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Starling Talk
Care and Rehabilitation of Injured and
Orphaned Starlings

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Quick Guide to the
Emergency Care of Baby Birds

If you have just found a baby bird and need to know what to do next, please read the information below.

Never put water, other liquids, or runny food into a wild bird's mouth, as this can or will aspirate him. The bird must be completely warm before being given anything to eat. He will get enough fluids from his food, so he does not need additional water. If he has been in a cat or dog's mouth he needs immediate medical attention even if you do not see a wound.


  1. If the baby bird is not completely feathered, it needs to be kept warm. To get the baby warm, wrap any of the following with a hand towel: a heating pad, a jar with hot water, a hot baked potato, hand warmers, a rubber glove filled with hot water and knotted at the end to hold the water in, a sock filled with rice and microwaved for two minutes, or anything else you can think of that will hold heat. Place the baby next to the towel-wrapped warmer in a small box, and cover the box with another towel to hold in the heat.

  2. Find a thermometer to place next to the baby to make sure the temperature is correct. A baby bird without feathers should be at about 95-97 degrees, a partially feathered baby at about 85 degrees.

(after the baby bird is warm!)
  1. Babies who have been orphaned for a while will need to be hydrated before being given any food. To check hydration you can look inside the bird's mouth; it should look moist. A dehydrated bird will usually have reddish looking skin. Or you can pull the skin up on the back of their neck, and it should spring back as soon as you let it go. To make a rehydrating fluid, mix 1/4 cup Karo corn syrup (starlings are sucrose intolerant so table sugar or molasses would not be good choices) to one cup water and adding a pinch of salt. Cool to lukewarm, dip your fingers into it and place drops on the top outside of the baby's beak. It will then be able to suck some in without the danger of aspiration. Alternatively, you may soak small pieces of bread in the sugar water, squeeze the liquid out so it is not dripping, and feed it to the baby, or feed small slivers of fruit (without the skin) that has a high water content such as grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, plums, or cherries.

    Remember, NEVER put liquids directly into the mouth of a wild bird; this includes parrot hand-feeding formula. It is too easy for wild birds to inhale the fluid (causing inhalation pneumonia) or to drown.

  2. While you are waiting for the baby bird to warm and the sugar water to cool, go to the following webpage and start reading the details about baby bird care: Baby Bird Care

  3. After the sugar water has cooled, and provided the baby bird feels warm and the tip of its wing feels warm if placed to your lips, dip small pieces of bread into the water mixture, squeeze out the excess water, and feed several tiny pieces to the bird. You may have to force his mouth open with your fingernail in order to place the bread or fruit in it the first few times. Just a few pieces every 20 minutes should bring him to the point that he will start begging for food. Keep feeding the fruit or soaked bread for several hours, as he will need to be well hydrated before giving him the dog/cat food diet found on the Baby Bird Care page.

For additional help with rescued birds such as starlings or House sparrows, please join the Starling Talk Message Board.

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