How to Do Proper Spoon Feeding for Baby Birds

Bird lovers and enthusiasts are continuing to strive harder to make this world a better place – not just for humans, but for birds, too. One of the most exciting breakthroughs is revolutionizing the care for juvenile birds that have been orphaned or left by their parents in the wild. This process is oftentimes called hand-feeding or spoon-feeding birds. If you want to know more, keep on reading.

Why Should You Spoon Feed Birds?

Baby birds arrive in this world blind, naked, wet, and too weak to support their fragile bodies. When they fall from the bird’s nest, their survival becomes shaky. But, with your help, you can care for these baby birds and help them develop normal lives.

Spoon feeding wild baby birds can help them survive and live on, like your pets or when you return them to the wild. These baby birds need you to grow at an extraordinarily quick rate, and their growth will require finding the perfect type of food that will meet your pet bird’s nutritional needs.

How To Spoon Feed Your Baby Bird

  1. Check the bird’s crop and see if it is full.
    • A bird has a unique digestive system, which is the crop, or a widening space in the bird’s esophagus that will widen towards the lower pan of the bird’s neck. Because of the widening of the crop, the bird has a compartment in their body to hold that the quantity of food for your pet bird.
    • The crop can be found quite easily in young birds that do not have feathers yet. But for slightly older birds, the crop shows its fullness through a gentle feel using your index finger and thumb.
    • Before you feed your pet bird, you should touch the crop and estimate the space that you can occupy for feeding.
    • For a very young bird that is growing quite quickly, you should never allow that this space in your bird’s body is left empty.
    • Checking how full the bird’s crop is will identify how much you will feed your bird as well as how often each session will be.
    • Usually, the crop empties within 4 hours.
  2. Set a position for your bird to start being spoon-fed.
    • The best place to feed a wild bird is through a nest box.
    • These birds will then open their beaks and gape wildly, which makes feeding them much easier.
    • To make sure that all goes well, avoid handling the birds too much.
    • You can also cup a hand around the head of your baby during feeding time so that it will receive the support it needs while it is being fed.
  3. Introduce your chosen feeding device for your pet bird.
    • You can opt for using a spoon, an eyedropper, or a syringe for feeding your bird. Each of them is relatively easy to use, especially when the baby birds themselves, making an effort to gape their mouths.
    • If a bird does not gape, you can gently tap their beak using the feeding device so that the bird will be pushed to open its beak.
    • Pass the feeding device, which usually is the spoon, into the left side of the bird’s mouth towards the right side.
    • The administration of your chosen baby bird food must be synchronized with your bird’s swallowing. Swallowing can usually be monitored through the rhythmic bobbing of the bird’s head up and down.

How Much Volume of Baby Formula Must Be Given

The volume of the bird food weighs very significant importance for the bird’s life. Overfilling can lead to backflow up to the bird’s esophagus, down the throat, and through the windpipe. This blockage can lead to your pet bird’s death. On the other hand, under filling the bird’s crop can lead your feathered baby’s starvation.

As the baby food is being delivered, the crop will start to fill and can bulge towards the region of the lower neck of your bird. To determine this, you have to depend on the value of experience and careful observation.

Most of the time, the bird will cease its gaping behavior when their crops are already filled. However, some birds will remain on their gaping behavior despite being fed already. Therefore, you should also consider watching the bird while you are filling so that you will not miss should there be some food material when it backs up into the bird’s mouth.

If this problem occurs, you should immediately stop until your mouth has been fully cleared.

Should you find any excess food material on our bird’s skin, beak, and feathers, you should remove this using warm water after the feeding session has ceased. You can also follow up the mealtime by dropping some drops of water to help your bird clean its mouth. You should also clean your bird’s spoon immediately after use.

How Often Should You Feed Your Baby Bird

  1. Hatchlings to 1 week old
    • If the bird was removed from the nest after hatching, feeding must have special care. There should be no attempts to feed them for at least 12 hours after hatching.
    • The crop of the bird, at this time, is still very small with a very limited amount of food.
    • After continued use, the crop will be able to learn to expand.
    • The first feeding of this bird, after 12 hours, should begin with a drop of water.
    • After 30 minutes to an hour, add another drop of water.
    • After these initial feeding attempts, you can start with a few drops of baby bird formula.
    • Spoon feeding must be continued every two hours around the clock.
  2. One to two weeks old
    • Birds must be fed every 2 to 3 hours around the dock.
    • If the birds are kept especially comfortable and warm, the night feedings after midnight can be eliminated.
    • Feedings for this baby bird must begin at 6:00 AM.
  3. Two to three weeks old
    • You can start to remove the baby bird from the nest to commence with hand-feeding.
    • Checking their crop is much easier now.
    • These baby birds must be fed every 3 to 4 hours, starting from 6:00 AM until midnight.
  4. Three to four weeks old
    • Feed your pet birds every 4 hours.
    • As the frequency of feeding lessens, start to slightly thicken the bird’s formula.
    • The bird, at this time, can be put to cages with low perches.
    • You can place water inside a bowl as well.
  5. Five to six weeks old
    • Feed the birds 2 times in a day.
  6. Seven weeks & up.
    • Begin the weaning process.

How To Know If Something Is Going Wrong

The signs for problems with your pet birds that are still in the juvenile stage:

  1. Abnormal growth
  2. Abnormal or lack of droppings
  3. Abnormal posturing or wing and leg positions
  4. Chirping or crying all the time
  5. Fussing a lot and not sleeping
  6. Listless, droopy wings or head
  7. No feeding response
  8. Not accepting food
  9. Not emptying the crop
  10. Poor weight gain
  11. The wet area over or near the crop

If you are feeling bad and you think that something is wrong, set an appointment with your trusted veterinarian.

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