North Yorkshire Wild Bird Rescue - Scarborough - Filey - Bridlington

Hand rearing baby wild birds!

Wild Bird Hand Rearing Kit!
Wild Bird Hand Rearing Kit!

Equipment needed for hand rearing baby birds!

Song Bird - Wild Bird Hand Rearing Kit! - For insect eating birds

In the kit, you will receive:-

1kg bag of Baby Bird Hand Rearing Formula

A pack of 10 Feed Pots with lids

10 x 3" Pastettes

Suitable for rearing the following birds: Blackbirds, Chats, Corvids, Dunnocks, Larks, Martins, Nuthatches, Pipits, Robins, Starlings, Swallows, Thrushes, Tits, Tree Creepers, Wagtails, Warblers, Wrens, Wrynecks, Woodpeckers - Also suitable as an initial tube feed for Gamebirds/Waders.

Not suitable for Pigeons and Doves. (See below what to feed Pigeons and other seed eating birds)

The 1kg weight formula contains:-

Ground chicken (80% meat) biscuits

Proprietary breeding mash

Dried Insects

Insect Pate

Ultimate Balance

Probiotics and Prebiotics

The dried mix will last for a while so simply scoop out what you need, into a feed pot, mix with water until the mix forms the consistency of thick cream and then use a pastette or coffee stirrer to feed your bird.

In between feeds, make sure that the mix is kept refrigerated to prevent any build up of bacteria (or make a fresh batch each feed) and change the mix at least 2-3 times per day.

Once your baby bird is covered in pin feathers, begin to introduce live foods such as wax worms alongside the mix.

Make sure to clean any food spills from your bird's feathers as these will breed bacteria.

Different Techniques used for Hand Feeding.

Types of birds that require hand rearing!

The following birds are Insect Eating Birds: Blackbirds, Chats, Dunnocks, Larks, Martins, Nuthatches, Pipits, Robins, Swifts, Swallows, Starlings,Thrushes, Tits, Tree Creepers, Wagtails, Warblers, Wrens, Wrynecks, Woodpeckers,

These birds are mainly Seed Eaters: Finches, Buntings, Sparrows, Pigeons and Doves.

Feeding orphaned and wounded birds is a messy, time consuming, but ultimately rewarding business. A lot of patience is required as small birds need to be fed, from every 30 minutes to every two/three/four hours which depends on the age, or so from dawn to dusk and no fewer than 4 times per day. If the bird is very young it will not be able to feed itself and you will have to play the role of parent and push the food into the open mouth.

Most healthy young birds will instinctively gape at the sight of food and you will just need to push the food down the birds throat (if just dropped into the mouth the bird may have trouble swallowing).

If the bird is not gaping, or if you are feeding an older bird that is not taking kindly to its new foster parent, then you will need to prise the beak apart gently and feed it this way, it should then begin to accept you as its new feeder.

If prising open its beak isn't working. Another method that needs a little more patience, is to rub the food (Open end of a chopped in half wax worm) over its nostrils and then the side of its beak, this hopefully will get the bird to smell and lick the food and then will eventually take it. Don't give up.

The best thing to feed a bird with is a clean pair of blunt forceps or tweezers. (when feeding mealworms). When the bird is full, it will stop gaping. Young birds after they are fed will produce a neat faecal sac (droppings encased in a membrane). These should be removed with tweezers and discarded.

Small birds can be classified into 2 basic groups - Insect Eaters and Seed Eaters. Mentioned above.

Finches, buntings, and sparrows are mainly seed eaters and can be fed a mixture of birdseed and canary rearing food. Robins, dunnocks, blackbirds, thrushes and tits are mostly insect eaters and a substitute food must be found. 'Milupa' baby food available from chemists is a good alternative, puppy food or meal worms from a pet shop can also be used. In all cases where hand feeding food should be offered moistened and NO additional water offered as it is too easy to drown the bird.

Bottle Feeding Baby Pigeons
Bottle Feeding Baby Pigeons

Feeding other types of birds! Pigeons and Doves!

Using a baby bottle to feed a baby pigeon:

(photo and description courtesy of Waynette from Pigeon Talk)

I use a small babies bottle. You will need to put a small cross slit at the tip of the teat. They love it!

What to feed a baby pigeon or dove!

WARNING : Never give a pigeon dairy milk, they can't digest it.  Please don't feed them worms either!

Please make certain that the baby is warm before feeding it. If it is cold then it won't be able to digest its food and feeding it could kill it. 

A baby pigeon will put its gaping beak inside the parent's mouth and the parent will pump its crop contents into the baby's mouth.

During the first three days of its life the baby will receive what is known as "crop milk", created from the lining of the parent's crop.

This is nothing like dairy milk.

A hatchling will need very thin food, about the consistency of skimmed milk...this should be gradually thickened over the first 10 days to the consistency of ketchup.

