How to syringe feed a sick bird?

Felemmm

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Nov 26, 2021
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Hello all,

so my lil 3 month Amazon boy is recovering from a staph infection and impacted crop. He has an issue with his development so he is back on formula and he won’t eat on his own. My struggle is he won’t have his 40ml per feed at the moment; he will take maybe 25 with hesitancy and annoyance when I go to feed him. He doesn’t let me feed him outside his cage (only had him for a week so bond is not amazingly strong yet)

how do I get him to syringe feed better? I am also supposed to introduce soft foods, before he got diagnosed he was weaned and eating seed chop and pellets, and now he wants only formula and won’t eat anything on his own. I’ve tried making food infront of him, leaving it next to a favourite toy. Absolutely no action, he will nibble on seed from time to time. Any advice would be appreciated .
Food time is an absolute nightmare, the formula goes everywhere because he puts up a fight but is also hungry because he makes the hunger chirps.
 
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What kind of syringe are you using? I recommend a tonsil tip irrigator (I am currently syringe feeding some juveniles). I’ve attached a picture. I cut the tip so the diameter is suited for their size.

image.jpg
 
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Felemmm

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What kind of syringe are you using? I recommend a tonsil tip irrigator (I am currently syringe feeding some juveniles). I’ve attached a picture. I cut the tip so the diameter is suited for their size.

View attachment 33967
Oh with a curve? My vet gave me the ones to use which are literally just a syringe. Would you recommend me towel wrapping him or still try and do it through the cage
 
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If it’s a luer lock tip it can be more difficult. A catheter straight tip also works for feeding. I would not force feed as it can cause aspiration. Once they get a little taste they will accept you administering in the mouth. I would not attempt crop feeding though mine will open their gullet right up and put the tip themselves in the crop. Formula should be warm but not hot. 40 cc can take a while to give, so patience is key. Give him a break to swallow in between small squirts. It’s ok if it gets messy, just part of the process.

Toweling depends on the bird. If he is used to it and relaxed when toweled, then may try to feed this way. I would not do it if he doesn’t enjoy being toweled…run a higher risk of aspiration.

If still having difficulty consider contacting a local breeder to help you. The vet (or more likely the vet techs) can also give you guidance in person.

Hope this helps and best wishes & prayers for your bird!
 
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Felemmm

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If it’s a luer lock tip it can be more difficult. A catheter straight tip also works for feeding. I would not force feed as it can cause aspiration. Once they get a little taste they will accept you administering in the mouth. I would not attempt crop feeding though mine will open their gullet right up and put the tip themselves in the crop. Formula should be warm but not hot. 40 cc can take a while to give, so patience is key. Give him a break to swallow in between small squirts. It’s ok if it gets messy, just part of the process.

Toweling depends on the bird. If he is used to it and relaxed when toweled, then may try to feed this way. I would not do it if he doesn’t enjoy being toweled…run a higher risk of aspiration.

If still having difficulty consider contacting a local breeder to help you. The vet (or more likely the vet techs) can also give you guidance in person.

Hope this helps and best wishes & prayers for your bird!
Thank you so much for your advice. I get frustrated because 40ml gets cold so fast , would you recommend me to do two seperate batches to ensure it doesn’t get cold at the time it takes for him to eat?
 
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Thank you so much for your advice. I get frustrated because 40ml gets cold so fast , would you recommend me to do two seperate batches to ensure it doesn’t get cold at the time it takes for him to eat?
Yes, that sounds like a good idea! 40 cc also sounds like a lot for one feeding even for an Amazon. Maybe doing smaller frequent feedings would be ideal.
 

Laurasea

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Just have quick read. Definitely smaller amounts spread out. Crop may not be able to stretch much if its has been infected . And post weaning birds crops don't stretch like babies do.
I think....I'd stop at 20, or let him determine.

I've used regular syringes for feeding sick burds , they worked fine for me.

You want tge burd to be able to control their own head and neck di they can swallow. Really having a routine and doing things the same way helped mine. I took them to the same spot. I placed them on a towel, and placed a curled towel around them, let them stand but kind of had my hand hovering over their shoulder, or lightly touching them. Then offered syringe st beak tip, and gave a small amount at a time. Going slow worked best. They'd actually stick their beak out when ready for more. I used a pot of hot water and placed a glass measuring cup with formula in the pot, kinda like a double boiler. This kept tge formula warm abd I just drew out what was needed, a few ml at time, then refill and repeat.

