Feed baby bird cat food

How to Feed Baby Birds Cat Food

By Christy Bagasao | Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Cat food

  • Water

  • Tweezers or small stick

If you find a lost or abandoned baby bird, you may find yourself suddenly playing Mama Bird. After warming the little one in your hands, your most urgent duty is to feed the baby. Feeding a baby bird may feel overwhelming because you don't have a mother bird's ability to swoop through the air and locate high-protein food for her babies. Relax. A baby bird can thrive on the same thing you feed your feline friends—cat food.

Determine if the bird is a nestling or a fledgling. A nestling has either fuzz, no feathers, or a few early feathers. It is mostly naked and not very mobile. Nestlings need more frequent feedings. A fledgling is feathered, mobile and possibly already trying to learn to fly. It will be able to self-feed shortly and may initially resist being fed by something other than its own parents. Whether the bird is a nestling or fledgling determines how long and how often to feed it cat food.

Analyze whether the baby bird gapes or not. Baby birds that gape, or open their mouths wide to be fed, have yellow or yellowish-white coloring on the sides of their beaks and have yellow inside their beaks, while those who suck regurgitated food from their parents' beaks do not have yellow marks on the side. How the bird responds determines the method you will use to feed cat food to the bird.

Soak a bit of cat kibble in hot water, preferably with a drop of corn syrup mixed in the first two days. After an hour the kibble is soft and cool enough for the baby bird to eat.

Hold a small amount of the soft moist cat food at the end of a pair of tweezers or on a stick and offer it to a gaping bird such as a swallow. If the baby bird does not open its mouth, tap very gently on the side of the beak until it opens its mouth. On rare occasion you will need to open the beak manually by prying the sides apart gently. Drop the cat food in the back of the baby bird's open mouth. Give the bird a few small pieces of moist cat food at each meal. Repeat this every 30 minutes during the day for nestlings, or every 15 minutes if the baby is very weak and in need of the protein cat food offers. As the baby grows into a fledgling it may indicate with begging and chirping that it is hungry.

Place a few pieces of the softened cat food inside a pen cap or a similar container to feed a non-gaping bird such as a dove. Gently grasp the beak and move your fingers up and down to encourage the bird to open its mouth. Place the container gently at the end of the baby bird's beak. Wiggle the cap a bit. The bird should reach in and suck the cat food. If it does not suck up the cat food mixture, simply place a bit inside the end of its beak. Repeat every 30 minutes during the day.

Deposit softened cat food in a shallow dish on the floor of the bird's container if the bird is a fledgling. To show the fledgling where the cat food is, feed it directly from the dish. It should begin to eat it on its own, although you will still need to hand feed it until it indicates its preference for self-feeding by eating from the dish while refusing your offers of food.

Prepare freshly soaked cat food each morning because the previous day's food will sour. If desired, use canned cat food in the same manner as the soaked kibble. Mixing other foods into the cat food will accustom the bird to different flavors. Baby food and apple sauce are the simplest options, although fresh vegetables and hard-boiled eggs are excellent choices as well.

  • It is illegal to keep most wild birds. With that in mind, handle the bird as little as possible so it does not become habituated to humans and to prepare it for release into the wild.

    Contact a bird rehabilitation center as soon as possible with any questions or problems or to determine if the bird would be better off at the center.


  • Be sure the cat food is not dripping with water, since a bird could aspirate the excess moisture and develop a lung infection or drown.

    For the Birds Rehabilitation Foundation cautions against hand-feeding precocial birds, that is, birds that are born ready to self-feed such as quail, killdeer and poultry.


  • For the Birds: Temporary Feeding Guidelines
  • Starling Talk: Care and Rehabilitation
  • Winged Wisdom: Orphaned Wild Baby Birds
  • Marathon Wild Bird Center: Raising Orphaned Baby Birds

Photo Credits

Writer Bio

Christy Bagasao has been writing since 1991. She is an English and communication graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran College with a year spent at Nottingham University in England. Her work has appeared in such publications as "Forward in Christ."

