No matter what species it is, baby birds are fragile and super dependent on their parents. Baby birds’ first living consists of some stages of life until they learn how to take care of themselves and especially to learn how to flap their wings. Including baby dove.
Just like how a good family pictured, both parents of doves are responsible for incubating the egg until taking care of their born children. Not only the mother but also the father who feed their baby with its ‘milk’. Young dependant doves are called squabs. They can double up their weight on the first day, but their hearts will start beating after day 3 and open their eyes after day 4. Squab will leave their nest after around two months.
How about if we have to help the parents to take care of the baby doves? Here’s some guidance for you to follow.
4 Proper Guide In Taking Care Baby Doves: Promise To Be Gentle, OK?
1. The first few days are critical: do not disturb them!
The newborn baby is at the most critical time. They even have a hard chance to survive during the first few days. The parents also might be ‘busy’ prepare everything for their babies. From cleaning, preening and fluffing their feathers to keep the babies warm and healthy.
What can you do? At this point, don’t disturb the parents. Let them do their work. Some of the doves are super intolerant of any interference, especially from human. They may abandon their baby if you disturb them, which is a bad situation for the babies and you who have no idea how to keep them warm and fed for the nest critical days ahead.
If you’re in the situation where you have to hold it, don’t forget to keep your hands clean with antibacterial soap. Do not hold them for more than a minute unless you’re in the position of feeding them. Remember the main rule: be gentle!
2. Make a home for the baby
Baby doves have to stay clean and warm because they are born without feathers. To keep their clean and warm condition, make sure you prepare a nice habitat too, for example by putting paper towels to line a box so it will be easier for you to clean it up, adding grass or straw as the inner materials, and keeping them warm temperature with a low wattage red light bulb (since the white ones may harm the baby’s vision) as the proper heat source, like around 95 degrees in temperatures.
3. Feed them or they die within hours!
Within a few hours of hatching, the parents might start feeding their babies. You can keep on checking their condition to make sure the babies are getting fed by their parents and getting enough water because if they don’t properly feed in these critical hours, they might die!
Sometimes, if the parents do not feed their babies, you can help the babies by trying to put the baby’s bill into the upper corner of parent mouth. Support the baby’s weight while stoking the opposite side of the parent’s bill. This baby’s bill insertion method may stimulate the regurgitative feeding process on the parents. Do it gently because we don’t want the parents to abandon the baby, right?
If you have to, you can also do this with hand feeding. Keep some baby bird mixes or baby bird formula made for doves with required nutrients on hand in case the parents abandon their baby. If you cannot find any commercial baby bird mixes at pet stores, you can make your own feed. All you need is a hard-boiled egg, piece of bread, and water. Mix it all and give it to the baby little by little with veterinarian’s feeding tub, or if you don’t have one, you can go with a teaspoon and let them suck it just like they are using a straw to eat. Remember to keep the food warm, or else, the baby will refuse it! You can feed the baby doves for every two to three hours a day.
Another thing that is important to note is that baby doves usually do not chirp or open their mouth when they are hungry. Instead, the rooting around with their beaks to try to find where the food goes.
When giving the baby with water, do not let it aspirate the water into its air system which may lead into serious health issue like pneumonia by letting the babies take a sip with a small amount of warm water.
Don’t forget to hold the baby in your hand when you feed it to keep its body warm.
The parent will start to encourage their babies to go out from their nest after they are about two weeks old. However, they will keep on feeding them from the outside of the nest or on the ground. After a month old, babies will be weaned. If you somehow find baby doves (that has already feathered, which can be an indication that the baby is now a big boy) on the ground, keep your eyes and them and observe to make sure that the parents are still somewhere, taking care of them. If not, or in other words, the baby is abandoned by their parents, you can help it by hand feeding them!
However, in some regions, you cannot keep on raising the baby doves because the law does not let you raise wild animals. If so, you can always reach for help to the local vet or local wildlife rehabilitation department that is available in your neighborhood.
That is all the proper guide to help you with taking care of baby doves. After all, baby birds, especially the newborn ones, are super fragile. So whatever you do, do it gently so you don’t irritate the baby or even hurt the baby!