Weaning Pickles (Eclectus)

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Saash

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Understanding the weaning process [Wanda Barras]:

"Stage 4---Weaning Period.
On the Way to Becoming a juvenile. Shows assertiveness. Baby is completely feathered. All blood is fully absorbed from wing feathers. Time to clip flight feathers. Beginning of slimming down process in preparation for flight---there is a strong correlation between weaning and flying. Birds usually fly before they are weaned. Babies will shed extra weight put on in preparation for the stressful weaning period. This slimming-down process will enable the fledgling to be able to fly when the time comes to leave the nest.
The crop shrinks and begins to tighten in preparation for a more mature diet. Individuals will require less formula at each feeding (about 10 to 15% less formula per feeding). Feedings (formula) are required only two or three times a day. Supplemental heat unnecessary but sometimes appreciated. At this time a bird may loose from 10-15% of total body weight. Weight and droppings should be closely monitored. Weaning cage highly recommended. A wide variety of weaning foods, fruit and veg., pellets, millet, a good seed mix and water should be made available to fledglings at all times.

According to Wanda, majority problems with effective weaning occur due to not offering sufficient food and water in the weaning cage.
 
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Laurasea

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Great information, so glad you keep sharing!
Pickles looks magnificent!! What a wonderful job you have done!!! Just amazing! I'm so glad I get to follow this journey. Thank you for sharing
 
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Saash

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9 WEEKS UPDATE

Honestly, I cannot believe how quickly all has changed - and also how confusing the weaning stage is. This really is a period that is not well covered in literature. There's this silence that leads us to believe that bird babies go from eating formula to miraculously eating stuff out of bowls on a schedule of 'feed formula twice a day for 2 weeks, then once a day until refused.' Provide food and water in low bowls throughout the day - seems so 'simple'.

Looking at posts from people who are buying babies at this age - guys, it really isn't that simple at all!

If we apply some common sense to this, a bird who is useless at flying can't keep up with the flock to forage effectively. In a cage, logically the food is right there, but the baby instinct is deeply programmed - "I cannot fly, so the food must be brought to me!" - that is what it knows in nature, and with good reason. If it eats everything it sees, it will die, either from poisoning or from bacteria.

Simply put, baby birds are not confident about the stuff in the bowl.

So about Pickles -
LAST Saturday she stopped eating porridge and I had a tough time for 3 days, she lost 30g then settled into 2 feeds a day and gained 15g.That lasted 3 days and then she stopped eating formula again.

She is not really eating from the bowls either. She can quite convincingly 'look' like she's eating, food is picked up, crunched, moved, messed, but the crop stays empty. On one day I reluctantly allowed her to go to sleep after hardly eating the whole day. Then I woke her up at midnight and she allowed me to feed her very runny formula - I was very worried that day. The poop became smaller than a pea. It was scary! Fortunately since then, she is doing a lot better, hungrier every day.

Each day is different. Today she likes crackers, tomorrow won't touch them. Peas and corn with soaked split lentils mushed with formula gulped down one day, next day not interested - its been an adventure indeed!

The flying seems to be restricted to my sons bedroom. That is where she spends the most time out her cage, and he is telling me she flies to her cage every day now, and is flapping and running in circles on the bed.

When fledgling, baby birds are more interested in learning to fly than learning to eat. They will stop eating until they can get into the air. Babies, if clipped before they fledged, can refuse to eat because they can't get into the air. Eventually they resign themselves to the idea that they were unable to learn how to fly, leaving a bird that is less confident. I find that terribly sad 😥.

If I were a capitalist trying to get rid of one clutch of chicks so I can work on a new clutch, I can see how there's an opportunity to tell people on the internet that the bird feeds itself and flies and is good to re-home, and then after the sale to say the baby has regressed. Personally, I don't think 9 weeknold chicks should be re-homed.

On the lighter side - one day Pickles didn't want to eat, and I was hungry so I sat eating at the feeding tray. I put something in my mouth and it disappeared in front of her eyes - oh my, the look of horror, she screamed at me, as if saying "what have you done". Too cute. At least she realized this is a done thing, and ever since she hasn't chewed every morsel to shreds, she now swallowing all the corn, peas, berries, whole. She has become really hungry, and I am delighted that she enjoys the little oat balls I baked early on in this thread (they are stored in the freezer). It is also useful to dry seeds from pumpkin, squashes, melons and papaya, when dry I can put them in my food whiz and use the seed sprinkle on many other meals I fix for her. I have also seen these being used for sprouts, and will give that a try next week too.

Pickles still isn't too fond of fruits other than berries and granadilla (passion fruit).
 
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Saash

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11 WEEKS UPDATE

In summary, pickles shed a whopping 70g! I'm thinking, ok maybe she was a fat baby (lol). She is a beautiful, healthy and cheeky young bird now, who likes to shout at me and daughter for hand feeding. She was never one to pump for food as a chick, but will bob down anything we offer her by hand now that she's a juvenile. For now, its endearing, but I'm sure it will become annoying.

Her poop has been all sorts of interesting during weaning. Some days a puddle of slop, other days a tidy dark ball, and anything in-between. Its settling down now that her food and eating is more stable.

I feed her a basic mix of re-hydrated soup mix containing wheat / barley, lentils and split peas. I cook up a batch with sorghum wheat. I have a small cooked batch in the freezer and each day I mix it up with fresh chopped veggies, carrots, a bit of fruit. Sometimes she gets pellets and popcorn as a crunch, with a bit of seeds and nuts. She has become really hungry, though she mostly eats a meal at 10am and 7pm .... dinner usually in 2 shifts.

She doesn't really like formula anymore, but at dinnertime, if I mix some, she dives her beak into the bowl and drinks it up, but just a bit. I mix it with her chop, and spoon feed half, till she's done, then I pop her into her sleep cage with the rest of the mix in the bowl, and she eats it up on her own in the dark, she seems to find it comforting, she literally sleeps on a perch at her dish.

One issue I am having, she still doesn't bath herself, and she's learned she can attack the head of my spray bottle - oh dear! .... and she doesn't drink water, so I've taken to mixing water into cher chop, makes it go down better too and she seems to like it that way.

All in all - the stress is over, and I think my bird-momma role is done :D
 

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