My dog Astrid is the princess of the house. The African Gray parrot, Bo Dangles, is the queen. Maynard, DYH Amazon, is the jester. So when a friend asked me to hand feed her Princess of Wales chicks, I figured they would fit right in.
The drama always begins when one of Jill’s POW hens lays eggs, hatches them, then abandons the nest when the babies need her the most. So Jill pulls them and this time it worked out so she could bring them to me. The four little pink squirms were just opening their eyes and in the so ugly they’re cute stage. Mike said they were the cutest uglies he’d seen. I got them into a brooder, mixed up some formula, and fed them.
I may have fallen in love with them instantly. These chicks took to hand feeding as if they had expected it all along. Mike and I went to breakfast then came home to feed the chicks again. We were going to be gone for some hours so I wanted to stuff the chicks. I started with the oldest, worked through to the youngest. That little one just seemed too young to have been moved away from mama. As I was feeding it, the chick laid its head over, as if it had fallen asleep while eating.
Unsure of its condition, I laid it back in the brooder. And that is when I realized the chick was no longer alive. But luckily that was the only fatality in this clutch. The rest of the time they have been sweet and cute and so very enjoyable.
Astrid has been fascinated by the chicks. She would stand on her hind legs so she could look in the brooder whenever the flapped. I let her sniff one, but I don’t trust her to be gentle enough with such small babies. Astrid even wanted to taste the hand feeding formula. Apparently, it’s tasty to her, too.
From the start, the chicks had their own individual quirks. They have such long necks and often pulled away from the feeding syringe to stretch it up and swallow. One would take the whole 10 ccs and wait patiently for more. The next would stop every few seconds and look around, then chirp when he wanted more. The youngest would pull away without any warning, ending up with formula in his eyes. They were less messy eaters than cockatiel chicks, but they weren’t pristine.
They were about 10 days old when Jill brought them to me, and they usually fledge around 30 days. But at 25 days old, they were flapping so hard in the brooder tank that I worried they were going to damage themselves or each other. I started setting them up on the edge of the tank and letting them flap away for a while.
The next step is to give them millet to chew on and the occasional slice of apple. Water was also given in a small bowl. The babies played around with the new food and after a couple days the millet was nothing but a twig. Time to put them in a cage.
Luckily, when I took in Bun Bun, the cockatiel, he came with a nice cage that worked well for the young parakeets. There was one perch, some ladders, and a few toys hanging near the perch. They did well in it, flapping and chewing and going on with growing. They got a bowl of normal parrot seed and a bigger bowl of water.
One day, the oldest decided to give those wings a real workout. From my hand, he swooped over the table to the floor. I told him he flew, but Mike said there had to be lift to qualify. The chick tried again the next day and made it into the kitchen where the drying rack was a perfect landing spot.
Soon all three could become airborne. Off with the ceiling fan! Cover the biting parrot! I had to use a step stool to get one of them down from the refrigerator. At least they were helping to get cobwebs down from the hard-to-reach corners. After that, I held on to them while feeding, which made them less than happy. They had no problem with me cutting back from four feedings to three to two. Like any mom of babies, I am both happy to have them become independent and sad to see the sweet babies grow up.
The safest room in the house for these birds to fly in is the bedroom. Lots of soft landing places. I carried them there and closed the door on Astrid, then let the babies free. They flew around, then went into the master bathroom and perched on the shower door top rail. They were looking out the tiny window. Eventually, they all came back to the bed, with the oldest perched on a picture frame and the other two running around the bed, chewing on the blanket.
Astrid started whining to get in, so I let her in and held on to her collar. Once she realized there were babies in there, she was struggling to get to them. She would play a little too rough with them, most likely. The birds were pretty much done with flying now that nothing was stopping them. Back in their cage they went and we all breathed easier.
While I can safely say that Princess Astrid has welcomed the Princess of Wales parakeets, I think she will be glad when two of them go back to Jill’s and she just has to think about one staying here. For that change, the Princess approves.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.