Saturday, April 17, 2010


UPDATE, Sept., 2011: This year this hen produced seven babies in two clutches and one healthy baby has pink eyes.  Also, her daughter and granddaughter have produced beautiful, healthy pink-eyed babies this year. Go to Sept. 2011 posts for photos of them.

August, 2010:
Sad news. The pink-eyed baby did die.

His parents have raised many, many healthy clutches, but the three they've had with pink eyes have never survived past two weeks.  All the dark-eyed chicks have done well and became adult birds.
He was found dead in the nestbox yesterday morning. His two dark-eyed siblings are both doing well.

This photo shows all three babies with their mother. This was taken the day before he died. This hen never fussed when I reached in to take him out to feed him; or when I took the others out to be banded. Raising chicks is nothing new for her and she trusts us.

The comment attached to my previous post (generously provided by a reader, thank you!) says that Gouldian finches that hatch with dark stomachs like this baby, have a liver problem and don’t survive. Maybe that was one of this baby’s problems.

I’ve asked myself all the usual questions. Should I have gotten up more times in the middle of the night to feed him? Was he warm enough, etc.  It must be human nature to question ourselves, and we often feel guilty over the loss of someone or something we love and care about.

My husband reminded me that I still blame myself for the crib death of my first child 40 years ago, as does a friend of mine who also lost her first daughter in a similar manner. Could we, should we, have done something differently? Yet, so many neglected or abused children live to adulthood. Why do others, lovingly cared for, sometimes die anyway? The answer to this, and to the death of this baby bird, is that we cannot know the answer. It is in the hands of a power much greater than us.

It was obvious from the start that this baby had serious handicaps and wasn’t growing quickly enough. It was a sweet little thing and I enjoyed it while it was here. Am I sad? Yes. Am I going to continue second guessing whether I did everything right? No.

Laugh at me if you wish, but I like to imagine that this baby is flitting around heavenly trees right now, making a beautiful pink splash of color in an already beautiful, perfect place.


neversink7 said...

sorry to hear the sad news. I've also recently lost a society baby that I was trying to hand feed after noticing the parents were not really feeding it. It appeared to have some deformities in the feet. I think sometimes the parent birds know before we do that something is wrong and that's why they don't feed the deformed/weak babies. May be we should let nature take it's course, but I have always felt the need to try to keep them alive or at least as comfortable as possible.

The Splendid Bourke Bird Blog said...

You're right, the parents do seem to know. However, I've had hens who refused to raise a clutch bigger than two. I've rescued healthy babies from them, so it's always worth the effort. Sorry to hear about your Society finch.

neversink7 said...

Yes, I've noticed for most of my birds, finches or grasskeets, clutch size of at least 2 and at most 4 seems to be more ideal than either 1 or more than 4 babies for the parents to raise their own babies. When there is only one baby, a lot of times the parents raise the baby until near fledging and then become more interested in starting the next clutch rather than finish the job. With clutch sizes more than 4, the parents may feel overwhelmed and choose to feed only the strongest babies. I think it comes from in nature when the parent birds lay more eggs than they can usually raise based on the available food resources to have back up babies in case there is loss of the earlier hatchlings and/or in case there is a particularly good year for food, then they can raise more babies. I, too, always try to either foster or handfeed the abandoned babies. Just can't bear to let them die of starvation without trying to help...

G. Lewis said...

UPDATE: Fourteen months later this bird's granddaughter has produced three babies and TWO have PINK EYES! They are two weeks old with their eyes open and appear very healthy. So excited to see what they grow into. If you've reached this specific blog, click on Home and go read about them in July, 2011. I'm elated.