If you've found a lost house sparrow puppy, you need to learn the proper way to care for it. Before intervening, however, thoroughly investigate the landscape to find out if the puppy is really an orphan. As the mortality rate among hand-raised birds is high, it will be more likely to survive in the nest it came from, under the care of its parents.
Method 1 of 4: Avoiding Common Misconceptions
Step 1. Find out if the bird is an orphan
If it already has feathers, it could be a young bird that has already started to learn to fly. It is therefore advisable to leave him on the ground - unless he is exposed to a predator or his parents do not return for the next hour. If he doesn't have feathers yet, it's a nest. Watch the surrounding trees looking for the nest. When you find it, catch the bird and gently put it back on it.
Originally from Eurasia, North Africa and the Middle East, the house sparrow now lives across the globe. Thanks to its widespread presence, it is not considered an endangered species and, therefore, no law prevents its creation in captivity
Step 2. Protect your health when dealing with wild creatures
It is inadvisable for pregnant women and those with immunological problems to handle baby birds, which can be hosts of diseases such as salmonella, contagious to humans.
Be strict about hygiene when handling the bird. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching it. Dispose of garbage in a tightly sealed bag
Step 3. Avoid accustoming the bird to your presence
With prolonged interaction, the puppy would lose his fear of you and confuse you with his father, making it difficult for him to reintroduce him to the wild later on. If the goal is to raise it just until it can survive in the wild on its own, avoid catching it and dealing with it, especially when offering food. It is desirable that the bird retain its instinctive fear of humans.
- Prevent the bird from getting used to the domestic environment - that is, start to see itself as a human rather than a bird. That would complicate your return to nature.
- Avoid talking to the bird as much as possible. Feed and care for it as if you were an "invisible force".
Step 4. Avoid offering him water
Newborn and young birds feed exclusively on insects provided by their parents; do not drink water. By dripping water into its beak, you expose it to the risk of sucking water and drowning.
Method 2 of 4: Keeping the House Sparrow Healthy
Step 1. Warm it up
Place a tissue box lined with some tissues on a hot plate turned on at the lowest temperature. An alternative to this method is to line a small bowl with paper towels and place it over warm water or under a heat lamp. Whichever option you choose, accommodate the bird very gently in the makeshift nest.
- The ideal temperature ranges from 30 °C to 32 °C.
- Do not line the nest with fluff, in which the bird's claws and beak can become entangled.
- Leave the nest in a dark, quiet environment where it will not be disturbed by children or other pets.
Step 2. Clean the puppy's beak
After feeding, clean the beak and face with a disposable wet wipe or cotton wool soaked in water. The accumulation of food in the beak favors bacterial infections.
Step 3. Assess the bird's progress
This can be done with a kitchen scale. Every day, before feeding it, weigh it. A healthy puppy would gain a little weight every day.
If you want to return your puppy to nature, it is best not to weigh him: this would minimize the interactions between you and him and therefore the chances that he will become attached to you. On the other hand, if you want to have it as a pet, weigh it freely to check its evolution
Method 3 of 4: Feeding the House Sparrow Pup
Step 1. Start by feeding baby bird, dog or cat food soaked in water
Before soaking the food in water, add to this Pronutro or baby bird formula. Canned food for puppies or cats is richer in protein and more similar to the diet that the nestling would have in nature than food for adult dogs. Mash food in a shallow bowl.
If he is not old enough to feed himself, cut the food into small portions, the size of half your pinky nail, and offer it to him with tweezers
Step 2. Add as many insects as possible to the chosen feed
The sparrow's natural diet includes dry foods - including sprouts and seeds - and live foods - such as spiders, slugs, caterpillars and other small invertebrates. The latter tend to be more palatable to baby birds than dry foods.
- Note: do not offer worms to the sparrow chick, as they are, for some reason, fatal to it. Instead, offer crickets as small as possible (available at stores for reptile breeders).
- Another option is to offer white larvae (sold at fishing supply stores) only if the bird has empty intestines. The black line drawn on the larva is its gut. Wait for it to disappear before feeding the larva to the bird.
- You could also feed him dehydrated insects, used to feed reptiles like the bearded dragon. See if they are for sale at the nearest pet shop.
Step 3. Sprinkle live food with vitamin and mineral supplements
You can use products such as Nutrobal (intended for reptiles) or calcium powder, both available at pet stores. They are a guarantee that the bird will have a balanced diet in case the insects it devours have nutrient deficiencies.
Step 4. Feed him often
Depending on the age of the bird, offer the food with the help of tweezers, directly into its beak. If he can already eat by himself, serve the food in a shallow container. Note that the sparrow will be able to eat alone from two weeks of age.
A very young bird without many feathers should be fed every half hour. One that's a little older, every hour or two. He will start chirping and opening his beak when he's hungry, and rejecting food when he's full
Step 5. Offer water - but only through a parakeet water dispenser
Young birds don't do very well with shallow containers, and they can end up drowning.
Step 6. Adjust feeding as the bird grows
Over time, soggy dog or cat food should remain on the menu, which should also be enhanced with more varied options. A good quality birdseed for wild birds becomes essential once the chick gains independence to eat as it gets hungry. When this happens, place the seed in a shallow bowl and leave it at his disposal.
To keep food free of fecal matter, clean the bowl at least once a day
Method 4 of 4: Preparing the House Sparrow for Release
Step 1. Put him in a cage when he starts to jump
During the day, leave it outdoors, where other sparrows can visit it. In conjunction with minimizing interaction with humans, interacting with others of the same species will give the captive bird more chances to re-adapt to wildlife.
If the puppy does not interact with other wild sparrows, he will need to learn his species' songs in another way. Only then will he be able to communicate with other specimens when released. Download sparrow song records from the internet and play them back to your bird
Step 2. Let the bird outdoors more and more
When it is between seven and ten days old, let it bounce freely on the grass. If your goal is to release him, place him in large open spaces where he can practice flying. Instinctively, he will learn what the wings do and how to fly.
- To do this, wait until he gains feathers on his wings. If he doesn't know what to do at this point, he's probably not ready to fly. Test if it's ready by releasing it in an open, predator-free area.
- Leave it alone for approximately 20 minutes. If nothing happens during that time, bring it back home and try again another day.
Step 3. Assess whether the bird is ready to be released
Before releasing him, you must be sure that he can hunt alone and that he has not become dependent on your care.
If he has indeed become dependent on you, he cannot be returned to nature. He will need to remain your pet
- When feeding the puppy, try to put the food in the back of the beak to prevent it from having respiratory problems.
- Take the bird to a wildlife rehabilitation center if possible.
- Do not feed the bird with worms, which carry disease.
- Never offer him milk. He will die of ingluvite!
- Do not offer plain water, which can easily drown the sparrow.