Hand Feeding a Sick Bird With a Syringe

by TJ
(Ontario, Canada)

I have a Green Cheek Conure who is ill, we've been to the vet and she is currently on antibiotics but I am having a hard time getting her to eat. I am feeding her with a spoon and syringe and I'd like to know if anyone with similar experience could give me some advice as to techniques I can use to get her to eat. It's important that we get her weight up.


Editor's note: I moved this to parrot questions because Dr B sometimes doesn't answer questions for over a week, and you need help right away.

Comments for Hand Feeding a Sick Bird With a Syringe

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Aug 03, 2018
Sick galah
by: Anonymous

Hi I have a galah who nearly died lost a huge amount of weight and wouldn't eat. 23 years old. Antibiotics for two weeks and I have been syringe feeding neocare and polyaide plus. She is gaining weight and seems brighter but not really interested in taking the syringed food or veges or seed. Any suggestion how to increase appetite and put on weight also any easy way to syringe feed when not interested in taking it.

Thanks in advance.

Jul 18, 2017
Sick Conure
by: Mary

My peach front conure who I have had for 30 years is sick also on antibiotics for over a month and now nebulizer. She also is not eating needs to gain weight. Does anyone know of a formula to put in a syringe so we can sustain her?

Oct 18, 2015
Sick parrot
by: Anonymous

Help! My amazon parrot is sick sleeps all day his eyes won't stay open and is neither eating or drinking. The vet gave us meds.for hom but we don't see much change infact he seems to have gotten worse.

Editor's note: If you don't have an avian vet, then find one. If you do, then you need to let your avian vet know the meds are not working.

Jul 03, 2012
Thank you Linda
by: TJ

Thank you so much Linda for your great advice. Tonight our darling 7, (that's the name of the Conure) ate some hard food, drank water and ate a little bit of fruit. We have the food you suggested, the vet gave us 2 days worth and we bought a bag as well. She is still very thin and quite weak but she is able to hold her food by herself and feed herself. Having never seen her this weak before I'm concerned about her well being through out the night. Just weeks ago she was so playful and funny, she hid her illness well as they usually do. Thanks again for the advice, it helps a lot.

Jul 03, 2012
Hand Feeding a Sick Bird With a Syringe
by: Linda

I adopted a Blue Front Amazon years' ago who was deathly ill from being neglected to the point of death. She had bacterial pneumonia as a secondary infection to several other bacterial/viral infections. She went off her feed shortly after being brought home.

Ask the avian vet how much how many times a day. Feed baby parrot handfeeding formula ONLY because this is the only food that is easy to digest and will give your bird everything it needs to survive. We had to go from syringe feeding to feeding with a spoon with the edges crimped up like a funnel and sanded down to get rid of the sharp edge. We did this because the Amazon tore off all the tips to the syringes. She hated being medicated and fed.

Feed something like Roudybush handfeeding formula, and there are a couple found here. As for your bird "not wanting to eat", this is where it gets a bit rough. You HAVE to feed bird as much as avian vet is recommending per day, and you will have to make sure bird eats what it needs and also takes meds. The meds are better given by themselves because the handfeeding formula needs to be fed at least warm not hot. It does not have to be as warm as for baby bird, but warm enough for crop to begin digestion. Cold food will sit in crop and rot and cause many problems.

So, you will need to force feed your bird in a manner of speaking. Bird went off food because it was too sick to be hungry, and it will not want much handfeeding formula either. If you need help, have someone else help with keeping bird still and in one place. Keep bird in standing position which helps avoid choking. Then use end of syringe to see if bird will open up. If not, you will need to gently open top and bottom mandibles up enough to get tip of syringe in or edge of spoon. Once you are able to feed, go slowly and only feed in smaller amounts. You do not want bird choking on food, so do not overfill mouth and let bird swallow completely before next mouthful. Once bird begins to get some strength back, it will become much easier to feed though continue to be careful about overfilling mouth.

Once a bird is this sick, they do not want food or water and will die without handfeeding. Thank you for being willing to do this because it will save your bird's life. After a bad illness, it will take better part of a year before you see a lot of strength coming back.

Get the Harrison's High Potency pellets found here when your bird is ready to nibble a bit of solid food. You can soak the pellets a bit so it's easier to eat them and food has to be removed within two hours or will go rancid. Your bird is going to need this kind of high quality diet to get over infections and begin the long road back to health.

Keep in touch please so we know how your little bird is doing.


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