What do Baby Cardinals Eat?

If you find yourself wondering what baby cardinals eat, I’m curious as to why you’re asking the question. However, here is the answer: In the wild baby Cardinals eat mostly insects. While adult Cardinals diet consists of mostly plant based material, they will feed their fledglings insects as the protein is ultra important to their development. Soft non-shelled insects like caterpillars are a preferred meal for baby Cardinals.

What to feed a rescued Baby Cardinal?

Now what if you find a baby cardinal injured or abandoned by it’s parents? First always make sure that the baby cardinal is really in need. You can do this by closely examining the baby bird. If you find a young cardinal on the ground ask yourself these questions: Is the baby cardinal fuzzy or is it feathered? If the bird is fuzzy it could be in serious danger as it may have fallen out of it’s nest or be abandoned by its parents.

However, if the bird is feathered it is probably grounded due to learning how to fly. It most likely isn’t abandoned or in serious danger. The only reason to interfere with a baby cardinal that is feathered would be to remove it from immediate danger posed by a lurking cat, dog, or another potential predator.

Let’s say you do find a fuzzy baby cardinal on the ground in your yard, there are no parents nearby and you make the call to take it in. Remember not to interact with the bird up close too often! Doing so seriously jeopardizes the life of the bird moving forward. A domesticated cardinal has very low odds to survive in the wild. And if you are thinking that’s OK I’ll just keep him… you CAN’T because keeping a cardinal in captivity is illegal in most places.

Feeding the Fledgling

Before feeding the bird make sure it is in a stable location. It might make sense to build a temporary nest that will mimic a natural nest. You can opt for a cutoff carton, shoe box or anything similar. Fill the nest bed with shredded paper, soft towels, or a natural bird litter like coconut fiber. Having a uneven natural nest bed is important for proper development of the young cardinal. Remember, you’d never want to feed a baby cardinal anything dairy based or any bread. 

Lastly, you’ll want to load a syringe with blended berries, grapes, and baby bird formula made for parrots. These ingredients should provide enough nutrients to advance the bird to the feathered stage.

How Often to Feed a Baby Cardinal?

Taking care of the young cardinal isn’t an easy job as it requires around the clock care.

Baby Cardinals Being Fed

Checkout the video below that shows an up close and personal view inside the nest of a Cardinal family

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