Skip all this stuff and take me to Songbird Diets.

First Things First… This page is not intended to encourage non-rehabilitators to keep wild birds as pets. Nearly all of these birds are Federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and may not be kept in captivity without a permit. In addition to being unlawful, baby birds are actually quite a lot of work. Tiny nestlings require feedings every 15-20 minutes from dawn until dusk. Birds that have been cat caught or otherwise injured may require injections of antibiotics or other medications at specific intervals throughout the day. If you find yourself with an injured or orphaned bird, keep it warm, dark & quiet and check out the Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory. It may be able to put you in touch with a wildlife rehabilitation center in your area. Failing that, your localHumane Society or veterinarian can probably refer you to someone who can help.

Welcome!…This site is not intended to serve as the end-all, be-all of feeding songbirds. The purpose of this site is to provide the reader with a starting point for their own research. Although there are probably as many captive songbird diets as there are songbirds, this one has worked well for me and so it's the one I'm providing here. Since I live in Northern California, I have provided information mainly for the songbirds in my area --about 125 in all. I'm sure, however, that a good number of them live all over the United States. As I have the time, I'll be adding in birds that are not native to this area.

Balanced Diets… The nutritional requirements for each of the avian species are very diversified. Age, sex, size, activity and reproduction functions also contribute to a variance in nutritional requirements. While a healthy, adult bird can thrive on a balanced maintenance diet --growth, healing, breeding, nesting and molting all require additional nutrients. Small birds need more food for energy than larger birds do, and reproducing females require more nutrients than males do. All natural diets listed in this document are based primarily on the Spring-Summer diet of these birds. During this time of year, almost all songbird diets contain a substantially higher percentage of insects than the remainder of the year.

Nearly all baby songbirds are fed a primarily insect diet. In the diet table, almost all birds have Adult Maintenance Diet listed under captive diets. It is important to offer a fledging bird one basic balanced diet with supplements as opposed to just a variety of supplements. Like ANY kid, many of these youngsters will simply pick out what they like and neglect to eat everything else. By providing one basic diet and then adding supplements, you are ensuring that the portion that actually made it into the bird (instead of on the floor) was nutritionally balanced.

Natural Supplements/Diets…Although it may seem picky to provide each individual seed a bird might eat, I did so partially because the information was available, and partially so that a person who might be interested in doing so could grow them, or offer their feathered guests a native food selection. If your Center has the room, Native Plant Societies usually love to help out with landscaping rehabilitation centers using native plant specimens.

More Information…For a wealth of information for wildlife rehabilitators or people simply interested in rehabilitation or becoming a rehabber, please take a look at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory. (If you can't find it here… maybe it doesn't exist?)

About Me…My name is Kelly Jensen. I live in Redding, California with a view of both Mts. Shasta and Lassen. In my paying job, I coordinate training for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. I have a 6-year-old umbrella cockatoo named Luigi who tries my patience on a continual basis, a 9-month old chattering lory who is the apple of my eye (red, yellow & green apples, even), two dogs --Joshua (cocker spaniel) and Lady (shepherd cross), and two tropical fish aquariums at 55 and 70 gallons, so lack of humidity is not a problem at my house. I have a fiancÚ who is partial to raptors, so dead rats are the norm in my fridge. I've been rehabbing for 5 years now (just a baby in the field.) I'm an avid reader of almost anything except romance novels. Songbird diets are one obvious area of interest. My favorite part of rehabbing birds begins the moment these fuzzy guys try to perch on the side of their berry basket nest and end up on their faces, and continues on after they are released. My favorite birds to rehab include the birds of the Corvid Family --especially magpies, crows and Stellar's jays, and the birds of the Tyrant Flycatcher Family --particularly Western kingbirds.

I am continuously researching songbird diets. If you have any suggestions or notice any errors, please don't hesitate to email me at I am always grateful for new information on songbird diets.

OkayOkayOkay, I've read all this stuff. Now take me to Songbird Diets.

This page was created and is maintained by Kelly Jensen
Last Update: March 15, 1997