Hand Raising a Baby Lovebird: A Personal Experience
Hand raising a baby lovebird is a huge responsibility. It is just like raising a child. Given proper care and attention, hand raised birds make the most loyal and loving pets one could ever find. It is like having a constant companion with you everyday. In this article, I have written about the following main topics, under which several pictures, videos and callout capsules are included. Read on below to find all about hand raising your baby pet:
- Steps on Feeding a Lovebird
- Preparing the Formula
- How to Feed the Baby?
- What to do After Feeding?
- Baby Lovebirds' Growth Progression (Week 3-6)
- What do Weaned Lovebirds eat?
- Important Points to Remember
- 10 Unique Facts About Mumu
Adorable Isn't he?
Steps on Feeding a Lovebird
To be honest, I was literally scared to touch my baby pet named Mumu. We had bought him from a pet shop on 12 March 2016. I had never raised a baby bird before therefore, I was rendered clueless. The internet proved to be an immense help, guiding me in my worried state. Nevertheless, I gathered courage and decided to feed him. I opened the brooder and gently lifted the sleepy baby out. He was clearly surprised and lunged forward to bite me. I stifled a laugh at his trivial attempt to scare me off. Eventually, I started feeding him.
Be very gentle while holding your baby bird.
Preparing the Formula
You will need boiled water, baby bird food powder, a syringe and feeding spoon (when your baby gets older).
- Boiling the water is essential to kill germs that could harm your baby bird.
- Mix a little amount of powder and water till the consistency is fine (neither too thick nor too watery).There shouldn't be any lumps in the formula.
- Fill the syringe between 6-8 ml. Check the temperature of the formula on your palm. (Caution: high-temperature formula could burn your baby's throat).
- Feed this amount of formula every 3 to 4 hours depending on your baby's need. Check your baby's crop ( the area around the stomach, check the image below).
What is a Crop?
How to Know Your Baby Needs Feeding?
If the crop is bulging it means your baby is full; if it's flat it means your baby is hungry.
How to Feed the Baby?
You need to be very gentle while feeding your baby bird. The technique is simple but it should be done with utmost care and caution.
- Feed your baby when he/she is the most hungry. You will know this when you show him/ her the syringe. He/she will make crying sounds and jump forward eagerly.
- The head your baby bird should be tilted upwards.
- Gently place the tip of the syringe in your baby's beak and start feeding. If done properly you will see your bird swallowing food. While swallowing your bird will bob his head or show body movement. Do not rush... always feed slowly.
- Check the crop; if it has bulged, you should stop feeding your bird. You will also notice two bubble-like formations at your baby's back. Do not feed after this.
Never feed your baby bird with his/her head bent downwards. It could lead to choking and even death in some cases.
Correct Way of Feeding your Baby Bird
What to do After Feeding?
- Clean your bird's beak with a clean towel.
- Put your bird to sleep by gently caressing his/her feathers.
- Give your bird plenty of rest.
Do not play with baby birds.They are too young and do not have that much energy. Give them plenty of rest, without any disturbance.
How Baby Lovebirds are Hand Feeded?
Baby Lovebirds' Growth Progression
It is important to note growth progressions of your baby bird. It helps to understand feather growth and your bird's health. Given below are details and pictures of the growth progression of my pet Mumu.
Mumu was a little baby with minimal feathers. His tail was blue in color and like a set of plastic darts. His stomach was bare and his skin was showing. His back just had a line of feathers. Inside his wings, the skin was featherless but there were slits from which his wings would grow.
Three Weeks Old Baby Lovebird
Week 3, Day 4
Tail endings were prominent and had a mixture of colors. More feathers started appearing at the back and on his wings. His wings were growing.
Three Weeks Four Days Old Baby Lovebird
His size had increased. His wings were almost fully feathered. Tail was growing longer and tail endings were taking the shape of leaves. But his cheeks and head still had some spots left to be covered.
Four Weeks Old Baby Lovebird
Week 4, Day 5
He was almost completely feathered at this stage. He looked like an adorable little fur ball. He was onto becoming fledged (having wing feathers that are large enough for flight; able to fly).
Four Weeks Five Days Old Baby Lovebird
Week 5, Day 3
He was fully feathered and his beak was properly formed. Tail and wing feathers were finely developed.
Five Weeks Three Days Old Baby Lovebird
Week 6, Day 2
Fully grown and fledged.
