Sometimes you may come across a baby mourning dove and you may be in a fix about taking good care of the baby so that it does not die. If it refuses food, and the wildlife rehabilitator is too far away to be contacted quickly, you may feel terrified that you are going to lose the baby. But there are ways of handling the baby dove so that it will eat some food and can survive until it can fly away on its own or be taken to the right authorities. It is considered unlawful to keep a dove at home without notifying the wildlife authorities. Hence, you can try to make the dove eat and get well soon but also release it when it gets well and is normal again.
How to Feed a Baby Mourning Dove

  1. If you have bird food formula at home then you can make use of it. You can also buy it from the nearest store and follow the instructions on the packet to prepare the food. Baby doves need warmth and they should be wrapped with a towel first so that they feel better. Next, you must also give warm food to the baby. When you prepare the baby food, heat it sufficiently so that the baby likes the food. The baby will not eat if the food is cold.

  2. Take some baby food in a syringe. Help the baby dove to open its beak by nudging the syringe against its beak. The amount of food you must give the dove can be determined by looking at the bird’s crop. Located under the beak, the crop is a small sac and you can know when the bird needs no more food by feeling the sac to see if it is full.

  3. Give the food a little at a time or else the baby dove will drown and get asphyxiated. The baby will need food every two hours and you can feel the crop to see if it is empty. There is no need to give water to the baby dove as the bird food formula has the requisite amount of water necessary for the bird. And if you force the baby to have water, it might hurt the baby more than you can think.

  4. When you are sure that the baby dove can be given some solid food, you can introduce bird seeds to its diet. The baby will also let you know when it is ready for solid food when it refuses the bird food formula. To help the baby have its first few seeds, you can gently pry open the beak and push 1 – 2 seeds inside. When you take your hands away from the bird, it will swallow the seeds. You can go on feeding till the sac is full again.

  5. Ideally, the bird should be able to peck the seeds on its own. When the baby dove gets used to having its regular dose of seeds, you can let it down on the ground and see if it pecks at the seeds with a little prompting. Soon, it will peck at the seeds you keep on the ground and will swallow it. Its crop should be full after it has a few seeds.

  6. When the baby dove has learned to peck at its food, you can be sure that it will survive and will not go hungry. When it can eat on its own and you don’t have to hand-feed at all to fill up its crop, you can think of releasing the baby dove. But first, you must also ensure that the baby can fly without help. When it can flap its wings and balance itself properly, and it can eat on its own, you can let the bird go.

You might develop a soft corner for the baby dove, but you should not keep it at home after it is strong enough to lead its own life.

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