The Dos and Donts of Caring for Baby Birds by John Wiessinger

  • Hand-raising Wild Baby Birds
  • Care for Orphaned / Abandoned Domestic Baby Birds
  • Handfeeding Bird Chicks – applies to seed or insect eating bird species only. Not applicable for hummingbird chicks that have different dietary requirements. Contact an experienced wildlife rehabilitator with knowledge of hummingbirds.
  • If the chick is sick, injured or weak, it is best to have an expert wildlife rehabilitator take care of it — but until this happens, or if no one is available, please refer to the Sick Bird Care webpage for instructions.

Dos for caring for baby birds

  1. Baby birds without many/any feathers need to be kept warm (body should be warm to touch)
  2. Baby birds need lots of different foods for a healthy diet – variety is the watchword
  3. Most baby birds eat a wide-variety of rather soft-bodied insects – they need lots of protein for growth
  4. Baby birds eat about every 20 minutes or so during daylight (dawn to dusk)
  5. Baby birds should be encouraged to beg for food (open mouth with eager calling)
  6. Baby birds have a swallowing reflex that is triggered when food is placed in the back of the mouth
  7. Baby birds sleep at night and are not fed by their parents
  8. Food can be skewered on a toothpick and placed in the baby’s throat
  9. If enough food isn’t available, you can give dry cat food (see info below) as a temporary measure (NOT a steady diet)

Don’t’s for caring for baby birds

  1. Don’t give water directly to your baby bird (they get enough in their food)
  2. Don’t give sugar water to your baby bird
  3. Don’t give ANY bread to your baby bird
  4. Don’t give ANY birdseed to your baby bird
  5. Don’t give a steady diet of any single food to your baby bird
  6. Don’t gear your baby’s diet around worms
  7. Don’t give your baby bird a bath, it doesn’t need one

Appropriate invertebrates you can look for include – flies, horseflies (remove the wings), grasshoppers without wings and legs, crickets, soft caterpillars, grubs, mealworms in small amounts, spiders, and earthworms in limited amounts. Avoid beetles, bees, wasps, ants, hairy caterpillars, and any hard-bodied insects. If you can get an insect net and sweep your yard or nearby field, you’ll get lots and lots of good insects. You may need to be a bit selective so you don’t use any bees or wasps, but you’ll have many others to choose from.

Providing insects for your bird may become difficult at certain times so you may need to supplement its insect-diet with something else. Dry cat food can be moistened and made into small globs on a toothpick and offered. The cat food is higher in protein than dog food and will help sustain your bird until you can feed more appropriate foods. Do NOT provide a diet of just cat food or your bird will not be healthy and may not even live – this is only an interim measure.

If all goes well and your baby grows and develops, a time will come when you recognize that it needs to get ready to be on its own. In nature, when a baby leaves the nest, it’s called a fledgling and although it may not fly well, can flutter here and there and usually ends up on a low branch in a bush or low tree. At this point the parents are still feeding their young even though they may not be obvious to the casual observer. This is one of the times many people think a baby bird has been abandoned. As “your” baby grows and gets to the point where it can flutter a bit, it should be allowed greater freedom. Even with this freedom, your bird will continue to let you know when it is hungry and needs food from you. Once it is coming to you for food you’ve crossed a big hurdle and can now feed it when necessary but allow it to forage on its own too. Soon your baby will be coming to you less and less and eventually not at all – your baby has graduated and you’re a proud parent!

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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What to do if you find a chick? — Bel.ru

Biologist Olga Kuvykina warns against the main mistakes that citizens make when picking up chicks that have fallen out of the nest.

Every summer I receive letters asking me to help feed the chicks. They begin the same way: “The chicks have fallen out of the nest! There are cats, people, cars around, so I took them home. But what to do now? Sometimes they literally blackmail me, they press on pity, that if I don’t take the bird, it will die. These unfortunate rescuers write in social networks how kind they are, and how callous everyone around is. But callousness should not be confused with realism and understanding of the situation.

