A friend of mine, who is a Gouldian breeder, had a pair of Gouldians that had 3 eggs. On November 1st, she noticed a baby laying on the bottom of the cage and the male bird was picking on it. She immediately picked the baby up. It was motionless and cold. She warmed it in her hand and a few seconds later it started to move. She put the bird in a small Tupperware container and set it on her cage heater. The heater had no controls, so she had to go by feel. She waited until the baby was well warmed up before trying to feed.
After the parents threw the first baby out, they were not sitting on the eggs anymore. Sue broke the second fertile egg and removed the baby. It wasnít moving but it had the look of being alive. She put it with the other baby. The third egg was infertile. She had read that a baby bird can survive a day after hatching without being fed because of the nutrition from the egg still being with them. She left it with the other one until morning.
The next morning, they were both moving their heads a little. She fed them a somewhat runny mixture of KAYTEE-EXACT handfeeding formula every time their crops were empty. Just a few drops at a time!!!
One Week Old Babies
I received a phone call from my friend asking me if I would want to take these two babies and raise them because she didnít have the time. I knew I wanted them to be taken care of, so I said YES! When I got them, they were probably about a week old. Their eyes were not quite open. I got them home and set up a nice warm bed. They were already willing to eat. The main thing now was to get them on a regular eating schedule of food every half hour. Sometimes when time doesnít allow, they can go longer but try very hard not to let their crops get empty. (see the HOW TO list) They were doing very well considering what they had been through. They were eating the EXACT handfeeding formula with no problem. They were eliminating waste regularly that was not too runny, and they were not too hot or too cold. As they grew, I noticed that the little one (who is actually the first one hatched, and the one I call BABY) had a messed up foot, probably from when the Dad attacked her.
Also, she has a messed up eye. I donít think she can see out of it. I found myself very concerned for her, wondering if she could ever even stand or function half way normal. I began to wonder if I was doing the right thing or not.
I took them with me to work every day. I hid them in a drawer in the ladies rest room and went in there every 1/2 hour or so to feed them. Everyone that saw me going in there all the time must have thought I was sick. I didnít want my boss to know in case he didnít like the idea!! I told a few people, and the birds became like a shop mascot!! Everyone kept going in and checking on them and letting me know if they were screaming at them for food!!. They were doing a good job of keeping each other warm, so I didnít need to keep heat on them. I just kept paper towels under them and on top of them. Luckily, I work in a machine shop that is pretty noisy so no one could hear them peeping. I kept bringing them back and forth to work for about 3 weeks. They were starting to fly, so I would let them fly in the restroom on breaks!!! I started putting finch food in a little pet port thing I got. It is about 6x4x5 inches, made of plastic with vent holes on the top.
The healthy one, I call BUDDY, was finally eating and drinking on his own so I left him home when Baby and I went to work. Within about 3 days Baby was eating and drinking by herself also. Baby was able to stand up and get around somewhat. She had a hard time perching because the toe that goes back was bent up and forward. I soon realized that perches made out of threads were easier for Baby to stand on, so I got a few of them. She could not fly normally because of her eyesight. She did pretty well but couldnít judge distance and direction real well. Her landing was a bit rough and she tended to fly in circles because she could only see on one side. I have to put the perches kind of close together so she can hop between the perches to get around.
My Heart Stopped Beating
One Sunday I was gone for a few hours. When I got home, I knew right away something was wrong because they always scream at me when I get home. This time only one of them was screaming. I went to the cage and Baby was hanging upside down by the good foot and she was flopping around. She had a long thread from one of the perches wrapped around her toe. My heart stopped beating for a few seconds. I grabbed her and cut all the threads off of her foot. (ALSO OFF OF THE PERCHES) One of the nails was bleeding a little. She held it up a lot and wouldnít put her weight on it. I thought that I would give it a few days and if it wasnít any better I would take her to the vet. A few days went by and she wasnít feeling better, so I took her in. I have a very good avian doctor that I work with. She said that it was very inflamed but not broken, so she put her on cortisone for 2 weeks. The nail came off shortly after, and she was putting weight on, so I took her off of the cortisone.
