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Bird Foods

If you find a young bird in distress, opening its beak and apparently asking for food, always give it a few drops of water at the side of the beak first.
 - if it has not been fed for some time, especially in hot weather, it will need a drink before it is able to properly digest any food.
Dab the liquid gently onto the side of the beak with a tiny artist’s paintbrush or cotton wool bud; the bird should take some sips.
If shocked and frightened, add 1 drop of Bach Rescue Remedy to the fluid if you have any, but  if you have nothing else, give cool, previously boiled or
bottled water, a drop at a time, applied to the side of the beak where it can be taken in slowly.  
If you can, make some emergency rehydration fluid: 1 tablespoon tepid, previously boiled water, 1 small pinch of sugar or glucose, 5 tiny grains or 1 flake / granule table salt.
These liquids and food should help keep the casualty hydrated and nourished for a short period of time, until experienced help can be found.
In an emergency, young insectivorous birds and finches can be given TINY amounts of meat based cat/kitten food mashed up finely with a few drops of water.
This can be offered in tweezers or on a cocktail stick or plastic coffee stirrer.
Most young fledglings will gape and take some food but in the first couple of hours water and elecrolytes are more important than food.
 

SMALL BIRDS

Blue tits, Great tits, Long tailed tits

These are fed chopped maggots, crickets, wax moth larvae and mealworms (no heads) at regular half-hourly/hourly intervals for 8 - 10 hours of the day. Very young nestlings need feeding hourly.
As they grow larger& develop feathers you can change feeds to hourly and when eventually they begin feeding themselves, 2-hourly.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. this has essential vitamis and calcium to aid normal development.  
In their cage, when ready to begin to feed themselves, tits should be given a small bowl of insectivorous food, (Sluis/Bogena or similar), plus
live maggots, wax moth larvae and small mealworms, plus a small bowl of drinking water with a dissolved pinch of Avipro.
Tits will need to be hand fed with tweezers much longer than other garden birds.
Even when they are outside in an aviary and seem to be feeding themselves, they need to be hand fed at least 4 times a day until completely independent.
They follow their parents around for 2-3 weeks being fed in the trees, so continue to offer food until they are all no longer interested.
 

Housemartins, swallows, wrens, robins, & other small-beaked birds

In the wild they eat the compressed bodies of many species of wind-borne insects and tiny spiders caught by their parents so we need to try and imitate this by providing variety in the diet. Crickets are a good basis as they are relatively easy to buy but they need to be supplemented by pesticide-free flies, greenfly, bee drones (ask your local bee keeper) and any other small, non-stinging flying insects you can catch in a net. Mini mealworms and those that have just shed their skins and are soft and white are good, but the brown skins of big mealworms might be indigestible in large quantities, so feed a variety of foods.  Wax moth larvae are well liked, but should be freshly cut in half when fed to very young birds as they will not be properly digested if fed live.  Fresh white anglers maggots that have been kept in a cool ventilated box with  gram flour for 48 hours to clean the gut can be given, but also need to be chopped up. They are useful chopped and used to bind together other small insects to make a pellet.
Use vacuum-packed fresh crickets (very economical and store well - these can be mail ordered from Livefoods UK) or freshly killed live crickets/locusts. Always take off the hard and spiky legs and crush the heads - small birds don't usually like hard bits in their food.
Vacuum packed crickets will need to be frozen soon after arrival unless you are using them within about 3-4 days, but you can take out enough to make up feeds for a couple of days - these will be ok if kept in a fridge and used within 48 hours.   Small insects, up to about 0.5cm long can be fed whole but larger crickets will need to be cut into smaller bits. Do not throw away the heads - they contain valuable nutrients. You may need to chop or crush them though, to get them to blend into a tiny pellet.  Feed half hourly / hourly depending on age using long, fine tweezers so they don't get too used to having hands near them.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplements such as Daily Essentials plus a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement added.
In their cage, when ready to feed themselves, give a small bowl of sluis and live maggots, mini mealworms and wax moth larvae, plus a small, heavy bowl of water with a pinch of Avipro.
 

