Weaning Pickles (Eclectus)

Saash

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I see there's not a lot of info on weaning eclectus.

I've had such great input on my other posts and have been looking for a way to also contribute, so I'm thinking I will add this thread as a reference with my experiences on this journey.

Baby is 5 weeks old. She is too young to actually go onto solids, but I have found some suggestions which I am going to try.

"Stage 3---Partial Dependency. Immune system still not fully functional. About half way through to weaning. Maximum crop capacity and peak weight reached during this stage. Feathers coming in. Blood feathers are evident. More able to tolerate lower temperatures but still needs supplemental heat especially at night. Has ability to walk. Starting to try out wings. Is alert and aware of surroundings. Can be introduced to a weaning cage when fully feathered. Becoming more coordinated. Beginning to perch on things. A good time to begin offering a variety of warmed weaning and soft foods in small quantities. Feedings are usually three times a day.
" - [UNDERSTANDING THE WEANING PROCESS Psychological and Physical Aspects By Wanda Barras]

Pickles is at the stage where her pin feathers are starting to turn into feathers. She is aware of her surroundings, stretching out her wingless, and walking around to investigate. She is 345g.

She sleeps in a 'nest' box inside what will become her weaning cage and later her 'sleep' cage if she wants it.

The AV has warned that you don't put a fledgling in its flight cage as they tend to climb to the top, then not knowing how to get down, they let go and fall to the floor, injuring themselves.


"Weaning should be a gradual and well thought out process. Introducing a variety of weaning foods just when babies begin to feather, can encourage early weaning and prove less stressful to young birds as they approach weaning age. Young birds will pick at food items as soon as they have eye/beak coordination. Chicks play with their food long before they actually begin to eat it. This is normal."

So in the weeks to come, I am slowly taking foods that will be in her future diet, and at feeding time I am biting off small bits and putting them in front of her to explore.

So far she investigated some soggy banana with her tongue, and held a corn kernel between her beak while I ate some off the cob.

In her article, Wanda Barrasso suggests the mom will usually teach them what they can eat. It is suggested that babies who are introduced to their foods to investigate, are usually easier to wean when they start showing an interest in eating these morsels.

Wish me luck and feel free to add any other useful insights (especially those with experience).

The AV gave me a stern warning to avoid seeds. There are hand rearers in our area who raise eclectus the same as all other parots and put them onto seeds. From the AV's experiences, the adult birds have severe diet deficiencies with terrible plumes, and it is almost impossible to get the birds off the seeds and onto raw food diets.

"It is very important not to miss the critical period when a bird becomes interested in eating. If that instinct is unsatisfied and the opportune moment is missed, weaning may take for ever! Each hand-fed baby is an individual and will wean in his own time if proper nutrition and an environment indusive to weaning is provided before that propitious weaning moment. "

Point taken, duly noted, and let's begin exploring :red1:
 

Laurasea

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I've read your can puree some veggies and add in small amounts to hand feeding formula to get them used to taste.
I'm no baby momma tho!
 
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Saash

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Laura, I tried your suggestion today about an hour before the last feed - she LOVED it!

I mixed some sorghum and mushed sweet potato. She so enjoyed that she had to peck it off the spoon and chew on her mush, too cute :D

Another handy link for more referencing:
weaning

I am finding if I offer her bits of fruit shes quite eager to grab them, she tosses her head back to try bob them into her crop, lol. For now I've been offering biggish chunks just for her to have some taste experience. Next week I'll offer her smaller bits to actually swallow.

At this age, its not uncommon with parent raised chicks, for them to have food chunks in their crops.

Pickles has started foraging in her bedding, looking for hidden treasures to chew on. It may be time to start exploring some pellets to hide there for her to discover.
 

Laurasea

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These posts are an excellent much need contribution to the forum. Please keep them up. I'd like some if the data too. Like weight, amount taken st feeding, # of feeds, how yiu keep feed warm, your incubator set up.

Weaning and post Weaning are so important!!!

Thanks for the thread
 
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Saash

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Thanks Laura, yes those are some good ideas!

Baby Pickles lives in a box nest. Her first nest had high sides to keep away from draught. Our climate is ostly suitable, we are naturally warm and humid this time of year but our temperatures get too high for parent raised babies as we have hot spells that are well above 35deg for days.

Once the baby is covered in down it needs to be kept at 29 deg. We were able to do so in her box next indoors and I've stored her nest in her future weaning cage, covered by a towel on 4 sides.

