Do Baby Birds Drink Water?

When you find a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest you might be torn between the desire to help and the confusion about what to do. What is the correct way of taking care of an abandoned baby bird? What do they eat? Do baby birds drink water? 

Usually, they do not directly drink water, even though, baby birds of course need to be hydrated. Because baby birds cannot yet fly and thus are not capable of leaving the nest and drinking in a stream, pond, or birdbath, they get their water from the food their parents bring them. 

While birds are known for liking seeds, they switch to a diet that is more focused on insects and plants during the summer months. When baby birds are very young, they are not yet able to digest food, so their parents vomit partially digested food into their beaks – this might sound gross, but it is just what the sensitive stomach of a baby bird needs. As they get older, they can eat more and more solid food, just like human babies. 

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What Should I Do When I Find an Abandoned Baby Bird? 

Firstly, it is important to know that not every baby bird you find sitting alone has been abandoned by its parents. You should always watch it for one or two hours to make sure no adult birds come back to feed it. Since the feeding takes only a few seconds, this can be easy to miss. Once you are sure that the baby bird is all alone and needs to be fed, it is best to call your nearest animal rehabilitation center. 

Baby Birds
Baby Birds

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In the case that it will take a while until animal rehabilitation arrives, you will need to take care of the bird yourself. Baby birds can go up to 24 hours without food or water, but since you usually cannot know for how long they have already been abandoned, it is best to not let it come to that.

There are several possibilities. If you have a pet, you already have some emergency bird food at home – but make sure to soak cat or dog food in water before you feed it to a baby bird until it has a sponge-like texture. Alternatively, you can offer it finely chopped fruits or vegetables, or small insects.

The bird will take the hydration it needs from the food, so refrain from feeding it water, since they could inhale it and suffocate it! You also should not feed milk or bread to a baby bird.  

Taking care of a baby bird yourself should be a temporary situation only, though. At an animal rescue center, the employees do not only know what to feed a baby bird but also, how to teach it to, essentially, “be a bird.” Growing up as a bird is not only about the food, it is also about learning to fly, how to find food, and how to avoid predators. Most people who find a baby bird do not have the skills to teach things like this to a bird. 

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Will the Parents Reject a Baby Bird When I Have Touched It? 

Baby Birds
Baby Birds

Sometimes, you will come upon a baby bird that has not been abandoned but has fallen out of the nest. Since its parents are obviously not strong enough to simply pick it up and carry it back into the nest, you can help by doing exactly this. When their baby is sitting safely in the nest again, no parents are likely to abandon it just because it smells like a human! 

In the case that you cannot reach the nest, you can even make an artificial nest to keep the baby bird safe. Simply take a small basket or another container like a Tupperware – if it has a solid bottom you will need to poke drainage holes into it. Then line the floor of the container with pine needles, so that the baby bird is supported and its legs will not slip through the holes.

There should not be any sharp edges on your artificial nest! Then nail the nest to a tree close to where the original nest is. Keep an eye out – most likely. the bird parents will start caring for their baby.  

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Do Baby Birds Drink Water?