Can i feed a baby bird worms

How to Feed a Baby Bird Without Causing Any Harm


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If you come across a hungry baby bird and can’t find their nest, there are three options: feed them, try to put them back in their nest, or let them be. For most of us, the idea of leaving the poor creature to their own devices is unthinkable. Some birds don’t like when humans touch their young, so option two might be just as likely to result in the fledgling’s death.

But if you do choose to save and feed the little bugger, how exactly does one go about feeding a baby bird? 

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Should I feed a baby bird in the first place?

OK, we will level with you. Baby birds that you're raising yourself are one thing. Those birds are pets and we would hope that they came to you legally and are well-cared for. What we're talking about here are wild birds in need who you stumbled upon. The sad fact is, most experts do not recommend that you attempt to feed a baby bird if you know the parents are still around.

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According to Birdwatching Bliss, feeding a baby bird can do more harm than good, though they do recommend leaving the baby some water just in case. In most cases, the best course of action is to contact animal control so that they can come to rescue the bird. You could even take the injured bird to a local veterinarian's office to see if they can help.

Local wildlife rehabilitation centers will also do the trick, such as the Wild Bird Fund in New York City. Whatever you choose and whatever happens after, well, most people will understand that your heart was in the right place.

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What to feed a baby bird

If you do deem that feeding the baby bird in question is necessary, you'll find that when it comes to proper food, it all depends on the age and species of the specific bird. If you’ve committed to caring for this baby bird, we would advise reaching out to a veterinarian for advice about what your baby specifically needs. That said, there are a few tips regarding food that we can impart.

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According to The Spruce, there are many commercially available formulas out there for hand-feeding baby birds. They recommend choosing one at the start and sticking with that brand and composition until the baby is weaned off it. Baby birds are particularly susceptible to changes in diet, which can be stressful for the baby and their digestion. 

Baby birds can eat worms starting at 5 days of age, but those worms should be crushed and fed through an eyedropper at that age. It might sound like a grisly procedure, but it's necessary to keep the birds from being stressed. Once they reach about 5 weeks old, they can start to eat halved worms and will accept whole ones upon reaching adulthood. 

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How to feed a baby bird

When it comes to feeding baby birds, freshness is key. According to VCA Hospitals, food meant for baby birds must be prepared fresh before every feeding. The principles behind this thinking are similar to those used by parents with newborns. Milk and formula that has either sat out too long or been retained from a prior feeding is a hotbed for bacterial growth. The same is true for baby bird food.

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VCA Hospitals recommends heating baby bird food to a temperature of between 102 degrees and 106 degrees Fahrenheit, but no hotter. Cold food won’t really work either, unfortunately. For one, food that is too cold will slow digestion, and baby birds might simply reject it outright. Achieving the perfect amount of heat is also key to keeping harmful yeast and bacteria out of your baby food. If you’re microwaving the food, mix it thoroughly to ensure a consistent temperature throughout.

These directions are for use with conventional baby bird food mixes, which tend to get mixed with water like human baby formula. Note that younger chicks require a thinner mixture in order to properly digest. It’s difficult to tell the age of a bird, but go thinner if the bird seems tinier and thicken it more as the baby grows.

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It is possible to overfeed a baby bird, but they will generally let you know when they’ve had enough by shutting their bill. Never force a baby bird’s mouth open to give them more. Don’t worry, they’ll let you know when they are hungry.

If your foundling bird has aged up enough to eat something besides formula, make sure that any and all of it is small enough for the bird’s size. Any dry food should be softened and spongy before giving it to the baby. According to Pets on Mom, baby birds can be fed mealworms as a dietary supplement.


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    How Many Worms Does a Baby Bird Eat?

    ••• Rohani_tanasal/iStock/GettyImages

    Updated April 10, 2018

    By Claire Gillespie

    You've probably seen baby birds devouring worms in cartoons, but the reality is quite different. If you're wondering how many worms a baby bird eats, the answer may surprise you. Most baby birds don't eat any worms at all, because most species of birds can't safely eat worms.

    TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

    Most birds don't eat worms, whether they are babies or adults. Baby birds are more likely to eat seeds, fruit, nectar, insects, fish and eggs. Whatever a baby bird eats, it should come from its parents. Never try to feed a baby bird by hand.