Different countries have different attitudes towards birds. Costa Rica, for example, lives in ecotourism, so drinking bowls with sugar water for hummingbirds hang in the courtyards of hotels, and groups of birdwatchers - bird watchers - roam the forests from morning to night, hugging huge cameras.

In the Netherlands, birds are not offended, and herons sit on the hoods of cars, and songbirds let them at arm's length.

In Cyprus and Italy snacks made from warblers, goldfinches and other small songbirds have become fashionable. Millions of birds fall into the net every year and end up in the stomachs of gourmets. The number of songbirds is falling. Barbarism, the new Middle Ages, senseless cruelty.

In Laos, they eat everything that moves because they are hungry, so not only birds, but also frogs and beetles get it.

Russians fall into two extremes: from complete indifference, when they do not notice even such bright and large beauties in the yard as bullfinches and jays, to strong pity and kindness, and this kindness kills.

The babies of most of our birds leave the nests, not yet able to fly normally. Having scattered around the area, they are more likely to survive than sitting in one nest in front of predators. Such teenage flyers are called fledglings. They sit in the bushes, squeak and wait for their parents. Parents look after them, feed them, teach them to get food and recognize enemies. Adult tits rarely fall into the clutches of predators, but naive fledglings that themselves jump into their mouths easily. Therefore, broods of small birds are numerous and are calculated on the fact that out of six, say, two will survive. The most courageous, smart and maneuverable.

The first few days of departure from the nest are the most dangerous. Thrush chicks sit in the grass, where they are strangled by dogs - both stray and owner. Dogs hunt for ducklings and other waterfowl - just today I had to say something to the owner of a husky and pit bull, who set his pets on the moorhens in the pond.

Moorhens (they are confused with ducks, but they are relatives of cranes), grebes, swans and ducks of various species are our native wild fauna that require protection, while dogs are an invasive species that must be controlled.

If desired, the dog can be trained not to chase birds and cats. The running of dogs after other animals in many countries is fraught with the dogs themselves - in the reserves they have the right to shoot them, otherwise deer and other animals driven by dogs die from wounds and stress.

Jays, crows, geese and some other birds are no more stupid than dogs. They suffer greatly when they eat their babies. When a White Swiss Shepherd came to me, I quickly weaned it from running after hedgehogs and other animals. The dog turned out to be very smart, he understood my every word.

Another problem for waterfowl is the “cultivation” of water areas. Along the banks of the reservoirs, grass is mowed and concrete embankments are made. The ducklings are unable to get out of the water to rest on land and die. In Moscow, mass death of ducklings was noted after the transformation of parks into a concrete jungle. People who care save the birds - they make floating wooden rafts for them. A lot of rafts are needed, as more aggressive swans and shelducks take them away from mallards. An ideal place for ducks, as well as for nightingales and bluethroats nesting on the ground, in the bushes near the water, is a pond near which they never mow and set fire to the grass, do not mow the bushes and, of course, leave the banks as nature created them ! By the way, in several parks of the capital nightingales almost disappeared after "cultivation".

Titmouses, robins and blackbirds jumping in the bushes, and even such exotic things as corncrake chicks that look like black chickens, of course, attract the attention of compassionate citizens. They take the "orphans" home. And in vain! The only possible help for fledglings is to put them higher in dense bushes and leave, taking cats and dogs with them. No need to stomp around the chicks for a long time, attracting the attention of crows. The rest is what I would call the “feed your conscience” metaphor.

Fledglings are brought home and fed with bread, meat, cat food, milk. Fledglings of insectivorous birds with the most delicate intestines! Of course, they die from poisoning. It happens that people go to the necessary forums and publics in VK, for example, maybirds.ru, determine the type of bird and find out that you can only feed fledglings with insects. They buy crickets at the pet store and still feed the birds. But the question arises - why? Fosterlings will not survive in the forest without rehabilitation. They will die. Fed up, released from the balcony and rejoice? The next day there will be nothing left of the chicks. If you take them to the forest and launch them into a flock of nomadic songbirds, then there is a chance.

