What about that handfeeding formula!?! Make sure to only feed a formula that is free of harmful chemicals and preservatives such as BHT & TBHQ!!! The choices are fewer for a good quality, wholesome formula BUT it is possible and at a similar price for the amount. The chemicals are very bad for humans, let alone a tiny bird with a delicate growing body. We have two brands pictured that we suggest.
Some sample pictures of basic supplies needed for handfeeding baby birds and the warming units you can use.
Handfeeding a baby parrot. Wow! What an experience. With that said, it is very important to note that unless you are experienced with handfeeding, never buy an unweaned bird. A baby birds experiences in the first few months of its life will imprint him or her on how they see the world forever.
It is vital that proper methods of handfeeding, weaning and the socialization process be performed correctly. This will determine if the bird is trusting, healthy, and secure. Always ask about the history of a pet bird when making the decision to purchase a parrot. Why do I want to hand feed a bird?
Handfeeding a baby bird takes time and effort. Handfeeding is timely and consists of round the clock care of a baby bird. The handfeeder takes on the parent's role of feeding the baby. In this way, humans come to be perceived as part of the flock and the baby becomes accustomed to being touched and to the sound of the human voice.
Adult birds, like humans, are the product of their early socialization. A baby who learns to trust humans in the early weeks and months of life will make an excellent companion bird. The handfeeding process begins between one and two weeks of age until the baby bird is completely weaned. Many breeders take the baby birds from the parents when the oldest is about two weeks old.
There are dangerous risks in buying an unweaned baby bird. There are several reasons why businesses would sell an unweaned bird, one is to take the responsibility and cost off of them onto you. Handfeeding should only be done by an experienced handfeeder because the typical person buying an unweaned bird will not know when something is wrong until it is too late.
PROBLEMS THAT CAN OCCUR -
Lack of feeding response - Baby will starve to death if a response does not take place and the handfeeder cannot give the baby parrot proper nutrition.
With baby in trouble, babies body may shut down the digestive system. Very close attention must be paid to the slightest clue that the digestive system is not performing as it should be.
Crop Burn - Improperly heating of formula can have hot spots. Babies will eat scalding hot formula which can burn away the esophagus and or the crop. If the burn is very serious, the baby will die. Some burns can be treated by implanting a feeding tube in the crop, but the esophagus must be intact for the bird to live after the tube is removed.
Crop Stasis - The temperature of the environment and the formula are very important. Low temperatures can cause the crop to not digest properly. Unfeathered babies cannot regulate their body temperatures and don't have the reserves to heat cool or cold formula up to digestion temperature. When this happens the crop doesn't empty. Formula that sits in the warm environment of the crop can sour.
Bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections can also cause a crop to stop emptying. Everything that touches or is in contact with a baby must be clean. Babies pick up gram positive bacteria from the environment. Babies don't have the reserves or a fully competent immune system to be able to ward off these contaminants.
Aspiration - This occurs when large or small amounts of formula enter the baby's lungs. When the babies aren't given time to swallow or the mouth is flooded, aspiration can occur. Care must be taken with formula and water mixtures. If a small amount of formula is aspirated, the body may be able to encapsulate it and wall it off from the rest of the body. If the amount of formula aspirated is large, the baby will die immediately - there is no treatment.
Beak Deformities - It is possible to cause a deviation unless careful attention is paid to avoid pressure of the feeding implement against the chick's beak. By far, the more usual cause of lateral deviation or compression deformities occurs from faulty technique. Too much pressure in wiping the beak can cause it to deviate. Often one can see the indentations or compression deformities when a thumb and forefinger are used to clean the bottom beak.
Poor socialization - The experienced handfeeder knows how important very early socialization is and will take care that the babies are kept warm, safe, secure. A person might think that because the babies are very young or blind they aren't aware of the handling they receive.
Blind babies especially need a reassuring touch. They frighten easily. A gentle touch is required for all babies, but the very young are quite responsive to a soft voice and a loving hand.
How to Wean - The experienced handfeeder watches very carefully for the first sign that the baby will respond to the weaning foods and is ready to begin the long process of weaning. Weaning is a process, not an event. There is a window of opportunity and age, around 9 weeks for medium birds, when the baby will explore dishes of brightly colored and textured foods. Larger birds can take up to 4 months.
If the baby is accustomed to seeing food from a very early age, he will be drawn to the weaning foods naturally, without stress or fear. Early unforced weaning is the proper way to wean a bird. It depends on the natural instincts of the bird, promotes trust and security and prevents food related behavioral problems such as chronic begging, picky eating, whining, restlessness, and insecurity.
A properly weaned bird is healthy physically and emotionally. The beginning of the weaning period varies widely among species. As a general rule, the smaller the species, the sooner they wean. All babies are individuals and wean slightly differently from each other, even from their clutch mates.
If these differences aren't accommodated, the chick's behavior and demeanor can be adversely affected. His suitability as a companion bird can be impaired by forcing him to wean before he is emotionally ready.
If this window is missed, the bird's attitude toward food, his emotional development and his natural progression to food-independence will be regressed. Dr. Branson Ritchie, well known avian vet states that early unforced weaning is a sign of a physically and emotionally healthy bird.
Health Guarantee - The health of an unweaned bird can't be guaranteed. Most sellers of unweaned birds will give the buyer a short time to have the bird vet checked. But some of the tests are meaningless when done on a baby still handfeeding. Test values for babies are significantly different than for adults - this makes the use of an avian vet even more important.
A baby must be 5-6 weeks old to be screened for PBFD. He must be 35-40 days old before the first shot of the vaccination for polyoma can be given. The screen and the vaccination can protect the buyer from an emotional and financial disaster. We personally don't like or agree in vaccinating when it is not a high risk, a bird from a small breeder would qualify under that rule.
Handfeeding, socialization, and weaning leave a mark on a bird forever. They affect him the rest of his life. It is almost impossible to separate the three. Buy a baby bird who was weaned correctly and properly socialized. If the seller won't do these things, find one who will. Buy your baby bird from a quality breeder. Your pet parrot should be a commitment for life so give your bird and yourself the healthiest start.