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I recently converted a 10 x 26 foot planted atrium into a mixed Finch aviary. I started with 20 finches: Parrot finches, Lady Gouldians, Senagal Fire Finches, Shafttails, Societies, Cordons and Star Finches. I was thrilled when the Lady Gouldian pair started building a nest and laying eggs within 2 weeks of their arrival. Occasional nest checks showed that only 1 of the 3 eggs laid was fertile. I kept a close watch on the calendar and tried not to bother them too much. The hen and cock were very good "sitters", but when the egg hatched the parents went nest shopping for a new nest. I watched them for an hour and decided it was time to intervene. I took the baby and put it in an old incubator I have. I knew not to feed it for the first day until the egg sac was used. I don't know if I intervened too soon, but it seemed to me that the baby couldn't possibly survive without siblings to snuggle with if the parents weren't going to brood it.

I had purchased LAFABER'S Nutristart Hand Feeding Formula because I wanted to bond with some of the babies by hand feeding them. That probably played a part in deciding to take the baby. On day two I mixed the formula very thin using the product Sparkle in the water. I used a small pipette cut to about 2 inches in length and softened in hot water. The baby took to it eagerly. The only thing I had to watch out for was him/her being so eager he would swallow the whole pipette.

I fed every 2 hours around the clock the first two days with very thin formula. The crop seemed very slow to empty. I got on the internet and read everything I could find about slow crops. I slowed the feeding time to every two and a half hours and continued the thin mix. Baby continued to grow like a weed but was very thin. Every time I tried to increase the amount of formula in the mix the crop would take 4 hours to empty. I was also getting concerned because everything I read mentioned yellow poop being a sign of something wrong in the intestines. and Baby's poop was very yellow.

My bird "mentor" Floyd Williams jewelsofthebirdworld.com had suggested I check out Joanne's web site and order some vitamins (Ioford and Dufoplus). I remembered the site and that they had medications for birds, but I didn't have a clue what I needed so I called Joanne and told her about the slow crop and yellow poop and asked her what she thought could be causing these problems and what medicines I should keep on hand for sick birds. She was extremely helpful and even went so far as to call Lafaber and check with them about the color of the poop and then called me back. (They indicated that the formula would make the poop yellow.) She also suggested that I change from the Sparkle water conditioner to Megamix.

A few days later I was talking to Floyd and told him how skinny Baby was and how slow her crop was. He thought she might be dehydrated and suggested that I feed straight Pedialyte for one feeding and then start using the Pedialyte to mix in the formula. I resisted doing this for a couple of days because everything I had read said not to give anything with sugar (for fear of a yeast infection) and the second ingredient in Pedialyte is dextrose. But Baby was getting so thin I decided to try it. After one feeding of straight Pedialyte Baby's crop emptied completely in two hours. I mixed the formula with Pedialyte for the next feeding and it emptied just as quickly. Baby seems to be thriving on this. She has put on weight is very alert and standing now. She should fledge this week.

So, what did I learn? If you don't know... ask someone. There are wonderful "bird people" who are willing to help.

Oh! I forgot to mention the toenails. They are extremely sharp and almost seem to have a hook on them. They get tangled in everything and it is very difficult to get all eight nails unhooked without breaking a toe. So be careful what you use for nesting material. I used strips of facial tissue and toilet paper with a heavy layer of paper towels underneath which worked okay.

Joy Blaine, Flying from one learning experience to the next.

P.S.

Another day...another revelation! I put Baby in her fledgling cage this morning. I have laughed all morning watching her stretch her wings and practice flying. But the thing I notice is she is not strong when she tries to stand tall. I think the covered bowl nest I was using was too short. She wasn't encouraged to try to stand because the top was so low. But she is making up for lost time. She has been trying to do the one leg-one wing stretch and she falls over every time. So she changed tactics….she puts her head on the ground and straightens her legs….getting her rump as high as possible and then she stretches both wings as far as they will go. And then she tries to fly. What a privilege it is to be able to watch.

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