How Do You Get a Baby Bird to Open Its Mouth?


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Baby birds need to be fed frequently, and if you are having trouble getting a stray or abandoned bird to open its mouth, it can be frustrating.

Especially if you know it’s life or death for the young bird.

First, make sure nothing is amiss. If it’s a case of simple stubbornness, you can very gently pry the baby bird’s mouth open with a fingernail. Gentle squeeze from the side and as soon as you see a small gap, quickly insert food or liquid.

It may feel like you’re being too forceful but it can be a matter of life and death. If the young bird does not take on food soon it could starve to death.

If you need to administer food or medicine, this can do the trick!

When Should You Feed a Wild Baby Bird?

When Should You Feed a Wild Baby Bird?
Best time for feeding a wild baby bird

Most of the time, it is not recommended that you feed a wild baby bird. Normally, their parents will have this well-taken care of.

If you find a baby bird on the ground, they are probably a fledgling or has simply fallen out of the nest. Finding the nest and depositing them back in it should do the trick!

If you don’t see parents come to a nest of baby birds, and it’s been quite some time, they could be orphaned. Keep in mind, parents come and go quickly, so you might miss it.

You may also wish to see how the babies fare; are they becoming cold or lethargic, or do they seem okay? Most of the time, it will be the latter. Without their parents, they will die swiftly, however.

Right Thing To Do: If you’re fairly certain that they’re orphaned, bring the baby bird or birds inside (nest included) in a small cloth and grass-lined box. Take them somewhere safe and quiet, and feed them as directed below!

How Do You Get a Baby Bird to Open Its Mouth?

Baby birds seem to have their mouths open a great deal of the time. Yet somehow, young as they are, they sometimes forget to around feeding time. This can be frustrating if you are a baby bird owner or rehabilitator! 

Fortunately, if you’re desperately wondering, ‘how do you get a baby bird to open its mouth?’ there’s a simple answer. All that you need to do is open their beak yourself.

This must be done in a very gentle and careful manner:

  • First, prepare whatever it is you are wanting to give your bird, whether it’s food, medication, etc. Set this right next to you, so you can grab it quickly and easily.
  • Next, hold the baby bird and make sure it is secured in place (so it doesn’t move too much and make things difficult). You can gently wrap him in a hanky or soft rag if he’s a wiggler! Keep in mind, you’ll want to maintain very reassuring and calm energy throughout the task. 
  • Finally, hold his beak between your thumb and forefinger, and ever-so-gently pry his mouth open. Before he shuts his mouth again, place the food or medication inside. Make sure to administer the food or medication slowly, so they’ve got time to swallow!

How Do You Get a Baby Bird to Eat?

How Do You Get a Baby Bird to Eat?
Help a baby bird to eat

So, you’ve got the baby bird’s mouth open: how do you get him to actually eat the food you’re giving him? Fortunately, getting a baby bird’s mouth open is the lion’s share of the task!

It’s instinctual for most animals to swallow, once they’ve got something in their mouths; birds especially. This is no doubt to make sure they don’t lose an invaluable snack. 

This being said, you’ll still want to go about feeding a baby bird in a certain manner:

  • With whole food: You’ll need to break it up into bits that are small enough for them to swallow (a baby bird cannot consume whole worms until much later). 
  • With liquid: You absolutely don’t want it to go down their windpipe and end up in their lungs. This can result in drowning, or pneumonia, which is an extremely serious health risk!

Also, don’t put it directly down their throat.

What To Do Instead: Put the food in their mouth and allow them to naturally swallow. This is a bit more time-consuming but will present the least danger!

What Should You Feed a Baby Bird?

It’s a common misconception that baby birds will drink milk. Birds are not like mammals and never produce milk. Instead, baby birds are fed insects, primarily.

When you first bring in orphaned birds, it’s likely that they will be quite dehydrated. This means quick water and energy are called for. 

For the first couple of meals, while you prepare something more substantial, you may give them 1 teaspoon of sugar combined with 4 teaspoons of water!

Once you’ve got them stabilized, you can begin to feed the baby bird every ½ hour to hour.

Don’t feed them worms, as they depend on their parents regurgitating these to be able to digest them.

What To Do Instead: Offer wet dog food, and soft-boiled eggs (which contain nutrients specifically formulated for birds), and/or raw liver! 

Final Words

So, if you were wondering, ‘how do you get a baby bird to open its mouth?’ you have your answer.

While it’s best to try coaxing a baby bird’s mouth open first, you can also pry it open very gently with a fingernail.

This should make administering food or medication much easier!

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