    Worm-Eating Birds

    Birds have specific diets, and only a small number of birds can safely eat worms. These include the American robin, the American woodcock, the black-bellied plover and the Eurasian blackbird. Other species may eat worms occasionally, but most birds' diets consist of a variety of seeds, fruit, nectar, insects, fish and eggs.

    Baby Bird Diet

    A featherless (very young) baby bird needs a lot of food. It keeps its parents busy feeding it every 15 to 20 minutes from sunrise until about 10 p. m. If you find a baby bird on the ground, you may want to help, but it's often best not to. A baby bird may fall out of its nest while its parents are away looking for food. Baby birds and other young animals are often left alone for long periods of time while their parents gather food. If you can safely reach the nest, simply put the baby bird back. If you can't reach the nest, place the baby bird on a branch of the tree near the nest or on a shaded part of a nearby roof, out of the way of cats, dogs and kids. Keep the baby bird in the general area where you found it. Its parents will track it down and care for it. Birds take their babies out of the nest before they are fully feathered, feeding them on the ground for a couple of days until they are flight-ready.

    The only way a baby bird should be fed is by its parents or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. If you feed a baby bird something that's not part of its diet, it could die. Don't attempt to give a baby bird any liquids either, as they get all they need from their food.

    Helping a Baby Bird

    If you are sure that the mother of a baby bird is dead or if the baby bird is hurt, sick or was attacked by a cat or dog, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator through your local wildlife office immediately. This professional is trained to provide care to sick, injured and orphaned wild animals, so they can eventually return to their natural habitat. Tell the wildlife rehabilitator where you are and describe the condition of the baby bird. While you're waiting for the wildlife rehabilitator to arrive, pick the bird up with gloved hands and carefully put it in a well-ventilated, covered box or a paper bag lined with paper towels. Keep the bird warm in a quiet, dark place until the wildlife rehabilitator collects it.

    Related Articles


    • U.S Fish & Wildlife Service: I Found This Baby Bird - What Should I Do?
    • The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University: Worm-Eating Birds

    About the Author

    Claire is a writer and editor with 18 years' experience. She writes about science and health for a range of digital publications, including Reader's Digest, HealthCentral, Vice and Zocdoc.

    How to save a chick that has fallen out of the nest | Encyclopedia of Animals

    With the advent of warm weather, our forests and gardens are filled with bird songs, and people, in turn, try to spend as much time as possible outdoors. During outdoor recreation, helpless chicks are often found. Naturally, there is a desire to save the life of a baby, but not everyone knows how to save a chick that has fallen out of the nest. Let's see how we can help him.

    To save or not to save - that is the question

    The first thought that arises when looking at a fledgling and flightless chick is “fell out of the nest”, “lost” and even “parents abandoned and forgot”. In fact, the chick is alone, no brothers, sisters, or adult birds are visible nearby, and it also screams loudly. How can you help here? But the fact of the matter is that help in 95% of cases in such situations is not needed.

    The fact is that in many birds (primarily small passerines) chicks leave the nest as half-fledged fledglings. During this period of life, they still do not know how to fly, but they are already actively exploring the surrounding space - they climb branches, clumsily flit. It is these rather active chicks that fall into the field of human vision. It is easy to determine the fledgling in appearance: it is feathered or covered with rudiments of unopened feathers; the chick is quite large (about 50-70% of the size of a sparrow), it is often active, that is, it opens its mouth and asks for food. Parents did not abandon this chick, but simply flew away for food. Of course, while you are standing next to the chick, they will not make themselves felt. And if you stay too long, then there is a chance that the parents will leave him out of concern. nine0003

    Even if the chick looks too small and helpless, don't rush to classify it as an orphan. Birds such as warblers, warblers, larks, wagtails nest on the ground, their chicks spend their entire childhood on the grass. Your presence in this situation is also undesirable because magpies and crows track human behavior. Smart birds can check after you leave what you saw there, find and kill the chick. Hence the conclusion: do not "save" everything that catches your eye. If the chick is dry, warm, active, well feathered, then he does not need help. nine0003

    What if the situation causes concern? Perhaps the chick is too weak or obviously fell out of the nest from a great height and cannot be returned to its parents. In this case, you can try to save him, but keep in mind that the likelihood of success will be directly proportional to your diligence, and you will have to put in a lot of work.