Six Weeks Two Days Old Baby Lovebird
Growth Progression of a Baby Lovebird since Day 1
What do Weaned Lovebirds Eat?
You discover that your baby lovebird is weaned (accustomed to managing without something which they have become dependent on) from hand feeding formula. What should you do?
Here is the answer:
Offer seeds, fresh fruits, and vegetables every day. Corn is especially important in their diet. Your baby can eat almost anything you can.
A lovebird's favorite fresh food list includes:
Remember how you care for your bird will determine how healthy and loyal he/she will turn out be. Lovebirds are playful and sociable. Give them loads of attention and love them for who they are.
Never feed your bird chocolate, alcohol, avocado, oily food, milk products, concentrated salt or sugar. These foods are life threatening. Never leave food in cages that could spoil, go sour, rot or breed mold and bacteria.
Baby Lovebirds can be Scared of Food too!
Once you feel that your baby needs weaning, introduce new foods to him/her. Feed corn, bananas, and seeds. Your pet may be scared and cry (make small short sounds) as a result. He/She may fluff out their feathers and try to attack the new food. Show the new foods daily and attempt to feed them. They will reject it initially. Continue trying to feed them, till their fear is removed. This happened in my case and can happen in yours too.
Baby Lovebirds may Bite in Their Defense!
Baby love birds are not mean, rather they may be frightened. They use aggression as their defense. Never hit or yell at your bird they have feelings which get hurt too. Always talk calmly and ignore bad behavior in case there is.
Important Points to Remember
It is very important to remember these points for the safety and well-being of your lovebird.
- Leave fresh water for your lovebird. It only takes a second to change water.
- Keep perches and dishes scrubbed clean as birds nibble on everything. Be sure to rinse very well after using detergent or disinfectant.
- Never use Lysol, etc. It is difficult to get all the residue washed off.
- Take your bird outside with you if the weather is pleasant.
- Supervise your bird with children or strangers.
- Supervise all animals when they are around your bird.
- Do provide a cage large enough so that your bird has MORE than enough room to move and flap its wings.
- Provide different and stimulating toys for your bird to chew.
- Do not cook with Teflon; when overheated, the gas emitted could be fatal to your bird.
- Do not smoke around your bird. Nicotine is deadly to birds.
- Do not cook with a bird on your shoulder. Kitchens can be very dangerous.
- Do not let your bird chew on surfaces or plants that can be fatal or toxic if ingested. Be aware of lead and zinc toxicity.
- Do not purchase toys for your bird that have dog leash type clips or jingle type bells. (Toes can be caught easily).
- Do not bring any other bird that has not been tested first by an avian veterinarian into contact with your bird.
- Do not assume that a bird is 100% healthy because it has never been "sick".
Teaching a Lovebird Tricks (Shaking Hands with Mumu)
Baby Mumu Learning how to Follow Commands!
Have you ever raised a baby bird?
10 Unique Facts About Mumu
- He was unusually fast in running since the beginning.
- He used to walk backwards to pass poop.
- He used to follow us whenever we were going away.
- His heart-warming way of snuggling to my stomach when he felt sleepy.
- He understood commands even though he was so little.
- He used to chatter a lot making different sounds. Currently he has the rare ability to say 2-3 words.
- He imitates kissing sounds even before we kiss him. Adorable!
- He mimics our actions. If we hold a mobile phone he jumps on the screen imitating to use it himself. Yeah, we love his silly antics.
- He has an obsession towards the metal Gold. He holds the record of breaking two chains and one ring! (It's a pun.)
- He is very curious and loves to explore his surroundings. There is this cute question mark look on his face whenever he sees something new.
Happy Hand Raising!
Cute Lovebird Wearing a Hat!
Questions & Answers
How would I know if a baby lovebird is not alive anymore?
You will see the baby lovebird kicking its legs in the air and hear small "crying" sounds. Apart from that, the mother will feed it and clean its body.
Will the father lovebird take care of the baby if the mother has passed away?
Father lovebirds take care of chicks when they are older--that is by the 6th or 7th week. The fathers then feed the chick till they are fledged (capable of feeding themselves). In this case, you need to feed the baby lovebird yourself.
What do I feed a baby lovebird? Is there special formula?
Yes, there is special formula for lovebirds. It will be available in a local pet store.
© 2016 Sakina Nasir