Home » Mother Budgie Not Feeding Baby – What Should I Do?
why do budgies not feed their babies?

Mother Budgie Not Feeding Baby – What Should I Do?

Problems can arise if the mother refuses to look after one of her chicks.

In this event, you’ll need to hand-feed the chick until it’s 8 weeks old. At this point, the chick will be weaned and can feed itself.

If a mother budgie doesn’t feed her chicks, you’ll need formula and a needleless syringe.

Inject the food slowly, taking 15-20 seconds, and repeat until the baby budgie’s crop is full. A chick will need 2-4 ml of food at 2 weeks old, 4-5 ml at 3 weeks old, and 5-7 ml at 4 weeks old until weaning.

Baby budgies should be fed 6 times a day when they’re very young, every 3-4 hours. As they grow older, you can increase this to every 4 hours and begin offering solid foods after 5 weeks.

Baby budgies should never skip a meal and will rarely survive more than 24 hours without food.

Why Do Budgies Not Feed Their Babies?  

A popular belief is that if a person touches a baby bird, the parents won’t accept it. However, birds don’t rely on their sense of smell, so they’re unlikely to care about the baby’s scent.

For most birds, smell is the least developed sense. As a result, if you return a young bird that’s accidentally fallen out of the nest, the mother won’t reject it and continue to feed it.

However, it’s different when the mother has intentionally abandoned the chick. In this situation, putting the chick back in the nest is unlikely to help as there’s a high chance that the mother won’t feed it.

Here are some common reasons why mother budgies stop feeding their chicks:

Chick Falling from Nest

A mother budgie may stop feeding its chick if the young bird falls out of the nest and onto the ground.

The parents are likely to view it as a waste of time and energy. As a result, they’ll divert their attention to the chicks that remain under their care, leaving the baby to fend for itself.

how to tell if a baby budgie is hungry

Survival of the Fittest

The chick may be sick, underdeveloped, diseased, or deformed. The mother will be able to detect this in the chick and may choose to abandon it for any of these reasons.

This can include throwing it out of the nest, ceasing to feed it, or killing it to protect the other babies. According to the National Academy of Sciences, this is sometimes decided by which chicks beg the loudest, with the weaker ones being quieter.

Similarly, if the mother realizes that there are too many chicks, she may remove the weaker ones. This is to ensure that others have a better chance of survival.

This saves her time and resources that would otherwise be spent on a chick that’s unlikely to survive. 

Insufficient Food

Sometimes, budgies are compelled to abandon their young due to food scarcity.

They may realize there won’t be enough food to feed all of their offspring. So, the mother focuses all of her energy and attention on ensuring that a few of them survive, ignoring the rest. 

A mother may even abandon all of her chicks if she believes there isn’t enough food to support herself. She can create dozens more chicks if she survives, so it’s unwise to die over the few she has.

Food Competition

Sometimes, budgies abandon their chicks even if there is sufficient food for everyone, but the competition over food is strong. For example, you may have a dominant budgie that protects the food from the mother or both parents.

According to Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, this leads the parents to believe that they’ll not survive long-term, especially if they’re supporting chicks. This leads to the mother ceasing to feed her young.

Therefore, it’s advisable to provide plenty of food. If you have several budgies in the same enclosure, consider setting out two or more food and water sources to reduce competition.

Better yet, separate the parents and their chicks into a new enclosure with their own secure food source.  

What Food to Feed Baby Budgies?

There are numerous commercially available budgie-chick diets and supplements. These should provide a balanced diet of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, similar to what a newly hatched budgie would get in the wild.

Chick food should be blended according to the package directions. It should have a gloopy consistency and be neither hot nor cold. If it’s too hot, it can burn the chick’s throat. If it’s too cold, it might lodge and decay in the chick’s throat, causing sour crop.

Each chick’s meal should be precisely measured and supplied at a temperature comparable to an adult budgie’s regurgitated seed. A thermometer may be used to measure the temperature. Never use a microwave to speed up the heating process as this could cause hotspots in the food. The ideal temperature is 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.

How To Feed a Baby Budgie with A Syringe

Get a needleless syringe to guide food into the budgie’s small beak. Before each use, sterilize the syringe by cleaning it with soap and water or boiling it for 5 minutes. Allow it to air-dry until completely cool.

Prepare The Syringe And The Chick

Prepare the chick food based on the instructions on the back of the container. Once it’s ready, put the syringe in the food and draw back the plunger to suck it in.

While holding the syringe in one hand, use your other hand to prepare the chick. Gently wrap your thumb and forefinger over the chick’s body, lightly enclosing the base of its neck.