The products listed here below are suitable for raising pigeon and dove hatchlings as they contain the enzymes required to digest food during the first three days of a pigeon's life.

Kaytee Exact Hand Rearing Formula
Kaytee Exact Hand Rearing Formula

No 1. Kaytee Exact Hand Rearing Formula for Parrots

Kaytee Exact recommend the following proportion of Exact to water when hand raising baby pigeons:

Age                         Kaytee Exact       .       Water  

Hatch - Day 2 :.      1 part formula to      6 parts water. 

Days 2-5 :.              1 part Exact to           2 or 3 parts water. 

Day 5 to weaning: 1 part Exact to.          1 1/3 - 2 parts water.

Hatch - Day 2 :       1 part formula to      6 parts water. 

Days 2-5 :               1 part Exact to           2 or 3 parts water. 

Day 5 to weaning: 1 part Exact to.         1 1/3 - 2 parts water.

Versele Laga Orlux Nutribird A21- 800gr
Versele Laga Orlux Nutribird A21- 800gr

No 2. Versele Laga Orlux Nutribird A21

Nutribird Recommend the following proportions:

Age                       NutriBird  A21       Water  

Hatching – day 2     1 part       .         6 parts

Day 2 – day 3            1 part       .        5 parts

Day 3 – day 4            1 part                4 parts

Day 4 – day 5            1 part                3 parts

Day 5 – weaning      1 part                2 to 2,5 parts

Don't heat food in a microwave, that can leave scalding pockets of heat that can burn the crop.  The correct temperature for baby pigeon food is 39 degrees Centigrade...that is a bit warmer than our body heat.

In an emergency and for babies that are over 3 days old you can use Ready Brek Original or Quaker Oats Original made up with warm water if the other above products are not available. Outside England Nestle's Nestum or Cerelac without milk solids and mixed with warm water (not milk) can be used.

Chick rearing crumbs (these are available from poultry suppliers and corn stores in the UK) soaked in hot (not boiling) water for half an hour, liquidised and sieved.

Puppy biscuits soaked in warm water until they are fluffy , can also be used in an emergency.

Babies that are 2 weeks old or over can be fed defrosted corn and peas, served warm. They can be popped into the beak one at a time, feeding until the crop feels squishy like a bean bag, the kernels sliding against each other NOT forming a solid mass.  Check the crop with your finger several times during each feed.

This recipe was created by someone at a rescue centre for young woodies, unless they are drinking on their own the mixture should be quite moist, tolled up into little balls and popped inside the woodie's mouth one at a time.  Dip the bird's beak in clean warm water after feeding to encourage it to drink.

Wild bird seed, frozen peas

finely chopped apple

finely chopped peanuts

finely chopped fat balls

finely shredded greens

wholemeal bread crumbs

You can roll the ingredients into a little "pea" shape and feed as you would defrosted peas.

It is important to check that the crop is emptying properly before giving another feed so touch the crop area gently after feeding and again before the next feed by which time it should be flat.

This is because baby birds can develop crop stasis or sour crop if the food is too thick, or too cold or if they are too cold when fed.

Adding new food to the crop would just mean that it sits on top of the old food and there will be a gradual build up of bacteria which could be fatal.  Please see here to find suggestions on how to deal with crop stasis.

You will need to invest in a small Incubator/brooder to keep the baby birds warm.

You could use a heat mat or heat lamp in an emergency, until you can get a brooder. Here is a small incubator/brooder you could use, pictured below.

4 Egg Digital Incubator Hatcher Mini Egg Brooder Hatching Machine-UK Plug


- Equipped with temperature control system; contains a built-in turbine fan to keep air circulated and cereamic heating piece to control the temperature.

- Digital display shows important information such as current temperature. Digital temperature control allows for temperature settings and easy operation.

- Transparent lid allows observation of hatching process.

- Suitable for someone who wants just a few chicks to hatch at a time; Laboratory observation or families incubating in the backyard.

- Can be used as a hatcher/brooder for chickens, ducks, geese and other poultry and quail, parrots, pigeons, and other small birds.


Getting the correct brooder temperature is vital for keeping birds fit and healthy.

The following information is a guide to the temperatures that your brooder should be kept at for different ages of birds. Please note that these temperatures are based on the needs of Psittacine birds.

Parent hatched chicks are likely to be more comfortable at lower brooder temperatures due to the hen occasionally leaving the nest. However, the prevailing weather conditions should be taken into account. (i.e. a chick hatched in hot weather will be able to cope with higher brooder temperatures).

Careful observation of the chicks will allow you to fine tune this guide. If the chicks are lacking energy and huddle together they are too cold, chicks that pant may be too warm.

Books you can buy to help you with hand rearing birds.

All Products on this page can be bought from Amazon or eBay.

Page added 26/06/2018