How to Raise & Release Baby Starlings

Written by karen lawson
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How to Raise & Release Baby Starlings
Starlings are common non-native birds in North America. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Rescuing and feeding baby starlings is relatively easy, but they require feeding around the clock for the first few days of their lives. Rescuing baby birds that have left the nest may not be necessary, because it is natural for baby starlings to leave their nests before they have the ability to fly. Before removing a baby starling from its environment, watch and listen for the presence of parent birds nearby.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • teaspoon
  • small plastic syringe
  • cage or pet carrier
  • clean cloths or paper towels
  • hand feeding formula for baby birds (buy from pet supply stores)
  • mealworms
  • hard boiled egg yolk
  • toasted whole grain bread,crumbled
  • water
  • bowl

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Instructions

    Baby Starlings: To the Rescue (or Not)

  1. 1

    Pick up baby starlings gently and shelter them from cold or inclement weather. Replace a fallen nest with babies inside it if parent birds are present. Inspect the baby birds; if they are naked or only partially feathered, they are too young to survive on their own. Hold the baby birds close to your body when carrying them to a box, cage or pet carrier. Cover a nest when moving it to prevent baby starlings from jumping or falling out.

    How to Raise & Release Baby Starlings
    Starlings are omnivorous, but feed their babies insects, worms and grubs. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Place the baby birds or their nest in a cage or pet carrier lined with newspaper. Provide a nestlike environment by cushioning baby starlings in soft cloth or paper towels. Prepare hand feeding mix according to directions, or prepare food for the babies by mincing hard boiled egg yolk and mixing it with lightly toasted whole wheat breadcrumbs and just enough water to make it stick together. Heat food mixture to lukewarm. Do not heat the food in the microwave. Draw up handfeeding mixture into a plastic syringe.Depress the syringe to remove air and move the food mixture to the opening of the syrynge. Hold a baby bird in your non-dominant hand and gently touch the pads on either side of the base of its beak. The baby should open its beak. Insert the syringe on the left side of the baby bird's beak, near the base. Aim the syringe diagonally toward the back of the baby bird's throat. Gently press the syringe plunger. Avoid flooding the baby bird's mouth. Continue feeding until the baby starling refuses more food. Feel the baby starglings upper chest area. You should be able to feel the food stored in its crop. Continue feeding until the crop is round and full. Wipe the baby bird's face and body and repeat the process as needed if feeding more than one bird. Listen for the baby birds crying for food. Feed baby starlings every three hours, or more often if they cry for food.

    How to Raise & Release Baby Starlings
    Nesting starlings are attentive to their babies. Both parents care for their young. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Supplement hand feeding formula or egg mixture with meal worms. Offer the baby birds meal worms held between your fingers. Do not feed the baby birds meal worms alone. Continue using the hand feeding formula. Move the baby starlings to a larger cage if needed. Offer the baby starlings small amounts of moistened dog kibble and coarse hand feeding mixture in a dish when they are mostly feathered and begin moving around their cage. Reduce hand feedings to two to three times a day. Observe baby starlings closely to ensure that they can feed themselves.

    How to Raise & Release Baby Starlings
    Baby birds often leave their nests before they can fly. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)
  4. 4

    Verify that baby starlings can fully feed themselves and can fly before releasing them. Conduct test flights in a safe room or sun porch. Place a baby starling across the room and entice it to fly toward you using a meal worm or other food. Release baby starlings on a sunny morning in an area free from cats. Continue feeding the baby birds outdoors if they return and call for food. Feed released baby starlings sparingly to encourage their natural foraging instincts.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean the baby starlings' environment frequently.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling baby birds.
  • Release baby starlings after they have learnt to feed themselves and fly. They don't have parents available to protect and feed them while they learn survival skills.
  • Don't worry if baby starlings don't return for feeding after release.
  • Caring for baby birds is labour- and time-intensive. Turn your baby starlings in to an animal shelter or rescue organisation if you're not up to the task or become overwhelmed.
  • Never heat food for baby starlings in a microwave; "hot spots" can burn and severely injure or kill baby starlings.
  • Cool or spoiled food can cause baby starlings' digestive process to stop working.
  • Recognise that raising baby birds can interfere with your life and sleeping habits.
  • Baby birds can become very tame; avoid the temptation to keep baby starlings as pets.

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