Get The Food in The Beak

Touch one side of the baby’s beak with the tip of the syringe as this should encourage it to open its mouth. Try the opposite side if the beak won’t open after a few gentle taps. You can now guide the syringe into its mouth.

Instead of aiming directly at the beak, approach from the side and slightly above, holding the syringe at a 45-degree, downward angle. 

Start Feeding

Once inside, press the plunger and steadily deliver the food into the budgie’s open mouth. Don’t put out too much food all at once to avoid choking the budgie. Remove the mouth of the syringe after 15 to 20 seconds. 

Feed Again

Wait a few seconds before touching the baby’s beak again. If the chick’s beak opens up, begin feeding. Every 15-20 seconds, repeat the process.

When To Stop Feeding

You should stop this process when the budgie is full. An easy way to tell is by measuring the amount of food you provide. A baby budgie will consume around:

  • 2-4 ml each feeding at 2 weeks old
  • 4-5 ml at 3 weeks old
  • 5-7 ml at 4 weeks old until weaning

However, these are estimations. Better ways to stop feeding include when the: 

  • Baby has stopped feeding and refuses to open its beak. This isn’t a concern as long as it’s eaten near the lowest estimate of the expected quantity based on its age.
  • Chick eats the entire meal. Next time, add some extra food, but don’t go over the top age limit for the young budgie unless your vet recommends it.
  • Budgie’s crop appears full. This is a food storage pouch on the underside of its beak. When the crop is full, it should bulge out slightly and feel hard but not rigid when touched gently with your fingers.

Clean Up

Once the budgie has finished eating, wipe the region around the beak and crop with a clean, soft cloth. It should be dampened with water to keep uneaten food from caking on the baby’s beak. 

Why Won’t My Baby Budgie Eat?

Baby budgies refuse to eat for these reasons:

  • Full
  • Sick
  • Not feeding them correctly

If the budgie is sick, it’ll lose its appetite. If you notice other symptoms of illness, contact your vet.

You can ensure that you’re not over-feeding your chick by keeping track of how much you are feeding and at what times. Ideally, a budgie chick will consume 2-4ml each meal at 2 weeks old, depending on its size, and this rises to 4-6ml after 3 weeks and 5-8ml after 5 weeks.

Chicks might refuse to open their beak if you’re feeding them in quick succession or are feeding them too much. Likewise, baby budgies refuse to eat if you’re mishandling them or the syringe.

why won’t my baby budgie eat?

How to Get a Baby Budgie to Eat?

If your baby budgie won’t eat, you need to make it feel more comfortable. Ensure that the budgie is warm and cozy as you try to feed it. Use a soft towel to cover it and refrain from holding it too hard or squeezing.

Most importantly, never try to open its beak by force, and don’t force-feed the budgie if it hasn’t eaten its regular amount. Always wait for it to open its beak naturally by tapping its edge with the syringe. The idea is to mimic their chick’s natural eating pattern.

However, don’t wait too long to contact a vet if the budgie refuses to eat. They may recommend a tiny spray of warm water and gentle crop massaging to encourage feeding.

How Long Can a Baby Budgie Go Without Food?

A budgie chick can survive for less than 24 hours without eating.

That’s because budgies, especially chicks, have a fast-paced metabolism. They burn up calories to produce energy quickly, which is why baby budgies need to eat every few hours.

How to Tell If a Baby Budgie Is Hungry?

You can tell if a baby budgie is hungry by checking how long it takes for the crop to empty. Touch the bottom of the chick’s beak with your finger after a meal, as the crop should feel puffed out and firm.

After feeding, check the crop every 60 minutes. It’s time for another feeding when the crop is barely protruding and feels mushy but not entirely empty.

Of course, there’s no need to inspect the crop after each feeding. Check it once every 1-2 days to verify whether it’s still emptying regularly.

Here are other common signs of hunger in baby budgies.

  • Being more alert and restless
  • Crying out and chirping
  • Opening and shutting their beaks as if seeking food
  • Moving their head to the side as if looking for food
  • Tilting their head toward your fingers, hands, or clothes  

How Often Do You Feed Baby Budgies?

You should feed budgie chicks at least 6 times a day at first. Depending on the chick’s age, the food will be cleared from its crop within 2-4 hours. So, it’ll need to be fed every 3-4 hours.

Baby budgies develop quickly, and their food consumption must keep pace. After 3 weeks, the feeding schedule should become less demanding. Feeding can then be done every 4 hours.

You may start putting food in bowls at 5 weeks, allowing the budgie to follow its natural urge to forage, and it’ll be self-sufficient after 6-7 weeks.

However, you’ll have to monitor its eating habits since not all budgies adapt to independent eating as quickly as others. At 8 weeks, hand-feeding may still be necessary if your budgie isn’t eating independently.