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Hand-rearing a Baby Bird

By: Suzanne Zweigart

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Hand-rearing a baby bird can be quite difficult and requires feeding every few hours by an experienced foster mom. However, many bird owners prefer purchasing just-weaned or about-to-be-weaned birds. Hand-rearing a bird over six weeks of age who has no problems and eats readily can be a very rewarding experience.

How Much to Feed

A baby bird should be eating 10 percent of his body weight per feeding. A 500-gram bird would need 50 milliliters of formula per feeding. A baby this age should be fed approximately three times per day.

It's important not to feed your bird if he still has food in his crop, which is the enlarged portion of the esophagus at the base of the neck, from the previous meal. Food in the crop for more than three to four hours is a sign of crop stasis, or slowing down, and could be the beginning of a bacterial or fungal overgrowth in the crop that can make your baby bird ill. If you feed your bird too much at each meal, his crop can become overstretched and will lose its ability to move the food down through the digestive system.

You'll need to weigh your bird on a gram scale daily. This will help you determine how much to feed him and it will help you monitor whether he's gaining or losing weight, which can be a sign of your bird's overall health.

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