Can you feed baby birds bread

Can Baby Birds Eat Bread? (Safe OR Bad?)

by Ethan Harris

Bread is one of the most consumed foods by humans and also one of the most controversial foods for birds. Many birdwatchers and people who love to feed birds have asked a question, can baby birds eat bread?

Honestly, I say that baby birds can eat bread, but the answer is not simple. You can feed bread to baby birds, but there is no sense in feeding them bread. Because bread does not provide any health benefits to baby birds, read to know the other reasons to avoid feeding bread.

Table of Contents:

  1. Is Bread Good For Baby Birds?
  2. Why Is Bread Not Suitable For Baby Birds?
  3. Can Bread Kill Baby Birds?
  4. Alternatives Of Bread For Feeding Baby Birds
  5. Final Thought

Is Bread Good For Baby Birds?

Pieces of bread are not bad for baby birds but are not too good because they contain relatively low nutrition.  So, due to this reason, do not offer bread to your baby birds in large amounts.

If your baby bird’s diet includes bread only, then it will not develop into healthy a bird. From the bread, baby birds can get the protein they need to develop their feathers and muscles. But the fact they need to get energy is not available. Can baby birds eat bananas?

Why Is Bread Not Suitable For Baby Birds?

Bread is not suitable for your baby birds because its dry chunks can choke the baby bird. Another problem makes bread a non-suitable food product for your baby birds, along with the choking issue.

The other problem is that bread has preservatives and harmful chemicals. Also, it is heavily processed, and all such things are not suitable for a baby bird’s health.

What Do Baby Birds Eat? (Foods & Feeding Tips)

One more problem is that fresh or stale, both types of bread have almost zero nutrition for your baby birds, and if the bread is moldy, it can harm your baby bird. Bread can also make your baby bird fat.

Can Bread Kill Baby Birds?

Not all types of bread can kill baby birds. Moldy bread is a very poisonous bread type and can even kill your baby birds. If your baby birds are lucky enough to survive, then some diseases can be caused, including the inability to fly, the malformation of feathers, and many more.

The other bread type which can kill your baby bird is dry bread. Again, choking can occur due to the intake of dry bread. Bread also does not have the nutrition necessary for your birds. That is why it is better not to serve bread to your baby bird. Do robins eat bread?

Alternatives Of Bread For Feeding Baby Birds

Baby birds are tiny in size, and if their parent is not there to feed them, then the responsibility comes to you. While feeding anything, make sure it has good nutritional value because they need essential nutrients to grow well.

Can Baby Birds Eat Rice & Is Rice Safe For Them?

There are many bread alternatives for feeding your baby birds. But the first thing that you have to do is to know the type of bird you have in your house or the garden.

Some baby birds love to eat insects, while some birds love eating seeds, but they can eat everything at the start. However, baby birds eat whatever their birds eat.

You can feed the baby bird an egg yolk mixed in water (a small quantity). Please do not give the white part to them as it is not good for their health. Egg yolk is full of protein, and for your baby birds, it is a perfect food and helps your baby bird survive.

You can serve tiny seeds, cooked peas, or cooked corn to the baby birds who are seed lovers and insects to the insect lover. Also, serve boiled ground beef to your baby birds.

You can serve all these things with or without egg yolk. Never serve large and solid pieces to your baby birds. Hard-boiled eggs and raw liver without seasoning can be served to your baby birds.

Always serve these things in grind form. Some bird seeds, frozen peas or corn, oats, and any other green can be served to your baby birds as an alternative to bread.

Along with these things, you can also serve them mealworms, waxworms, crickets, earthworms, nightcrawlers, grasshoppers, etc.

You should serve mealworms, waxworms, earthworms (you can grow them in your garden), and hard-boiled eggs in various small pieces so then baby birds will swallow them easily.

Final Thought

Feeding bread to baby birds is one of the debatable topics on the internet. Baby birds can eat bread but baby birds required foods that provide good nutritional value for their growth.

Bread does not have a good nutritional value for baby birds. That’s why it is not recommended to provide baby bird bread.

Ethan Harris

Hello! I am Ethan Harris, and I love to share about caring for birds, feeding birds, and many more things that you are searching for on the internet. Please do comment if you have any doubts.

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What to Feed a Baby Bird

How to provide the right nutrition when wildlife rescues aren't an option


Melissa Mayntz

Melissa Mayntz

Melissa Mayntz is a bird expert, certified Master Naturalist, writer, and author with over three decades of experience. She's published in several national magazines, including National Wildlife Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and WildBird Magazine. Melissa has studied hundreds of bird species around the world, traveling to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, the central Pacific, the Middle East, and more on birding expeditions.

Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process

Updated on 08/26/22

Reviewed by

Kathleen Miller

Reviewed by Kathleen Miller

Kathleen Miller is a highly-regarded Master Gardener and Horticulturist who shares her knowledge of sustainable living, organic gardening, farming, and landscape design. She founded Gaia's Farm and Gardens, a working sustainable permaculture farm, and writes for Gaia Grows, a local newspaper column. She has over 30 years of experience in gardening and sustainable farming.

Learn more about The Spruce's Review Board

Fact checked by

Sarah Scott

Fact checked by Sarah Scott

Sarah Scott is a fact-checker and researcher who has worked in the custom home building industry in sales, marketing, and design.

Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process

The Spruce / Catherine Song

Every backyard birder has seen the "starving baby" act by fledgling birds, when they flutter their wings and call piteously for attention from seemingly hard-hearted, indifferent parents. The desire to nurture those fluffy balls of feathers can be strong, but it is important to understand the special needs of a fledgling's diet and know what to feed a baby bird for the best nutrition.

Do I Need to Feed This Baby Bird?

Baby birds have very demanding dietary needs. Depending on their age and species, baby birds may eat off and on for 12 to 14 hours per day, consuming a diet rich in insects for sufficient protein to ensure healthy growth. No human other than a licensed bird rehabilitator has the proper equipment, food supplements, or endurance to keep up that frantic feeding schedule. If you find a baby bird that appears to need feeding, the best thing to do is not to feed it, but to get it to an appropriate bird rescue organization. In many cases, the begging birds are not abandoned and the parent birds are nearby and tending to their babies as needed, even if they aren't seen.

If you find a baby bird that seems to be unfed, watch the bird closely for a while to see if the parents return to feed it within the hour. Bear in mind that it may take just seconds for a parent bird to deliver a bite to its chick, and inattentive observers may miss several feeding cycles. As the chicks grow, feeding may also be less frequent, and one parent bird may be tending to several offspring in different locations, so parental visits may be uneven. If the baby is being fed, rest assured that the parent bird is able to keep up with its demands, and no intervention is necessary if the baby does not appear injured or ill in any other way.

If the baby bird is not being fed and appears to be growing weaker and more lethargic, the first step should be to find a licensed rehabilitator to provide it proper care. When contacting the rehabilitator, ask for their evaluation of the bird in question before attempting any emergency feeding. If it is recommended that you feed the baby bird, he or she might have specific suggestions in mind as an emergency measure, and those suggestions should be meticulously followed.

If Feeding Is Necessary

If you find a baby bird that needs to be fed but you are unable to contact a bird or wildlife rehabilitator, it is important to know what to feed a baby bird that will provide similar nutrition to its natural diet. While every wild bird has a different diet, several types of food can serve as emergency rations when necessary. At the same time, it is critical to understand that baby birds have very different nutritional needs than adult birds, and foods you would normally feed to your backyard birds are not appropriate for young fledglings.

Good Foods for Baby Birds

  • Moist dog food
  • Raw liver (no seasoning)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Dog biscuits (moistened)
  • Dog or cat kibble (moistened)

The Spruce / K. Dave

What Not to Feed Baby Birds

  • Water
  • Bread or bread products
  • Whole birdseed
  • Milk
  • Pet bird food
  • Worms
  • Kitchen scraps

The more mature a baby bird is, the more "adult" food it can consume without harm, and the longer it can go between feedings.

The Spruce / K. Dave

Tips for Feeding Baby Wild Birds

If it is necessary for you to feed a baby bird, remember:

  • Offer food that is spongy in texture, not dripping with water that could cause choking or drowning. All dry food should be softened before being offered to a baby bird.
  • Food should be offered at room temperature only, never warmed or heated, and also never refrigerated or chilled.
  • Keep bits of food small and in proportion to the bird's size; very small birds need very tiny bites. Cut or crush food appropriately to suit the bird's size.
  • While feeding the bird, handle it as little as possible to minimize the risk of additional stress or injury. Never force the bird's bill open to eat.

Caring for Baby Birds

Remember that feeding a baby bird should be an emergency measure only. If a baby bird is abandoned and needs care, it should be taken to a bird rescue organization or experienced rehabilitator as soon as possible. Rehabilitators can not only feed it an appropriate diet for its species but can help it learn how to find its own food, evade predators, and learn other skills necessary for a successful life in the wild.