When sight comes in there are about 4 days of fear in the baby, discovering the world around them. Some hand raisers find it hard to feed the baby. I got around that patch by feeding in dim light and reducing noisy distractions and movements.

As feathers formed, with her sight developed, baby pickles is more keen to discover her world every day. She has spent her fifth week stretching all her limbs. At first I was concerned she wasn't comfortable breathing or such, but now I see she has been getting stronger and the stretching has made her able to stand like a bird (rather than a penguin) her tummy no longer drags on the floor. Her feet can hold on a branch. I have moved her to a bigger nest box but still with high sides. Her nest boxes are lined with shredded newspaper, bleached paper towel is not recommended because it gets damp from poop and the breaching agent can cause skin irritation or burns.

She is quite eager to start exploring the world now. She still sleeps in her nest inside her towel covered weaning cage. If we have a cool night I create heat either by putting on the heater set at 28deg, or by putting a hot water bottle as a heating pad under the nest box. Shes well covered by fluff now and early feathers. At this age baby Pickles can handle some small fluctuations in temperature and a little draftiness. I like to blow on her to make wind.

I found this great article about introducing baby to the world about them in a way that doesn't create fear. Some very useful information and posted below.

I have read many posts from people who experience regression in their newly purchased babies or are getting their babies too young. Understanding how to give baby security might be helpful.

https://www.northernparrots.com/mobile/how-and-why-delayed-fledging-helps-young-parrots-blog236/

Baby eclectus respond well to a cuddle toy. Pickles has 2 toys and they move around each day, from her nest to her weaning cage or her feeding tray.

When the baby is fully feathered she can move to her weaning cage without the nest, but I will take my cues from her. She still likes to lie flat out sometimes but I sometimes see her standing with her head tucked in her plumes.

I caught her foraging in her nest box so we built her a forage box with shredded newspaper and allow her in it for a short time in the day when she is very active. Its a cat little box, sterilized, and filled with shredded paper. I've scattered some raisins to give her something to play with when she discovers them. There is a low branch secured to the sides of the litter box. She is able to grip it with her feet and she can stay and preen herself and stretch out all her limbs.

In South Africa we have very vocal birds. Pickles spends time exercising her vocal chords to chat to them. My son is doing online school because of Covid, and if she hears him chatting shes very keen to join in on the conversation.

She weight 372g now, partly feathered, getting 4 feeds per day, early morning, mid morning, early afternoon, late evening. She falls asleep when it gets dark, sometimes before the night feed. After feeding she is lights out and sometimes I get up in the night to check shes ok. She wakes up when it gets light and all the birds start to chirp. It is recommended that this early morning feed would be the first feed to drop, when she is hungrier.

Today I will start replacing this first feed with a mixed porridge with mushy veggies, still hand feeding, still warm, but more similar tasting to what will become her usual meals.

I still weigh her every morning before her first feed and check her poop (which is getting bigger, and more of it! Lol)
 
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Saash

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6 weeks old today - its time for a visual :)
She's developed colour so quickly!

saash-albums-pickles-picture23104-42-days-so-much-colour.jpg


She is so sweet. I've introduced her to a bunch of new tastes and textures. During the first feed, she is taking 10% of her porridge replaced with mushed veggies or mushed fruits. Shes happy to take bits from my hands and she munches on them eagerly licking them with her tongue. This morning she got melon, and was quite shocked by all the juice, but second time around she gulped it down.

I've introduced bits or raisins to nibble when she has her active periods.

She has learned that the paper is for potty, and she doesn't mind sitting on a dish towel or being cuddled for long periods, no poop, and the moment her bottom is on her paper, she starts wiggling her butt and makes a poop.

I am delighted, so now she gets rewarded with a bit of raisin for her wonderful discovery.
 

Laurasea

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Really great information! Very though provoking article. When you take time to think about light and the effect it does make sense. Im sure there is a built in trigger for babies that fall out of the cavities nest to try and mature quickly, as parents would still try and raise. We do forget they are cavities nester, nit nest builders..

I provide sleep huts of canvas not fuzzy stuff( deadly) as they are cavities dwellers and there is info that some species not all, use them year around and not just at breeding season. Like conure and quakers use them outside now breeding season. While cockatoos do not. Its not lead to breeding behavior fir mine. Really seems to promote confidence snd safety. Showdowy cave like places outside if the cage do get my females wound up, like burrowing in the couch or getting in cabinet or storage containers. But their sleep hut they seem to view just for sleep.

I love the new picture! Wow it all happens do fast!! Look at those feathers! Fantastic how feeding is developing. You are really setting her up for successful life. And I'm finding your information and thread invaluable!!!!