Swifts

    NOTE:  For an illustrated account see: Swift feeding

GAPING SWIFTS - usually quite young birds
Young swifts that are opening their beaks (gaping) to ask for food can be given small pellets of food with tweezers as soon as they are warm and competely rehydrated. In the wild they eat pellets made up of the compressed bodies of many species of wind-borne insects and tiny spiders caught by their parents so we need to try and imitate this by providing variety in the diet. Crickets are a good basis as they are relatively easy to buy but they need to be supplemented by pesticide-free flies, greenfly, bee drones (ask your local bee keeper) and any other small, non-stinging flying insects you can catch in a net. Mealworms that have just shed their skins and are soft and white are good, but the brown skins are toxic, so do not depend on them as a major food source.  Wax moth larvae are well liked, but should be freshly killed when fed to very young birds as they will not be properly digested if fed live.  Fresh white anglers maggots that have been kept in a cool ventilated box with  gram flour for 48 hours to clean the gut can be given, but also need to be chopped up. They are best chopped and used to bind together other emall insects to make a pellet.
Use vacuum-packed fresh crickets (can be mail ordererd from Livefoods UK) or freshly killed live crickets/locusts and take off the hard and spiky legs. Vacuum packed crickets will need to be frozen soon after arrival but you can take out enough to make up feeds for a couple of days - these will be ok if kept in a fridge and used within 48 hours.   Small insects, up to about 1cm long can be fed whole but larger crickets will need to be cut into smaller bits. Do not throw away the heads - they contain valuable nutrients. You may need to chop or crush them though, to get them to blend into a pellet.   
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. this has essential vitamins and calcium to aid normal development.
Each swiftlet will need about 5 feed pellets at each meal.  Very young chicks

NON_GAPING SWIFTS
If a swift is not opening the beak to ask for food, rather than manually opening the beak 3 or 4 times to insert food at each mealtime, I feel it is less stressful to give the same foodstuffs as a soft paste, into the crop.
To make a syringe-feed for non-gaping swifts:
For each swift, measure out about 3 tablespoons of defrosted or vacuum packed crickets plus small amounts of frozen flies and freshly caught insects into a liquidiser goblet or coffee/spice grinder.
(Do NOT use a smoothie maker - it hasn't enough power for this job.)
Add half a tablespoon of cool, boiled water and liquidise in short bursts. You may need to add more water, but go slowly, adding less than a teaspoon at a time.
When it has formed a smooth mousse, sieve through a plastic mesh into a clean bowl. It should be the consistency of soft ice cream and can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Take out just enough to feed the swifts ( - 2mls for a juvenile, 2-3 ml for an adult) and warm in a small dish set over a bowl of very hot water.
Add a pinch each of Insect Essentials and Avipro and a drop of Abidec to the first or last feed of the day and stir well.
Suck up the warm mix into a 5ml syringe fitted with a small soft tube about 3” long.
Make sure all air is expelled, by tapping the syringe with the tube pointing upwards and depressing the plunger until only food is left in the syringe and tube.
Wrap the bird up in a small piece of thin towelling or paper towel to confine the wings if it is wiggling a lot and until you get used to the method.
Pass the tube gently down the bird’s throat to the crop (avoiding the air passage at the base of the tongue) and ease between 1- 2.5 mls into its crop, depending on size and age.
You may need to wiggle the tube gently to help the bird to swallow it. Often it will stop just before the crop and the bird will take a minute or so to relax the muscles. 

 Young swifts start by taking half - 1 ml and increase gradually to 2 - 3mls. They have 5-8 well-spaced feeds a day, depending on their size and state of health, based on the hours from dawn to dusk, e.g. 8am ( 11am, 3pm, 6pm) 9pm and should rest quietly in a darkened cage between feeds.

  Adults need about 2 - 3 ml per feed but if unwell can only cope with 1- 2 ml.
Healthy adults and large juveniles have 4 feeds a day e.g. 8am, noon, 4pm, 8pm and need to be kept quiet and in a darkened container.
If unable to take a full feed, try giving 5 smaller feeds a day, unless they become over stressed by the extra handling.
Watch the bird’s gape at all times to make sure the mixture does not come back up its throat.
Stop immediately if it does and clean the beak and face.  Babies and adults are all fed in this way.