    What to do first

    1. Quickly and carefully inspect the place where you found the chick, remember how it looks. In some cases, this will help determine the type of bird. nine0022
    2. Pick up the chick (don't squeeze too hard!) and bring him home as soon as possible.
    3. On the way, inspect the chick for damage. If the bird has clearly visible fractures of the paws, wings, concussion (how to define it a little lower), then you can’t do without a veterinarian. It is highly desirable to seek help from a veterinarian who specializes specifically in the treatment of birds (unfortunately, such specialists are extremely rare). If there are no obvious signs of a fracture, and the general condition of the chick is satisfactory, then it is better not to torment him, but simply to provide good conditions - nature will do its job and he will recover. nine0022
    4. Providing a chick with food as soon as possible is even more important than furnishing a home for it.

    Now a few words on how to define contusion. Usually, chicks get severe bruises either from hitting the ground or when they collide with cars. At the same time, the bird has no wounds on the outside, but a concussion is observed. True signs of this condition are bleeding from the nostrils, paralysis of both legs or paralysis of half of the body (paw and wing on one side), closure of one eye, or unequal degree of pupil dilation on the injured and healthy side of the body. nine0003

    What to feed

    You may think that feeding a chick is easy - crumble bread and crumble. But here you will find disappointment number 2. Chicks do not eat bread, crackers, porridge, cereals, seeds. They don't eat at all. Even the chicks of granivorous birds do not take dry food at first. And the reason is that the growing organism needs proteins, therefore, in nature, even granivorous birds feed their offspring with animal food and exceptionally soft food. You will have to do the same. Pigeons are the only exception. They feed the chicks with goiter secretions - bird's milk, and then with semi-digested grains. If you picked up a pigeon chick, then you can feed it with unsalted porridge, gradually reducing the degree of cooking. In other cases, the best food for the chick is mealworms, cockroaches, crickets, darkling larvae - zoophobus (all these foods are sold in pet stores), earthworms (you can dig up), caterpillars (you will have to collect), a boiled egg (only as an additional food, and not a substitute for anything and everything). Even if you have provided the chick with the listed food, it is recommended to periodically catch bugs, grasshoppers, butterflies, flies, mosquitoes and give these insects to him, because the more varied the diet, the healthier your ward will grow. Very weak chicks should be given glucose-sweetened water (not sugar syrup!), instead of solid food, for the first few hours. nine0003

    What not to feed the chicks

    • dead insects - no matter what species they belong to and wherever you find them. In nature, insects almost never live to old age, rather someone will eat them. If you find a dead cockroach behind the stove or a dead locust in the garden, do not rush to rejoice. Most likely, this individual died from an insecticide, which means that the poison from the feed can enter the body of the chick and greatly harm its already poor health; nine0022
    • Colorado potato beetles - adults, larvae and eggs are poisonous in this species. They are not eaten by any species of birds, so this easily accessible resource will have to be forgotten;
    • ladybugs - they secrete a moderately toxic liquid, in nature a bird that catches such a bug by mistake will spit it out. In captivity, especially in the case of force-feeding the chick, he does not have the opportunity to refuse harmful food, so he can get poisoned;
    • hairy caterpillars - firstly, they can be poisonous, and secondly, the villi during feeding can clog the chick's goiter and it will die. Although cuckoos and orioles can eat in the temperate hairy strip, it is still better to play it safe and not use this food;
    • brightly colored bugs - in nature, many birds willingly peck at such insects, but this mainly concerns nondescript turtle bugs. The back of the bug, decorated with bright spots or stripes, is of a warning nature - "do not eat me, it will be worse for you." For safety net, it is not necessary to catch such specimens for the chick. nine0022

