Thursday, September 22, 2011

Splendid Hand Feeding Question and Answer

A female Scarlet-chested parakeet.

Catherine writes:  "I'm wondering if you can help me. Our female red chested parakeet (splendid) had her first clutch. Out of 6 eggs only 4 hatched. Sadly, the very smallest chick completely vanished. I could find no sign of her, not in the nest or on the floor. Now the hen has damaged her wing. We checked the chicks and yesterday their crops were still full, however this morning they were empty. So we put the nest box on the floor so the hen could get access to them easier. The hen took no notice.

When we went back late afternoon 2 chicks had clambered out of the nest and stood under their mother, but she did not feed them, just ignored them. The smallest chick was still in the nest, and when I pulled it out, I thought it was dead, but it was still breathing and after heating it up in my hands it started chirping. Since then I've taken them into the house to hand rear them. Reluctantly they are eating from a syringe. The vet has ordered us chick feed. We estimate the chicks to be 2 and a half weeks old. Can you give me advice on how often to feed, how I'd wean them in the future etc? We've never had Splendids before and I don't want to lose these chicks. Thank you!

A male Scarlet-chested
Splendid Parakeet.
Not sure where you live, but most communities in the United States have Granges or Pet Stores that carry Exact Handfeeding Formula for birds. I hope the chick feed your vet is getting isn't for chickens. Buying Exact at a pet store might be more expensive than ordering online, but you need it NOW. I recommend calling pet stores and/or anywhere else that sells pet food or caters to birds. Try to find it immediately.

If you enter "handfeeding" into the search window on this site, you will get other posts about feeding baby birds.

Since your babies haven't been fed enough recently, I'd offer them warm food every two hours during the day for the next few days. I'd even be tempted to get up in the middle of the night for the first day or two, just to get them healthy again. Try to feed them until they look like their crops are swollen and large. If they shake their heads, and refuse food, they're full. If they want to keep eating, let them.
You need to keep them warm as well as fed. A space heater near the box they are in will help. I've even put a piece of flannel over tiny ones with no feathers. If all three survive they will help keep one another warm. Since they've missed feedings, they will be more susceptible to cold, so warmth is even more important.
First thing, try to find some local business that carries the hand feeding formula and go get it. Once your babies are eating well, and seem healthy, you can cut back to feeding them four times a day ... about every four to five hours.

After my babies no longer huddle together inside a box (especially at night), I make sure there is other food available. Even when they start pecking at it, you will need to continue feedings for a while. They may get some food from seed, but not enough. Continue to offer feedings at least two weeks after they appear to be eating some food on their own. I give them spray millet and a nestling formula, as well as parakeet seed. They also get Petamine Breeding Formula. All of this isn't necessary, but I have it, so I offer it. They also like the usual vegetables, kale, spinach, corn, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, peas, etc.

It's not surprising that an injured bird gives up on her young. She is focused on recovery, poor thing. I recommend bringing her indoors too. Confining her in a small cage will give her wing a better chance to heal and protect her from harm. If she's staying on the ground, she's at risk from night time predators. Better to keep her warm and safe during her recovery.

If your birds are outside, even in an enclosed building, it's possible that your hen threw the dead baby chick out of the nest and a rodent found and carried the body off overnight. They can get into spaces you'd never believe possible, and are attracted by bird seed.
A pair of Scarlet-chested, or Splendid Parakeets.

 Best of Luck. If you're not too late, you will have wonderfully tame, beautiful birds.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Since writing I'm pleased to say all three Splendids survived, even the smallest one we feared we would lose. They are all eating very well, guzzling food down like there is no tomorrow.

I have one other question. When looking the little ones over tonight I noticed these tiny insects falling off them, and when I squished them, they were bright red with blood. Are these mites or something else? And how would I get rid of them? My concern is using a spray on a chick so young.

The mother is also in a smaller cage, inside the house and nice and warm. She too us eating a lot better, although she still doesn't seem interested in her chicks. The vet has told us to watch her and if her wing doesn't improve, they've given us the details of an expert who lives an hour away.

You're website has been vastly helpful. I actually live in south Wales in the United Kingdom, but there's very little resources on Splendids, which is why you've been a God send. Thank you once again for everything.