What Do Baby Birds Eat? (Answered!)

The early months of a bird’s life are critical and they need to eat well.

Mother birds will often scour the land to find high-quality food for their babies. This includes taking the time to feed them multiple times during the day.

Most birds will need to eat every 20 minutes or so for at least 12 hours each day. This demonstrates the importance of feeding a baby bird the right foods when it is time to focus on their dietary intake.

The first question you will have is – what do baby birds eat?

Baby birds can eat foods such as mealworms, earthworms, waxworms. Their diet usually consists of protein-dense foods designed to keep them healthy as they grow. It’s not recommended to feed a baby bird water, milk, or kitchen leftovers.

If you have found a baby bird in a deserted nest, it’s essential to bring it in. This will allow you to provide for it and make sure the baby bird is eating well.

While it is recommended for a professional to take care of the baby bird, you can do so to with the right feeding plan.

Here is a look at what a baby bird can and cannot eat during the day.

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Top Foods a Baby Bird Can Eat

1. Earthworms

Earthworms are nutrient-dense and packed with protein.

This makes them an ideal food for baby birds of all ages. The earthworm is excellent because it’s not only packed with nutrients but also remains easy to digest for a small bird. The food is not going to get lodged in the bird’s throat.

This is essential simply due to how fragile a baby bird can be during the first few months of its life.

When feeding earthworms to a bird make sure it is fed in smaller pieces. This will make it easier for the baby bird to eat the earthworm safely.

2. Commercial Finch Food

To the surprise of many people, you can give baby birds commercial-grade finch food.

This food is easy for the baby bird to digest and is going to come ready to go. This is ideal for those who want a straightforward dietary addition for their baby bird.

Commercial finch food has all of the key nutrients the baby bird needs. This type of food will often have a mix of ingredients including seeds that are good for younger birds.

3. Waxworms

When feeding waxworms to a baby bird, you will want to make sure they are authentic and easy for the bird to digest.

Waxworms are good for baby birds because they are high in key nutrients, easy to digest, and will not be difficult to source when it is time to give your baby bird the best possible food.

These are the caterpillar larvae of moths and are an appreciated insect for baby bird food. It is ideal because the baby bird will love it and it will fill them up too.

4. Mealworms

Mealworms are larvae of the mealworm beetle.

These are measured at 2.5 centimeters and will often offer substantial value as bird food. When these mealworms are prepared for birds, it’s common for a specialized hormone used to keep the larvae from turning into full-fledged beetles.

This ensures the larvae being given to a baby bird will be healthy and easy to eat.

Top Foods A Baby Bird Can’t Eat

1. Water

A lot of bird owners don’t realize but too much water is not good for baby birds.

This is not an age where they are going to need water in the traditional sense. The only water or hydration they are going to get will come from the food sources being given to them. If necessary, you can take a small syringe and give the baby bird water separately.

It should not be mixed with the food.

It is for this reason that you don’t want to dip the food in water to make it moist. This is a common strategy that is used by parents for human babies but that doesn’t apply to birds. The moist food is bad for baby birds because it will get lodged in their delicate throats.

This is why it’s better to make sure the food is kept at room temperature and is not wet at any stage of the feeding process.

What do baby birds eat

2. Kitchen Leftovers

You might assume giving kitchen leftovers to a baby bird is ideal.

This is not good for the baby bird because kitchen leftovers can include anything. This is dangerous because certain foods are not going to be easy to digest causing the baby bird to fall sick.

Whenever you feed a baby bird, it should be done with a purpose. This means understanding what you are giving to the baby bird to eat at each stage. This can be something as simple as seeds or mealworms.

3. Milk

Milk is not good for baby birds.

They will not be able to digest it and this is not something they would receive access to in the wild.

Most baby birds have a troubling time with something as simple as water. This is why going a step further and feeding milk to a baby bird is a bad idea.

The results are not going to be good and the baby bird may be going to end up ill. This can include nausea, vomiting, and/or pain that could have been avoided.

What do baby birds eat

4. Bread

It is common for humans to want to give “filling” foods such as bread to birds.

Giving bread to a baby bird is unsafe and will become dangerous due to how it is digested. The bread is going to balloon inside the baby bird’s throat and digestive system. When this happens, it becomes a matter of luck as to whether or not the baby bird will be able to digest the bread.

This is not a risk you want to take when feeding a baby bird at home.

Your goal should be to only give foods that are easy for the baby bird to eat including earthworms or mealworms.

Tips For Feeding A Baby Bird Safely

1. Use Smaller Portions

The portions are going to matter.

The best strategy for feeding a baby bird is to look at its size and go from there. If the baby bird was just born and is a week old then you should be crushing/cutting the bird food into tiny pieces. It should almost be a paste.

If the baby bird is a little older, you can start to increase the size of the portions while remaining reasonable.

This includes cutting a mealworm into three pieces.

The idea is to make sure the food doesn’t get trapped in the baby bird’s throat. This can be dangerous and lead to the baby bird passing away.

2. Food Must Be At Room Temperature

When giving food to a baby bird, you will want to check the temperature of the food.

This includes assessing whether or not it will be easy for the baby bird to eat. Most baby birds are not going to want to eat cold or hot foods.

It will not digest easily and the food might also cause them pain.

The goal should be to test the baby bird food and make sure it is kept at room temperature. There is no need to warm the food in a microwave or have it sitting in the freezer before being given to a baby bird.

What do baby birds eat

3. Don’t Force Food Into Bird’s Mouth

This is a common mistake people make when wanting a baby bird to eat well.

You will assume they need a certain number of calories and that can lead to force-feeding the baby bird. By doing this, you are going to make the baby bird anxious as it is not normal to do this.

You should never force-feed a baby bird during this process.

The goal should be to place the baby bird food in front of the bird to see how it reacts. Most will naturally want to get closer to the food and take a bite.

Final Thoughts

What do baby birds eat?

Baby birds like eating foods that are high in protein including mealworms, earthworms, waxworms, commercial finch food, and many other insects. They should not be given foods such as kitchen leftovers, milk, or bread.

If you follow this rule of thumb, the baby bird is going to be well-fed and happy. This should be the aim when preparing a diet plan for a baby bird at home.

Don’t assume it will be easy as there is going to be a learning curve during the process. This is to be expected but it will be well worth the effort.

Read more on birds:

  1. Reasons A Lot of Birds Chirp
  2. Giving Tissue Papers To A Bird
  3. Feeding Dog Food To A Bird
  4. Giving Cat Food To A Bird
  5. Giving Rabbit Food To A Bird