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How to Teach Fledgling Blackbirds to Eat

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Dry dog food

  • Meal worms

  • Earth Worms

  • Large cage

  • Perches

  • Tweezers

  • Food and water bowls

  • Millet spray

  • Popcorn

  • Bread crumbs

  • Outdoor light

Fledgling blackbirds can require care if they can’t fly and are abandoned by their parents. Before you rescue a fledgling bird, be sure it is indeed in need of help. Stand back and keep an eye on the baby bird to see if the parents return to feed it. Often, a fledgling is just having difficulty learning to fly and its parents will continue to care for it when it’s out of the nest. Caring for a baby bird is a full-time job and often not a successful undertaking. Being handled by humans is extremely stressful for baby birds and they require feeding every half hour or so during daylight hours to survive. If the parents don’t show, you can try certain measures to help the fledgling and get it to eat until it can fly and be released.

Place the fledgling blackbird in a large cage with perches. The baby is learning to fly and can damage its wings and injure itself if confined in too small a cage. The cage should be large enough for the bird to practice flying without hitting its wings on the sides of the cage. Line the bottom of the cage with newspaper and clean it daily. Keep the cage somewhere protected outside so the bird can hear the calls of other wild birds.

Handle the baby bird as little as possible.This will help it stay wild and not imprint on you.

Offer the baby bird moistened dry dog food in a bowl. See if the bird attempts to eat the food. Live meal worms or earth worms can also be offered, as well as millet spray, popped corn and bread crumbs. Also provide a bowl of water for the bird to drink. If the bird isn’t eating or drinking, you will have to hand feed it until it will eat on its own.

Hand feed the fledgling. Soak dry dog food in warm water. Use tweezers to pick up a small amount at a time. Tap the end of the tweezers on the side of the bird’s beak. This should trigger the baby to open its mouth. Place the food in its mouth and it will then close its beak and swallow. The bird should continue to open its mouth for more food. Feed it small amounts every half hour during daylight hours. Handle the bird as little as possible in this process.

Keep offering live food. While hand feeding the baby blackbird, continue to provide the moistened dry dog food in a bowl that it can eat by itself and offer live meal worms or earth worms by hand. Start with small worms or worm pieces. Live food will encourage the bird to try to eat on its own and prepare it for release.

Place the cage close to a light outside to attract bugs. As bugs fly around the light, the baby bird will begin to catch and eat them. This is a critical step to prepare it for release.

Release the bird. Once the bird is eating and catching food on its own, open the cage door. Continue to provide food, but give the bird access to freedom. Don’t force the bird out of the cage. It can sometimes take a while before it ventures out. And the baby may return to the cage to eat for a week or even more. Continue to provide food and water for the bird until it quits returning to the cage.


  • Only attempt to rescue a fledgling bird if you are sure it isn't being fed by its parents. Often the fledgling, if left alone, will soon learn to fly off and its parents will continue to feed it if you don't interfere. Wild birds do much better on their own and many times baby birds will die when caged.