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How to Feed a Baby Mourning Dove

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Baby parrot food

  • Finch birdseed

  • Syringe

Sometimes a baby mourning dove may fall from the nest or be abandoned by its parents. If you find a baby dove that is unable to fly, you can hand-feed it until it is able to survive on its own. It’s critical to feed baby birds the correct food. Doves are ground feeders and eat seed. A mother dove digests the seeds before feeding them to her young. Since parrots are seed eaters, baby parrot food formula available at pet stores will provide the appropriate nutrition for baby doves until they are able to eat seed on their own.

Mix baby parrot food formula according to package instructions. Warm the food to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Baby doves will refuse food if it’s not warm.

Use a syringe to feed the baby dove. Gently touch the side of the dove’s beak with the tip of the syringe, which will stimulate it to open its mouth. Watch the bird’s crop, which is a small sack under its beak. When the crop is full, stop feeding.

Feed the baby dove every two to three hours a day. If the bird’s crop is empty, it needs to be fed again. Do not give baby doves water. Sufficient water is contained in the baby bird food formula. Force-feeding water to a baby bird may drown it.

Introduce finch birdseed to the diet. When the baby bird is ready for a solid diet, it will begin to lose interest and refuse the baby bird formula. At first you may need to help the baby eat solid seed. Gently open its beak with the tip of your fingernail and drop in a few seeds at a time. Release the bird’s head so it can swallow the seeds. Continue feeding seeds until its crop is full.

Encourage the bird to peck seeds. After a few hand-feedings of solid seed, it should be willing to eat seed on its own. Sprinkle seed on the floor of its cage for it to eat. Check it’s crop to be sure it is swallowing the seed. Continue hand-feeding until it can eat and fill its crop on its own.

Release the baby bird. Once the baby bird is able to peck seed and eat on its own without losing weight, it is ready to be released. Be sure the baby dove is a strong flier before releasing it into the wild.