that you can save your young bird by feeding it soft, chewy food that has been soaked in water but not too wet. But the first thing you have to do is lift the little bird off the ground. Carefully lift the bird and place it in a box lined with tissue, paper towels, or other soft material. If you can, take the bird to a quiet, safe location where you can feed it.

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You can try feeding baby birds high protein things like:

  • Earthworms or nightcrawlers

  • wax worm

  • caterpillar eating

  • Canned or wet cat or dog food

  • Commercial finch food

When you have groceries, they should be ground up and slightly moistened to make it easier for birds to eat, swallow and digest.

Keep in mind that professional bird rehabber tubes feed baby birds. If you have a food dropper, great! If not, you can cut a small corner from the pouch and place the soft food in the bag and slowly squeeze it slightly into the baby bird’s mouth. Don’t force food on your baby and be patient. With any luck, the baby bird will accept the food you offer, increasing its chances of survival.

  • Related Read: What Do Quail Eat In The Wild And As Pets?

Baby Birds Have Strict Dietary Needs

baby birds eat_Piqsels

Baby birds are often fed by their parents. On average, they eat every 10 to 20 minutes for about 12-14 hours each day, depending on the species. Most of their diet consists of protein which is mainly supplied by insects for healthy growth.

While it’s okay to try and save baby birds by feeding them themselves, only a professional avian rehab specialist has the right food, equipment, supplements, and knowledge to maintain strict feeding rules. This means it would be best if the little bird was taken to a bird rescue organization as soon as possible. A baby bird cannot live longer than 24 hours without proper nutrition and care.

How to Tell if a Baby Bird is Orphaned

baby-bird_Vinson Tan_Pixabay

When you see a young bird on the ground, your first response may be to pick up the bird to help it. But before you take any action and intervention, you have to make sure that the little bird really needs your help.

Baby birds can be chicks or chicks, depending on their age. Most of the baby birds found on the ground are chicks. These birds have just left the nest, they are not yet able to fly, and they are under the care of their parents, and do not need your help.

How to identify beginners

baby bird_Vinson Tan_Pixabay

A chick is feathered and capable of jumping and hovering, and can tightly grip your finger or twig. A young bird is an affordable, feathered-looking young bird with a short tail. There’s no reason to intervene when you find a chick on the ground, unless you want to keep the bird out of harm’s way.

It’s okay to place seedlings on nearby branches to keep them away from pets like dogs or cats. But there is no point in returning the newborn to its nest because it will jump out again.

It is possible that this little mother bird is busy taking care of her other chicks scattered elsewhere. Before you know it, those parents will appear to care for the child you find.

How is Nestling ID

nest_Franck Barske_Pixabay

If the baby bird has very few feathers and can’t jump, hover, or grip your fingers tightly, it’s a nest that somehow got out of the nest. If you can find a nest near you, re-enter the nest as soon as possible. Don’t believe the old wives’ tales that say parents of birds will abandon their babies if touched by humans, because that’s not true.

If you can’t find the nest, find both parents dead, or are absolutely certain that the baby bird is an orphan, then you should step in and help. As mentioned earlier, the best person to take care of the nest you find is a professional bird rehab expert.



If you’ve ever wondered what baby birds eat, now you know—plus lots of interesting information about our feathered friends in the wild.

Read Related: How to Take Care of a Lost Baby Bird (Care Sheet & Guide 2021)

Featured Image Credit: sonywiz, Pixabay