What to feed baby barn swallow birds

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.

Photo Credits

How to Raise a Baby Barn Swallow

By Naomi Bolton | Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Tissue paper

  • Ice cream tub

  • Electric heating pad

  • Commercial insectivore diet

  • Minced meat

  • Veterinary vitamin and mineral supplement

  • Two children’s paint brushes

  • Blunt-end tweezers (optional)

  • Small bowl

Barn swallows, with their deeply forked tails, are interesting birds that feed only while they are flying. The young of this species are termed altricial, because they hatch naked and helpless. Barn swallow infants typically gape to request food and do not always need to be handled excessively, but this is nevertheless a challenging species to rear.

Ensure that the parents have abandoned the chick by observing it from a distance. In many cases, the parents will return and continue to feed the chick.

Place a number of layers of tissue paper onto the bottom of an ice cream tub and put the barn swallow into this artificial nest.

Place an electric heating pad onto the bottom of a cardboard box that is larger than the ice cream tub and place the ice cream tub onto the heating pad inside the box. Set the heating pad to between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Place half of the ice cream tub onto the heating pad, so that the swallow can shift away from the heat source if it chooses to. Decrease this temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week after the chick develops feathers.

Prepare a mixture of 1 tablespoon of commercial insectivore diet and 1 tablespoon of minced meat. Add a pinch of a veterinary vitamin and mineral supplement to this mixture.

Dip a clean child’s paintbrush into the mixture and hold the brush in front of the swallow's beak. Place the mixture in the swallow’s mouth as soon as it gapes, which is the natural feeding response for this species.

Feed the swallow at least eight times per day. Feeding every two hours typically works well. Do not leave the fledgling for longer periods than two hours though. Feed the swallow until its stops gaping, which is an indication that it has eaten a sufficient amount.

Use a pair of blunt-end tweezers as an alternative to the child’s paint brush.

Dip a child’s paint brush into a small bowl of water and offer it to the fledgling between feedings.

Use a wet child’s paintbrush to wipe uneaten food from the beak and face of the swallow. By using the brush, you minimize handling, which is typically stressful to these tiny birds.

Use tweezers to remove the swallow’s fecal sac after each feed. Take care not to rupture the sac, as they are very delicate.


  • Twycross Zoo: Hand-rearing Swallow and Martins
  • Wild Bird Watching: The Barn Swallow Habits
  • BCB705 Biodiversity: Precocial and altricial chicks

Photo Credits

Writer Bio

Virtually growing up in a computer repair shop, Naomi Bolton has held a passion for as long as she can remember. After earning a diploma through a four year course in graphic design from Cibap College, Bolton launched her own photography business. Her work has been featured on Blinklist, Gameramble and many others.

How to breed a swift at home

Who fed the swift, God kissed him (proverb)

The swift is a special bird, one of the fastest in the world, which can stay in the sky for months: feed, breed and sleep on air streams. Since all 4 fingers of the swift are facing forward, these birds cannot sit on the branches of trees and walk on the ground, therefore, if you notice a swift sitting on the ground, it means that it needs human help. Just like that, a swift cannot end up on earth, its future life depends only on you.

The first rule: under no circumstances should swifts be tossed or released from balconies or bridges! If he has an internal bruise, fracture, dislocation or some other internal injury, by throwing him up you will provoke him to fly and thereby worsen his condition. He will fly a few meters and still fall.

Second rule: swifts are strictly insectivorous birds, they are fed ONLY with house or banana crickets, Turkmen or marble cockroaches, locusts, ant eggs (pupae), zofobas . (This food can be purchased from us. If this food is not available in your city, we will be happy to deliver it by train, bus or post.) Before buying insects, but not more than a day, you can give the bird balls of low-fat homemade cheese (the so-called " cottage cheese"), so that digestion does not stop. Homemade cheese is the product that you can’t poison the swift and harm it.

The main reasons why swifts can end up on the ground are:

  1. injury
  2. unsuccessful flight of a young swift
  3. a small chick falling out of the nest.

In all cases, the bird should be carefully picked up and examined for injury. If the bird appears to be intact and undamaged, it should be placed in a box large enough so that it will not get stuck if it opens its wings fully, and left alone. The box must be DARK. It is very important! The bottom of the box must be lined with toilet paper, which is changed as it gets dirty. It is impossible to plant a swift in a cage, as it can break, damage or shatter the plumage. You can not drink, because if the bird has a traumatic brain injury, then drinking will provoke cerebral edema and death. The swift is one of the few birds that will definitely not die of dehydration within a few days. And since it flies very fast, head injuries are quite common.



If the swift has an open fracture of the shoulder, wing, trauma to the eye, body, bruises or wounds, it is necessary to anesthetize with Meloxicam tablets (7. 5 mg - whole tablet, 15 mg - 1/2 tablet) - dilute in 0.75 ml of water; then take 0.1 ml (2 drops) of this solution and add 12.5 ml of water to them. The resulting second solution should be given to the swift 0.05 ml (one drop!) 1-2 times a day for 2-14 days, depending on the condition. Mix a new solution every day.

