Tuesday (January 20th, 2015) was one of those days that I already had too much on my plate. The perfect time for a baby bird crisis!
My friend and owner of an African Senegal pair called. I already knew that they had fertile eggs and one had hatched January 11th. I had been planning its arrival to be handfed next week but this afternoon she had found the 2nd baby, who was just 3 days old, in the corner of the nest box cold and almost dead. She wisely knew to slowly warm the baby with her hands.
We both scrambled to meet at my store, Birds of Paradise. She brought me both babies and kept them warm with her body heat while I got a brooder ready. The cold baby was alive but struggling. It could not stay right side up and kept falling over onto its back. The older baby seemed to be doing well and was quite a bit larger.
Finally the brooder was up to 95 degrees. The babies' crops were almost empty but I chose to wait at least an hour to feed them. I wanted them to be fully warmed and stable. I have found one of the most common errors in handfeeding is to feed food that is not warm enough or the babies are not warm enough, or both. Then you are just asking for yeast to start forming in the crop.
First handfeeding for these babies came about 8 pm. The older baby took 1 cc and the younger one took less than 1/2 a cc. I will start at 3 hour intervals and observe how long it takes them to empty. My 1st night on a 2 or 3 hour schedule is always the hardest. I usually go to bed and sleep til morning. Wish me luck!
Wednesday (January 21st, 2015) the babies and I all made it through our 1st night together. They were empty at 3 hour intervals. If you plan to handfeed and have to travel with little babies, an inverter for your car is essential. Thirty years ago I learned a hard lesson with newborn Umbrella Cockatoo chicks that chilled while in transit without a heat source. Even worse, I didn't know to warm them slowly in my hands. I plugged the brooder in when I got to work but they died of hypothermia.
The little baby is still having trouble staying off its back. I have it in a small dish with scrunched up paper towel so it can hang its head over the ridges. The older baby is still doing well; active and moving normally.
We hit the scales this morning. The older chick weighed in at 25 grams and the younger baby was just 8 grams! Wow, that's little! I am using Zupreem's handfeeding formula with boiled water and a tuberculin syringe. I mix the food in a jigger glass and that works well for me. Its small in diameter so the food does not cool as fast and can easily be set in warm water to hold the temperature. The younger baby is almost at 1/2 cc. The older baby is up to 1 1/2 cc. We are going to stay on 3 hours for now. Gotta go, it's time to feed babies!
Thursday (January 22nd, 2015) morning. We have two successful nights behind us. I have a queasy feeling this morning. It seems to be my body's response to sleep interruption. The little baby is looking much better today. Having a lot less trouble staying upright. Finally a strong feeding response! Take a full 1/2 cc or a bit more per feeding. At weigh in this morning, we are at 10 grams. Moving in the right direction! The older baby is really starting to move forward. Taking 2 cc per feeding and body weight is 29 grams. We will stay on 3 hour feedings again today.
Whatever caused the parents to not care for the youngest baby, so far, doesn't seem to be an issue. Perhaps they only want to feed one chick? The breeder will note this in her records and be watching carefully when they have another clutch.
Record keeping is important for many reasons. This is just a few examples: keeping track of the time of year, number of eggs laid and hatched, how well they fed, did they start picking the babies at a certain age, certain foods or other factors that were needed to get them to go to nest, are all important facts. If only you have one or two pairs, your memory may be your filing box. I, on the other hand, like to commit some of this to a 3x5 card filed by species.