What brand if baby bird formula are you useing?, what is your cleaning protocol for the feeding stuff? Do you use a syringe or feeding spoon?

Thsnkd
 
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Saash

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Thank you so much for all the words of encouragement!

I'm using Avi-plus, its all I have seen here, I've read of many other highly recommended brands though and I'm sure anything scientifically formulated would be highly nutritious for optimal chick development.

I'm still thinking about giving her a nest. Its a topical debate since she's a girl, our AV advises strongly against things that encourage egg laying as it brings a whole lot of new problems to companion birds.

I am feeding with a spoon - it takes longer but is recommended to be closer to a natural beak feeding, encourages pumping action also, which is good for preventing aspiration. Syringes can cause accidental injury and I'm not an aviculturist so I won't do tube feeding. Tube feeding is for professional, and is necessary for sick birds who are refusing food. Anyway too much goes wrong with forced feeding.

Everything gets sterilized before and after feeding, no food is re-used or prepared in advance. I monitor temperature of food throughout feeding. Once the baby is feathered, the immune system is stronger for exposure to external environments. I am seeing a lot of breeders are starting to sell their birds at that age to turn their profits, which is only 8odd weeks old. The sad thing is that the buyer is looking for a pet, and what they have is a dependent baby, not a pet.

I wash her dishes with a nature safe liquid soap, then pop it all into a tub of Milton, which is a bird safe sterilizer which kills thrush and other known germs. She stands on a clean tea-towel covered by a clean paper towel, so she can't slip around, which can damage the feet and legs, and it absorbs any mess.

I am still feeding her 10-12% body weight 4 times a day, and when she is 400g I will drop to 3 times a day and start offering real food for her to peck on.

Now that she's getting older it would be normal for her mom to start feeding her pieces of food or dropping them for her to peck at. Its common to find partially undigested food in the crops of babies this age - that said, its also common for crops to become impacted due to blockages, so I'm not introducing skins, leaves, seeds etc, only pulp for now. At this age the babies sometimes fall to the forest floor, and the mom will carry on caring for it there until it flies.
 

Ellie777Australia

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6 weeks old today - its time for a visual :)
She's developed colour so quickly!

saash-albums-pickles-picture23104-42-days-so-much-colour.jpg



Wow Saash. You are doing awesome with Pickles our little 'beetroot' versus 'cucumber' pickle :D. Thank you for posting all of the links, pics of her growth, and your personal experience. This thread, your threads, will be very helpful to others in the same situation.
 
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Saash

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Thanks Ellie - Beetroot is doing great.
She's at 384g today - midweek weaning update :

One of the common comments about hand raising an eclectus is that they become quite busy after the sight forms and they are much harder to feed.

I have always liked to keep one hand rested in her, as security (like the comfort of being embraced in moms wing) this also keeps her warmer for the feeding. Its a little gesture that has served me well in controlling the head-bobbing and other stubborn activities (more lately, spoon chewing and sometimes she shakes her head, sending the formula flying in all directions) - being able to gently hold her is really helping!

saash-albums-pickles-picture23115-day-45-holding-steady-384g.jpg


Pickles is still in stage 3 development, feather coming in, getting more coordinated. This is the right time to start introducing new foods, so she isn't too overwhelmed by new tastes while being expected to feed herself with these strange things.

We spent the last few days introducing her to a variety of fruits, grains, pumpkin seeds, and veggies. Even popcorn! She lives her popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon although at this stage no actual 'eating' has happened, but she gets really vocal when I hold it up for her, lol.

She has had 4 feeds a day of 45ml - totalling 180ml.

Tomorrow she will have 3 feeds of 50ml = 150ml, and 30 ml of other snacks in low-lying floor bowls for her to see and try if the mood strikes her. I will also encourage her during the day, by giving her bits from the bowls by hand.

I made baked oat balls using flax seed, oats, roasted pumpkin, pear juice and a few spoons of porridge, I am really hoping they will become a hit as they can be stored for the week ahead and will be very handy if she'll eat them.

It will be important to watch that she maintains at least a steady weight during the week ahead. By the time she is fully feathered, she should be enthusiastically feeding out her bowls in the day, so that we can drop the lunch-time porridge.

She excercises her winglets every day, and it won't be long when she can take off into flight.
 

Laurasea

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wow what an incredible update!! Just look at her!!! Getting so big Getting her big girl feathers!!! Congratulations on doing a great job!!!
 

Ellie777Australia

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Thanks Ellie - Beetroot is doing great.
She's at 384g today - midweek weaning update :

One of the common comments about hand raising an eclectus is that they become quite busy after the sight forms and they are much harder to feed.

