How to Take Care of a House Sparrow?
The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a bird in the sparrow family (Passeridae) found in most parts of the world. The house sparrow is closely associated with human settlements and can live in both urban and rural areas. The main breeding season for these birds is from April to August, although nesting has been recorded in all months. During this time, the young birds begin to explore their surroundings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find them in places where they are exposed to danger, such as on the ground.
Finding a fledgling on the ground can be confusing and disconcerting. Therefore, the following AnimalWised article emphasizes everything you need to know if you find yourself in this situation, as well as how to care for a sparrow until it can be released back into the wild.
What you should do if you find a fledged house sparrow
If you found a fledged sparrow on the ground, the first thing you should do is check if it is injured. An injured bird can only be helped if it can be captured. However, capturing an injured bird can be difficult and careless handling can lead to further injury. Handling must be firm but gentle.
Once you have captured the bird, examine it quickly and place it in a well-ventilated, covered box to await treatment. Darkness reduces stress and is probably the most important first aid you can give a bird. An injured bird should always be referred to a local veterinarian or independent sanctuary for proper treatment.
If the bird is not injured but is in a dangerous, unprotected location, such as a busy road or path, you can pick it up and move it to a safer location. Be sure to leave them within earshot of where you found them, so they can be picked up by their parents.
It is extremely unlikely that young birds will be abandoned by their parents. Just because you can not see the adult birds does not mean they are not there. The parents are probably foraging, hiding nearby, keeping a watchful eye on their young, or even scared away by your presence.
Keep in mind that when they are already feathered, they often have not yet fallen from the nest, but are just learning to fly. Therefore, leave them on the ground or put them back in the nest. You should only remove a feathered bird if it is in danger from a predator or if the parents do not return within an hour. If you found the bird in your yard, an you have cats, dogs, or other pets, it is best to keep them inside for now to avoid potential problems.
Removing a young bird from the wild drastically reduces its chances of long-term survival and should only be done if it is injured or obviously abandoned or orphaned.
As spring comes to an end and summer begins, high temperatures cause baby birds to leap from their nests, even if they are not yet ready to fly. So, unfortunately, it's not uncommon to find an injured bird or a fallen baby bird. If you want to know more about what you can do to help an injured bird, be sure to read the following article I found an injured bird.
What does a baby fledged house sparrow eat?
If you want to feed a fledged house sparrow, it is best to prepare a porridge of cat or puppy food soaked in water. Do not soak the food in milk, as this is harmful to sparrows. Food for puppies or cats has a higher protein content and is closer to the natural diet than dog food for adults.
Avoid giving water to the bird. Nestlings and young birds are fed only insects by their parents and therefore do not drink water.
How to prepare a homemade breeding paste for sparrows
Preparing breeding paste with cat or puppy food is very simple. You just need to add the desired amount of food, one teaspoon being more than enough, and add water until the kibble is sufficiently moistened. Then mash it with a fork or spoon so that you get a smooth paste. If the homemade paste is too thick and the bird has difficulty eating it, you should add a little more water to make it more liquid.
Puree the food in a shallow dish. If the bird is not old enough to feed itself, break off small pieces, about half the size of your little fingernail, and feed it by hand with tweezers.
Another option is to prepare a porridge with a lighter consistency. To do this, use a soy drink (remember that sparrows can not drink animal milk), wheat flour, and enough raw egg to keep it from getting too thick.
How to feed a fledged house sparrow?
A crop is a thin-walled, enlarged part of a bird's digestive tract used to store food before digestion. When feeding a young sparrow, make sure the crop is not full. To do this, gently feel under the head. If you feel a small round lump, you know the crop is full.
You should feed the sparrow every time you see the empty crop, about every two to three hours. If you find that the crop is not empty after five hours, go to the vet.
The proper way to feed a baby sparrow is with a syringe, preferably only 5 milliliters or the smallest you can get your hands on. Once you have the syringe, remove the needle and fill it with some food.
Put the syringe nozzle near the corner of the beak, poke a little food out so that the bird notices it and voluntarily opens its beak to take it. It is better to insert the food from the sides of the beak rather than from the front, as this can cause choking and be uncomfortable for the bird.
If you put the syringe in the beak as soon as you start feeding, it may cause the baby sparrow not to want to eat due to stress. It is better to start feeding gradually and let the bird set the rhythm. The bird will start chirping and gaping when hungry and will stop eating when full.
Other considerations when feeding a bird
It is also important to keep the bird's beak clean. After feeding, wipe the bird's beak and face with a damp disposable cloth or absorbent cotton soaked in water to prevent bacterial infections. If something is spilled while feeding, wipe it up immediately with a damp swab or cloth, otherwise it will dry on the feathers and be difficult to remove.
It is critical that you do not force open the baby sparrow's beak, as this would cause a lot of stress and make it difficult to work. If after 24-48 hours he still does not eat, go to the vet as soon as possible.
It is also essential that you do not imprint the bird when feeding it. If the bird has too much human contact, it may begin to think that you are its parent, and it will lose its fear of you. This will make it difficult to release the bird back into the wild. If you intend to raise the bird to a stage where it is strong enough to be released, you want the bird to maintain its natural fear of humans.
How to teach a fledged house sparrow to eat on its own?
When sparrows are two weeks old, they are ready to eat on their own. At first, they will only peck at the container. So you must continue to feed them with the syringe during this time, but suspend the morning meal so that they develop the instinct to find food on their own.
Make sure your sparrow does not choke while it is learning to eat. Try to give them different types of food and alternate the food several times a day. The diet of the adult sparrow is varied, it can eat different seeds, corn, wheat or soy. Good quality wild bird seed is ideal when the bird is mature enough to take grains on its own. Place the seed in a shallow dish so the bird can begin eating when it is able.
They can also feed on oats and some small insects. You could also consider feeding dried insects, as sold for reptiles such as bearded dragons. Check your local pet store for supplies.
To learn more about the diet of sparrows and other grain-eating birds, continue reading this article on what are seed predators?
How to release a fledged house sparrow back into the wild
Once the sparrow has feathers, can eat, and hops on its own, you can release them back into the wild.
Put the bird in a cage first and leave the cage outside during the day so other sparrows can visit. Remember, it is better for the bird if you limit your interactions with them and encourage interaction with wild sparrows so that their chances of re-acclimating to the wild increase.
Once you determine that the bird is comfortable around other sparrows, try placing the bird in open areas so they can learn to fly. The bird will instinctively learn to fly and discover what their wings are for. Remember that the bird must have wing feathers before beginning this stage of the process.
Take the bird outside and place it on the ground in an area that is safe from predators. Leave the bird to their own devices for half an hour, keeping a close eye on them. If nothing happens, bring the bird back inside and try again another day.
You should gradually increase the time outside until you determine that the bird is comfortable enough to be outside on their own. You can also try placing the bird on a low branch to see how they respond.
Even if the bird is comfortable outside and starts flying on their own, you should leave the cage open so they can fly back inside if they want to. How long this process takes depends on the individual. Some birds take weeks or even months before they decide to live outside permanently.
If you find that the bird is not progressing after a few weeks, it is best to contact an avian specialist to help you with this process.
Although widespread and numerous, its population has declined in some areas. The conservation status of the animal is classified as low concern on the IUCN Red List. If you are curious about this species and want to learn more about this topic, do not miss the following article about the decline of the house sparrow population.
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