Whose Idea Was It to Handfeed Chicks?

Yeah, it was my idea. I probably won’t do this again. As with most things in my life, I have come to it too late. The syringes are killing my hands, my thumbs are so weak, and the arthritis flares up now and then. Of course I could do the exercised the physical therapist recommended.

You can’t find two more different chicks to feed than cockatiels and love birds. Well, not in my house, anyway. I understand from my friend Thea that macaw chicks are fast growing and so different from any she has fed before. But my two sets of two chicks (I pulled the other cockatiel chick on Sunday) are different, from each other and from each species.

The cockatiel chicks are big already. They have long necks, long bodies, big butts, and big feet. They stretch their heads up when they are hungry. Notice ME! Is their motto. My violet lovebirds keep their heads down, and try to burrow into the table top or towel or whatever comes to hand.

My hopes for a white face or a silver cockatiel have withered as Nunu’s orange cheeks have feathered in a bit. He might still be a pearl, but he’s so adorable anyway. He likes to cuddle a bit after feeding. Nunu could get a job as a sprinkler, the way he sprays food out of his mouth during the process. That head bobbing works, I am sure, if mom or dad are feeding and match the action. I just change my shirt more often.

The new baby is called, without imagination, Tiny. She’s an albino. Her eyes are red and her down is all yellow-white. All my albino chicks from this pair have been females, so I am relatively sure of her sex. She is a tiny dancer. She hisses loudest when she’s hungry, she wanders away if I don’t pay attention, and she turns in a circle between servings. How could you not love her?

I have no idea if the lovebirds are actually the sex I assigned to them, but they certainly act as I expect a boy and a girl to act. Sassy is just that. Once she sees I have food, she pushes forward and takes the serving. She draped herself over her sibling on the hot rock in the new cage, in a dramatic fashion. And she looks around while I feed her brother, and would wander off if she could. She loves to have me attach her to my shirt and walk around with her. We sat in the comfy chair for reading time today, and she went from my chest to my neck in little squirms. Parting with her is going to be difficult.

Oberon, or Obee for short, is already sold to a good friend who believed I could hand feed some day. He’s young enough that he gets very still when people walk by, and still clings desperately to whatever he can. Cockatiels don’t tend to clutch things with their feet, but lovebirds do so tenaciously. Sassy is getting confident enough to let go most of the time, but Obee required patient peeling of the feet off of the object. Especially if that object is his sister. He and Sassy feed eagerly for the first two servings, but around the third, they slow down. Soon after that, they turn their heads and refuse any more.

One thing I really love about feeding the babies is that they KNOW when they have had enough and stop taking the formula. I wish I had that skill. I’m trying to do what they do. I think I can learn.

The oldest of the lovebird chicks that wasn’t pulled for hand feeding has fledged and left the nest out in the breeding cage. He or she is beautiful, but as soon as I am sure he isn’t being fed by the parents any longer, I have to pull him before his beak loses all the black coloring. Otherwise I might not be able to tell him from the parents.

Okay, I might do this again in the Spring if I get more chicks. But not until I get around to downsizing the inside birds, cleaning out the garage and the office, finding the spare room floor, and a dozen more things that I thought I could do by now. I’ll be back on Sunday.

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