Caring for an Abandoned Sparrow
Click on any photo to see a larger view!
Two days after a bad storm, on June 7, 2005, I noticed something near the front tire of my truck. It was a baby bird. One has to be careful because many times one might think a bird is abandoned when it is actually just in its "fledgling" stage. In this stage, the babies cannot fly well if at all and hide in shrubs and brush. I knew this baby was in trouble though. It wasn't moving much. It was making no sounds (baby birds generally chirp, especially when they sense motion). It didn't have enough feathers to be a fledgling either---there was no way this bird should have been out of its nest. Its skin was a dark red which made me think it was most likely dehydrated. It had been 90 degrees out for 2 days now. About 3 feet from where I found this bird, I had found a dead one of its kind the previous day. So I brought this one inside, hoping to give it a chance at survival.
First week: For the first few days, it would not open its mouth to be fed, which was unlike other birds I've raised. Finally on the third day of having to carefully pry its beak open, it started opening its mouth every time it saw me. I used a product by Kaytee called Exact Hand-Feeding Formula that is available at some pet stores. Just add water. I used an eye-dropper so I was better able to get the food deep into its throat. If one doesn't deliver the food deep enough, the bird can choke. One must be dedicated to save a bird---they need to be fed just about every hour. I had to take this one to school so I could be with it.
Click here to see a video of me hand-feeding the bird. It is kind of grainy and dark, but you can still see and hear what's going on. If you don't have a movie player, visit quicktime.com.
Second week: Now that the bird had feathers, a perch was added to its cage. I started to introduce seeds. The first three days of weaning were awful. It was chirping all day long for those days. I would drop seeds in its beak, but it wanted formula. It shook the seeds right out of its beak! But I kept persisting and not feeding it formula very often. After those three days, it was eating seed. It still wanted me to drop it in the dish. Then it would eat right away. But it did pick through the seed on the floor of the cage throughout the day. After a few days of being certain it was eating, it was time to set the bird free. I left out a supply of seed in case it has difficulty finding food at first, although it just took off into the air without realizing the food was there. I never saw it again.
The following pictures are from the hand-feeding stage. I couldn't take any later pictures because the bird would have flown away.
Click on any thumbnail below to see an enlarged view.
While I was searching for information on sparrows, I happened to find this picture of an albino sparrow, something I've never seen before. It even has red eyes like an albino mammal!
If you need help determining what to do for an abandoned starling, click here to visit starlingtalk.com, a helpful resource.
You might also enjoy a visit my Favorite Webcams Page to see nesting birds raise their young.
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