I always weigh these bird before I start and after I finished. I found that my formula ( made a little thicker worked best like yogurt thick) weighed a gram a ml. So if my burd weighed 90 grams before feeding 10ml it would weugh 100 grams after feeding. Then before next feeding would drop 4-6 grams. Yiu have a larger burd so your changes will be different, but yiu should see a drop before next feeding with steady increase in over all eruggt during day. The next morning will drop down to original weight, or a slight gain if they are needed to gain back. So if my bird started at 90, the next morning the true weight might be 92, but after feeding the last weight of the day would be 115. If i making sense to you?

Also poops will help you, to watery then formula is to watery, not much fecal matter then you aren't getting enough in them during the day.

Try warm mushy foods, like boiled egg. Cooked oatmeal, soaked pellets. Warmed up peas, freh made pasta still warm, there is pasta made from chickpeas or lentils that's be best( do not re use pasta , grows bad bacteria quickly ) veggies to pea size is best for young birds.

Keep burd warm, radiant heat is thr best. The best radiant heat out tgere is the sweeter heater as found on Amazon. But you will have to set it back from the cage, and make sure can move away from it. Warmth is very important fir sick or injured birds.
 
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Felemmm

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Just have quick read. Definitely smaller amounts spread out. Crop may not be able to stretch much if its has been infected .

Keep burd warm, radiant heat is thr best. The best radiant heat out tgere is the sweeter heater as found on Amazon. But you will have to set it back from the cage, and make sure can move away from it.
Okay thanks 🙏 . The avian vet told me to aim for 30-40 3 times a day but it is so hard to stick to that. Will do :) I’ve sacrificed my room for him to stay warm haha
 

Laurasea

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Yes , my vet wanted more in my burd at time too, but flat out didn't work. I found feeding every 2 to 2.5 hours during the day ( let sleep normally at night, need that rest big time) worked great and they steady gained weight back.
Making the formula thicker, but not too thick , burds like better take better, abd gets tge same amount of calories in with less volume. This is of course different than when feeding a chick that isn't weaned is younger, as they need the extra liquid to nit dehydrated. So mine took thick like yogurt but can still draw up in syringe, mix well .

You need a digital kitchen scale. Weigh after first poop in morning before you feed. That's your true weight. Very important so yiu know how things are going abd if yiu need to adjust.

Offer food after you do formula. Burds will be more willing to try new foods after formula. Sounds weird but it is true.
 
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Felemmm

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Yes , my vet wanted more in my burd at time too, but flat out didn't work. I found feeding every 2 to 2.5 hours during the day ( let sleep normally at night, need that rest big time) worked great and they steady gained weight back.
Making the formula thicker, but not too thick , burds like better take better, abd gets tge same amount of calories in with less volume. This is of course different than when feeding a chick that isn't weaned is younger, as they need the extra liquid to nit dehydrated. So mine took thick like yogurt but can still draw up in syringe, mix well .

You need a digital kitchen scale. Weigh after first poop in morning before you feed. That's your true weight. Very important so yiu know how things are going abd if yiu need to adjust.

Offer food after you do formula. Burds will be more willing to try new foods after formula. Sounds weird but it is true.
Okay thanks that’s super helpful. I have two weeks before I go back to work so I hope he learns to eat on his own before I go back otherwise I’ll just be panicking at work. I’ll continue to try to 20 ml every 3 instead of 40 every six that’s a great idea. He needs to have pumpkin and sweet potato, is it a good idea to mash it and put it into a syringe?
 

Laurasea

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Definitely cook and mash. Offer on your fingers still warm. . Mine took stuff like that very well from my fingers. You can even add a little cinnamon, its safe and if he likes thst taste great, if not like it then don't add.
Sure you can try mix with formula, make formula wetter and add the mash to thicken but still get through syringe.
Edit: birds aren't machines, sometimes they will take less adjust to them.
Good luck, with yiu care hopefully back to normal in no time!
 