IMPORTANT! IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO ANESTHETATE (and also bandage, plaster) an INJURED BIRD, even in case of an open fracture, if it does not die from pain shock right at that moment.
If you anesthetize a bird, it will no longer be able to fly, even if the injury was treatable.
Dark boxing (2 weeks), good nutrition and PAIN - 3 components of success. This forces the bird to sit still and take care of the damaged wing.
If anesthetized, the bird will feel able to fly. She will be restless, active. This will most likely prevent the damaged organ from recovering properly. The pain threshold in birds is very high.

If at first glance the bird is whole, you need to shine a flashlight into the eyes and find out if the pupils constrict at the same time, if not, then it has a traumatic brain injury (TBI). One of the clearest signs of TBI is developing swelling (eg, swelling of the eyes, swollen eyes). In this case, it is necessary to give a one-time hormonal preparation on the advice of a veterinarian and in the exact dosage and place it in a dark box for two weeks. Starting from the 4th day, you need to give:

  • Piracetam 1 - 1 drop per day, the drug is cumulative, so it is given for a long time,
  • Mexidol - 1 drop per day,
  • B1 - 1 drop 1 time per day.

Important! Preparations for TBI should not be used in the first three days!

You can read detailed information about the treatment of the swift on the page dedicated to help, maintenance and feeding VKontakte.

Don't rely too much on the help of veterinarians or bird watchers, the swift is a wild bird, and bird watchers often give the wrong advice on feeding or treating the swift. Moreover, do not give the swift to zoos or bird shelters, often the swift is given as food to birds of prey, since the food of the swift is expensive and it is unlikely that anyone will want to deal with treatment there.

Unsuccessful flight of a young swift

It happens that adult birds fly to Africa, leaving the chick, and the chick flies out of the nest in search of food, but because it lacks strength - it has become thin or not fully feathered - it falls to the ground . In such a situation, it is necessary: ​​

  1. Find out the age of the swift according to this table
  2. Weigh the bird and start feeding according to this chart. If a relatively mature bird weighs less than 23-25g, the bird is emaciated and its stomach needs to be run according to this advice: https://www.mybirds.ru/forums/topic/128929-iz-opyta-vyhazhivaniya-strizhey/.

If the bird is relatively mature, more often it should be supplemented for a short time and released according to the advice below.

Swift in the sky

Little chick falling out of the nest

If you come across a very small swift that has fallen out of the nest, the main thing for him now is food.

Feed the little swift every 2 hours at least 10 times a day. The approximate amount of food according to age (by day) is provided at the end of the article in the tables.

Birds should gain 1–1.5 grams of weight every day! A chick in a nest can weigh up to 55 grams. But before it starts to fly, the chick begins to lose weight, refuses to eat. At this stage, you can feed him less, but so that the weight before the flight is not lower than 37 grams. It is important to feed the chick enough so that he has a reserve for losing weight! A hungry bird does not develop a feather well, and feathers are the whole life for a swift!

As noted at the beginning of the article, swifts are strictly insectivorous birds.

After purchasing crickets and cockroaches, they must be put in the freezer so as not to accidentally infect the bird with helminths (especially if you have to feed wild-caught insects before purchasing specially grown food). Then get the required amount, tear off the legs, mustache, ovipositor (since these hard surfaces can injure the swift’s esophagus; or you can buy ready-made “carcasses” without legs), throw them into warm water, when they are thawed, put them on a napkin and feed. It is not necessary to give a lot of water to the swift, as they get it from insects.

Ant eggs (pupae) can be bought or dug up from anthills. This is a very useful and favorite food of the swift. Ant eggs are also stored in the freezer; before feeding, they must be thawed and washed. Grasshoppers or grasshoppers can be caught in nature, but you need to freeze for at least 5 hours to destroy helminths. By the way, swifts do not gain weight too quickly on fillies, so they need more than other fodder insects.

Do NOT feed swifts meat, bread, eggs, maggots, potatoes, baby food, pet store bird food, vitamins, earthworms, bloodworms, or the like.

If the bird is not properly fed, then when it returns to the sky, when it begins to eat its usual food - celestial plankton (i. e. insects), its metabolic processes will fail, molting will begin and the bird will fall. And this is a very terrible death. By the way, from malnutrition, some birds begin to lose feathers even before departure. Liver disease is also common. Therefore, nothing but insects should be given to swifts! (Below we provide links to the pages of European organizations involved in feeding swifts, which clearly write that nothing but insects should be fed to the swift, and there are also photos of plumage after improper feeding.)

Feeding rules

It happens that the swift feeds on its own, grabbing food from the fingers, but if the chick has already grown up and refuses to eat from the hands, it is necessary to try to find the way the parents fed the chick - to lead the insects along the beak from different sides, provoking to grab food.

