How Best to Hand Feed Birds

Birds are such fragile creatures that they need to be handled with care. However, it is possible to hand feed birds and it’s a great way to interact with them. Here are some tips as to how best to hand feed birds so that both you and the bird enjoy the experience and no harm comes to either of you.

For some reason, birds seem to realise that humans usually mean them no harm. Of course this is especially true of pet birds but wild birds which can live perfectly well without human intervention still seem to accept people and any help they can provide by way of food and places to nest.

If you really need to hand feed birds, such as abandoned babies, you need to consider the amount of food that is required by the birds and the frequency. Baby birds grow very quickly and their nutritional needs change very rapidly.

As a young bird grows, his capacity for food grows with him. As the bird develops you will need to observe what sort of food seems to be satisfying him and how much of it. A combination of your own observations and judgement and knowledge found in books or on the internet will enable you to hand feed birds.

A bird’s digestive system is not the same as ours. The oesophagus widens where the neck widens and this area is known as the crop; it’s where the bird stores food.

The crop of a young bird which hasn’t developed adult feathers is easily visible and you can see if it has food in it or not. In an older bird you may need to feel whether the crop has any food in it by pressing gently with your thumb and forefinger. This will tell you how much the bird needs to eat.

The crop of a baby bird should never be completely empty. The food stored in a crop is usually used up in around four hours. If there is still food in the crop after that time, it’s possible that the bird has some digestive or other health problem.

You can often hand feed birds which are wild quite easily because they usually reach for the feeder without help but a pet bird may need positioning in order to take food.

You can hand feed birds using this hand feeding syringe and this Hand feeding formula for Baby Birds

About 

Liz is an amateur bird watcher who has been as far afield as India and South Africa combining bird watching with spotting wild animals.

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