Birds--General/Baby sparrow


Two weeks ago, while in the city, I came across a baby sparrow which happened to have fallen from somewhere.  I could not see its nest, and if I was going to leave it there, it would have probably been hit or died anyway.  From what I read, I detected that the age of the bird must have been a week old.

I started trying to feed it, and in a couple of hours it started eating from my hands, and within two days it was getting healthy and full of strength.  It looked like a very happy bird, growing well, and increasing communication and feeding skills etc.  Until last Friday, it was oozing a hyper happy attitude, just like a normal healthy bird.  The cage used to be cleaned twice a day, and same with water.  Its diet was maybe not as varied, but it had raw cereals, egg yolk, some fruit and leafy veg.  All the food stayed in its tray, no longer than 8 hours.  Egg yolk was provided enough that it could feed on it within a couple of hours, not more.

As I said, until Friday, all was perfect, and it was fledging feathers and growing every day.  Therefore, on Saturday morning, I was shocked to see it on the cage floor, with one head tilted to a side, gasping for breath and unable to walk.  I was lost on what to do, especially since it showed no warning of symptoms that lead to death.  It was really bad.  All I did is provide some tissues and put it on it.  In a few minutes, it died.  

I asked a breeder, and not witnessing anything but my information, he told me it should not have had any white feathers beneath its wings and growing tail.  It was still growing its tail.  He suspects it was a flu.  Can you please help me with more information, on what could have gone wrong, and so suddenly?

It's hard to know what went wrong but parents feed the babies a high protein diet, mostly insects. The babies also need vitamin D for their bones. The egg yolk you provided was the only source of protein and perhaps not enough. I don't know what the breeder was talking about regarding white feathers - makes no sense to me.I don't know what kind of sparrow it was but perhaps a House Sparrow as you were in the city. House Sparrows often have white feathers - it's called partial albinism and has nothing to do with the bird's health. And I don't know why he would think it was the flu. As I said, I don't know, but I suspect the lack of protein had something to do with it. Thanks for your concern.


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Roger Lederer


Any and all questions about WILD birds - not caged, domestic or poultry. Can answer questions about identification, taxonomy, behavior, courtship, plumage, flight, or anything else. Wild birds only, please.


Taught ornithology (the study of birds) at the university level for 30 years. Have written five books on birds, published 30 scientific articles, write a blog on birds, have the website, lectured to hundreds of groups on birds,and have traveled to 90 countries studying birds.

A variety of ornithological and conservation organizations.

Real Simple Magazine, Enterprise-Record, and several ornithological and ecological journals.

PhD in Zoology with emphasis in ornithology.

Awards and Honors
Professional Achievement Award, Jack Rawlins Chair of Environmental Literach.

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