Best Baby Bird Foods

Chickadee taking mealworms by Darlene Betat

Hatchlings and nestlings, like baby mammals, need soft, easily-digestible food that is packed with protein and fat. Most songbirds meet this requirement by feeding their young partially digested insects. The natural supply of desirable insects can be scarce in some urban areas, particularly when overnight temperatures drop dramatically or during unseasonal cold snaps. This can be a real challenge for parent birds since food demands intensify as their nestlings grow.

What alternative baby bird foods can you offer to help? Live mealworms or a high-fat-and-high-protein suet—or both! Finches are an exception when it comes to the baby bird menu. Being primarily seed-eaters they feed their young partially-digested seed instead of insects. Of the seeds that finches eat, black-oil sunflower has the highest fat and protein content, making it ideal for growing nestlings. Keeping seed, suet, and meal-worm feeders well-stocked during baby bird season can make the difference in the success of your nesting birds. Of course the thrill of having newly-fledged young begging food from a parent right at your feeders is a bonus you will also enjoy!