What to feed a baby swallow bird

How to Take Care of Orphaned Baby Tree Swallows

By Rachel Aenne | Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Shoebox

  • Small cage or laundry basket

  • Heating pad

  • Plastic, newspaper or paper towels

  • Twigs

  • 2 or 3 shallow dishes

  • Rocks

  • Eyedropper

  • Commercial baby bird food

  • Insects, nuts, fruits, alfalfa sprouts and/or sunflower seeds

  • Spray bottle

  • Bird feeder

  • Bird seed

Spotting a baby tree swallow on the ground, unable to fly, may bring out your inner animal rescuer. Uninjured baby birds with feathers, called fledglings, should be left alone because one or both parent birds are most likely nearby. Baby birds without feathers can be returned to the nest, if you’re able to find it. Observe the area from a distance; if the parent birds do not return within an hour, the baby tree swallow needs your help.

Contact the closest wildlife rehabilitation center. Orphaned birds have the greatest chance of survival if cared for at one of these facilities. If there is no wildlife rehabilitation center nearby, you may hand raise the baby tree swallow.

Wash your hands before and after caring for the baby tree swallow.

Provide adequate housing for the baby bird. If it is a hatchling (no feathers and closed eyes), use a small box with a light cover. Maintain temperatures of 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit by lining the bottom of the box with a heating pad set on low. If it is a fledgling (has feathers and open eyes), use a small bird cage with a nest area. Use a small laundry basket if no cage is available. Line the bottom with plastic, newspaper or paper towels. Provide twigs for perching.

Change the cage lining layers several times a day.

Provide a small, shallow dish of fresh, clean water. Add rocks to the dish to prevent drowning.

Feed hatchlings commercial baby bird fool prepared according to the manufacturer’s directions. Use an eyedropper to place the food in the back of the baby bird’s mouth, past the windpipe. Feed hatchlings every 20 minutes from morning until night. Feed fledglings a mix of baby bird food, insects, wheat bread, mealworms, nuts, chopped apples, alfalfa sprouts and sunflower seeds. Feed fledglings every 30 minutes, gradually increasing the time between feedings to two hours.

Encourage the baby tree swallow to self-feed after 10 days of feeding every two hours. Use tweezers to feed solid foods, showing the bird the dish the foods come from. Leave the dish of food in the cage and watch to see if the bird eats from the dish. The bird should be self-feeding by 4 weeks of age.

Mist the baby tree swallow with a spray bottle twice a day. Provide a shallow dish of water for bathing.

Release the baby tree swallow once it is able to fly and consistently self-feed. Provide an outdoor bird feeder.

  • To mimic care received in the wild, offer a variety of food, keep the cage clean and feed consistently. Daily access to sunshine is important, but be careful the baby bird does not overheat. Do not allow pets or children to stress the baby bird.


  • Second Chance: Raising Orphaned Wild Baby Birds
  • Pet Place: Foster Care of Orphaned Wild Baby Birds

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How Do I Care for a Baby Swallow Bird That Fell From Its Nest?

By Lorelei Nettles | Updated November 01, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Baby bird formula

  • Canned kitten food

  • Eyedropper

  • Shoebox

  • Small bowl

  • White unscented paper towels

  • Dead insects

  • Plastic weaved basket


  • If a bird is capable of hopping, a shoebox will not work. Create a vinyl mesh cage or purchase a picnic net shield to contain them.

    Do not place baby birds into an aquarium as they can become dangerously hot or humid.

    Do not peer down at the baby bird like a predator or over handle it, as this is very stressful to a bird.

  • If a bird is injured, take it to a veterinarian immediately.

    Change bedding when it gets dirty or damp.

    Maintain a steady temperature for the bird and keep it in a quiet place.

    Once a bird is hopping up or sitting on your finger perches should be added to the enclosure.

Although it is always best to return a fallen baby bid to its nest, sometimes it's just not possible to do so. It is also best to leave the bird alone for an hour or two if it is in a safe area — possibly in a basket hung in a tree — because the mother may come to rescue it. Whether a bird can be saved at that point depends on how long it has been away from the nest and if it was physically injured before or after the fall. When possible a baby swallow should also be kept in outdoor temperatures, such as on a porch.

