Ask Lafeber

Question:

June 30, 2020

Over feeding chicks


I’ve cockatiel pair and it’s their first time to hv chicks, the hen laid 6 eggs out of which only one chick survived, the parents are taking good care of chick but sometimes it seems like they are overfeeding it. The chick is 8 days old.


Answer:

Hi Sapna,

Congratulations on the chick! It’s best to leave the chick with the parents. They are learning and if you step in, they aren’t going to learn and won’t do any better the next time. They may stuff the little guy a bit, but he should be fine. I’m not sure if you plan to hand feed it when he is a little older. If the parents let you, you can try to co-parent. You leave the chick for the parents to feed and raise, but once he had his eyes open and is more alert, you can try taking him out of the box for a few minutes at a time to get him used to people, and then return him. As these are first time parents, you need to be very careful about doing this. If they are really aggressive and try to get in the box to defend the chick, you need to back off. They can accidentally hurt him while trying to protect him. But if you can get him out while both parents are out of the box, then you can try this. Again, just for a few minutes, and then return him. Most parent birds will tolerate this once they realize the chick will be returned to them.

It’s also important that they rest for a few months before they have more eggs. So once the chick has emerged from the nest box and is staying in the cage, take the box down or block the entrance. Otherwise many captive cockatiel pairs will start trying to nest again before their chick is even weaned. Once this chick is weaned, remove him from the cage or the parents will start to pick on him. After a few months, give them the box again and let them have another clutch. It is best to limit them to 2 clutches of eggs per year. In the wild they would typically only have one clutch. But because we provide such an ideal environment, they will over breed in captivity if we don’t force them to take a break.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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