How to Keep Young Wild Birds Alive - Survival Issues
In spring and early summer each year baby birds are struggling for survival. Inevitably the odd young bird tries to fledge too soon or falls out of the nest before it should and is found by a person like you or me.
How to feed young wild birds and ensure their survival through to adulthood then becomes key and is a challenge not to be taken lightly.
Even with the best information and intentions, before feeding young birds you should be aware that there is still a good chance they won't survive. Injuries from their fall, stress or just plain bad luck can all have an effect on a young bird. In addition, it may have fallen out of the nest not through bad luck but because it is weak or diseased and may not make it anyway.
Sometimes, as cold hearted as it sounds, you are best to leave the bird exactly where you find it. In many cases the bird may have fallen accidentally and may look in danger but it is quite likely one of thr adult parent birds is watching from a nearby bush or tree.
As soon as you touch the baby bird it will be disowned by it's parents and no more maternal care by it's parents will be offered so if you do pick up a baby bird for whatever reason, you will have to care for it from then on. On the flip side, if you leave the baby bird alone the parent may well come down and feed the bird or help it back up to a safe roost. Fallen baby birds are, after all, quite common and wild birds have evolved and developed solutions over the years.
But let's assume that for some reason you feel you have to rescue the baby bird. How are you going to care for and feed the young wild bird?
The bird should be kept in a surrogate nest - such as a shoe box - with paper towel around the edges and along the bottom of the box to absorb any mess and to make the baby bird feel comfortable. Any mess should be renoved immediately and cleanliness is vitally important to your success as a surrogate parent. Try to do your best not to upset the bird - keep it warm and in semi-darkness unless you are trying to feed the bird and keep noise and commotion to an absolute minimum around the box.
Next, the feeding.
The easiest utensil to use for feeding birds is a teaspoon, which you have modified by deliberately bending up the sudes using a vice and/or pliers to create a sort of "shute" or tube down which food can be poured.
Foods to try for young birds, depending on the species, are bread crumbs, cooked egg yolk, finely-ground cooked meat or one of the professional rearing foods available from larger pet stores. All foods should be moist and easy to swallow and baby birds should be fed regularly - every 30 minutes or so inititally extending to once every 30 - 60 minutes as the bird grows.