Sunday, April 10, 2011

Handfeeding Question & Answer

Janice writes:  "I am raising some rosys also. My hen is on her 2nd clutch of the year. The 1st egg hatched April 1, the second on April 3rd, and the 3rd egg on April 8th. All were fine this morning. The parents were in and out eating and I assumed feeding all babies. Well I checked in the box around 8:30p and 1 baby was dead, and the smallest one is near death. The largest is fat and happy. I hand fed the smallest by 8:45p, and it ate well. It is so tiny, it must be the chick that hatched yesterday. I only put small drops of formula on its beak and watched as it drank it down, the drop was low, I added another until I saw the the crop was full, or nearly full. The chick stopped so I did also. I returned it back to its mother. I will check it again in 2 hours."

The first bird I ever hand fed. Spicy is a male Normal
Bourke whose mother hatched four babies, but would
only feed two. I lost one before realizing the problem,
and rescued him. He's several years old now.  When older,
his parents raised clutches of four without any problem.
Janice, it sounds like you are doing the best you can with the baby. Be sure to feed him all that you can stuff into him, and every two hours for a newly hatched baby. Follow directions on the box as it will be a warm, thin formula at first, and later need to be thickened up.

I wonder how your birds did with their first clutch...? They sound like they could be young birds and will do a better job of raising more of their young next year. Or, the babies could have a genetic problem and aren't meant to survive. The fact that they hatched though, means that they were strong to begin with.

I've rescued many babies by hand feeding them when their parents weren't able, or willing, to do so. That said, I have one bird that's a year old and still cannot entirely feed itself. He's like a concentration camp survivor who is alive, but not thriving. I feed him one or two times a day with a handfeeding formula and give him nestling food, which he seems to be able to eat some of. However, for whatever reason, he cannot hull seeds like other birds. When he wasn't thriving in the nest, I took him out and started hand feeding. If I had not done that, he would have died. Yet, perhaps he should have... He is a sweet, very tame little bird, but having to hand feed him for years to come does not appeal to me.

I don't want to frighten you though...most of the babies I've hand fed have grown into perfectly normal, healthy adults and they were all well worth the trouble.

Watch your babies to be sure the parents are keeping them warm. If they've rejected feeding them, they might (or might not) refuse to keep them warm too. Baby birds can expire from being cold even quicker than not being fed. When I've removed babies from the nest, I keep them in a box with pine shavings and a paper towel that I can throw away when soiled. I have a small electric oil heater that I place near the box to keep the temperature very warm. It's helpful to have more than one baby in the box to keep each other warm. You might want to hand feed BOTH babies so that they are very tame once grown, and to keep each other healthy and warm as they grow. That's my suggestion...if you hand feed one, do the whole clutch.

Best of luck. May your baby Rosy Bourkes thrive.

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