If the chick refuses to feed on its own, it must be force-fed. To do this, it is necessary to wrap the swift in a napkin in order not to damage or stain the plumage, and carefully, opening the beak from the side, put the insect into the mouth. The beak of swifts is very fragile, it cannot be opened by the tip, because it can break, it is necessary to open it only from the side, do not use sharp and hard objects! There are many videos on YouTube with examples of feeding swifts - you can watch and learn.

Departure time

Since adult birds do not teach swifts to fly and, leaving the nest, they immediately go to Africa, the chicks begin to train in the nest before the flight.

If you see that the swift has become restless, aggressive, his look has changed, he often trains, it means that the departure time is approaching.

Check before departure:

  1. The swift's wings must be at least 3.5 cm longer than the tail.
  2. Weight within 37–42 gr.
  3. All feather tubes should come off.
  4. The base of the pen, where the tubes were, should darken.

The bird should be released in a wasteland with low grass, where there are no wires, houses, trees, cars, so that in case of a fall it can be easily found. The weather for the next few days should be sunny, warm and windless.

You need to release it by raising your hand with the bird up. Do not toss, swing or throw. The bird will decide for itself whether to fly or not. It happens that swifts feel the presence of a predator and do not take off from the hand, in which case you can try to release the next day.


  • Do not let fly at home, around the apartment.
  • Do not teach to fly.
  • Do not take outside.
  • Treat the plumage very carefully and carefully.

So, feeding a chick in the first days is not so easy, but then, when it rises from your palm into the sky and lives happily there for more than 10 years, believe me, you will never forget the time you spent with this bird, because this a fantastic bird will live forever in your soul. Add to our group in contact, we will always give advice in time and help in this good deed! Good luck!

Swift in flight

Useful links

  • Determining the age of the swift with photographs
  • Food selection
  • The right amount of food
  • Site "Give the sky to the bird"
  • VKontakte group

All articles


  1. You can’t give our (Russian), only the original drug is given - Nootropil (piracetam) ampoule, made in Belgium [↩]

how to describe the swallow according to the plan?

The name of the bird is a swallow.

But there are varieties of swallows, there are several of them.

Barn swallows (or barn swallows), also called chimney swallows, are species of birds belonging to the order Passeriformes (passerines) and to the family hirundinidae.

Lives on almost all continents of the globe, judging by the annual migrations.

In our country, and more broadly in Europe, the bird is known to "herald spring" as it arrives in our territories at the end of winter to nest there. No wonder they say: the swallows flew in, they brought spring on their wings. Swallows are the last migratory birds to arrive when the steady heat sets in.

Features Barn Swallow


17 to 21 cm


Wingspan 32 to 35 cm with outstretched wings.

Body weight:

From 16 to 24 g depending on the region of habitat

Tail length:

From 3 to 6 cm

Body characteristics:

Slender and light figure, long narrow wings, short beak, short legs , long forked tail.

Flight characteristics:

Graceful, fast and agile flight; its flight is powerful during annual migrations

Plumage Colour:

Dark blue to black plumage on upper body, white underparts, dark red face and throat, dark head, black beak, black eyes, black tail

The color of the plumage depends on the region of the world in which the bird lives.


Chirp song; like tsvi-tsvi-tsvi.

Barn swallows can make multiple alarm calls when threatened.

Where do Swallows live and what do they eat?

Place of life:

The swallow lives in open areas with sparse vegetation, wet meadows, farmlands, groves, swamps, parks and gardens.

She appreciates the pools to drink there and chase the insects (in flight) that are there.

During the nesting period, swallows approach agricultural and suburban areas where they can find a suitable place to build their nests (sheds, stables, barns, etc.).



Type of food:

Barn swallow feeds exclusively on insects.

The variety of prey varies by season and region of the world.

Social life:

Swallow is a migratory bird. At the end of winter, birds migrate from hot countries to temperate zones to reproduce and raise their young, and at the end of summer they fly to hot countries.

Diurnal and gregarious birds, usually seen in groups of several individuals. On the other hand, during the nesting season, couples isolate themselves to raise their young. During this period, males and females become very aggressive and vigorously defend their nests.

From September, swallows gather in Europe for the next big migration to warmer countries. Then we can easily see them sitting on electrical wires or on rooftops. This great journey is a dangerous journey for these birds; many of them miss their destination due to starvation or exhaustion en route.

Hunting technique:

Barn swallows hunt in flight. Their great agility allows them to perform several acrobatics to catch insects in flight.

In wet weather they hunt their prey over rivers or ponds, flying close to the surface of the water. Hence the sign that if the swallows fly low, it will soon rain.


Its main predators are domestic cats, stone martens and some birds of prey (peregrine falcon, owl).

Nesting period:

Spring (April to June)

Place of laying nest:

Nest usually under a roof in an open building (garage, stable, barn, barn).

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