    How to feed

    The main thing you need to know from the very beginning is that birds have a very high metabolism, and small chicks have a huge metabolic rate. Any food eaten by the chicks is digested very quickly and they need to be fed again and again. In nature, parents jointly feed the brood 100-500 times a day! This means that every 10-15 minutes the chick needs to be fed. And don't expect to overtrain him! A chick deprived of food instantly weakens, a couple of hours of hunger is enough for it to die. You will have to provide the baby with constant supervision, feed him at first every 15 minutes, and when he grows up a little, after 20-30. But you need to take a break at night, but start the first feeding no later than 6 o'clock in the morning! Evening feeding is completed around sunset, that is, around 22.00. nine0003

    It is more convenient to bring food with tweezers. In general, tactile contact should be kept to a minimum, frequent touching is stressful for the tiny creature, and it worsens the condition of down and feathers. If the chick is very small and naked, then it is not necessary to give it a whole large insects. In this case, it is better to cut them with tweezers and feed them in pieces. It is also recommended to remove hard elytra from large beetles, long legs from grasshoppers and locusts. Often the chicks refuse to take any food. This happens because they do not recognize you as their mother, or they are so weak that they have lost their appetite. In this case, you will have to force-feed the ward. To do this, you need to crush the food and fill it with a syringe without a needle (you can add a couple of drops of water to dilute the mixture). Take the bird in your left hand and gently spread its beak with your fingers, insert a syringe into its mouth with your right hand and squeeze out about 1 cm³ of slurry. Do not overdo it! In tiny chicks, the beak is easily broken, and this is already a fatal injury. For greater convenience, a flexible tube can be put on the end of the syringe. nine0003

    Where to house

    If the first difficulties do not dampen your enthusiasm, then you should provide the chick with shelter in your home. First of all, you need to make a nest.

    Take a deep bowl or cardboard box with a rim about 10 cm high. Fill this container with sawdust, dry clean sand, hay, straw, scraps of cloth, make a recess in the middle that imitates the nest tray. Do not fill the container with fresh grass, raw material can cause hypothermia of the chick, because there is no one to warm it in an artificial house. By the way, if you are seriously engaged in rescue, you can purchase a small thermal mat at the pet store, it will to some extent replace the mother's warmth for your pupil. Also, cotton wool, yarn, fabrics with a rare weave of threads can be considered dangerous fillers. The paws of a chick are easily tangled in such material, and a tightened thread can even amputate the fingers of a feathered baby. Lay a paper napkin in the tray in 2-3 layers. Chicks defecate as often as they eat; in nature, their parents monitor their hygiene and take the litter out of the nest. You just need to change the napkin after each feeding. So, the nest is ready. nine0003

    Now we need to think about security. In the house of the savior, stupid children, blind-sighted grandmothers, dogs, cats can live, and there are also curious neighbors who have dropped in for a minute. All these creatures threaten the life of a little chick: children can grab it and squeeze it in a fist (certain death), dogs and cats can arrange a hunt (you won’t even find feathers), a blind grandmother will sit by chance on a box (well, don’t execute the old woman for this), and noisy neighbors can accidentally knock it over (“Tanya, I’ll come to you for a second for salt, oh, it seems that something has fallen here!”). To prevent trouble, it is better to place the nest in a cage or an aquarium covered with gauze. In the cage, do not try to put the chick on the perch, do not place it in closed containers (jars, etc.). Don't nest on high ground. The fact is that a weak chick can get stronger and, unexpectedly for you, will go to explore the surrounding space. He is guaranteed to fall out of his shelter and, unlike the forest and the meadow, it will not be soft grass waiting for him at the bottom, but the floor. You should not put the box with the chick in the sun, so you will not warm it, and the helpless bird is guaranteed to get sunstroke and may die. Drafts are very dangerous. nine0003

    Do chicks need water?

    In nature, chicks of passerines do not need water, as they get enough moisture with food. After all, adult birds do not bring them water in their beaks. At home, you can do without watering the chick if you follow the diet, that is, you give a variety of, and most importantly, “wet” food - earthworms, fatty juicy caterpillars. Flies, cockroaches, crickets (they are most often bought in a store) can be conditionally classified as “dry” food. They do not give the chick enough moisture. In this case, he can instill a few drops of liquid from a pipette, but do this not at every feeding, but a little less often. Please note that shell-shocked chicks should not be given water. nine0003

    What to do next?

