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SilverSage 03-28-2018 10:54 PM

So you bought an unweaned baby...
Today I spent several hours trying to help someone save a baby bird they had purchased unweaned. The baby died; they are usually almost dead by the time the new owner realizes something is wrong, not because the owner doesnít care but because they are not educated about what to look for or prepared to handle the disasters that almost always arise when the inexperienced bird lover brings home a baby who is still hand feeding. So letís get one thing clear; YOU SHOULD NOT BUY UNWEANED PARROT CHICKS!

-The bird will NOT bond to you better, in fact it often DAMAGES THE BONDING PROCESS.

-It is NOT cheaper; what you ďsaveĒ on the original fee you will spend in formula and other supplies and thatís assuming you donít spend hundreds or thousands of dollars at the vet trying to save your new baby because you made mistakes an experienced hand feeder never would have made.

-It is NOT easy or simple. Sure, in theory it all makes sense, but there are a hundred nuances and details that can spell disaster if you ignore them. And ask yourself: why is the seller so eager to sell the bird so young? So that YOU get to shoulder all the risk, work, and expense that is involved with raising that baby.

- It is NOT ETHICAL! Some people live in countries where the only way to get a parrot is to buy an unweaned baby or a poached bird, or worse; an unweaned poached baby. However, the majority of my readers live in places like the United States, Canada, and Australia. For those people with ACCESS to ethically and lovingly raised parrots to KNOWINGLY CHOOSE TO PAY SOMEONE TO TORTURE PARROTS TO DEATH (yes, thatís what selling unweaned babies to inexperienced people amounts to) is completely inexcusable.

At this point a lot of you may be thinking ďBoy, she is being really harsh, she should really tone it down, thatís not very professionalÖĒ Well guess what? IíM ANGRY! Why? DEAD BABY BIRDS TICK ME OFF! They break my heart, they make my blood boil. The poor owner of the bird who died today did everything he knew how to do! Everything he was told to do! He thought he knew what he was doing, he thought everything was going fine, until suddenly it wasnít. And he didnít have the equipment, knowledge, or other resources to save his bird. So if you want your back patted and to be congratulated for buying an unweaned baby, this is not the place for that. But if you have realized that you may be in over your head and you want someone to help you keep your new best friend alive, THAT I will do my best to help with. So letís get down to it.

1) TEMPERATURE IS EVERYTHING! Temperature is the most important part of raising a healthy baby parrot; the temperature of the formula and the temperature of the living environment.

-Formula MUST be between 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) and 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius). Any cooler and not only will your baby likely reject the formula, but his body will be unable to digest it properly leading to malnutrition. In some cases the food, not being digested, can even begin to spoil inside the body and from there you quickly see a spiral into bacterial infections that can kill within a few hours of the first symptoms. If the formula is too hot you risk internal burns. Unlike human babies, parrot chicks may not initially show signs of discomfort if the formula is too hot; they may swallow an entire feeding only to have their throats and crops severely burned to the point of being life-threatening. Even if the birds donít kill the bird outright they open them up to nasty infections that can kill very quickly, often before the new owner can even notice symptoms.

-The living environment temperature depends on how many chicks, how old, etc, but the baby needs to be kept warm enough for their body to function normally as if a mother bird was constantly brooding him. For a baby that is not fully feathered this us usually between 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35.6 degrees Celsius) and 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 degrees Celsius). If the baby is standing upright, panting, and holding the wings out from the body he is too hot. If a group of babies is piled on top of each other, they are too cold. You want a temperature where babies can sleep comfortably without needing to crowd together or stand up and pant. It is more difficult with a single baby, so lean toward too warm rather than too cold. Start at the high end and only turn it down if the baby seems too warm. Remember, the baby should have clutch mates and/or parents to snuggle with and alone in your home he cannot regulate his own body temperature. If he isnít kept warm enough his organs cannot function properly and you open him up to many complications such as slow crop leading to bacterial and fungal infections and rapid death.

2) TIMING MATTERS! It is important that your baby be fed often enough. Generally speaking (and this is VERY GENERAL, different species have different needs) babies who donít have a full covering of feathers yet should be fed about every 4 hours during the day, and can go 8 hours over night after about 3-4 weeks. Once they have that covering of feathers they can start going 6-7 hours between daytime feedings. Trying to cram too much food into the crop does stretch it an enable the baby to take more food at a time but can lead to problems with sour crop, crop stasis, etc all leading to (can you guess?) bacterial and fungal infections that can kill your baby overnight. Going too long between feedings can also have a negative impact on the psychological development of the little guy.

