Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bourke & Splendid Parakeet Personalities ... Also Handfeeding Baby Birds

In answer to a comment question on the post “Splendid Bourke Parakeets, or Those Moody Bourkes and Splendids” here is the answer I gave her about feeding baby birds and more. It contains relevant information and many won’t find it tucked away in a comment section, so here it is:

 Newly hatched Bourke parakeet chicks.

Three baby Bourkes being hand fed.

After a hand feeding with a full crop...
On Hand Feeding... 

This was for Lauren: Baby chicks should be fed as soon as their crop is empty. If newly hatched, check them every couple of hours. If they are a week old, I'd feed them before going to bed, and set an alarm to get up at least once in the middle of the night to feed them again...maybe at four-hour intervals over night. Once they're feathered you can skip the night feeding and probably feed them three or four times a day. The younger they are the more often they need to be fed. Crops need to be almost empty in order to be sure it moves on through. Parent birds feed the babies until they look like they will explode, so feed them until they look very, very full or refuse to eat more. If you see a bulge over their shoulders from the back, they're probably getting enough. Exact handfeeding formula gives good instructions on density of food by age of your babies. Good Luck.

Lauren said she's losing two babies in clutches of four. Here's my answer:

My Bourke parents when young often reject more than two babies. Sad. However, as they've aged, they've raised up to four, but never five. I've learned to check the babies every morning, afternoon and evening. If they don't appear to have been fed, I pull them to hand feed. Sometimes I've put them back with the parents to keep them warm...they feed the first two and I feed the last two. You asked about temperature for a box or fish tank. If it feels warm to my hand and the babies are warm, it's probably okay. Eggs need to be at 98 degrees, so that's about right for babies. I've not used a thermometer with babies, but trust what I feel with my hand. If the house is 72 degrees, I put a small space heater near their box. When old enough they move toward or away from the warm side of the box. If possible, hand feed more than one baby at a time and they will help keep each other warm.

Ready to be fed ...

Babies are full and these 2 from an earlier clutch enjoy a nibble too.
 Another note: Hens drink a lot of water when laying eggs and raising young. Have extra sources available to be sure they never run out of fresh water. I use a water cup so they can hop into it and take a bath. Since they splash most of the water out, they also have water tubes on the side of their cages.
When feathered & soon able to fly, they go into a cage, but still
want a place to snuggle into. Here a tissue box let's them go in
and out and feel safe, warm and secure, but not free to fly off.

Eggs need a certain amount of moisture, so water tubes alone aren't enough. A hen needs to be able to bathe any time she thinks it's necessary.

Lauren also said she wants to add Splendids. These little clowns are wonderfully active fun birds. HOWEVER, be prepared for a lot more work! They foul their water almost as soon as they get it. I give them extra containers of water, hoping it will stay drinkable for a full day. Still, it begins to get yucky within an hour or two and after 24 hours may smell.

Rudy outside his mate's nest box.
I like to put newspaper in the bottom of my cages to keep them cleaner and can change the paper more often than clean the wire on the cage floor. Splendids make short work of newspaper. They shred it, play with it, put it in their water. They chew more than Bourkes, and sometimes toss small things out of the cage and onto the fresh vegies, for instance. They are fun, beautiful and take more time and trouble. Bourkes are quieter, cleaner birds... That's why I have so many more Bourkes than Splendids. Smile.

Both varieties are sweet-natured and make wonderful pets.


mandypoo2009 said...

hiya, is there a particular way to hand feed bourkes or is it just putting the syringe in their mouth?

G. Lewis said...

For tiny babies I place an eyedropper at the side of their beak and gently squeeze out a drop. letting it run along the side. Typically, they swallow it. It's not necessary to force the tip of the eyedropper into their mouths. When they are older, they will take if from the tip and might put their beak around the tip, but let them decide to do it. I never have to force food into their mouths. A healthy baby will be eager to eat. Even babies with their eyes closed can feel the warm liquid and accept it. They will eat until their crops appear huge. Generally when they are beginning to feather, they will shake their heads and scatter food, an indication that they've had all they want.