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How to Feed a Baby Bird

Learn how to feed a baby bird in this Howcast video featuring veterinarian Laurie Hess.


Doctor Hess: So people come in and ask us about feeding baby birds quite often, and there are sort of two circumstances where we talk about feeding baby birds. One is feeding a baby bird you found outside in the wild, and our answer there is very direct, I think, don't. Don't feed a baby bird in the wild. If you find a baby bird outside on the ground, and you can find a nest, put it back in the nest, there may be other babies there, and you may be upsetting the parents. If you can't find a nest, and the baby bird is just out there, if it's not fully feathered and it doesn't look like it's going to be safe, you need to get it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, and there specific rehabilitators that actually deal with different species of birds. But if you can't find a licensed rehabilitator, you can go to a veterinarian and they can direct you to one, so that's one circumstance. What's the other one, Sarah?

Sarah: People will oftentimes go to a pet store looking to buy a baby bird that's young enough to still be actually hand fed. And while it seems to be a great opportunity to bond with a very young bird, and it seems like a great experience, it's unfortunately also very dangerous. It's very easy when feeding a baby bird to have them aspirate or breathe in the food and develop a very serious pneumonia, or even die immediately. So really, unless you're very experienced with feeding baby birds, we don't actually recommend it.

Doctor Hess: Yeah, weaning a baby bird is really an art form. You have to know how much weight they can safely lose, how much to feed them at a time, how to cut back, how to get them transitioned on to solid feeding of their own, these are all things we can advise people about, but really, ideally you can get a baby bird, a young bird, who is already fully weaned, and not go through that whole process and worry about having them develop illness or aspiration, pneumonia, or any of those things. So really, it's best not to feed baby birds in our opinion, and get one that's already weaned.

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