Place a small bowl into a shoebox. Line the bowl and box with shredded paper towels so it resembles a nest. Gently place the baby bird into the bowl. Cover the box with a large plastic weaved basket or box to protect the bird and keep it from wandering. Be sure the weave is tight enough to keep the bird from squeezing through.

Extract a small amount of the baby bird formula into an eyedropper. Place a drop on the swallow's beak. It may take a while for the bird to accept the formula, as it will be fearful and possibly very weak. It may take up to a day for the baby to actually take much in, but the bird will eat more as it gains strength. Feed the baby swallow every two hours during daylight hours. Someone should be with the bird all day.

Put a dab of room temperature canned kitten food on your fingertip and hold it out to the swallow once it is strong enough to accept food this way. Add small insects to the swallow's diet as well. Insects can be found near outdoor lighting fixtures at night and should be dead when served to the baby swallow.


  • Ted Pack: A Barn Swallow Success Story - 2006
  • Daily Puppy: How to Care for Baby Birds That Have Fallen Out of a Nest-By Carrie Perles
  • 2nd Chance: Raising Orphaned Wild Baby Birds I Found A Baby Bird - What Should I Do?-Ron Hines DVM PhD


  • St. Francis Wildlife: Rescuing Songbirds
  • Wild Bird Watching: Baby Birds - Should I Help?


  • If a bird is injured, take it to a veterinarian immediately.
  • Change bedding when it gets dirty or damp.
  • Maintain a steady temperature for the bird and keep it in a quiet place.
  • Once a bird is hopping up or sitting on your finger perches should be added to the enclosure.


  • If a bird is capable of hopping, a shoebox will not work. Create a vinyl mesh cage or purchase a picnic net shield to contain them.
  • Do not place baby birds into an aquarium as they can become dangerously hot or humid.
  • Do not peer down at the baby bird like a predator or over handle it, as this is very stressful to a bird.

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What swallows eat - What they eat on planet Earth

In nature, swallows mainly eat various flies, beetles, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths and other flying insects. They usually catch lonely flying insects.

In order to better digest food, like many other birds, they collect and eat various grains and small pebbles. This gives them calcium and makes it easier to digest food.

These birds feed almost exclusively in flight, which is why they fly quite low compared to other birds. nine0003

They like to fly almost above the surface of the water.

They can also be found near cattle herds, as there are always a lot of insects in such places.

Sometimes they may eat a dead insect from the ground, or from a tree or building walls.

Swallows feed from dawn to dusk. In the breeding season, they consume more food with calcium content.

In a day this bird can consume a hundred different insects, for this reason it is a welcome guest in agricultural fields and livestock areas. nine0003

What swallows eat at home

Swallows need insects as food. They catch them only when they are in a state of flight, so they need flying insects, in particular flies.

In addition to flies, crickets, bee larvae, moth larvae are suitable.

It is not necessary to use live insects, frozen ones are suitable.

Do not use mealworms as food, they will cause feather loss and stomach upset, probably due to the high amount of protein. nine0003

Vitamin and mineral mixtures must be added to the feed, especially when growing chicks.

How to feed a swallow chick at home

It is very difficult to train a swallow chick to live in nature, and this is possible only by an experienced specialist. For this reason, if you find a chick, look carefully, it may have fallen out of the nest. Return it back if possible. You can put a chick in the nest of another swallow of the same species, they are caring birds and will not be thrown out, but raised. nine0003

Swallow feeds chicks

If this is not possible and you had to take the chick away, then take it to the veterinarian, check for parasites and other diseases, as well as for injuries, then start raising it.

The easiest way to feed a chick at home is to buy crickets at a pet store.

Chicks can't kill live insects, so you have to do it, otherwise live larvae and insects can damage the chick's stomach. Do not feed the chick large crickets, they are difficult to digest, so take small insects or reduce their size. nine0003

Swallow chick

Swallow chick should be fed every quarter of an hour during the day. If he is full, then you can feed every two hours, it all depends on age. It is easy to understand whether the chicks are full or not, if they eagerly open their beak, then give them cricket after cricket. When they are full, they will stop opening their beak and calm down.

