1 part Zupreem Embrace to 1 part Insectivore Food. Any measure will do -
just pick one size and stick with it.
Add formula to coffee/spice mill and give it a few minutes go round.
Meanwhile, set crock pot on low. My crockpot gets to 185įF.
Place Soup Mug into crock pot.
Fill crock pot with water until mug is just ready to float.
Add the following mix to the mug:
Put the finely milled formula into the soup mug and add 2 parts water.
Let stand for about 2 minutes so that it absorbs all the water it will.
If thick, then add more water. Formula should be slightly runny especially
for day 1- 5 chicks.
Signs that Chicks have Hatched:
Gulping of insects or egg food.
Both parents out of the nest at the same time.
Both parents remain in the nest for long periods of time, I
have found during the day incubation, only one parent or the other will sit
on the eggs. At night, sometimes the cock will stay in the nest, other times
he will not.
When my blue caps are incubating, I can tell because I see
their tails sticking up if nothing else. If you can see in the nest and
donít see tails sticking up this is an good indication that something is
If you can actually see the birds bodies and you see that
they are looking down a lot, this means they are investigating the chicks,
not necessarily feeding them.
A hatched blue cap as a maximum of 24 hours before it will
dehydrate and starve to death unless it is cared for. I have read that for
Gouldians it is a few days. I know from first had experience that for zebras
it is also about 24 hours.
If you know you have chicks in the nest but do not see any
feeding activity, you have about a day to make up your mind what you are
going to do: Let the parents take care of the chicks, let the parents starve
the chicks, try fostering the chicks to societies (you would have had to set
up eggs and have nesting societies to do this) or try hand feeding the
I had no luck getting my societies to feed the blue cap
chicks. I let some blue cap eggs hatch under the societies, and while the
society cocks investigated the chicks and kept them very warm, they didnít
feed the chicks.
If you donít have an immediate brooder setup, you can keep
chicks warm for several days under the societies. They are incredibly
tolerant of hands and nest inspections. I found after several days, this was
too much of stress on the societies as the chicks need to be feed so often,
so I set up a brooder situation (see below).
Feeding Chicks Day 1-5:
Pick chick up with a spoon. I found that trying to pick them
up is the most difficult part and I was afraid I would crush them. A warmed
spoon takes care of this worry, just roll the chick on and off the spoon.
Place chick in the palm of your inferior hand (usually the
left). I find it is easiest to feed them when they are on their bellies.
However, you will get the occasional chick that cannot bear to be on its
back and will insist on begging in the classic estrildid crouching pose.
Using a toothpick, dip it in formula and get a small amount
of food on the toothpick. I mean small.
Place food into the beak of the baby.
If chick does not automatically swallow when food is placed
into its mouth, gently push its lower jaw up with the toothpick. It should
swallow immediately. A tap to either foot or wing will also usually
accomplish the same result, swallowing.
Do not be alarmed when the chick jumps/twitches all about,
they do this when they eat for some reason, so don't hold finch overtop of
crock pot as during one of these fits, they might accidentally drop.
Do not worry about getting formula into nostrils because they
do not appear on a blue cap chick until it is well over two weeks old. In
fact, it is the last orifice to open up. First the ears, then the eyes, then
the nostrils. Also the facial feathers are the last to come in, so this
makes clean up easier.
How to tell a Begging from a Gasping Chick:
A begging chick will open its beak, waggle its head from
side-to-side while also waggling its tongue from side-to-side.
A gasping chick will open its mouth wide but will not waggle
its head or its tongue. Sometimes it will repeatedly gasp for a few seconds.
It is not uncommon in newly hatched chicks for them to gasp for breath after
being fed each toothpick full of formula. Do not mistake gasping for
begging, as you might put formula in the chicks mouth when it is actually
taking air into its lungs. Only place food into a chicks mouth when it is
obviously and actively begging for food.
As the chicks get older, the gasping will become less
pronounced although it will continue to occur up through fledgling.
How to know when the Chick is Full Enough:
The first obvious sign is that the chick stops begging.
You should be able to monitor the food level in the crop. The
neck of a blue cap is very long as compared to a gouldian or zebra. You will
see the neck start to bulge. In one day old chicks or in chicks that have
gone too long between feedings, formula will pass right through the crop and
directly into the stomach. You can actually see the food pass and then
appear in the belly area. One day chicks have very little storage capacity
in their crops and so therefore, they really need to be fed on the hour. As
the chicks get older, you can stretch the time out between feedings.
Never feed the chick so full that it is regurgitating. If you
see the chick regurgitate, stop feeding it immediately. It is plenty full if
not over full for that feeding.
Troubleshooting Feeding Tiny Chicks:
If not begging, tap beak lightly in a side-to-side direction
If not swallowing, tap lower beak lightly in the direction to
Not begging: Tap beak lightly with either finger, toothpick
or cotton swab and chick should beg
Still not begging after beak tap: Gently rub under chin with
finger, cotton swab or toothpick.