To increase the survival rate from 10 to 90, you need to leave the birds at home for life or organize rehabilitation for them - build a large aviary in the country with grass, bushes and insects, and teach your feathered friends to get food on their own. It is advisable to feed a flock of tits and other wild birds nearby so that the fledglings can communicate with them. You can contact the wildlife centers. There are few of them in Russia, and mostly they are private - people save animals with their own money and on their own. It's hard. That is, it is unlikely that you will be happy to accept a thrush chick, but the chicks of birds of prey are usually welcome. Predators are listed in the Red Book. They are large and easier to handle.

When in front of you is not a fledgling, but a chick, that is, a half-naked creature, then the question is why did it fall? Usually the weak, sick fall out, they are not residents anyway. But healthy ones can also fall into a hurricane. You can try to find a nest, bring a ladder and put the chicks back. It's a myth that their parents won't accept them. Birds have a weak sense of smell.

The chick is wounded, the wing hangs, the leg is broken, but you stubbornly take it out of the dog's mouth? Surgery of small birds in the Russian Federation is not developed. Such a chick is a suicide bomber in most cases.

In Europe, wild animals are often euthanized if they realize that they cannot be helped - for example, woodpeckers with broken beaks, chicks with numerous fractures, foxes that have been hit by cars. You can not watch how a living being slowly dies in agony. The state veterinary police arrives and does everything necessary. The decision is made by specialists: ordinary citizens are freed from this ethical torment. Minor fractures in owls and other birds of prey are treatable, but long-term rehabilitation in an aviary is needed.

Are you ready to feed/treat your chick? Do you want to give it to someone as soon as possible, relieve yourself of the burden of responsibility, although you found the bird? It will be more honest to pass by if it is a common species like a thrush. Rare birds, of course, are better to pick up. An owl can always be attached to some living corner, but not a thrush - a noisy and grumpy bird.

Robins, redstarts, great tits, titmouse, crows, gray flycatchers, pied flycatchers, green woodpeckers nest in my yard every year. This year, a couple of black woodpeckers came - outlandish, huge birds. And all this under the noses of the cats that were thrown to me, and I cured them, sterilized and vaccinated them. Wagtail parents rush at cats when they pass by chicks.

Living nearby cats and birds is quite possible under certain conditions. You can't mow all the grass. You can not cut all the bushes. Goldfinches and bullfinches eat the seeds of dandelions, burdocks and vesicles. Fledglings hide in tall grass. Insects live in dense forbs, with which birds feed their babies.

Burning and mowing kill caterpillars and other insects. Including, by the way, rare and beautiful butterflies. So, the caterpillar of the wine hawk moth - it is pink in color - feeds on willow-tea, and they also like to mow it. Caterpillars of bright butterflies-urticaria and peacock's eye eat mainly nettles. We mowed all the nettles - goodbye, cute butterflies.

Cats must wear bright, wide collars that are visible to birds. On the trunks of trees where the birds made a nest, you can attach a plastic "collar", then no one will climb the tree.

By the way, crows and jays willingly eat ducklings and songbird chicks, but these feathered bandits are so smart and interesting that I can't call them "harmful". Once I made friends with a fledgling of a crow - I treated him to a little pieces of meat, and he saw me off, flew after me. His parents all summer scolded the chick for such trust in a person, and in the fall they flew away with him somewhere far away. I treat the jay with walnuts, acorns, slices of white bread. Bullfinches, tits and squirrels - nuts and seeds. Anything salty, fried, and moldy is poison to birds.

Orioles and titmouse sing in the yard in the mornings, nightingales and redstarts sing at night. I don't like listening to the radio, I prefer silence and birdsong.

A characteristic sign of the onset of a warm, stable spring is the return of swifts from Africa home. They are often confused with swallows, although, unlike swallows, these birds fly at the speed of fighters, almost do not get sick and emit a loud, shrill “Vzii-iiii!”.

