What Does Baby Birds Eat Besides Worms? A Complete Diet Guide

Last Updated on October 20, 2021 by Guillermina

Been Googling – what does baby birds eat besides worms? If yes, then we’ve got just the article for you. Stick with us for more info!

For most people, the immediate response after spotting a gaping nestling is to feed it. However, before you come to its rescue, be sure it even needs rescuing.

Often hungry baby birds have not been abandoned, and their feathery parents are usually nearby and simply hunting for food. They know exactly what and how to feed their babies, so let’s leave it to the professionals.

Some parents have multiple nests. With several chicks to feed, they might give unequal attention to some little ones. In other cases, it is also possible for an observer to not notice the feeding cycle. Birds zip back and forth when bringing food to their babies. If you’ve missed them, zoom by, you’ll likely think they’ve left their starving babies behind.

Baby Bird Care 101

 how much do baby birds eat

Hungry baby birds can survive up to 24 hours without food. Contact your local bird rescue organization if you notice that hours have passed since their last feed, and they’re growing weak and lethargic. This will help trained personnel reach the nestlings and give them the appropriate care.

In emergency situations, they might even guide you in order to save the little lives. You might be required to protect them by knowing what eats baby birds along with what baby birds eat.

However, unfortunately, in many parts of the world, such rescue teams are not available. In such circumstances, it can be life-saving to know what does baby birds eat besides worms. It is a common belief that chicks only eat worms. That’s not the case. Their diet can include other food items, safe for them to consume, as well. Rather than hunting for worms, there are other foods you can feed them

Baby birds, such as nestlings, are entirely dependent on their parents for sustenance. They know how much do baby birds eat and accordingly feed their chicks. If a nestling needs help, it’s critical to understand what and how often should you feed a baby bird. Unlike with other animals, you’ll even need to learn how to feed them.

Feeding Schedules

Contrary to their size, their dietary demands are pretty high. The high-protein diet of chicks mainly consists of insects to help them grow steadily. With adequate nutrition, their bones and feathers grow and mature healthily. Based on the age, some babies need to be fed after intervals of 10 to 20 minutes, spread over 12 to 14 hours in a single day. As they age, the intervals lengthen, and feedings decrease in number.

Keeping up with this frantic feeding routine is a skill that dedicated professionals have. In order to save their fragile lives, you’ll need to follow this schedule as well.

What Do Baby Birds Eat Then?

 how often should you feed a baby bird

The nutritional requirements of babies are unlike those of adults. Certain foods are safe for adult birds but can be fatal for their babies. You’ll need to meticulously research before feeding the babies so that they’re not harmed in this rescue mission.

Baby bird food is available at certain pet stores. However, in its absence, there are other foods that you can feed instead.

As babies cannot consume dry foods, you’ll need to moisten certain foodstuffs before feeding them. This includes high-protein cat and dog kibble. Yes, they’re safe for baby birds to eat. With a few drops of water, ensure the correct consistency—soft but sticky. Moist high-protein dog food can be fed as well. Tiny pieces of unseasoned raw kidney or liver meat are also a good source of protein.

Another enjoyable meal is hard-boiled eggs. You can safely feed chicks eggs, as well as the shells. Finely crushed eggshells are a nutritious item. They are a pure source of calcium, a nutrient essential for the building and maintenance of bones. The best way to feed baby birds crushed eggshells is to grind them to a fine powder and sprinkle it over the wet food you’re feeding the younger fledglings.

What Not To Feed Baby Birds?

While it’s important to know what does baby birds eat besides worms, it is also critical to understand what not to feed them. The insects that baby birds eat from their parents are easy to swallow and digest, and this does not include large, wriggling worms.

Another common mistake is to give babies pet bird feed or whole bird seeds. These are specially made for adult birds and are unsafe for babies. Also, keep bread and similar products away from their meals. Bread is a low-nutrient food that can be considered junk food for birds, including adult birds.

 what eats baby birds

Another unsafe item is milk. Birds are commonly lactose intolerant and do not have dairy intake requirements like mammals. Keep milk and its products out of the baby bird diet. Lastly, avoid water. The diet that babies consume contains a sufficient amount of water already. They don’t need excess water besides the feed.

Feeding Baby Nestlings

If the baby birds you’re caring for are nestlings, they cannot eat by themselves. Also, you’ll notice nestlings generally keep open their mouths wide. This action is called gaping. By softly tapping their nest, you might see them reach out with wide-open beaks.

To feed these dependent babies, you’ll need some simple equipment. Firstly, you’ll need a soft stick or small dropper. You can use a thin straw or a cotton bud with the cotton removed. The softness of the feeder is important so you don’t injure their delicate mouth and throat.

Mash the food or cut it into minuscule pieces. A paste-like consistency is easiest for a baby to swallow. The smaller the bites, the easier it is to digest –  that’s why parent birds feed babies their regurgitations.

If the feed’s consistency is correct, it’ll easily attach to the stick. Now, carefully drop the bite into the baby’s wide-open beak. Do not force it down; simply drop it. You’ll need to feed the nestling after regular intervals using this method. Doing so can help them survive till they’re sufficiently independent.


Baby birds have a complex and demanding diet that only their parents can truly fulfill. Where bird parents are absent, you can help by reaching out to a nearby rescue organization. If professionals are unavailable, you now know what to do – thanks to our baby bird care guide.

As always, if you think there’s something we missed or have a bird rescue story to share – hit the comments section below and let us feel your love!

Read more about Shore Bird With Curved Beak – What’s That Bird Called?

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