Still not begging after beak tap and chin rub: Try touching
its feet and wings. I have determined that chicks are ticklish especially on
If none of the above three things stimulates begging, this
indicates either a happily fed baby (you would know this because you would
see the food in the crop) or a very weak/sickly baby. Place small amount
(1-2 microliter quantity, if you are unsure about how much is 2 microliters,
then use this as a comparison: the average droplet of water from an eye
dropper is approximately 8 microliters. Basically the toothpick will be
barely even wet) of very dilute formula on beak and run the toothpick in the
direction from the lower beak to the upper beak. This will slightly part the
beak and some liquid will go in. Baby should reflexively swallow.
If none of this works, then the chick is either already full
or just about ready to die. I have only had one chick refuse to swallow, and
it was already dying when I found it. I couldnít save that chick.
If you are going to try to stimulate a severely dehydrated
and starving chick, patience is of the utmost. I found a chick that hadnít
been fed in almost 24 hours is extremely weak and doesnít have any energy at
all. It can take 30 minutes to finally stimulate begging. Once the chick is
finally begging and has had a mouthful or two of formula, put the chick back
into the brooder for about Ĺ hour so that the chick can gain energy for the
feeding. It should beg more robustly in a short while.
Do not overflood the beak of the chick. If you put too much
on the beak, then the chick cannot breath even after it has swallowed the
formula. It is imperative to clean the beak immediately so that the chick
doesnít breathe in the formula which could spell disaster.
After handfeeding/before returning chicks to the Nest Bowl:
Clean entire face/beak with dampened cotton swab. Swab should
be wet enough to have excess moisture but not so wet water is dripping out
of it. All formula must be cleaned from the chickís face and body otherwise
when the formula dries, it will stick to everything and anything in its
nest. After washing soiled areas with damp swab, use dry swab to dry chick
off. Be forewarned that as soon as you have all the formula removed from the
chickís face, it will start begging again. Murphyís Law!
Using dampened swab, clean any feces from anus of baby. The
first few days, feces have a tendency to get stuck in this region. This
resolves itself as the chick grows.
Use the spoon to return chick to nest bowl.
I use cotton balls, grabbed at the ends and elongated to
about 4", as pillows for the chicks. I have found that it is best to keep
their heads up after feeding them. Therefore, place the chickís head on the
cotton ball pillow.
Recover the chick with the feathers.
Shake down the thermometer and place into nest bowl
immediately adjacent to the chick(s).
Homemade Brooder/Nest Bowl
Get a cardboard box. The one I used was 12" x 12" x 30"
Place heating pad set on low in the bottom of the box. I
found that I could not get a good temperature while using just the heating
pad. It seemed to always be either too hot or too cold.
Screw the Herp bulb into the Utility light. Do not use a
light that is made of plastic as these lights are designed to generate heat
and plastic might melt.
Clamp the utility light above the box
I used a 1 pint bowl for a nest for young chicks. I lined it
with paper towels and then filled it full of sanitized chicken feathers from
a feather pillow purchased just for my birds.
Using a baby fever thermometer, place it into the nest bowl
right next to the chick so that you can monitor temperature.
Only through trial and error will you be able to determine
the best location within the brooder box for the baby chicks. I found that
chicks younger than 2 weeks liked 100 - 102įF brooding temperature. I have
read 96 - 98įF for zebras, however, I found that at this temperature range,
the chicks were sluggish and did not digest as well.
A small glass or bowl of water can be placed inside of the
box to increase humidity thereby decreasing dessication and dehydration.
It is a good idea to run a humidifier as well. I kept the
humidity in the room at 65% and the room temperature at 80įF.
Appearance of Chicks From Hatch to Weening:
Day 1: Chick hatches with lots of fluffy tan or peach colored down on
their heads and backs. Skin tone is a creamy pink or peach with diffuse red.
Almost no food storage capacity in the crop whatsoever. Food goes directly
to the stomach. Chick has a tendency to sleep in the same position it
maintained while in the egg before hatching.
Day 2: Chickís skin will have already started to darken to a black.
Crops starts to expand with most of the storage being on the right side of
the neck. While sleeping, chick still stays in a curled up, prehatch
Day 3: Noticeable lengthening of neck with increasing crop size. Very
faint peeping sounds are first audible.
Day 4: Down is already becoming more sparse on head. Body size is
noticeably increased to at least 2-3 times the original hatch size. Peeping
should become more pronounced.
Day 5: Beginnings of pin feathers emerging from wings and dark line
appearing on eye in the location where eyelid will ultimately be located.
Day 6: Eyes are open!
Day 7: Beginnings of tail pin feathers are emerging. Also can see the
lateral lines on the ventral side where feathers will emerge Ė but no
feathers coming out yet. Crop has substantial storage capacity already and
it is best to switch to a 1 ml syringe for feedings. Chick is now able to
scratch eyes and facial area with feet. Feathers appearing on dorsal line
and ventral lines.
