How to Wean a Wild Baby Bird

At a certain age, all hand-fed baby birds must be taught how to eat on their own, whether you intend to keep it or release it. For many people, weaning is one of the most difficult steps in raising a baby bird. Although it may be difficult, it is an extremely important and crucial part of your baby bird's becoming independent.


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    Start leaving small dishes of food and water for the bird. You should begin doing this once it is fully feathered (a fledgling). You can leave seeds, insects (dead mealworms and crickets work well), and fruits (cherries, grapes, plums, etc., which can be cut up into smaller pieces). Eventually the bird will begin pecking at the food out of curiosity.
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    Feed the bird from the dish. Tap the dish a couple of times and then feed the baby bird from it. You can also hold up the dish to the bird and try to coax it to eat from it.
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    Once the bird is eating on its own, start decreasing the amount of food you hand feed it. This will encourage the bird to eat by itself, and it will begin to prefer not being hand-fed anymore.
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    After a couple of weeks, the baby bird will be eating independently. It may still beg for food but will no longer need you to feed it.
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    Around this time it will also need to learn how to drink water. Start by dipping the bird's beak in a shallow dish of water, or put a few drops of water on the bird's beak.


  • Try not to change dishes, because the bird has already recognized one dish as where it can get food.
  • When teaching the bird, try offering its favorite foods.
  • Be patient! It will take some time for the bird to learn. Self-feeding is instinctive, but only when the baby bird is old enough.
  • Change the food and water often, as it will become dirty. Wash


  • Never force a bird to drink water, especially nestlings. They can easily drown or get a respiratory infection. If you are worried about a nestling staying hydrated, you can feed it bread soaked in water or bits of fruit.
  • It is ILLEGAL to keep native bird species without a permit in many states. The only birds you can keep are House Sparrows, Starlings, and Pigeons.
  • Do not feed the bird earthworms, even once it is grown. Earthworms carry gapeworm, a parasite that can be deadly.

Things You'll Need

  • Cage
  • Small dishes
  • Food (fruits, seeds, insects)
  • Water

Article Info

Categories: General Bird Care