    Fortunately, the chicks grow up quickly and the period of trouble soon passes, in a week or two your ward may get stronger. In order for the feeding process to be completed successfully, do not forget to gradually accustom the chick to adult food. For granivorous birds, this can be porridge cooked without salt, small grains (millet, rice chaff). Chicks of insectivorous species will have to be supplemented with insects. No matter how hard you try, your chick will be weaker than its wild counterparts and completely unsuitable for independent living. There is nothing you can do to help him, so you have to take responsibility for his life. The grown bird will have to be left as a room. If you are not ready to keep a bird (you need to think about this from the very beginning), then it is better not to take the chick home at all. So he will have at least a meager chance to survive. But if you are not afraid of difficulties, then the saved life of the feathered one will be the reward for the labors. nine0003

    The recommendations in this article are mainly focused on the rearing of passerines and pigeons, as these are the most commonly found. Chicks of large birds (eagles, cranes, owls, storks, etc.) are best transferred to the zoo, where they are guaranteed professional veterinary care.

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    You found a swift... What should I do?

    You found a swift ... What to do? nine0003

    Aposhniya naviny, Naviny Belarus hell 7 April 2018

    birdies and byadze swirgul

    The fallen swift needs help. But only competent. How not to kill a bird while saving it?

    Every summer thousands of small black birds appear in the cities. They rush swiftly over our heads, cut circles in flocks, and at the same time they squeal piercingly. Meet - this is a swift. The fastest bird, and it is also the most fragile and injury-prone. Hundreds of people in different cities pick up swifts every summer, but do not know what to do with them: they feed and nurse them incorrectly. Because of this, swifts die, while most of the fallen swifts can still be restored and returned to the sky. nine0003

    Swift in flight. Photo by Nikolai Sparrow

    1. Why do swifts fall?

    Swifts often get into trouble: due to high speeds, they cannot always manage to control in an urban environment (especially in strong winds, during a thunderstorm), and every now and then they crash into wires, mirrored windows, building walls ... Swifts get injured , fall, and people pick them up on the ground. And in the middle of summer, the “detachment” of podbrasks is replenished with chicks that accidentally fell out of the nest: in July, under the roofs where the swifts nest, it is especially hot, and the kids climb into the fresh air. It happens that one of the parents died, or the parents are gone for too long due to bad weather - then the chick goes to look for food on its own ...

    During the summer, within one city, people pick up up to several dozen swifts.

    1. No need to toss the swift.

    A fallen swift is often advised to throw up - and, they say, then it will fly. This is actually bad advice! Think about it: what if the swift has a fracture or a head injury? what if it's a chick?

    Never throw a swift up, and even more so - from balconies, from the windows of the upper floors. nine0003

    It is better to just take it to an open space (stadium, field) and lift it up in the palm of your hand: a healthy swift will fly off and start spiraling into the sky, an injured one will simply fall into the grass, and a chick, which is still too early to fly, will turn its muzzle to to you, as if to say that "he is not yet ready."

    How to release a rescued swift. Photo from the archive of Mikhail Rukavishnikov

    1. The fallen swift can be restored and returned to the sky! nine0121

    Do not leave the swift lying where you picked it up. Swifts do not have fledglings, and no one will take care of a dropped chick: swifts spend their whole lives in the sky, and never descend to the ground, even if their chick is there. Chicks do not learn to fly: from the nest they immediately go flying.

    Swifts spend their whole lives in flight. Photo by Nikolai Vorobiy

    Do not put a swift to sleep, even if you are a supporter of natural selection. In half of the cases, a swift with an injury can be restored. nine0003

    1. Swifts are often mistaken for swallows, hawk chicks.

    This causes confusion with feeding. Meanwhile, it is very easy to distinguish a swift from another bird: 4 toes on the foot of a swift are directed forward, while in most birds only 3 fingers look forward, and 1 backwards. Swifts are also famous for their wings: in adult swifts they are in the form of a sharp sickle, long, and when folded, go 2-3 cm behind the tail. Black swifts have a bright white speck on their chin, while swallows have a white entire breast and tummy. nine0003

    A swift has a white spot on its chin and a dark belly. Photo by Nikolay Sparrow

    1. Chick or adult?

    It is not difficult to distinguish a chick from an adult swift: all young swifts of this year have light pink skin on their legs, while adults aged 1 year and older have black-gray legs (this is a tan after flying to Africa).