Day 8: Sputnik banded #1342. Wilbur banded #1343. Harry Houdini
banded #1344. Boulee banded #1345. Boulee is the chick that hatched out
under the societies (Mikimoto, Ozzie, Harrier, Ringo and Joel). I didnít
even discover that he existed until he was ~5 days old and I heard a begging
blue cap chick and started to wonder what the heck was going on.
Day 9: Feathers are beginning to appear from the quills. Feathers
appearing pretty much everywhere on body, legs, head, etc. Ear holes have
Day 10:Standing on two feet more often, wobbly though.
Day 11: Tail Feathers turning blue
Day 12: Pip banded #1341. Breast Feathers turning blue
Day 13: Able to stand very well on their own. Starting to sleep with
head tucked under wing.
Day 14: Sputnik copped an attitude and started to make the sound of
being attacked. Harry also has an intestinal infection. Started him on
Ronivet and using Neosporin for his cloaca, very very swollen.
Day 15: Sputnik tried to fledge today. I put him back into the nest.
However, he is coming out of his nest bowl and perching. He is much more
finicky about eating Ė not eating as much or as often. I find this is
typical of these birds once they fledge. Sputnik still has head down. Chicks
started sleeping with their wings tucked. Wilbur has an intestinal
infection. Started him on Ronivet and using Neosporin for his cloaca, very
very swollen. I thought the neosporin would help with the pain.
Day 16: Harry sort of fledged today. (actually looks like Harry is a
hen, gotta come up with a new name) but Harry is just cruising around only
inside of the brooder box. Harry has recovered from whatever intestinal
infection and his cloaca appears normal again.
Day 17: Wilbur continues to struggle with what I believe is
coccidiosis. I started treating all three chicks with coccivet today. It
seems that the swelling is going down somewhat of Wilburís cloaca.
Day 18: Found Sputnik out of the nest bowl today. Must remember to
keep the screen overtop just to be sure.
Day 19: Sputnik officially fledged today. Sputnik went for the grande
tour of the birdroom today! YIPPEE! All the birds still have their head down
even though they are covered with feathers everywhere except for under their
chins. Both Sputnik and Harry are spending time perching on the dowel I put
in the brooder box for them.
Day 22: Pip fledged today, I can hardly believe it! Putting Pip in
flight cage to socialize with societies and blue caps, but he doesnít seem
to realize he is a bird and pretty much stays as far away from the other
birds as possible. Going back to nest bowl in brooder at night and for naps.
Bleuy is very interested in Pip. Societies were curious but not intrusive.
Day 23: Practicing flight, taking tiny little excursions. Putting in
flight cage with societies and blue caps but still sleeping in nest bowl for
naps and at night. Bleuy trying to preen Pip, Pip not sure what to make of
Day 24: Head feathers continue to come in quickly. Bird is now able
to fly quite nimbly and does tricks like jumping from my shoulder, flying
straight out about one meterís distance, turning 180 degrees, flying back
towards me and landing on my head, all executed in about 1 secondís time.
First signs of serious independent food exploration start to take place.
Still taking at least 1 ml of formula about every 1.5 - 2 hours. Slept
second half of night on perch. Garibaldi and Mickey are approaching Pip. Pip
attacked in flight cage by Scare-D-Kat (another blue cap cock.)
Day 25: Becoming even more independent. Actively flying about
birdroom and seeking out more typical birdlike foods, attracted to rolled
oats. Given a tray of Quiko and grounds misc nuts to snack on (calcium,
bioplus and feather up added) in cage. Also placed a very shallow water dish
in brooder for drinking. Spent entire night on perch. Garibaldi and Mickey
remain interested in Pip, Pip is not sure what to make of them. Pip attacked
a second time by Scare-D-Kat. No more putting Pip in flight cage where
Scare-D-Kat is. Luciano made the society warning sound fortunately otherwise
SDK might have seriously hurt Pip.
Day 26: Food Experimentation continues but still relying mostly on
handfeeding. Spent the second half of the night perching on a woven nest in
bird room rather than on brooder perch. Garibaldi has tried to approach Pip,
but Pip is afraid of her. Garibaldi accompanies Pip around the bird room,
but at a distance.
Day 27: Becoming more independent and sleeping outside of brooder/nest
area. Starting to pick at egg food. First night spent entirely outside of
brooder. Shows no interest in extra heat setup any longer.
Day 28: Woke me up by coming to my bed and begging for food. Brazen
little sucker! Has many secretive hiding spots in bird room, on top of bound
books, hidden in silk leaves, on rungs of chair. Pip attacked Mickey (his
father) today, shocking!
Day 29: Pip is becoming very independent. Shelling his own seed,
eating some egg food. I took some photos today of him posing with the other
chicks, Day 15, 13, 12, 8.
Day 30: Pipís beak is beginning to turn from black to red. Sad to see
that he isnít a baby anymore.
Day 33: Pip let Garibaldi preen, feed and perch next to him today,
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