Different species of bird have different nutritional needs when they are first hatched, so many different types of baby bird food, each aimed at specific types of bird, are available. Most birds are omnivorous or carnivorous and require high-protein diets in order to thrive, especially when they are young. Bird seed or fresh fruit, which may be suitable for some species of adult birds, is not often adequate for baby birds because it does not have enough protein in it.
One of the most common types of baby bird food is used to feed chicks, ducklings, goslings, and other farm birds. Many people who raise these birds raise them by hand rather than allowing their mothers to care for them. This increases the likelihood that all of the birds will survive to adulthood to produce eggs or meat or to take care of pests or weeds on a farm. There are a few types of baby farm bird feed and most are made from a combination of grains, including wheat, corn, millet, and oats. These grains are supplemented with vitamins and minerals and enriched with other nutrients then formed into small pellets that young birds are able to swallow easily.
Other common types of baby bird food are used to raise baby pet birds by hand. Parrots, parakeets, finches, and canaries can all be raised by hand so that they will be tamer easier to bond with as they mature. The main ingredients in these types of feeds are also grains, fortified with vitamins and minerals. In most cases, these types of baby bird food are ground into a powder that can be mixed with water and then fed to a baby bird through a syringe. When fed to baby birds as a liquid mush, this type of food mimics the food that a parent bird would regurgitate for one of its hatchlings.
People who are caring for wild baby birds must give these birds other types of baby bird food as well. Birds of prey must be fed ground meat, and baby song birds will require a mixture of grains and protein, similar to what is given to baby pet birds. There are a few brands of pre-mixed baby bird food available, but for wild birds many veterinarians and zoos will mix their own foods. Many of these include pureed meats, like turkey or chicken which is found in human baby food, because of its high protein content. Ground insects and invertebrates may also be fed to baby wild birds because many species of adult birds will feed their young regurgitated worms, beetles,flies, and other bugs.