Lots of parrots and other birds have great personalities and are fun to be with. If I had to choose only one bird to have, I would cry a lot. But I think I would choose a lovebird. Right now I am handfeeding 3 violet mutation lovebirds, and it blows me away how much personality they already have, and how different they are from each other.
I had trouble telling them apart two weeks ago when I pulled them from the nest. So I got food coloring and put bright splotches on their heads. That way no one got fed twice while someone else was ignored.
The oldest one I called Chewy because he or she wanted to explore and chew on everything. The next one I called Squirt due to his habit of relieving himself when I picked him up. And the youngest is Nugget, because she was just a little lump of birdie at first.
I learned to streamline my feeding routine. I have the times written on a white board so I would not forget. I found the syringe they liked best. And I used measurements when I stirred up the food.
In the past, I would guestimate the amount of food and water to mix up. I wasted a bunch of it. So this time, I used a half tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the dry powder into the mixing cup. Then I heated the water in the microwave, and used the syringe to add the right amount of water. Three syringe-fulls makes exactly the right amount.
Then the thermometer goes in. The range I shoot for is 104 to 109 degrees F. Almost always, it’s too hot. I put in a little unpasteurized apple cider vinegar at room temp to cool it down. Or, if I have baby food on hand, I add a wee bit of pears or veggies from the refrigerator. And check the temp again.
Once it’s perfect, I take a plastic bowl lined with paper toweling, and approach the brooder. In this case, the brooder is an old aquarium with a heating pad under half of it. There’s a rubbery lining on the bottom so they have a chance to grip things, and recycled paper bedding to absorb their waste. I gave them half of a small box to hide in at first. It didn’t survive the amount of poop they produced, so I tried a clear top from a broken bird bath. That worked until they got too big. They settled down enough now that they don’t need to hide.
On average, each baby eats about one syringe full. The older one eats a little less, the youngest a little more. I feed them every 3 hours at first, from 7 AM to 8 PM. The chicks tell me when they don’t need so much, and I switch to every 4 hours. Yesterday, at five weeks old, they barely ate anything from me. I have placed a small dish of water in the tank, and a dish of mixed seeds and pellets. Also millet is given in large amounts. They strip that in a day.
They have a dowel just laid on the floor of the tank so they can learn to perch. They have a tiny whiffle ball which is a favorite toy. And they get to sit on the playstand a few times when it’s warm enough and the other birds are not out.
Before I know it, they have grown up. I will feed them morning and evening for a few more days, and then they will be weaned. They will try to fly, already flapping their wings when the mood strikes them. They spend more time in the unheated end of the aquarium. But at night, they still cuddle up over the heating pad. They are sweet, beautiful, loving birds that will go to good homes and be special to some lucky people.
I won’t have long to suffer empty brooder syndrome. My lovies have five more eggs in the nest. They will hatch in the next week, and be pulled in early January. Another cycle of pretty babies to be loved and fed and passed on to good homes. For more information, go to this site: http://www.flyinggems.com/Lovebirds/handfeeding.htm
Thanks for reading, I will be back on Thursday.