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Old 02-24-2011, 12:24 AM
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Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

Couple of quick questions on hand-feeding formula to a baby sun conure:

First of all, I've read in several places that baby birds should be hand-fed an amount that is between 8%-12% of their body weight (though I don't know if this refers to weight before or after eating). My conure weighs about 110 grams before eating and about 125 grams after eating, but the breeder I purchased him from told me to feed him between 15 and 20cc 3 times a day for as long as possible. However, that is far more than 12% of his body weight, and he is getting to the weaning stage (at the time I received him last week, he had never had solids, but has nibbled pellets, a few fruits, veggies, rice, Cheerios, and bread since home with me). I've had the little guy for just over a week now, and when I purchased him, the breeder told me she believed he was about 8 weeks old (she had hundreds of parrots to keep track of and didn't know/remember his exact hatch date). So my question is, should I be feeding him less than the 15-20cc I was instructed to feed in order to stick to the 8-12% guidelines, or is what the breeder told me to feed actually more correct?

Second, she was feeding him with a syringe that has a rubber tube on the end of it that he swallows to deposit the formula directly to the crop. (I believe this is called gavage feeding?) I've read that this method should be reserved only for feeding sick birds or for highly experienced hand-feeders as it can be dangerous. So far we've been doing alright, but with this method, I cannot tell if he wants to stop at any point because he is full. I am wondering if it is best for me to continue with this method that he already knows (he chases the tube when he sees it!), or if it would be advisable to try feeding him without the tube on the end.

Lastly, I am wondering about his age as I am not sure he is as old as the breeder thinks he is (again, she had a lot of birds to keep track of and said she didn't remember his actual hatch date). He's flapping his wings a whole lot in preparation of flight, but has not actually flown, yet all of my reading has told me they should fledge at 7 to 8 weeks (according to her estimate, he's 9 weeks now). Plus, photos I have seen online of suns at 8/9 weeks makes me wonder if this little guy is actually younger than she has told me because he's still got some pin feathers on his upper back and not all of his flight feathers have finished growing in. Below is a photo of him 2 days after he came home last week . . . what do you think?



Thanks everyone!

Last edited by missylynn; 02-24-2011 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:33 AM
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Re: Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

I would say very close but no more than 8 weeks. Once the chick has started to fly you can cut down a feed (2nd feed) of the day & offer a heap of wean foods. I normally give corn on the cob, celery tops with the leaves attached, apple. They will wean by about 12 weeks.

Almost forgot i feed a volume of 20 to 25 mls.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:37 AM
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Re: Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

First of all, whoever the breeder is DID NOT do their job!!!! They should NEVER sell an un-experienced handfeeder an un-weaned baby!!!!

Second of all, that method should ONLY be used on a experienced handfeeder! Cause you CAN kill him if you didn't do it properly!

Third, I've never raised Conures before so I can't really tell you when they fledge, but from looking at him, he is not ready to fledge. He doesn't even have his full plumage yet. Plus I see his primary feather is still filling in, but he's not too far from a fledgling. He should be ready to fledge in about a week. That's my estimate! Even when they fledge, you still NEED to handfeed him until he's eating on his own. Right now, place dishes of food and water with him so he can play with them eventually learn how to eat on his own.

I'm not really sure where to begin on telling you how to handfeed. You need to watch some handfeeding videos on YouTube and get a Conure handbook! I love to help, but I'm not sure how to explain it properly. I'm a bit disgusted with your breeder....
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:40 AM
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Re: Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

If you ask me, in that pic he looks no older than 5 to 6 weeks.
I'm hoping someone with more experience than me will answer your questions though

I second Mikey. Hand feeding is a delicate process....
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:58 AM
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Re: Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

Just letting you know, I'm not upset with you even though my post may seem like it.

When I used to raise parrots, I NEVER sell un-weaned babies to anyone who was inexperienced. I know that first hand cause I started out inexperienced. But I was lucky with my first two babies that I raised and they taught me alot as they grew older. They were the most memorable babies that I raised since they were the first. I hope you find out how to handfeed from watching those videos. If you still don't understand, please don't hesitate to ask. PM me if you have to, the message actually comes to my phone and I will reply back as soon as I get the message.

One more thing, believe it or not, but my local Petco handfed all the baby parrots they got in. You should ask your local Petco if they do so, maybe they can give you a hand.
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:34 AM
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Re: Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

I do breed suns i think the age is correct give a few days here or there. The best thing Missylynn can do is keep in touch with her breeder so she doesn't get conflicting advice.

As far as crop feeding goes I would assume Missylynn has been shown how to do it & if the chick has been used to being fed via tube it will usually grab the tube & swallow all by itself. The only problem with the inexperienced handrearer is they don't really know what ages they should back off on the feeds so the chick will learn to become independent & with crop feeding you really have to know these things.

My advice would be once your chick starts to fledge you can drop the midday feed & only offer a feed morning & late afternoon. Give a bowl of soft weaning foods, pellets, a little seed & of course water. At about 10 to 11 weeks you can drop the morning feed & so on until the little one is independent & has a full crop he has eaten himself. You can also try to feed him from a feeding spoon, that way he will only eat what he requires & it will help to show him he can eat & swallow himself.
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:13 PM
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Re: Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

Thanks so much for the advice everyone. I've watched loads of videos and such, along with the breeder initially showing me what to do real quick, but it helps to have some advice from different people with experience since I of course have never handfed/weaned a baby bird before.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:32 PM
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Re: Hand-feeding Amount for Sun Conure

When hand feeding a baby it is important to support the head a bit so when they start to jerk their head for the food it doesn't get all over them. I can only speak from my experience as I got my sun conure chi chi when he was 3wks old. It was trial and error at first but you pick it up fast. I would but the syringe far enough in his throught that he was getting most of it in.
he looks to be no more then 5 weeks.
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