Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Update on My New Roommate

The little hawk-headed parrot is settling in fairly well. (S)he is rather cautious about me, reminding me, by flying away whenever the opportunity presents itself, that I am not the human that (s)he is familiar with. This will pass soon enough, though.


This bird is is good flesh, but is not yet eating on her (his?) own even though I give her(him?) a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a seed mix, so I am handfeeding her twice per day; once in the morning and then again in the evening. The food is a powder that I mix with water (five parts water to one part food) and is fed at temperatures between 105 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit. The breeder handfed this bird using a syringe, but I am handfeeding with a spoon instead, so that is another thing for this bird to familiarize him(her)self with. Unfortunately, the bird and I make quite a mess when handfeeding, so I have to clean up the bird and kitchen immediately afterwards. Fortunately, because the breeder sent some handfeeding formula along with the bird, at least the food is familiar!

I am going to get this bird DNA-sexed so I know the gender, and can choose a gender-appropriate name. If the bird is female, I am probably going to name her Persephone (per SEF o NEE), but I am still working on a name for him if he turns out to be a male .. perhaps Ariel, but I am still thinking about this. (As you can tell, I like names from Greek and Roman mythology, although I also like some of Shakespeare’s character names, too).

My other parrots are very interested in the new arrival: Elektra, my three-and-a-half-year-old female Solomon Islands Eclectus parrot, is both interested and somewhat jealous of the new arrival. Last night, we (the three of us) sat together and watched a DVD. Well, to be precise, I watched the DVD while Elektra sat on my shoulder and watched the red-fan parrot in my lap while the red-fan parrot nibbled on my fingers and chewed on the towel I had wrapped her in.

The lories spent this morning imitating the new parrot’s contented trills after I had handfed her breakfast. Yellow-bibbed lories are fast learners when it comes to imitating new sounds. I sometimes joke that they collect new sounds like some people collect stamps.

I am also working on locating a digital camera so I can take some pictures of this bird to share with you. Here’s a recent picture for those of you who missed it the first time.

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    October 31, 2007

    Persephone? She’ll never remember that.

    Anyway, I thought the name “hrm” had been settled on.

    Bob

  2. #2 carolyn13
    October 31, 2007

    If you want to keep the Hades connection, how about Orpheus if The Bird is male? The music element in that myth seems a good fit for a bird.

    There are some scholars that say Orpheus became gay after failing to rescue his wife. You could consider the name a tribute to Dumbledore.

  3. #3 Nikki
    October 31, 2007

    I own a HH baby.. and I am concerned this little one you have is not getting enough food.. 5 parts water and 1 part powder is nothing.. the food needs to be thicker a lot thicker. below will explain.

    How thick should I make the formula?
    Your mixture will depend on the age of your baby. Very young birds require a thinner formula and more frequent feedings. Babies 2-4 weeks of age a can eat a mixture the consistency of pea soup or applesauce this thickeness would be good for the remaining time handfeeding. Babies that are only a few days or day 1 babies need very thin formula to help keep them hydrated. As the baby grows the formula can be thickened up. ALWAYS DISCARD ANY UNUSED FORMULA LEFTOVER AFTER FEEDING !! start with fresh mixture at each feeding .This is very important. All handfeeding formulas are rich and can develop harmful bacteria in a very short time even if refridgerated once they are mixed.It is a good idea to keep unused powder in a cool dry place when not in use.

    How much do I feed?
    Each baby will be different but as a rule babies that are on a three feeding schedule will be close to these amounts

    lovebirds 8-10 cc

    Cockatiels 10-12 cc

    small Conures 10- 15 cc

    medium conures or parrots 20-30 cc

    larger parrots ( greys,amazons etc.) 40 -50 cc

    large cockatoos and macaws 60 -110cc (depending on the type of bird) and their age.

    Always ask the person who has been feeding the baby how much they have been eating at each feeding and the time feedings are given.Not every bird will take the same amount at every feeding sometimes they will take alittle more or less,this is normal.

    When do I feed?
    Most baby birds on a 3 feeding schedule will eat about every 6-8 hours.This can be worked into your schedule. Basicly you will feed in the morning,afternoon and evening I like to give the 10 to 12 hr period during the night a time for their system to empty out completely.Regardless of the schedule the crop should be empty before you feed. If there is still food in the crop and it is your babies normal feeding time this could be caused by a number of things

    1. Change in temp. of room warmer or cooler?both changes can slow down the emptying of the crop.Readjust the temp.

    2. Was the formula thicker or more at the last feeding? Thin formula a bit at the next feeding or adjust feeding times

    3. Could the formula have been contaminated, dirty utincels or hands,formula left out to long before feeding?

    If after making any needed adjustments the crop is still not empting correctly See a verterianian promptly.
    Never feed new food on top of old! a little warm water given with a syringe will help to move food that has thicken in the crop also warm papaya nectar works well. Keep the baby warm and wait for an hour or so if every thing goes back to normal adjust the thickness of the formula on future feedings. besure that the droppings are normal and the crop has gone back to normal schedule.Older babies that have begun to eat on their own will have seed in their cop between feedings and this is normal and of no concern.Formula can be fed as normal.
    Recommended temp. to keep babies at would be as follows….

    babies with pinfeathers only 85 degrees to 88 degrees

    feathered in babies can be kept at room temp.

    day 1 babies and babies under 5 days old need to be kept at much higher temps and have different feeding procedures.

    Please thicken this babies formula.. so he/she will grow to be happy and healthy.

    Just concerned
    Nikki

  4. #4 Karen
    November 1, 2007

    Congrats on the new baby. When I got my 4 mo old timneh african grey he was supposedly “weaned” and I immediately unweaned him. He got the handfeeding formula and also other hot wet foods from a spoon.. like oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes, etc. To this day (he is 5 1/2) he still loves to be fed from a spoon!
    I am so glad to see a scientist interested in wild birds who is also interested in parrots. They have so much to teach us about the natural world.

  5. #5 "GrrlScientist"
    November 1, 2007

    thanks for the advice, nikki. initially, i was more concerned about dehydration than anything else since the bird had just arrived on an airplane, so that’s why i fed the formula so thin. but i have been thickening the formula to be one part powder to four parts water (otherwise, it’s too thick to feed very well). fortunately, the bird is eating on his(her?) own now, both seed mix and fruits/veggies, so handfeeding is merely supplemental at this point.

    the food is fed at the temperature that the breeder told me to use.

    karen; i’ve always been interested in birds in any and every capacity. not only have i kept and bred parrots for most of my life, but i also am a life-long birder and (as you know), an ornithologist.