Baby Bird Q&A


This is a list of my most frequently asked questions
 during the 20 years of raising and selling baby birds. 
I hope in sharing them with you, you will become a better bird "mom"

1. How clean must I keep my hands and equipment?

Of course you should be as clean as possible. If you have other birds in the house, you should wash thoroughly before handling your baby. Ideally you should purchase a disinfectant. Your feeding syringe, thermometer and spoon or bowl should be soaked in this between feedings. Bleach can be used (1 part bleach to 5 parts water).


2. How often should I feed my baby?

If your baby has been taken on 2 times a day feedings, you should feed your baby 10 to 12 hours apart, but this is not critical, just ideal. If your schedule makes this impossible, just feed again before having to leave the house. Please keep in mind, many feel that purchasing an unweaned baby bird should never be done, and I will discuss this in another article.


3. How do I know that my baby is digesting all of his formula?

If there is food left in baby's crop and you know that it is formula and not food eaten from the food bowl, and it has been 12 hours (for instance overnight), this could indicate a problem. If you are trying to feed baby earlier than usual (ex. extra early in morning, or with just a little time in between feedings), then this is not a reason to worry. A baby's crop should (and needs) to empty completely once in a 24 hour period.


4. If baby is still on heat, how do I know if he is too hot?

If your baby is still tiny and under artificial heat and he is panting and holding his wings out to his side, he is too hot. He will also become restless throwing himself around the brooder. If this is a baby old enough to be in a cage and has most of his feathers and it is a hot day, (like the rest of us) will have to endure. When temperatures are hot, you may use a spray bottle and mist him lightly he may not like it in the beginning, but in time will appreciate this act of kindness.


5. How can I tell if baby is too cold?

One indication would be a slow crop (this is again for tiny babies). You will also see the baby shiver, or curl up in a ball. Older feathered babies will fluff their feathers. Average temperatures in the house even as low as 60 degrees or so are O.K. Baby will become use to this and do fine with it. Remember, there are a lot of birds kept in outdoor aviaries. As long as they can become acclimated they will become use to whatever comes their way.


6. Where should I place the perches in baby's new cage?

I think it is an excellent idea to place the perches low, for example, macaw babies are very clumsy, and so the perch should be where it just clears the tail. When he becomes more coordinated, then the perch can be moved or do so a little at a time. Another good idea is to place cut cardboard on the bottom of your cage if your baby is getting stuck or having a problem with the bottom grate.


7. Where should the food bowls be placed?

If you have enough food bowls, ideally they can be placed at the same level as the perch and again on the floor of the cage. This would just be until baby is able to deal with perching and holding onto food and eating. If you do not have enough bowls, then put them on the floor. You'll want to make sure these bowls are heavy enough that they cannot be knocked over when baby is standing on them.


8. Is a wire grate good to have on the cage?

When baby is young they can catch their feet in the grate. You could help him out by turning the grate upside down so that it is laying flat on the paper, or else try putting a towel down on the grate for baby to sleep and play on. They will have a hard time balancing on the grate, eating their food, and dropping everything out of reach in the beginning. As baby gets older, you will be glad to have a grate on your cage.


9. What if my baby's droppings look a little runny?

When baby is still being hand fed his dropping will be more runny. Also about this time he finds out all about water and often times drinks a great deal more than usual. Also, apple will make his droppings runny, as will many other fruits.


10. Should I cover my baby's cage at night?

If your baby goes home during the warm months, this does not present a problem. Keeping baby ideally at 62 degrees & up is warm enough. But if baby is very young when first coming home, it would be a good idea to cover the cage until summer. At this point you can quit covering the cage. Just be sure to be consistent with whatever you decide to do. Birds will acclimate themselves. Some people cover their bird's cage to quiet him at night. But remember that if some evenings you get home late, baby may be waiting for the cage cover before he feels he can go to bed. Also when you are gone for the week-end, this presents a dilemma for you and baby.


11. Can my cage be too big for baby?

Once baby can get around well, your cage can be too big.


12. What are some good things to feed my baby?

First of all, make sure you work on getting your baby on a pelleted diet. There are lots of real good ones out there; Pretty Bird seems to be one that most birds really like the flavor of. But in addition to pellets: beans, lentils (soaked or cooked) peas, corn, carrots (grated is good), spinach, rice, apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, squash, beets, and many other endless fruits and vegetables. For convenience, you can use frozen mixed vegetables and just defrost them first. Do not leave foods in the cage longer than 10 to 12 hours. Eggs can be served, but do not leave them in the cage for more than an hour. Cockatiels love all greens, especially broccoli tops, carrot tops, and corn on the cob. They are not real fruit eaters although they can be taught. Table scraps are great, cheese in moderation, and meats such as chicken is something they really like.

NEVER FEED AVOCADO TO YOUR BABY. Also pastries with high sugar have been known to be harmful to birds. Also caffeine, chocolate, and liquor should never be feed to any of your birds.


13. What if my baby does not want to wean?

This is a problem most common on Greys and Cockatoos, and occasionally Macaws. If they are going on 7 to 8 months of age, often times they don't need the formula, just prefer to have it. Gradually reduce the amount of formula being fed at each feeding. At the same time increase your will power and let baby go slightly hungry. Another important thing, is be sure that you are not using your handfeeding time also as cuddle time. If you do this, then your new baby will not want to wean because he is thinking that means that cuddling will also stop.

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