I have always liked to keep one hand rested in her, as security (like the comfort of being embraced in moms wing) this also keeps her warmer for the feeding. Its a little gesture that has served me well in controlling the head-bobbing and other stubborn activities (more lately, spoon chewing and sometimes she shakes her head, sending the formula flying in all directions) - being able to gently hold her is really helping!

saash-albums-pickles-picture23115-day-45-holding-steady-384g.jpg


Pickles is still in stage 3 development, feather coming in, getting more coordinated. This is the right time to start introducing new foods, so she isn't too overwhelmed by new tastes while being expected to feed herself with these strange things.

We spent the last few days introducing her to a variety of fruits, grains, pumpkin seeds, and veggies. Even popcorn! She lives her popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon although at this stage no actual 'eating' has happened, but she gets really vocal when I hold it up for her, lol.

She has had 4 feeds a day of 45ml - totalling 180ml.

Tomorrow she will have 3 feeds of 50ml = 150ml, and 30 ml of other snacks in low-lying floor bowls for her to see and try if the mood strikes her. I will also encourage her during the day, by giving her bits from the bowls by hand.

I made baked oat balls using flax seed, oats, roasted pumpkin, pear juice and a few spoons of porridge, I am really hoping they will become a hit as they can be stored for the week ahead and will be very handy if she'll eat them.

It will be important to watch that she maintains at least a steady weight during the week ahead. By the time she is fully feathered, she should be enthusiastically feeding out her bowls in the day, so that we can drop the lunch-time porridge.

She excercises her winglets every day, and it won't be long when she can take off into flight.


Oh my she is so gorgeous!:D. So her colouring is indicative of "The cobalt group includes 5 subspecies: Red-sided, Solomon Island, the Australian (Macgillivrayi), the Aru Island and the Biak Island Eclectus.
Here are a couple more links to assist with ID:
https://www.beautyofbirds.com/eclect...ification.html
subspeciesID". I copied this from a link that I had posted for someone earlier.


Keep up the great work Saash and Beetroot (Pickles)....:D
 
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Saash

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Thanks Ellie, for helping us identify that Pickles is a solomon island eclectus. This is one of the smaller eclectis sub-species and their fully-grown weight range is about 385g to 455g.

At 395g Pickles is probably close to as big as she's going get so I can stop fretting over her slower weight gain.

Found this great article, makes very interesting points about how babies start refusing food based on their desire to get into the air, and also that its crucial to introduce a great variety of future foods during this stage as it contributes toward their future imprinting on what to eat.

https://be.chewy.com/how-to-wean-ba...very morning,chick to become food-independent.

When the baby takes flight, this is NOT the time for wing clipping. Instead, I have opted to order her a harness and can soon start teaching her how it works *when it arrives from takealot*.
 

Ellie777Australia

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Thanks Ellie, for helping us identify that Pickles is a solomon island eclectus. This is one of the smaller eclectis sub-species and their fully-grown weight range is about 385g to 455g.

At 395g Pickles is probably close to as big as she's going get so I can stop fretting over her slower weight gain.

Found this great article, makes very interesting points about how babies start refusing food based on their desire to get into the air, and also that its crucial to introduce a great variety of future foods during this stage as it contributes toward their future imprinting on what to eat.

https://be.chewy.com/how-to-wean-ba...very morning,chick to become food-independent.

When the baby takes flight, this is NOT the time for wing clipping. Instead, I have opted to order her a harness and can soon start teaching her how it works *when it arrives from takealot*.


I am overjoyed to hear this Saash...our poor Ellie was abusively clipped, maimed I'd say when she came home to us...she still forgets that she can fly until spurred on by an adventure. My view...never clip...but that is my view from rescued birds who still don't know that they 'can fly'. Ellie loves her harness now and is still learning to fly full on. It is perfect for Pickles to learn to fledge, never be clipped if possible, but be forever harness trained in flight exercise. :)


As you sample and share yummy food as flock Momma, Pickles will start to enjoy new foods. Our Bertie is still waiting for Mum to taste and present NEW foods even as a 7yo. Ellie, well, she is a very different and special gal, however, if food comes from Mommy (big deal about yummy taste treat) then even my independent babe goes for it! LOL.
 

Laurasea

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Pictures say it in colour ;)

saash-albums-pickles-picture23140-full-colour-baby-close-fledgling-can-climb-onto-her-low-swing.jpg



saash-albums-pickles-picture23138-day-45-full-colour-exploring-solid-foods.jpg

Looking gorgeous!!! Omg they grow fast!!!
Love the links and information.
Such a great job!

