Icarus, the baby house sparrow (photos!)

In this GQ thread from a week ago, ( Found a baby bird - help! ) I talked about finding a baby bird that fell out of its nest, and got some good advice from Dopers. In the beginning I didn’t think he’d make it, but it’s a week later and he’s thriving! Check out the photos here. His name is Icarus and I love this little guy. It’s amazing how fast he’s growing, as you will see from the photos.

Well since it was no longer a general question, I thought I’d start a new thread here to show off the latest photos. Any other baby bird stories/experiences are welcome! I’m still not quite sure what to do from here.


I raised (among many other baby birds/small mammals) a sparrow from babyhood when I was a teenager. Once she learned to fly, and I was working with her to find food, she mostly stayed loose in my bedroom. I’d wake up in the morning to an imperious PEEP looking down at me from the bookshelves above my bed.

I let her go after a few test flights outside. She circled my head a few times, wider and wider, until she flew off. That summer, there was often an overly friendly sparrow around, so I always hoped it was her.

That bird is beautiful.

I don’t want to worry you unneccessarily, but I’m concerned about his legs. Are they always splayed out like that, or does he ever get them under him like a perching position?

We raised a splay-legged baby budgie. One of the things we did for her was to take a sock and stuff the toe into the open end to make a little “sock donut”. Then set your bird in the donut with him legs under him so he’s partially supported in a sitting-up position.

We ultimately had to actually use veterinary tape (NOT adhesive tape!) to tape Scritch’s legs together so she could grow straighter. It had imperfect results; she has one leg cocked out to the side and has some trouble stepping over things. But she can perch.

I want to emphasize that I can’t be sure from the pics there is even a problem. However, in general, you want him too be gathering his legs underneath and starting to support himself. Try a sock donut for starters. We put a liner in it of one piece of tissue that we could change out every time he pooped --save a lot of socks.

Another nice trick is to put grains of dry rice in a cloth bag and microwave it for a short time. Take it out and it should radiate warmth for a while. Wrap it in a towel or something to prevent direct contact with hot parts, and set it next to him, if he needs more warmth.

Best of luck to you!!! :>


Sailboat, I am a little concerned too. In doing research online, I read about “spraddle leg.” Part of me thinks it’s just because he still so young - I estimate him to be about 10-12 days old… and each day his legs seem to be gettings stronger, and he seems to be trying to perch, and to stand himself up. But on the other hand, I do worry about his legs because they do seem a bit too spread out…

Anyway I tried the sock thing but he was too big for it. So I took a ball of yarn and spread it apart so it’s like a large donut, and he fits in it perfectly. I think it is really helping - he is already able to stand himself up better. Thank you so much for your advice. The only thing is, he’s starting to get very active and pretty soon he’ll be jumping out of his little yarn nest! If you know of anything else I can do to help, please let me know!

Cowgirl, what did you feed your bird once he got older than a couple of weeks?

How cute! I raised a baby sparrow once, too, when I was in high school. They’re adorable. Here’s a pic

I wonder if you could get him banded before you release him, that way you might be able to tell if he hangs around your house afterwards.
I found a couple of baby 'possums a few years back. Thier mother had been killed by a car. I fed them canned milk w/ an eyedropper and put them in a shoebox w/ some rags and a heating pad under the box. They didn’t make it though, too young I guess.

That was 25 years ago - I don’t remember! I do remember the tiny baby food, and that was a soggy mixture of hard-boiled egg, dry dog food, and some of that dehydrated baby cereal. Probably I just dried it up some as the birds got older, and included some seeds.

Yippee! Thanks for keeping us informed. He looks great!

You can buy specially formulated baby bird food at any pet store. Mix the powder with warm water and you’re good to go. I’ve used Exact for years. The website also has a good video on how to hand-feed.

Opal, that’s cool! How long did you have him?

Thanks for the link, LunaV. I think that I can also feed him seed once he’s older too.

Just an update, since I followed Sailboat’s advice last night, and made Icarus a nest out of a ball of yarn, he is starting to stand up on his own. Now when it’s feeding time, he lunges toward the food on the power of his legs. He’s getting much better!

Just a few weeks. He was a little older than yours when I got him (he ran into my mom’s kitchen!) so he learned to fly fairly soon. At first just from one hand to the other, then from the curtain rod down to my hand, etc. Soon he was flying through the house. Eventually we would leave the window open and one day he flew away. Cute little guy :slight_smile:

But the cocked leg added the je ne sais quoi to the wonderful cute story about her trying to incubate that egg!
Icky lunging toward food! Woot!

nyctea scandiaca, that’s a lovely thing you did. I’m tearing up just looking at the pictures. Good luck to you and the bird. Seriously, God bless people who look out for animals.

Here are the latest photos! He is almost fully feathered, and he’s been practicing his walking. He loves to be held, and practices flapping his wings. He has also discovered a new favorite food: chicken baby food mixed with fruit baby food, which he licks off the tip of a baby syringe. He loves it!

He is just the sweetest thing ever, and I love him!

p.s. Does anyone know how old house sparrows are before they get their mature markings, so I can tell whether he is really a male?

Hooray, glad to see he’s doing good! Does anyone know when these things can start flying anyway?

Man, he’s come a long way fast! He looks so much better and very dear. I’m glad to know he’s thriving.

Juveniles molt into adult plumage about four to six weeks after fledging, so probably sometime in August.

When is flight school?

Awwww, looking at him just makes me want to barf. In a good way.