The amount of people who are taking on the responsibility of hand-feeding and weaning their baby birds seems to have reached epic proportions this year. What’s going on? The information warning people against doing this is everywhere.
Red Front Macaw Baby
Recently, I got an email regarding someone who wanted to know how to wean her fully grown, feathered and fledged bird. <sigh> She has no idea how to do it – she has no idea that she should have started the process some time back – but here she is in the thick of it. I have no doubts that she is a nice lady with a big heart, but a baby bird will be suffering for her mistakes – one of many I am aware of. This has to stop.
We are always very vocal about how easy it is to injure, infect or kill your bird during the hand feeding stage and we have made it clear how easily you can cause psychological damage to your bird with improper weaning techniques.
But this year there have been three different instances where formerly healthy young birds have become dangerously ill after their owners, again, with the best intentions, failed to wean their birds at the proper time.
Hand feeding formula is high potency. It contains ingredients that are necessary to the developmental growth of a BABY bird. To continue feeding it to a grown fledged bird will over saturate the body with nutrients, fats and proteins that a grown bird doesn’t require. Health issues will arise. We don’t want a bird to begin its long life with a liver disease, right?
For months there has been an overload of questions related to baby rearing on my personal email and also here at Birdtricks.com. This subject is outside of our fields. You want to know about training, behavior, health and nutrition, general care – you’ve come to the right place. But we aren’t breeders.
And about breeders, I once again say this:
Any breeder who will pass a hatchling on to a completely inexperienced person for hand feeding and weaning should be run out of the business. This is a person who does not care about the well-being of his/her birds. It is likely that the parents suffer in his/her care and you should be suspicious of the health of the bird you have purchased. People who care that much about money are not the kind that put their profits into good food and living condition for creatures that they care so little for.
This is example of a BAD breeder. BAD, BAD BREEDER!!!! RUN AWAY! I don’t know how to make this any clearer.
I know this is not going to make me popular with some people and I understand that your intentions are honorable and that you only wish to experience these special moments with a bird you plan to spend a lifetime with. But please remember the old saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” and leave the job to people who are qualified so no more babies have to suffer.
NOTE: If your breeder allowed you to take your baby home before weaning or if your own parrots have laid a clutch and you are inexperienced with hand feeding or the weaning process, please contact a reputable and ethical local breeder for instruction.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.