    Swift chick. Photo by A. Sagittarius

    Chicks have a white color along the rim of feathers, chicks can squeak, and they also have fluff on their body, “needles” of unopened feathers (in adolescents, all feathers have already opened). In adults, the plumage is uniformly black or brown. nine0003

    A feature of an adult swift: when folded, the wings extend beyond the tail by 2-2. 5 cm. Photo BirdLife International

    1. Swifts do not sit on branches.

    This is due to the structure of the legs (4 fingers point forward). Swifts can cling to a sheer surface like rock climbers, but you should not put them in a cage: they will still fall from the perches, besides, they will ruin their plumage on the bars of the cage, and will no longer be able to fly. nine0003

    Place the found swift in a clean box, at least 30x30x20 cm in size, with a sheer cloth on the wall so that the swift can climb vertically.

    Swifts are excellent climbers on vertical surfaces. Photo by Mikhail Rukavishnikov

    Lay several layers of paper towels on the bottom to absorb the droppings.

    Line the bottom of the box with paper towels. Photo by Mikhail Rukavishnikov

    1. Swifts can't peck. nine0121

    Therefore, it is useless for them to put a bowl with food. Swift will not even understand that you have put food on him. In nature, swifts catch insects on the fly, with their mouths wide open, like a trap.

    This is how swifts masterfully drink in nature, flying over a pond. Photo by Nikolai Sparrow

    At home, at first you will have to open the beak of the swift and put food there. Over time, he will begin to snatch food from your hands.

    1. nine0120 Swifts only eat insects.

    Any mixture (meat, eggs, cottage cheese, carrots, shrimp, etc.) is harmful to the swift. They will disrupt his metabolism, plant a liver, kidneys, and in chicks on such mixtures a weak, defective feather will grow, which will fall out after switching to insect food in nature.

    Maggot, bloodworms, earthworms, beetles, spiders, ants, wasps and bees are also destructive to the swift and can lead to its death.

    Feeding insects, which in Belarus can be bought from insect breeders, are best suited for feeding the swift: brownie and banana cricket, Turkmen and marble cockroach, flour worm. nine0003

    From nature you can get grasshoppers and locusts, ant eggs, drones.

    General rule for crickets, cockroaches and grasshoppers: store in the freezer, remove all hard parts, rinse in water before feeding.

    Swift lunch. Photo by A. Sagittarius

    Mealworm is kept in wheat/oat bran and fed alive after removing the head (sharp teeth).

    1. Swifts eat a lot! nine0121

    We have all heard the saying “eats like a bird”, and therefore we think that birds do not eat much. In fact, birds eat a lot, and especially swifts, which spend so many calories in flight. During the day, the swift must eat food with a volume of at least 1/3 of its weight, otherwise it will become exhausted and die. In nature, the swift eats up to 400 flies a day!

    Swift chicks, depending on their age, should be fed every 1-3 hours, an adult swift should be fed 3 times a day. The main thing is that the swift eats the norm. nine0003

    The exception is weakened emaciated swifts: you need to start with very small, but frequent portions (once every 1-2 hours, only soft, adding a piece of Mezim), otherwise the stomach may not cope and refuse.

    The swift, which has lain on the ground for a long time and has become weak, has a pale pink mouth inside, closer to white (normally bright pink), a thin and sharp breast (normally round, well-fed sternum). Also, the weight of a weakened swift is 30 grams or less (for a teenage chick and an adult swift, the weight norm is 40-55 grams). nine0003

    Weighing a swift. Photo by A. Sagittarius

    As a resuscitation, a swift is injected subcutaneously into the fold on the shoulder with an insulin syringe 0.1 ml of Glucose 40% + 0.3 ml of saline.

    1. The chick must be fed and released, the adult swift must be treated.

    If you have picked up a chick, then all you need is to feed him intensively until he is ready to fly (a week before departure, the chick will begin to actively train and flap its wings). In total, the chick grows 43 days. nine0003

    Swift can be saved and returned to the sky. Photo by Nikolai Vorobiy

    An adult fallen swift - usually with an injury (bruise, dislocation, fracture, TBI, etc.

    Learn more