Whether you’re just a bird enthusiast eager to learn everything about a bird’s dietary preferences and lifestyle or you’ve found a wild baby bird in your vicinity, you’re probably wondering when exactly these tiny creatures start drinking water.
After all, that’s the most natural question, as hydration is just as important as feeding. So do baby birds drink water? If they do, when are they physically capable of doing this?
Baby birds typically do not drink water right after hatching as they’re not yet physically adapted for this. Instead, they stay hydrated through the food they’re given. If you ever find a wild baby bird, it is highly recommended to avoid giving it water or food.
The last sentence may be a bit puzzling, right?! Why not help a poor baby bird? The truth is, you may do it more harm than good.
If you want to learn details about a baby bird’s drinking habits, keep reading!
Do Baby Birds Drink Water?
As a general rule, newly-hatched baby birds do not drink water. They’re simply too small to be able to hold the water and swallow it. At least this is true for altricial birds, meaning birds that require full adult help after hatching.
Precocial birds are born quite developed already and can fend for themselves days or even hours after hatching. As such, precocial birds may start drinking water by themselves sooner than altricial birds.
Altricial birds, on the other hand, get the amount of water their bodies require from the food provided by their parents. Primary food sources for baby birds include insects, worms, and seeds. Some species may also eat fruits and vegetables.
Do Baby Birds Need Water?
Like all living creatures, baby birds need to stay hydrated to remain healthy. If you find a baby bird that looks dehydrated, you should consider finding a veterinarian or a rehabilitation center that can provide emergency care.
Signs of dehydration in baby birds include:
- Wrinkled skin
- Sunken eyes
How Do Baby Birds Get Water in the Nest?
During the first days of their lives, altricial birds are still with their eyes closed, so they cannot care for themselves.
Their parents make sure they get the amount of food they need. Adult birds typically give their babies regurgitated food.
As such, baby birds stay hydrated in the nest by eating the food provided by their parents.
Can You Give Baby Birds Water?
If you’ve found a baby bird somewhere around your house, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help it. Will water or food help? Unfortunately, no. In fact, it may even be illegal in your country to feed wild birds and give them water.
If anything, giving food or water to a wild baby bird can harm it or even kill it. A baby bird’s digestive system is still underdeveloped, and, without extensive knowledge about the diet of particular bird species, you may give it some food it cannot digest.
Additionally, its physiology isn’t yet adapted for drinking water. The water may fill its lungs, and the bird may get sick or even die.
What you can do instead is check whether you can find the baby bird’s parents, as this is its best chance of survival.
You should also look around for a nest, as the baby bird may have just fallen off it. If you find the nest, you can try putting the bird back very carefully. Spend some time watching the nest to see if the parents come back and ensure they do not push the baby off again (such situations are quite common; if this happens, you should call a wildlife rehabilitation center).
If you cannot find the parents and you’re sure the baby bird has been abandoned, you must call a local wildlife rehabilitation center, and they will guide you on what you should do next. Again, it is of the essence not to feed or water the bird.
When Do Baby Birds Start Drinking Water?
Once baby birds grow and mature, they learn how to drink water. It is generally believed they’re fully trained to drink water correctly by the time they become fledglings, meaning when their flying feathers have grown large enough to allow them to fly, and they can leave the nest.
As we’ve already stated, precocial birds likely start drinking water much sooner than altricial birds.