Check that right nostril. Looks like some formula in it, you probably already cleaned. But just incase
 
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Saash

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Thank you,

Yes, it may be formula, or maybe lighting, but she is getting super messy.

She has a new thing that she will hold some porridge in her mouth, then flick her head with porridge flying in all directions ��

I do what I can with a damp cloth, and she protests with all the wiping, getting very squirmy these last two days :p
 
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Saash

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Time for an update!!

The past week has been interesting. I've tried adding mash veggies and mash fruits to Pickles porridge - some days shes liked it, other days just spat it all out.

She's been introduced to most things - fruits, veggies, nuts, spices, sprouts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc etc with mixed responses. Without hesitation I am certain she enjoys uncooked crunchy carrots and popped popcorn coated in cinnamon! None of these things have actually been eaten though, but is enthusiastically shredded and spat out on the floor beneath her.

Her harness arrived, and I'm super pleased that she has made no fuss about me putting it on her. She has been introduced to misting and had a good cleanup.

saash-albums-pickles-picture23180-53-days-415g-ready-learn-how-fly.jpg


Today she is 417g - I've been surprised that she's not really been slowing down in her feeds, and not dropping any weight, her weight gain has just slowed down a lot.

Until today! Just like that, on turning 8 weeks, she had decided she has zero interest in breakfast. I've managed to get 5 spoons or so into her although she has enthusiastically been shredding all the other foods I've offered (not swallowing- just shredding). I'm predictably nervous about her non-interest in porridge today, but all in all she's a happy birdie. :red:

I must add - for the giggles - this morning my failed feeding attempt led to me discovering she had flicked porridge all the way across the kitchen to my refrigerator almost 2 meters away. No need to mention that I am filthy!
 
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Laurasea

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Just look at her!!@ wow!!!
Pickles is living here best life, cared for like the treasure she is!
 
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Saash

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8 WEEK OLD BABIES

I think its quite an important weaning update - how many posts do we see from people buying baby birds online or in pet stores. "Feeding themselves" they say!!! Well here it is !!

On Saturday Pickes "Fed herself" - lol.

Yes, she 100% refused her formula for breakfast and lunch and shredded all her bowl foods. Dinner time she took half a feed. She dropped a bunch of weight. Ok, no need to panic- totally expected.

Sunday - she ate half breakfast. This stressed me. I tried everything, there was NO keeping her in one place to accept me putting formula into her beak. She literally ran off my feeding tray. Put her in front of her a dish of other things, and she happily shredded away. Oh ok "feeding herself". Sort of.

She did this again on Monday. She lost 20% body weight in 3 days. I was expecting a gradual transition - I was left wondering, is weaning stressful for the BIRD or the bird MOMMA??? I was ready to run to the vet. In desperation to have her eat, I sat for an hour hand-feeding split peas and lentils, which seems to be something she actually swallowed.

I decided to ask my online vet - yes she agreed, 8 weeks seems a bit young for this drastic change, but if the poop looks ok, try another day and skip the lunch formula. This got me thinking - this "looks" like a bird that is ready to feed itself and go to a new home. Cutie bird-baby. How sad for little confused birds who get passed on to equally confused new owners.

So Tuesday came, and I tried just giving her 20ml breakfast - she wasn't screaming like she's starving, she seemed healthy and active and happy. I didn't bother trying to give her lunch, I gave her a food bowl in her "big girl" cage and at dinner time she was HUNGRY, I fed her 35ml. It went ok.

Wednesday was a bit better, and today went fantastic. Today we back to 45ml breakfast and dinner. She has stopped loosing weight, she's steady now on 2 feeds a day and she gets hungry, then tucks into a bowl of lentils and veggies. Not shredding anymore, actually eating. Tonight she had a handful of peas. She is too sweet.

Oh, and she has started her first flying - yesterday she launched off my desk and landed in a flutter on the floor. Today she launched herself off my sons hands and into her sleep cage, landing in a tumble.

I am just releived the feeding part has settled into twice a day - briefly I thought I would be sitting an hour every time, hand feeding split peas and lentils for 4 weeks!

Of all the reading I've done, one thing stands out as significant - a bird that cannot fly expects food to come to it - it will not walk around looking for food. If food is not being delivered, it will start to panic, and scream, and bite. It will not bury its head in a bowl of strange things it doesn't trust. If anyone reading this has a baby that is acting this way, try feeding it warm foods from your fingers.
 

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