How Much Milk Does A Two Week Old Baby Need What Is Bird Milk?

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What Is Bird Milk?

Invigorating milk! Mammals create it to feed their young, but did you know that some birds also produce a milk-like substance to feed their offspring? And, unlike mammals, both male and female produce it and provide these vital nutrients to their young? This “milk” has a few names such as bird’s milk, harvest milk or pigeon’s milk.

Several different species of birds are said to produce this substance and the best known is pigeon milk which pigeons give to their youngsters. Doves, which are related to pigeons, flamingos and emperor penguins, also feed their milk to young birds. In the case of emperor penguins, however, the male can produce milk but the females cannot.

Both male and female adult pigeons secrete crop milk from – you guessed it – their crop. A harvest is a muscular pouch located in the lower part of the esophagus and is, in fact, an enlargement of the esophagus used to store food. The milk produced by pigeons is a secretion from the cells that line the crop and is rich in fat and protein. A pigeon’s young will stick their beaks into their parents’ beaks to further stimulate the production and release of the substance in order to feed.

A few days before they hatch from their eggs, the pigeons start producing crop milk. At this time, they may also stop feeding altogether so that there are no seeds or debris contaminating the milk that a newborn would be unable to digest. They will give this immune-boosting substance to their newborns for about the first few weeks of their newborns’ existence. The first days of their existence, they are in fact fed exclusively on cultured milk unlike the young of many birds which feed their offspring on insects.

The milk that comes from flamingos is not created or stored in a culture. In their case, the milk is secreted by the lining of the digestive tract and is regurgitated into the mouth of her young. Unlike pigeons whose offspring feed on cultured milk for only a few weeks, flamingo chicks can feed on this vital substance for up to two months. Flamingos are not born with the necessary feeding apparatus to properly forage for solid food. While this apparatus develops, they feed exclusively on bird’s milk until they can feast on mature foods.

Finally, male emperor penguins secrete milk from the lining of their esophagus to fill the gap between the hatching of their chick and the return of their mother with food from sea fishing. Milk is not not intended to feed the chick for more than a few days to a week. If the mother does not return or if her return is delayed, the chick will perish.

Bird’s milk is another fascinating creation that allows mother nature’s creatures to flourish. From pigeons and doves to flamingos and emperor penguins, using bird’s milk to sustain life is essential to the survival of some of our most beloved birds.

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