Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cockatiel Daycare

This weekend, I got to put my "class" in handfeeding baby tiels to good use. A few weeks ago, Christy e-mailed me, asking if I would watch her babies for her while she took a trip out of town for a weekend. At the time, she had three pinfeathered babies but the number was subject to change as clutches always do. Three weeks later, the big day arrived and those three pinfeatherd babies were now four, nearly weaned! Man, time flies when you're a baby cockatiel. In addition to those four, there were two more. One just out of the pin feather stage and one about 9 days old (just opened its bitty lil eyes). So tiny it still has its yellow down and its' egg tooth. The smallest, is Christy's "darling". A baby that was rejected by Mom and Dad since it emerged from its shell and handfed by Christy since day one. This little one has never known the touch of a parents beak.

So, Christy arrived on my doorstep with a cage loaded with four juvenile cockatiels in various stages of weaning and an aquarium tank containing the two younger babies still needing the aid of a heating pad and covering to stay warm, on Friday night. After a demonstration with the youngest (Refresher course in handfeeding. Hey! It had been like, 8 months at LEAST since I'd seen Carey's demonstration), and a good visit w/Christy, I was on my own for 48 hours. My house suddenly exploded with birds. I went from 7 tiels, to 13! Okay, I know some people who have WAY more than that even, but to make that jump in a matter of seconds.. well.. HEHE! Anyway, it was fun!

The first feeding was a little hectic. I fed the older ones first and they wanted nothing to do with the formula. Well, they ARE older I thought, so I didn't worry. There was a precious yellow pearl who looked almost identical to Taxi, two dark gray babies that looked so similar to one another I had a hard time telling them apart, and a cinnamon that reminded me of Silver when he was a baby, only perhaps a little browner than Silver was at that age. Funny too, because the cinnamon is a full-blood sibling to Neo and Silver as its parents are none other than Jack and Ele. In fact, the only baby in the bunch NOT related in some fashion to Neo and Silver was the pearl baby, who is the offspring of Anna and Cricket (two pearl cockatiels Christy adopted some while back). Once I tucked the older babies in for the night, it was time to feed the youngest ones. First, I fed the babiest one.. (I called it "Downey" because it was still so soft and yellow)and I was amazed the formula went down without any problems. I did get an air bubble in the crop the first time around, but it was right on top, so I gently massaged it and it came right out without any reguirgitation. Next, it was the bigger babies turn. Also a gray baby, with his head just COVERED in pinfeathers. He ate like SUCH a hog! I couldn't believe how hard he jousted on that syringe! I thought for sure he was going to stab himself! Because he was bigger than the lil yellow Downey one, Kirsten wanted to call him "Zilla" but it just didn't fit in my opinion, because he was still tiny. He had this lil devilish beaky grin though, and he'd still beg after I fed him. Almost "gremlin" like. I almost got the feeling like, if I fed him after midnight, he'd turn into something else, so I got to calling him "Mogwai" because he reminded me of that cute little fuzzball in the movie Gremlins.
"Downey" in the tank
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"Mogwai" - Doesn't miss many meals
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Day two seemed as though it was going to start out rocky. Downey's crop wasn't empty in the morning and I thought I was going to have to give him some rice water. Just as I was about to offer him the syringe, he unloaded a poop bomb right on Kirsten (Hehe!) and whalah! His crop was empty! I waited about an hour and then fed him as usual. He slurped it down like a champ and every feeding there after was fine. Mogwai ate like a trooper but the older birdies were being rather testy. Perhaps it was because they didn't know me. I started calling the Cinnamon one "Cinnthia" and she was a little piggy. She begged off of her brothers and sisters and they fed her on demand, or at least, went through the motions of feeding her. She was the first one to eat for me, followed by one of the grays.
"Cinnthia" can't resist
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I nicknamed the grays "Pete and Re-Pete" ... and I figured the older one would be the more independent one, he was "Pete". The younger one ate well for me, as you can see.
Guilt! "Re-Pete" caved in and ate from the syringe too!
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Sunday morning, the youngest of the four (I learned later) the Pearl, which I oh-so-creatively nicknamed "Pearly" decided I was A-Okay and began pigging out on the formula as well.
"Pearly deciding formula is Good Stuff!
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Lil Pete never did take any formula. I was a good "take off" platform though, and a good elevator as well. :-)

Feeding babies every four hours (except at night because their crops need to empty out) was quite the chore, but those babies were SO worth it. I'm afraid Patchie and Silver really wanted in on the action though. The sound of babies begging and the chirping-hiccup sound they make when they suck down the formula drove them into a frenzy every time they heard it. I wonder if I've set the hormone monster into action again? We shall see. At any rate, it was AWESOME to have those six babies here, and I got bit hard with the baby bug. It was hard to give them back, but reality bit me too. The work involved in the care of the little ones would NEVER jive with my work schedule so its a nice dream, but one that will have to wait.

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