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Hydration of Purple Martins

Please keep in mind that this information is NOT meant to be used in lieu of taking the purple martin to a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. It is designed to answer basic questions and prevent injury to the purple martins by any incorrect actions. It is also meant to buy time until the bird can be brought to a Rehabilitator. As a federally protected bird, an injured purple martin should always be brought to a rehabber as quickly as possible to assure the best possible outcome.
NEVER attempt to give food or water to a bird that appears asleep, semi or unconscious.

When a purple martin fledgling is found, unable to fly or a purple martin nestling is thin and malnourished, you can guarantee that the martin is also dehydrated. Since purple martin nestlings receive all of the water in their diet from the insects that are brought to them to eat, they are at a high risk for dehydration which is much more dangerous than malnourishment.

Give purple martin fluid ONE drop at a time

A drop of water is placed on the top of the tip of the beak.

Stay away from the purple martins nostrils

The water drop will slide down to the side of the purple martins mouth by gravity.

purple martin taking fluids

The purple martin will then drink the water as it slides between its beak into its mouth.

A couple of points:

  • Fluids such as pedialyte and Gatorade should be offered at room or body temp-NEVER chilled.
  • Plain water is third choice.
  • Offer several drops of fluid every 15 minutes for a couple of hours before feeding a dehydrated bird.
  • Keep giving fluids even once bird is feeding.

    Return to Emergencies page

    Go to Feeding purple martins page

    Many thanks to Wildlife Rehabilitator and Certified Veterinary Technician Vered Nograd and "Faith" for their assistance, reviewing of and approval of this information.

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