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Felemmm

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Definitely cook and mash. Offer on your fingers still warm. . Mine took stuff like that very well from my fingers. You can even add a little cinnamon, its safe and if he likes thst taste great, if not like it then don't add.
Sure you can try mix with formula, make formula wetter and add the mash to thicken but still get through syringe.
Edit: birds aren't machines, sometimes they will take less adjust to them.
Good luck, with yiu care hopefully back to normal in no time!
Thank you I appreciate your advice :)
 
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Felemmm

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Definitely cook and mash. Offer on your fingers still warm. . Mine took stuff like that very well from my fingers. You can even add a little cinnamon, its safe and if he likes thst taste great, if not like it then don't add.
Sure you can try mix with formula, make formula wetter and add the mash to thicken but still get through syringe.
Edit: birds aren't machines, sometimes they will take less adjust to them.
Good luck, with yiu care hopefully back to normal in no time!
Update; he ate the formula mixed in with the pumpkin and mashed sweet potato. Successsss! Can I ask, is it normal for a bird to start chewing on crop (I assume) that he already has eaten? Like he will chew an hour and a half later when he hasn’t eaten anything but I hear him chewing on something . If not it’s probably just a symptom of his current illness.
 

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Update; he ate the formula mixed in with the pumpkin and mashed sweet potato. Successsss! Can I ask, is it normal for a bird to start chewing on crop (I assume) that he already has eaten? Like he will chew an hour and a half later when he hasn’t eaten anything but I hear him chewing on something . If not it’s probably just a symptom of his current illness.
One of my Green Cheek Amazons (Merlin) does this all the time..
He looks like he’s chewing gum or something.
I have checked his mouth a few.times thinking he is chewing on no no material but there is never anything there.
No idea why and given up trying to figure it out.
 

Laurasea

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Update; he ate the formula mixed in with the pumpkin and mashed sweet potato. Successsss! Can I ask, is it normal for a bird to start chewing on crop (I assume) that he already has eaten? Like he will chew an hour and a half later when he hasn’t eaten anything but I hear him chewing on something . If not it’s probably just a symptom of his current illness.
Fantastic. Don't add to every feeding, as he needs the full strength formula for the calories. Has he tried any foods on His own?
Are you weighing him?

On the after feeding chewing. Its possibly if his crop is to full that he will regurgitate , then play with food in mouth. That is not normal, and would mean you need to give a smaller amounts at feeding. One if my sick bird did this , who had developed a yeast crop from antibiotics. So I'm just throwing that out there. Can you tell if he has food in his mouth when doing this?????
 
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Felemmm

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Fantastic. Don't add to every feeding, as he needs the full strength formula for the calories. Has he tried any foods on His own?
Are you weighing him?

On the after feeding chewing. Its possibly if his crop is to full that he will regurgitate , then play with food in mouth. That is not normal, and would mean you need to give a smaller amounts at feeding. One if my sick bird did this , who had developed a yeast crop from antibiotics. So I'm just throwing that out there. Can you tell if he has food in his mouth when doing this?????
He is getting a gastric lavage as of current, he has had three this week due to his digestive issues. I am going to see the vet in a couple hours and discuss, it could be an issue from his infection and bodies inability to digest. Poor birdie.
 

Laurasea

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Poor kiddos
Keep us updated
Let vet know volume is more than he can handle in one go.
If thar is why he needs so much fiber follow vets recommends.

When I tok in a rescue budgie taken from the jaws of a cat. A bite had gone through face and we thought maybe into crop. For that my vet wanted very thick like peanut butter formula to help crop. But thus was different than your crop issue.. and thankfully the tooth put a hole through cheek and into mouth not into crop after all. He was given less than 1% chance of survival and he did survive!!!
So I hope your love recover
 
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Felemmm

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Poor kiddos
Keep us updated
Let vet know volume is more than he can handle in one go.
If thar is why he needs so much fiber follow vets recommends.

When I tok in a rescue budgie taken from the jaws of a cat. A bite had gone through face and we thought maybe into crop. For that my vet wanted very thick like peanut butter formula to help crop. But thus was different than your crop issue.. and thankfully the tooth put a hole through cheek and into mouth not into crop after all. He was given less than 1% chance of survival and he did survive!!!
So I hope your love

wow that’s super scary! I’m glad he did survive!!! What a strong fella with amazing support.
He has another X-ray tomorrow to see if the gastric procedures been helping him and then he is going to start on many supplements to try and restore his gut and digestion. He still won’t wean. It is quite frustrating because he is nearly 4 months old and doesn’t like taking formula so it’s a struggle street mission. Poor bud. Before I knew he needed formula he was weaned, and then regressed when he got to have formula again.
 

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