Then Baby got a respiratory infection. I got medicine from the pet store and called my vet to make sure it would work. She said to go ahead and try it. If it didnít work, I would have to come in and get something stronger. I described all the symptoms to her and she agreed that it sounded like a respiratory infection. Within a week she was feeling all better!!!!!
A True Miracle
Now I would like to give credit where credit is due. I truly believe that our prayers have been answered!! From day one, these birds have had a lot of people praying for them. After all this has happened, and considering that they have never been fed by a bird, and with us not really knowing what to do, so many things could have gone wrong. I believe this is a miracle, and I thank GOD for it!!!! Now I have 2 very tame, sweet friends that greet me EVERY day when I get home, and donít leave my side the rest of the night!!!!!!!!
Baby is now doing great and has been for a long time. She gets around pretty good and seems to be VERY HAPPY!!!!!
There are a lot of handfeeding books out there that can help, but Iíve gone "BY THE BOOK" many times and had them die. After you do it a few times, you kind of get a feel for it! Here are some BASICS that might help.
1) HOUSING - I keep them in a small bowl lined with layers of paper towels. The bowls shouldnít be too high on the sides so they can move back to defecate. If they do soil in the area where they are laying, change the paper towel often. Keep a paper towel over them also. They wonít move around much in the beginning.
2) TEMPERATURE - They canít digest food correctly unless they are warm. You learn how to tell if they are too hot or cold by the way they act. If they are too hot, they keep their mouth open, and kind of shiver if they are too cold. Itís the first few days that are difficult because they are not strong enough to do those things. Iíve had books tell me to keep them at 100 degrees, F. My birds were obviously not liking that. They were cooking and let me know it! If you put two thermometers near them and they both say the same thing, you know itís right. I found that going by feel works best. I keep the surrounding air somewhat warm with a light bulb. A regular 60 watt bulb is fine. I put a thermometer near them, and a paper towel over them. If there is more than one baby, they kind of keep each other warm. I hold them in my hand for a few seconds to see if they feel hot. They should feel warm to the touch, not hot or cold. Adjust the light according to how they feel.
3) FEEDING - I use KAYTEE-EXACT handfeeding formula for birds (1-800KAYTEE-1). I use a glass eyedropper so I can see the food. Iíve heard not to use glass because they can bite it and break it, but I figure that those books are talking about parrots because I donít believe baby Goulds can bite that hard. If they donít open their beaks for food, DONíT FORCE FEED THEM. Try tapping the side of their beak while making bird noises! Sometimes when you first get a baby, it is common for them to be dehydrated. I give them Gatorade at room temperature- just a drop on the very tip of their beak. Any flavor will do. This will sometimes get them eating too. It gives them a little BOOST. It is not a good idea to do this very often, just a "jump start". If these things donít work, wait until they willingly open. They will if they are warm and healthy enough to eat. If not - FORCE FEEDING WONíT HELP.
Iíve seen babies die shortly after being force fed. When they do open, mix EXACT formula in fresh, warm water, slightly warm to the touch. For newly hatched babies, keep the mixture pretty runny, but not too watery. Never feed birds water except right on the tip of their beak because they can get pneumonia very easily. As they get older, thicken it up. I always mix a fresh batch every time I feed. Clean all utensils every time. I feed about every half hour from 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. but not at night. When the babies get to be a few weeks old, I start feeding them small mealworms. Make sure they are dead. I get those from RAINBOW MEALWORMS (1-800-777-WORM) Make sure that you keep everything refrigerated, clean and fresh. Bacteria loves that stuff and they can get crop infections easily. They have a crop instead of a stomach. The crop can be seen on both the sides of their neck. When full, it looks like a balloon. You can easily see it (when they have no feathers) and it is full.
Be careful not to suck up too much air into the eyedropper and get this air into their crop. Feed just a few drops at first. When they are very young, you will have to watch their crop. Donít fill them so full that they look like they could pop! They will soon let you know when they are full.
This may sound difficult, but it really isnít too bad. The birds help you a lot after the first few days. It does take a lot of dedication for about a month, but the results are fantastic if you want a very tame pet!
© lady gouldian finch.com 2011