You can freeze the insects and feed the chick frozen insects and you don't have to kill the insects, they will fall asleep on their own. Before feeding, remove the required amount of food from the freezer and defrost. Do not take more than you need, the food spoils quickly. nine0003

It is advisable to add finely crushed eggshells to the feed, give no more than once a day. You can dip the cricket in this powder.

Chicks need to be given water, give water through a pipette, several times a day.

How to attract swallows

It is difficult to attract swallows to your site, it is practically impossible for them to create the main conditions for their life: the availability of food and water.

Swallows almost never visit bird feeders.

Swallows require the following conditions:

  • Flying food;
  • Permanent source of water, body of water;
  • Large and open spaces for hunting and flying.

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How to save swallow chicks that have fallen out of the nest - Feeding and nursing abandoned chicks

Feeding and nursing abandoned chicks

Many summer residents have swallows under the roofs of their houses, and this happens almost every year. But sometimes it happens that the chicks fall out of the nest. There are people who don't even notice it. And there are those who will never pass by. This is especially true for children. Children will always want to help helpless birds. And here you can not do without the help of adults. nine0003

Situations are different - somewhere we can help, but somewhere we can't. But to make every effort, especially when children are watching us, is simply necessary. Let's look at three main cases, and how we should act in them.

1. A fledgling chick fell out of the nest, but most likely there were a lot of chicks in the nest, and the remaining chicks themselves pushed it out. Alas, in this case we will not be able to help him, and the chick breaks in almost one hundred percent of such cases.

2. Below the nest, we find an almost adult bird. The chick can peck on its own, but it has not yet learned to fly. And at the bottom, he was most likely due to the fact that his parents thought that it was time for the chick to learn to fly. This is the easiest case. The chick needs to be transplanted to something high next to the nest, a fence is fine. Parents will definitely fly up to him and continue their flight training. It is only advisable to take the chick not with bare hands, so that the smell of a person is not transmitted to him, but at least with gloves (preferably new ones). nine0003

3. The most difficult case is when feathered chicks - yellowmouths - fall out of the nest. You can try to return from the nest, using the stairs. But there are cases that are quite difficult. Once, during a thunderstorm with a strong wind, the nest itself could not withstand the pressure of the wind and broke away from the wall. As a result, the youngest son takes home three yellowmouths, which there was nowhere to return, because the nest fell and broke.

I will warn you right away that it will be hellish work if you are going to feed such chicks. Constant noise, buzz, chirping, the demand to feed at any time of the day or night. But, to be honest, it is also an incomparable pleasure when the process is brought to the end, especially on the part of the child. nine0003

Nest. Any dish more or less accommodating all the chicks will do. We had plastic shallow containers from the legs. Of course they must be washed and dry. It is advisable to line such a container with the straw and fluff that were in the nest, if this is not possible, then another dry grass will do. In extreme cases, cotton wool is suitable (this is if the grass becomes unusable, and there will be nothing to replenish stocks in the city).

Feeding. Permanent, on demand. As soon as your yellow beaks open, shove something edible into them. You need to feed with such things: ant eggs (my son went in search of ants every two or three days), medium-sized bloodworms (if you have a store nearby either for anglers or with animal feed). Never feed dry food! In extreme cases, feed a boiled egg (protein), but it will still need to be alternated with normal food. You need to feed with tweezers - pinch off a piece of protein or a piece of bloodworm and put it in your mouth. It is better to use tweezers not metal, but plastic, you can build it yourself from improvised means, the main thing is that there are no sharp edges. nine0003

Water. You need to water the chicks from a syringe. But certainly not from a syringe with a metal needle. Throw away the needle, draw water into the syringe, press on the piston, a drop of water forms at the end of the syringe, bring it to the chick's mouth. It's hard at first, then you get used to it.

Remember to periodically clean the nest and change the bedding.

Soon the chicks will get comfortable and will no longer be so afraid. The signal that they will soon need to be released is frequent flights around the apartment, sticking on window sills, carefully looking at what is happening outside the window. In the city, the chicks do not need to be released, take them to where they were picked up, that is, to your dacha.

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