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parrotlet foodHow to Hand feed Parrotlet Babies

I use Kaytee's Exact Hand Feeding Formula and hot water. I don’t microwave the formula – ever. I've heard too many horror stories of baby birds being burned with hot spots in micro waved formula. What I do is quite old fashioned and simple – a hot water bath! I use a glass coffee cup to mix a couple of tablespoons of the formula (I keep the dry mix formula in the freezer) then start adding hot water till it’s the consistency of smooth thick pudding. Then I fill up a larger bowl of the hottest tap water and let the coffee cup rest in the hot water bath. It keeps the formula the perfect temperature. If you feed cold formula – the babies can’t digest it and you’ll lose babies from a crop impaction. You don't want the formula too hot or too cold – it needs to be "just right" like porridge in the old nursery rhyme!

parrotlet hand feedingI use a 5cc syringe on the babies that I remove at 10 days of age, anything smaller I extend the tip with a narrow feeding extension tube. And the rule of thumb I use is 1 cc for a 1 week old baby six times a day, 2 cc for a 2 week old baby five times a day and so forth. You’ll know when they can handle more food and start “talking” to you when they see you coming. When they are four weeks old – I feed them with the syringe until they turn away – they look like fat little pigs but I let them make the decision that they’ve had enough! And they do!

When you hand feed, insert the tip gently in the baby’s beak, tipping the beak ever so slightly upward. You should be on the left hand side of the bird’s beak. Never straight in – the formula will enter the lungs and you’ll drown the bird. Of course, wipe any spills off the baby. Learn to feel the baby’s crop before you start, it should feel like a deflated balloon until you finish feeding, then it should feel like a water filled balloon. You don't want to put feed into a gullet that is already full of undigested food. And I feed them gradually; never a hard squirt or they will choke.

I store my clean, washed syringes in a solution of water and Novasan (it’s a bacteria wash that vets use and is readily available at your local Tractor Supply store or your feed store may order it in for you, I think that Jeffers catalog carries it also, along with syringes and tips, Jeffers has excellent customer service people also.)

At about six weeks, they can be moved into a cage. Continue to diminish the number of feedings. They should be completely weaned by seven to eight weeks of age. Millet, a bowel of water and the smallest seeds in the mix on a flat dish is the first food they generally start to nibble on but before you know it – they are eating like the adults. We try to keep our babies in with just weaned young Parrotlets. They learn to eat faster if they can see their older siblings eating. (Notice: I said just weaned, I would never put them in with older Parrotlets. That could be disastrous.)

Weaning varies from baby to baby, just like human babies some are more attached to "the bottle and mommy" than are others. Weaning is not something that can be forced so enjoy your babies while you can, before you know it – they will be out of your nest!

For hand-feeding information from Kaytee, click here.

Parent Raised Chicks
On a few occasions I have left the two youngest chicks in the nest to be raised by the parents. They generally fledge at about four weeks of age although they will still be fed by their parents and continue to sleep in the nest box. A close watch must be kept on the behavior of the parents toward the chicks. The male parent may be aggressive toward all male chicks. If the hen starts to lay another clutch of eggs, she also may be hostile toward her offspring in an effort to evict them from the nestbox.

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