How to Feed a Baby Bird

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Identify whether the baby is an altricial or precocial bird.,
Identify whether the baby is a nestling or a fledgling.,
If possible, put the baby bird back in the nest.,
Make a substitute nest, if necessary.,
If you’re sure the baby bird has been abandoned, call a bird rehabilitation center.

The first thing you will need to do is identify whether this is an altricial bird or precocial bird. Altricial birds are those that are born with their eyes closed, without feathers and are completely dependent on their parents for food and heat. Most perching birds and song birds are altricial birds, for example; robins, blue jays and cardinals. Precocial birds are birds that are more developed upon being born, they hatch with their eyes open and have soft, downy feathers. They are capable of walking and immediately start following their mother around, pecking at food as they go. Examples of precocial birds include killdeer, ducks and geese.

Precocial birds are much easier to care for than altricial birds, but they are less likely to require help. Precocial birds usually make their nest at ground level, and so cannot fall out or be thrown from their nests. If you find a lost precocial chicks, make an effort to reunite it with its mother before taking it in.
Newly hatched altricial birds are completely helpless, and will therefore require assistance. It is common to encounter altricial birds in suburban areas who have fallen or been thrown from their nest. In some cases, you will be able to put the baby back in its nest, in others you will have to care for it yourself. It is also acceptable to leave the baby bird where it is and let nature take it’s course.;
, If you have encountered a baby perching or songbird who you suspect has fallen or been abandoned, you must first identify whether the baby is a nestling or a fledgling. Nestlings are baby birds who are too immature to leave the nest, as they have not fully developed their feathers and may not have opened their eyes. Fledglings are older baby birds who have developed the feathers and necessary strength to learn how to fly. They may leave the nest and they know how to perch and grip.

If the baby bird you have found is a nestling, it should not be out of the nest and something is definitely wrong. It may have fallen out of its nest or been pushed out by stronger siblings. An abandoned nestling has almost no chance of survival if left on its own.
If you have come across a fledgling however, you may want to take some time to assess the situation before you pursue any heroics. Though it may appear as if the bird has fallen or been abandoned, fluttering and chirping helplessly on the ground, it may just be learning to fly. If you observe the chick for long enough, you will probably see the parents coming back to feed it at regular intervals. If this is the case, you should definitely not intervene., If you are sure that the baby bird you have encountered is a nestling, and it is lying helpless on the ground, it may be possible to reintroduce the chick to its nest. First, see if you can locate the nest in a nearby tree or bush. It may be well hidden and possibly hard to reach. Next pick up the baby bird, cupping it in one hand and covering it with the other, until it becomes warm. Look it over for any injuries, then if it looks okay, gently place it back in the nest.

Do not worry about the parents rejecting the baby due to its “human” smell. This is an old wives’ tale. Birds actually have a very poor sense of smell and identify their young mostly by sight and sound. In the majority of cases, they will accept the fallen chick back into their nest.
Once you have place the baby bird back in the nest, make a hasty retreat — don’t hang around to make sure the parents return, you will only frighten them away. If you can, watch the nest from inside the house, using a pair of binoculars.
Be aware that, in many cases, placing the baby bird back in the nest will not ensure its survival. If it is the weakest chick in the nest, it is likely that it will be thrown from the nest again by the stronger chicks, as they vie for food and warmth.
If you see any dead chicks inside the nest, then the nest has been abandoned and it will be no use returning the fallen chick. In this situation, you will need to care for the chick, along with any of its surviving brothers and sisters, if you want to ensure their survival., Occasionally, entire nests may fall due to high winds, tree trimmers or predators. If this is the case, you may be able to save the nest (or make a new one) and replace the chicks. If the original nest is still intact, you can place it in a berry basket or butter tub (with punched holes for drainage) and use some wire to hang the nest from a tree branch. Try to place the nest in its previous location. If this is not possible, a nearby branch will do. Just make sure that the location is sheltered, away from direct sunlight.

Collect the fallen chicks and warm them up in your hands before placing them back in the nest. Leave the area, but try to watch the nest from afar. The parent birds may be suspicious of the new nest of first, but their instinct to care for their chicks should help them to overcome this.
If the original nest is completely destroyed, you can make a new one by lining a berry basket with paper towel. Even though the original nest may have been made from grass, you should not line your make-shift nest with grass, as it contains moisture which can chill the baby birds.

, It is important to ascertain that a baby bird has truly been abandoned before taking it in. The most common situations in which a baby bird or birds will need assistance are: when you find a fallen nestling but cannot locate or reach the nest; when the fallen nestling is injured, weak or soiled; or when you have been observing a substitute nest closely for over two hours and the parents have still not returned to feed their young.

The best thing to do in these situations is to call a bird rehabilitation center who can take the baby bird in. These centers have experience in caring for baby birds and will give them the best chance of survival.
If you do not know where to find a bird rehabilitation center, call a local veterinarian or game warden who can provide you with the information you need. In some cases, there may not be a bird or general wildlife center in your locality, but there may be an individual, licensed rehabilitator somewhere close by.
If none of the above options are feasible, or you are unable to transport the bird to the rehabilitation center, it may be necessary to care for the baby bird yourself. Bear in mind that this should be a last resort, as caring for and feeding a baby bird is extremely demanding and the bird’s chances of survival are low.
In addition, it is technically against the law to keep or care for a wild bird in captivity, unless you have the proper permits and licenses.

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