3) FORCE WEANING IS CRUEL! Force Weaning is when you reduce the amount of formula you are feeding and make the baby fill up on solid foods. Sounds normal, but is actually very damaging and contributes to all sorts of emotionally damaged behaviors like biting, screaming, plucking, phobias, cage aggressionÖ the list goes on. The proper and humane method of weaning a baby parrot is Abundance Weaning. This method is simple: You keep offering the formula until the baby decides HE doesnít want it anymore for at least 5 days in a row. Guess what? Knowing that the formula is coming actually gives the baby is very firm foundation from which he can venture forth and explore. Just because the baby has started trying solid foods does not at all mean he is ready to lose the formula. Keep offering it until the baby decides he doesnít want it.

4) EARLY CLIPPING IS DANGEROUS! Iím not going to get into the pros and cons of clipping an adult bird but it is VITAL to the physical and mental development of young parrots that they be allowed to LEARN TO FLY. And I donít mean ďget their first few flightsĒ I mean they need to become FLYING EXPERTS. Yes, it is scary for you to watch them crash, but this is the appropriate age where their minds and bodies are prepared for and eager to learn these skills. Even if you plan to clip your bird they NEED this time to gain crucial mental skills such as how to react to new things, how to avoid danger, etc. Not to mention they need to learn the skill of flying DOWN. Thatís another heartbreaking situation I get asked to help with a lot. So many escaped parrots WANT TO COME HOME but canít because they never learned the complex skill of flying downward. But that is a whole different topic. Another reason it is absolutely crucial to allow baby birds to keep their flight feathers is for balance. The crop is right there on the front of their body and if they are crashing to the ground on it because their flights are clipped, they can force themselves to vomit and aspirate. On that note, ďplay timeĒ should be before feedings, not after, for the exact same reason; you donít want to be bumping a full crop.

Ok folks! That is by no means a guide to a well rounded parrot, but it should at least help you hopefully keep your baby alive. If you see ANY signs of illness such as lethargy, difficulty breathing, refusal to eat, disorientation, dull eyes, nasal discharge, failure to empty crop, etc, contact an Avian Vet immediately. You should have one on speed dial now.

Sunnyclover 03-28-2018 11:28 PM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
Thank goodness you made this post. Finley was not properly weaned when I got him and luckily I could see that right away and posted on here promptly where you all told me to drop what I was doing and get formula immediately and watch YouTube videos on how to hand feed properly. To be fair Finley was a bit older so he wasn't as in danger of aspirating as much as a younger baby would be. However, it was a scary ordeal seeing my Fin looking very weak and lethargic until he had a few days of feedings in him and several vet visits. I have no idea why someone would buy an unweaned baby on purpose. This post is going to save so many lives!

SilverSage 03-28-2018 11:32 PM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
I hope so. I get so angry with the sellers! Thank God you noticed and found help quickly! Sooooo many people are lied to by unethical sellers trying to rush babies out the door!

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Scott 03-29-2018 12:08 AM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
Thank you, thank you, thank you Dani! Beautifully written, this will be a magnificent thread and most importantly, save lives. It is critical for prospective parronts to learn what they don't know!

LordTriggs 03-29-2018 02:57 AM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
Well said sage! You already know how seething watching that thread go on left me. If possible I'd like to add another point to this.

The LAW! In some countries the act of selling unweaned babies is actually illegal, check pet selling laws in your country both before and if you have been sold an unweaned baby still check. The last thing you want is for anyone else to go through the turmoil of this potentially without any help at all! These people (I refuse to call them breeders) need to be stopped and the only way to do so is report them to the authorities.

Anansi 03-29-2018 07:00 AM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
Exceptional post, Dani! Both your knowledge of and passion for baby birds come through, and I don't doubt your words here will save lives. Thank you.

SailBoat 03-29-2018 07:25 AM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
Thank-you, for taking the time out of your busy life to support our members and to develop this Thread!!! Kind Hearts like yours' Save Lives!!!

GaleriaGila 03-29-2018 07:40 AM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
A great service to our comunity, Dani. You're the best. I hope I may hand this link out to people in the future. Wonderful.

LordTriggs 03-29-2018 08:16 AM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
All in favor of sticking the thread to the top of the subforum?

Terry57 03-29-2018 08:58 AM

Re: So you bought an unweaned baby...
Great thread, Dani! Thank you so much for posting it, it is hard to tell how many babies lives may be saved by this.

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