Swifts, oddly enough, do not have fledglings. Chicks fly out of the nest when they are already adapted to adulthood. Hitting the walls of houses, sometimes swifts fall to the ground and lie there for some time, stunned. The paws are short, the wings are long - you can’t take off from the ground. You need to take the swift in your hands, climb the hill, lift the bird up, and it will fly away by itself.

Quite often too curious chicks fall out of their nests under the roofs and lie on the pavement. If it is not possible to plant the birds back, then you can become their foster parents for a month or two. Swifts do everything in flight, even drink on the fly. Parents do not need to teach them any special skills. So manual swifts can and should be released immediately. They will join the flock and fly to Africa in August.

Feeding a haircut is not so easy - every two hours you have to stuff him with the abdomens of frozen banana crickets and drink water from a pipette. Crickets with delivery are easily ordered via the Internet. I recommend reading about all the intricacies of feeding a shear on the portal “Give the sky to a bird!”.

It's funny that one day it was a predator - a cat - who helped save a swift. I often walked with a brilliant black cat who understood me as a person. He followed me around everywhere. He did not offend birds, but sometimes he caught mice. The cat led me to the house where the chick fell out - the cat knew about it, but I didn’t. He sat down next to me and meowed. Around the haircut were people who tried to feed him bread. I took a naked swift home. When he grew up and took off from my palm clearly upwards, like a rocket, it was a little sad - I became attached to him ...

P . S .: This is what Olga wrote after reading the publication on the Bel.Ru news agency portal about the destruction of swallow nests during the overhaul: But in Rus', swallows have always been loved and welcomed.

These are completely helpless chicks, and even wounded. They are suicide bombers. It remains only to bury them.

For the future, it is necessary either to make repairs in the autumn, or in the spring to knock down the nests of swallows with long poles, which have just begun to build them. Then the birds will fly away to another place.

You can make special artificial nests for swallows where they won't bother anyone. Schemes of different nesting sites are on the website of the Russian Bird Conservation Union.

Magpie - man's friend or How to hatch a chick

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Published: Tarascon from Tartu... 30|12|2013 || Views: 55770

Have you brought a chick into the house and don't know what to do with it? Then I will share with you my experience of growing magpies at home.

So, in the spring, two tenants appeared in the apartment -
first this dystrophan -

and a day later his older brother registered (about him / or her / actually it will be discussed) -

After some time the youngest went to his bird forefathers (natural selection, presumably - because the care for them was the same), and to our joy the eldest remained, who, for his temper, was named Churchill (and in a simple way - Choka)

Now about the diet. Feed it is necessary often, because they constantly require grub. And what to feed? Poultry forums helped. .Bread cannot be fed.
Feed only from the hand - pushing the zhrachka with it into the insatiable mouth.

It is interesting to watch how they grow up. First they climb onto the bed helping themselves with hesitant flapping of their wings, then they
storm higher boundaries -

And so, in the end, they own all the space of your room.
Daily routine.
At first they kept him on the balcony. When he grew up, he began to peck at the window with his beak in the morning, heart-rendingly bawling (to whose call all the yard magpies responded), demanding food. Therefore, he had to be moved to my "apartments". From now on, I don't need the alarm clock went off, because this feathered bird swooped down on my head at exactly half past five in the morning and began to peck my head with its beak. And even the blanket thrown over my head did little help. But this bird fell asleep early - as soon as it got dark outside.
Also, he was absolutely not worried about having two cats and a dog under the same roof with him.
When I was with him, Choka immediately jumped on my shoulder or head and, as a sign of respect, began to carefully pinch my ear with his beak or sort through the hair on my head.
Loved for the company and dip his beak in a foamy drink -

Then the moment came when I had to look for a new home. And since it was tame, it was decided to send it to live for some time in the country, where a whole floor was allocated for it and veranda.
But, whatever one may say, the moment has come when our pet had to be taught to freedom...
And in freedom he began to do everything that I do -
followed me, sunbathed next to me -

took water procedures -

got to know a new, unknown world for himself -

And then... Then he began to fly farther and farther away.

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