I wish I could have gotten a good picture of the brooder I use when it was full. Inside I had two cockatiels, five parakeet chicks, one lovebird chick, and an adult zebra finch hen who just needed to stay warm overnight.
The next morning, the hen was fine and reunited with her mate. The baby birds were all hungry and ready to eat. That’s a good sign with hand-fed chicks. Chances are they will eat well without making too much of a mess.
I mix up enough food for all the birds and get it heated to the top range of the best temperatures for success. Between 109 degrees F and 102 degrees is considered the best for my little birds. I start with the youngest chick so that it will have the best chance of good digestion. The lovebird is the youngest and he or she took to eating beautifully. (Let’s say) He is the youngest lovie I have ever pulled. I am concerned about predators, like mice, getting into the aviary and killing the babies. Also, the lovebird parents seem to be over the whole raising the kids thing. This chick didn’t have much in his crop when I removed him from the nest.
The five budgies (parakeets to Americans) then are fed in order. The two smallest are blue, though one may be gray. The middle child in this clutch is a beautiful yellow with green. This bird has an amazing personality already. He likes to stop after a little bit of feeding and look around. Then he’ll take the food once more and go until he’s done. The next bird in age is looking like a normal green with the eldest being blue. These two like to go around to the babies and try to get their food from them. But the babies know better.
I started out with three cockatiel chicks and tried to push them to self-sufficiency too quickly. We had a few days of very cold weather and the youngest cockatiel chick died. I moved the survivors back into the brooder and increased their feedings from once a day to twice or three times. They are nearly weaned and didn’t really want much of the food, but they weren’t sure about finding water yet.
I knew I had something coming up that would take some of my time away from the babies. I planned to just cross my fingers and hope the chicks made it through those days. I posted about this on Facebook and a very sweet woman offered to take the babies for two weeks. She attended the May club meeting and we discussed the chicks and how I feed them. I gave her the equipment and the formula and relaxed.
Turns out, I was panicking too much about the days I need to be away from home. Nonetheless, I am grateful to not be worrying about the chicks while the situation goes forward. There are a bunch of other things that need my immediate attention at the time. Knowing the chicks are being well taken care of, by someone who wants one of the cockatiels, lightens my load extremely.
And yet, in the mornings when I would first be setting up to feed them, I miss the little sweethearts. I love the noise they make, I love the way they push forward to eat, and I love the way they nibble on my fingers in case food might start flowing there. I especially love the feeding response from them, stronger as they get older. In spite of my feelings for these chicks, I know they are better off right now as the focus of someone else’s day. And when they come back to me, they will be sold or re-homed as needed. After all, we’re pretty much full right now.
Feeding baby birds is a joy, and having a backup plan is a relief. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.
Photo credits: T. Rider, P. Smid, D.L. Hungerford.