If you’re hand-rearing a baby dove, perhaps one that fell out of a nest, please don’t despair. In this guide I will explain to you what to feed to a baby dove, how to feed one, and what the best food is to hopefully help it grow up fit and healthy into an adult dove.
If you are in this situation, here’s the short answer first, followed by a more in-depth response.
What to feed a baby dove that fell out of a nest? For very young baby doves you should feed them blended and very soft foods which will mimic how their mother would feed them. She digests seeds, then feeds those to the baby doves. Exact food suggestions are lower down the page.
What do you feed a baby dove?
A baby dove will not be able to swallow hard or fully formed food. Doves are ground feeders so tend to eat seeds, but baby doves won’t be able to do this. In the wild, the mother will digest seeds before feeding them to her babies.
Experts suggest feeding baby doves using a syringe with items such as:
- Baby parrot food formula (buy on Amazon)
- Softened wild bird seed that has been made into a pulp.
- Blended chicken baby food.
- Hard boiled eggs blended with water.
- Instant oatmeal mixed and blended with egg and soya milk.
Ultimately you need to try and mimic how a mother dove would feed the baby doves with regurgitated seeds. If in any doubt, please ask a professional vet.
As the baby doves grow older, they will become more receptive to plant and wild seeds. Any fruits you can find in your area could also be put in a blender with some water and given to the baby doves to eat.
How to feed a baby dove
Watch this excellent video which shows the process I would use.
Do baby doves drink water?
Do not give baby doves water. There will be enough water in the formula you make up, providing you have mashed and blended with water as I’ve described.
As the dove grows older it will need a water supply, so a small bowl should be available for them to access under their own terms.
What should you not feed a baby dove?
Now we know what to feed a baby dove that has fallen from a nest, we can move on to the following problem: what NOT to feed a baby dove? Well, in most cases, it’s best to avoid feeding your baby doves anything that isn’t blended down that can be fed via a syringe.
In the wild, doves will eat grains, seeds, small vegetables, berries, fruits, and will occasionally eat insects, snails and earthworms. Anything that falls outside of those parameters should not be fed to a baby dove once mashed and blended.
As the dove grows older, there are foods to not feed them.
Dairy products should be consumed in moderation, as birds are lactose-intolerant. Junk food, chocolate, salty foods (chips, pretzels, popcorn), as well as products containing caffeine and alcoholic beverages may be toxic to birds and should not be offered.VCA Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/pigeons-and-doves-feeding
How baby doves eat in the wild
For the first 2 to 3 weeks, baby doves drink “crop milk” from their mother depending on how well developed they are at birth. It’s a sort of combination between regular milk and yogurt.
After that period, baby doves remain very parentally dependent and require to be fed at least twice a day. Their diet is straightforward: parents feed them primarily seeds, but they also give their babies any fruits they manage to pick up.
After the two-week mark, baby doves become curious about outside perches and may try to leave their own nest. You need to be careful that the little guys do not get away from their protectors, parents, or human caregivers!
If a baby dove tries to leave its nest, place it back in carefully.
A few weeks after leaving the nest, baby doves become self-reliant.
Where to put a baby dove’s nest box?
If you have started taking care of a baby dove that fell from a nest, you will need to create a nest box for it.
- Nest boxes should be located away from any potential predators (such as cats or rats).
- It needs to be in a safe place where the nest won’t get wet but also in a shady spot so baby birds can easily escape the hot sun.
Building a baby dove nest
Fill the bottom of the box with about one inch of dry sand, followed by some coconut coir (or shredded newspaper). Coconut coir is excellent because it soaks up any liquid spills and also absorbs nasty smells. It’s also easy to clean, compostable, and biodegradable.
Don’t cotton batting, sawdust, or wood shavings, as they be eaten by baby doves.
Please note, I am not a vet and the advice on what to feed a baby dove you
read here has been generated by watching videos and reading a book. Please always seek a professional opinion before you attempt to feed a baby dove that has fallen from a nest.
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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/mourning-doves-birds-babies-newborn-1665075/