By Helga Wilson

If you are not already feeding your baby, please refer to the previous article, Hand feeding Birds from Conure to Macaw.

If you are hand feeding older babies (7 weeks or older) I recommend placing them in an aquarium with a wire grill bottom and a wire top to prevent escape. This grill requires the best and strongest and the smallest square size cage wire you can find so the babies' feet won't get hung up in the wire. Be aware that large square wire will result in accidents and may cause a broken leg.

To make a grill it is best to find some 1/2" x 1/2" plastic-coated heavy-duty cage wire. No cage wire larger then 1/2 inch by 1 inch square should be used for any bird. The latter size may only be used for large birds such as large macaws or cockatoos.

Once you have found just the right wire it is time to make that grill. Cut the wire 3 inches larger then your aquarium. Next cut a 1-1/2" square out of each corner. Bend each of the 4 sides down.

Place several layers of paper towels on the bottom of the aquarium. Set your wire bottom on top of the paper towels with the leg side facing down. Babies will be able to walk throughout the aquarium with ease and food such as apple or corn-on-the-cob can be placed on the grill for the babies to learn how to eat. The grill will let all mess fall through to the paper towels below. Grill and aquarium can be cleaned with ease as necessary. We usually keep one extra aquarium so we can transfer the babies into a clean aquarium while we are cleaning theirs.

Now you have your babies walking and exploring their food. Once you can see that they are eating well, it is time to let them go into a cage. Before you place your babies into a cage, remember their wire grill in the aquarium. It is best to prepare a flat grill that you can wire onto your existing cage grill so babies can walk with ease. This way their feet won't fall through the grill and they won't get hurt once they start to climb and play.

At this stage our babies should be on two hand feedings or no more then 3 feedings. We place our food and water bowls onto the grill so they can stand firm to eat. Having the bowls on the floor also minimizes playing with the food and wasting of food.

Once babies are placed into a cage we begin to treat them just like adult birds. They will have everything from fruit and veggies to dry pellets available to eat. They are very exploratory and learn to eat their pellets quite well in a short time.

Note: Please do not moisten pellets. You will get bacteria contamination and a steep vet bill. Moistened spoiled food can bring on a sour crop.

Once babies make their maiden flight it is time to have that baby on 2 feedings every 12 hours. Wing clipping may also be in order to prevent an escape if the bird is permitted to leave the cage area.

At 3 months of age it is definitely time (if not already done) to place that baby on only one evening feeding. Some babies wean faster then others, however all babies (with the exception of very large macaws) need to be down to one hand feeding at nighttime when reaching 3 months of age. This is when their parents would be weaning them.

By now this sweet baby will start getting a mind of its own. Babies at this age can be very headstrong and often will refuse all formula. Do not force your baby to eat. Offer the formula if they are willing to eat; if they refuse, try again the next day. If this continues, stop hand feeding. Your baby won't starve, it is just growing up. Lucky you, no more hand feeding!

Return to articles on hand-feeding of baby birds.


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