What To Expect After Getting A New Baby Bird

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The First Few Days:

You should be aware that the first few days your bird is in its new home will be very stressful for it. Be sure to give it time to acclimate to its new environment. Have the new cage, toys and dishes all set up before you bring the bird home. Set the cage where it will be permanently located, preferably in a well-used area of your home like a living room or family room. Give the bird a few hours to explore the new cage and all the dishes before you take it out to play. (Read this book again while the baby settles in). Give the bird a lot of love and reassurance to help it adjust to the major changes in its life.

It is very important to be sure to return the bird to its cage every hour or so to allow it to eat and drink if it wishes. If you hover over the bird to see if it is hungry, it will be distracted by your presence and will not approach the food. Give it ten to twenty minutes before you go back to get it. Offer your new bird treats from your hand to get it used to you, and let it explore your lap. Try not to allow it to climb on your shoulders or head, remember, this baby is not completely potty-trained! Do not let the bird explore your mouth-the bird’s immune system cannot handle your germs and bacteria, and you could make it sick.

Be Sure Your Bird Eats:

The stress of going to a new home can affect your baby bird’s eating habits. You must remember that to the bird, this might be the most frightening thing it has ever experienced. It has never been away from its siblings before, never been away from its “home”, and never been handled by strangers without “Mom” being there to comfort it afterward. The stress of all these changes will sometimes cause hand-fed baby birds to revert to wanting to eat from a syringe instead of feeding themselves. (NOTE: this is not very likely to happen to your bird if it is over three months old, but watch it carefully anyway.)

If your bird does stop eating or drinking its own, it could dehydrate or starve to death in 24 to 48 hours! You must be sure to watch your bird closely for the first two to three weeks to be sure it is eating well. Monitor the level of the food in the dish, and be sure the bird is not just playing with the food and dropping it to the cage floor. Watch to be sure the bird is defecating-if it is not, that could mean it has stopped eating. If you have a gram scale, begin weighing your baby daily as soon as you bring it home-a weight loss two days in a row may indicate an eating problem.

The baby may make a screechy crying sound, and crouch down with its head tilted upward when you approach it-this posture means “Feed Me”. Check the crop area often (this is where the bird holds food that is waiting to enter the stomach). The crop is right at the bottom of the neck in front, just above the chest at the top of the center breastbone. When the bird has eaten, the crop will feel full and there will be a small, hard bulge. If the crop is empty, your finger will find a hollow spot when you touch the bird’s upper chest.

Watch the bird as much as possible to see if it eats and drinks. If you don’t see it eating the first day, call an avian veterinarian. You may need to return the bird to the breeder temporarily in order to ensure its survival. It is important that you watch the bird closely to get it through this period!

What To Expect:

The first week or two, your baby may seem to try to bite a lot, and it may be very loud. You may think you have bought a mean brat! Be patient with the bird, this is a natural behavior. It is a nervous reaction to the sudden change in surroundings. The bird needs time to forget about its siblings and previous human “parents”. Once it has adjusted to you and your home, it will calm down and behave. Don’t allow it to bite, if it tries to bite you while standing on your hand, simply drop that hand a couple of inches, very quickly, while saying “No bite!”. The bird will soon learn not to try that again.

Be sure not to confuse biting with the natural behavior of reaching with the beak first before stepping onto a hand. Birds use their beaks as a “third foot” when climbing, and will reach with their mouths first to test the surface they are going to before stepping on. Do not jerk back when the bird reaches for you, doing so will only make the bird afraid to come to you. Let it reach and grab your hand, only if it bites hard at this point should you reprimand it.

During the first few days in the new home, the bird may have runny or watery droppings. This is a normal response to heavy stress and should go away as the bird settles into its new home. If the runny droppings do not go away after 3 or 4 days, call the breeder. There is always a possibility that the stress of moving has allowed the bird to pick up an infection it would have otherwise fought off, and it may need to see an avian vet.

Give your baby a lot of comfort and affection, and reassure it that it will be OK in its new home. Eventually, it will grow to see you as “mom” or “dad” and will love you as much as you love it. Just remember to always be gentle-never play rough with a bird. Not only can you hurt it easily, but this will encourage the bird to learn how to bite hard, and may make a habitual biter out of it later in life!

Just pet it a lot, and play with it. The more gentle and affectionate you are with your bird, the more gentle and lovable the bird will remain as it grows up. Most parrots have a personality similar to a two-to-three-year-old child. Your bird will surprise you with its ability to learn and understand what you want from it, and with its ability to tell you what it wants.

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