If there is no rescue organization or experienced rehab specialist available in your area, keep these tips in mind:

  • Identify if the bird is a nestling (few or no feathers) or a fledgling (a feathered bird approaching adulthood). Nestlings will require much attention for a longer period than fledglings, which may be nearly ready for independence quite soon. An older fledgling can sometimes be fine if you simply place it high on a branch where its parents can find it. Nestlings, on the other hand, may require several weeks of attention (assuming a bird rehab organization is not available) to give them a chance for survival.
  • Protect it from predators—including family pets. Normally, a simple cardboard box lined with a towel, placed high enough to be out of reach of pets, will suffice. If using a lidded container, make sure it is well-ventilated. Ordinary room temperature is normally fine, though a gentle heat lamp can be used if the room is very cold at night. But take care not to overheat the young bird—in most cases, no heat source is necessary.
  • Give it a "nest" by using a small towel or cloth diaper formed into a concave shape and placed in the bottom of the box. This will help support the bird's body until it grows stronger.
  • Small nestlings are best fed with moist, well-softened food from a syringe, offered very gently, in small drops. Even a kitchen baster may be too large to be useful. As a nestling grows older, you can offer it food by dangling it from tweezers in front of its beak.
  • Never try to feed water directly to a baby bird. Nestlings will get their water needs met through moisture in food. A fledgling can be offered water in a shallow dish—if it's ready to consume water this way, it will drink on its own.
  • When a fledgling bird has fully feathered out and is beginning to exercise its wings by flapping, it can be given time outdoors and encouraged to begin flying. Often, it is enough to simply set the bird's containment box outside in a safe location, open the lid and wait for nature to take its course.

But remember that raising a featherless nestling bird through the fledgling stage and into a mature adult bird is no easy matter. It's always better to leave this to professionals who are experienced in the practice.

Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Picking up baby birds can do more harm than good. Oregon State University.

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.

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.

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.
  2. Take the chick in your hands (do not squeeze 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.
  4. Providing the 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 shell shock. 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.

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.

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;
  • 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 has caught 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.

How to feed

The main thing you should 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why birds cannot be fed bread

Why birds cannot be fed bread

Why birds cannot be fed bread - RIA News Crimea, 06.05.2022

Why birds shouldn't be fed bread

In the Gagarin park in Simferopol, a special fence was placed around the swans' nest to protect the birds during the nesting period. This spring, the swans arranged in ... RIA Novosti Krym, 05/06/2022

2022-05-06T19:16 head/meta[@name='og:title']/@content


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SIMFEROPOL, May 6 - RIA Novosti Crimea. In Simferopol's Gagarin Park, the swans' nest was fenced off with a special fence to protect the birds during the nesting period. This spring, the swans made several nests in the park, one of them right on the path. Experts ask not to disturb the birds, not to scare and feed them properly. Otherwise, they can simply die. "During the period when the female swans, as now, are incubating their eggs, it is very important not to frighten them or disturb them," says ornithologist Oleg Rozenberg. which has a container of water. Since it is very important for them to drink food. If you feed the birds near freshwater reservoirs, pour grain into shallow water. Swans have a specially long neck so that they get food from the bottom. Therefore, feel free to pour grain into the water. So they immediately They will be able to eat and drink. And there will be no harm. Dry bread, as well as, in principle, dry food, cannot be fed to birds. It is very harmful. Especially bread. Due to gluten, it gets stuck in the goiter of birds. it in the water." People harm birds not only by improper feeding, but also by active curiosity. And when birds hatch chicks, any attention for them is additional stress. So, in June 2020, in the UK, a case of the death of a female was recorded at the moment when hooligans destroyed the nest by throwing bricks from the bridge at it - the bird's heart could not stand it. This was reported by The Daily Mail. Other cases of swans dying in a stressful situation are also known. They also cannot survive the death of a partner. Therefore, it is better to wait a bit, and then see how the little “ugly ducklings” turn into independent beautiful swans. REMINDER How to feed the birds: You can’t: loaf, white bread, crackers, fried and salted seeds, yeast bakery products - they clog the goiter of the bird and start the process fermentation in the digestive system. You can: oatmeal, millet, barley, wheat. As well as finely chopped carrots, beets, cabbage and boiled potatoes.

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SIMFEROPOL, May 6 - RIA Novosti Crimea. In Simferopol's Gagarin Park, a special fence was placed around the swans' nest to protect the birds during the nesting period. This spring, the swans made several nests in the park, one of them right on the path. Experts ask not to disturb the birds, not to scare and feed them properly. Otherwise, they might just die.

"During the period when the female swans, as now, are incubating their eggs, it is very important not to frighten them or disturb them," says ornithologist Oleg Rozenberg. water.Since it is very important for them to drink food.If you feed the birds near freshwater bodies, pour the grain in shallow water.Swans have a specially long neck so that they get food from the bottom.So feel free to pour the grain into the water.So they can immediately eat and drink "And there will be no harm. Dry bread, as well as, in principle, dry food, cannot be fed to birds. It is very harmful. Especially bread. Due to gluten, it gets stuck in the goiter of birds. You can only feed them after soaking it well and squeezing it in water." .

© RIA Novosti Crimea. Alexander Druzhinovich Feeding birds with millet

© RIA Novosti Crimea . Alexander Druzhinovich

Feeding birds with millet

People harm birds not only by improper feeding, but also by active curiosity. And when birds hatch chicks, any attention for them is additional stress.

Learn more