MEDIUM SIZED BIRDS

Blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows, starlings, and finches

These are fed on chopped maggots, crickets, wax moth larvae and mealworms mixed into a little finely mashed meaty kitten food to bind them. Finches and sparrows need to have millet and other small seeds
added to this mix.
Offer in long tweezers or the tip of a coffee stirrer at half hourly intervals when very young (nestlings), lengthening to hourly intervals as they develop feathers and start to feed themselves.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. This has essential vitamins and calcium to aid normal development.
In their cage when ready to feed themselves give a small dish of sluis and live insects plus a small, heavy dish of water with a pinch of Avipro.
They will show interest in the wiggly maggots and mealworms and it encourages them to peck for food.

 

Woodpeckers

If young enough they will gape and can be fed chopped maggots, mealworms and crickets in tweezers or on a coffee stirrer.  Feed nestlings half hourly at first, then hourly until feeding for themselves.
If they are older and refuse to eat they may have to be tube fed with an insect based mix as for swifts with some critical care solution added to keep them hydrated, until they begin to pick up food.
In the cage put small dishes of egg food, insectivorous food with live maggots or mealworms on top, freshly killed crickets and some live waxmoth larvae, a  securely fixed peanut feeder and fat ball,
plus a small bowl of water with a pinch of dissolved Avipro. A pinch of Insect Essential minerals & vitamin powder should be mixed in the dry food.
Woodpeckes should be housed in a quiet place and have part of the cage covered over so they can hide away.  If they can choose what they want they are more likely to thrive.


Pigeons and doves

Very young pigeons and doves with yellow feathers are fed Kaytee Exact or a similar parrot rearing food through a soft tube attached to a 5ml syringe.
Measure the tube against the bird's beak and neck to get an idea of the length needed and take great care not to force the tube down too far.
They need to be fed 2 hourly if very young.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. This has essential vitamins and calcium to aid normal development.
Always check their crops before each feed. If the crop is not empty when the next feed is due, allow more time to digest their meal.
They must have warmth, quiet and food regularly supplied, whether by hand or placed in the cage for them to help themselves.

LARGE BIRDS

Crows, Jays, Jackdaws and Magpies

They are fed several pieces of finely chopped up dead day old chicks by plastic tweezers every half hour when nestlings, then 1-2 hourly depending on age.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. This has essential vitamins and calcium to aid normal development.
In their cage, when ready to feed themselves, give a small bowl of  finely chopped chick, plus a heavy bowl of water with a pinch of Avipro.
DO NOT give the crow family low flat dishes to feed from; they stand in them and can develop foot problems.
Dishes must be placed to the side of the cage; if they are at the front the birds will stand in them, to look outside.
 

BIRDS OF PREY

Kestrel, Sparrow hawk, Owl

If fluffy feathers are still present, feed tiny pieces of chopped chick and chopped mice half hourly, using tweezers. Avoid feeding beak, legs or egg sac until older.
Little Owls should be fed large crickets(minus legs), earthworms and chopped mice at half hourly intervals.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. This has essential vitamins and calcium to aid normal development..
Feed chicks half hourly hourly to begin with and adjust accordingly as the bird gets older and more self-sufficient.
Water must be in a heavy, low dish with a pinch of Avipro added.
Leave a small dish of finely chopped chick and a small defrosted mouse in the cage last thing at night to encourage self-feeding.

 

WATER BIRDS

Coot, Lapwing and Moorhen

Hand feed chopped maggots and mealworms, also tiny pieces of washed whitebait or freshwater fish and small pieces of green pond weed.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. This has essential vitamins and calcium to aid normal development.
Provide a small bowl of sluis with a few live maggots/mealworms and a small bowl of green pond water with weedy bits in the cage.

Cygnets, Ducklings and Goslings

These eat very wet chick crumbs soaked in pond water and small pieces of pond and river weed. Mix the water and crumbs slowly and stir well - you do not want a thick, stodgy mix.  It should be very sloppy, so they birds can dabble their beaks in it.   Place their food and water in bowls that are too small for them to sit in.
IMPORTANT: First feed of the day must have a good pinch of vitamin & mineral supplement such as Daily Essentials added. This has essential vitamins and calcium to aid normal development.
If they get wet at this early, fluffy stage they get cold and lethargic and are unable to feed.
They do not become waterproof until the adult feathers develop so need on their mother to provide warmth and stop them getting waterlogged.
They will need a towel over a layer of newspaper in their cage, a mop-head “Mummy” to cuddle up to and an overhead heat source.

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