***Never put liquids directly into the mouth of a wild bird,this includes parrot hand-feeding formula! Birds airway is directly at the back of their tongue and it is very easy to aspirate (put it into their lungs) and kill them***
For many years people thought that cat caught birds died of shock within 48 hours. It is only recently that rehabbers discovered that what they actually died of was pasteurella septicaemia. 90% of cats carry the pasteurella multocida bacteria in their saliva so the chances of infection are high and birds caught by cats will usually succumb to the septicemia. The birds can die before symptoms of infection become noticeable, which is why rehabbers will treat birds that are even suspected of having been caught by a cat immediately with amoxycillin
Is It Time To Help?
Does this bird really need help? Baby birds that have all their feathers are fledglings and are ready to leave the nest. They need to be on the ground a day or two as they learn to fly, their parents are taking care of them. Unfeathered babies can be returned to the nest, for it is not true that if you touch a baby bird the parents will abandon it. If the nest has been destroyed, you can make a new one using something such as a parrot nest box and wire; nail it close to where the original one was. You should put fully feathered babies in a bush or on a tree limb, and they should be just fine. You might want to ask any cat owning neighbors to keep the cats in for a day or two to give the baby birds a chance to learn how to fly. The exception to this would be if there is an injury or the baby has been in a cat's or dog's mouth, even if you don't see any marks on it. Cats and dogs have a bacteria that can be fatal to baby birds if they are not treated with antibiotics. These birds need to be taken to a wildlife rehabber or veterinarian right away.
Warmth & Bedding If the baby is not completely feathered, it needs to be kept warm. You may use a heating pad on low heat, however cover the pad with a towel. (Some approximate temperature ranges are: unfeathered chicks -- 90 degrees; chicks with some pin feathers -- 85 degrees; fully feathered chicks -- 75 degrees.) Place the baby bird into a small container such as a margarine tub lined with crumpled towels. It cannot get any traction on a smooth surface, and the legs sliding out from under it will cause spraddle leg. Then put the container with the baby in a box and set it on the heating pad. If the baby bird has no feathers you will then need to cover the box with another towel to help hold the heat in.
Hydration Most of the wild baby birds that come into wildlife centers are dehydrated and suffering some degree of starvation. Babies who have been orphaned for a while will need to be hydrated before being given any food. To check hydration you can look inside the bird's mouth; it should look moist. A dehydrated bird will usually have reddish looking skin.Or you can pull the skin up on the back of their neck, and it should spring back as soon as you let it go. Unflavored Pedialyte or Lactated Ringers Solution are good hydration fluids. In a pinch you may make your own by boiling 1/4 cup Karo corn syrup (Starlings are sucrose intolerant so table sugar or molasses would not be good choices) to one cup water and adding a pinch of salt. Cool to lukewarm, dip your fingers into it and place drops on the top outside of the baby's beak. It will then be able to suck some in without the danger of aspiration. Or you can soak small pieces of bread in the sugar water, squeeze the liquid out so it isn't dripping, and feed it to the baby, or feed small slivers of fruit, without the skin, that has a high water content such as grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, plums, or cherries. Never put liquids directly into the mouth of a wild bird,this includes parrot hand-feeding formula. It is too easy for them to inhale the fluid, causing inhalation pneumonia or even drown.
Food for Baby Starlings and Sparrows
Starlings are omnivores but are close to being insectivores, and they require high amounts of animal protein. Baby starlings in the wild are fed almost a total insect diet (solid food) by their parents, and therefore are unable to cope with liquids. Adult sparrows eat mostly grain but as babies are fed insects by their parents, so they require the same nutrition as starlings. Parrot hand-feeding formula or softbill pellets are not appropriate foods for baby starlings and sparrows. Parrots and most captive softbills have different nutritional needs than that of starlings and sparrows who are more insectivorous as babies. This is believed to be what adult starlings need in the way of protein and fat; 33.1% protein and 12.1% fat. Protein/Fat ratios were estimated by calculating the average value of insects, seeds/grains, and wild fruits then multiplying the bird's intake ratios (as a percentage of total diet) of each food group and averaging the totals. A baby starling has even higher protein needs. Kaytee softbill pellets have 18% protein and 6% fat, the main ingredient is corn. Exact handfeeding formula has protein of 22.0% and fat of 9.0%, and the main ingredient is corn. A good brand of cat food such as Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul brand - Senior Light Cat Kibble (32% protein and 9% fat) will work for feeding young birds. Always read the label of the product to make sure not only the protein/fat ratio is right but that the first ingredient listed is chicken. For more information about why dog or cat food is commonly fed to wild songbirds by wildlife rehabbers, please read my webpage entitled, What? Feed Dog Food To A Starling?
There are many recipes for feeding ominovores, but most are based on a dog/cat food mixture, such as the recipe below. Use dry, soaked, cat food, and be sure that chicken is the first ingredient on the label. Check the vitamin package for the right amount of avian vitamins to use since different vitamins have different recommendations.
Recipe for Handfeeding Forumula
1 cup soaked cat food 1/4 cup of applesauce 1 hard boiled egg Avian vitamins (follow dosage on package) Around 750 mg calcium (I use Tums Smooth Dissolve tablet) ground to powder and dissolved in a little water. Water
Mix all ingredients together, and add enough water to make it the consistency of cooked oatmeal as seen in the photo at right. Proper consistency of handfeeding formula. The above formula can be divided into portions and frozen. This formula works well for baby House Sparrows and some other omnivore passerines. Only leave this food at room temperatures for an hour or so, as it can spoil.
When feeding small babies, use something flat such as McDonald's coffee stirrers, chop sticks, popsickle sticks, or a straw with the end cut off to make a scoop. The handle of a plastic spoon works well for older birds. Caution: Do not use small items such as toothpicks or Q-Tips, as it is very easy for a baby to swallow them. I like to occasionally add small amounts of different foods to the formula, to acquaint them with how different foods taste, such as some mashed sweet potatoes or carrots. You may use any of the jars of baby foods such as peas or beans, and the jars of strained chicken, etc. are also appropriate. The food should be fed at room temperature.
A baby without feathers will need to be fed every 20 to 30 minutes over a period of at least 12 hours a day. A healthy baby should start begging for food after you have fed him a few times. To help get a feeding response try tapping on the container he is in, or tapping lightly on the top of his beak. Older babies will take longer to start gaping, and may need to be force fed a few times before they come to accept you as a source for food. I feed from the time I wake up until I go to bed.
Babies starting to feather need to be fed every 45 minutes or so, and a fully feathered baby can go an hour or two without feeding. Feed as much as the baby wants. You will not overfeed him, as he will stop begging for food when he is full.
Baby starling being handfed.Never give a baby bird earthworms or fishing worms! Such worms can carry parasites that are harmful to baby birds. For more information click here. Gapeworms
A baby raised alone, is not releasable
This information is provided as a temporary life saving step only, until experienced help can be located. Long term care, without the proper hand raising will result in a human imprinted bird, and it will not survive in the wild if released.