fetching finches

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Wild Birds - Insect Eating

Orioles are between 24-40 grams (note, the females are much smaller... since it will be hand fed you can expect your adult to weigh about 32 grams and 7 inches long). So they are slightly smaller than a budgie parakeet.

Be Aware: 

When Weaning... you will leave fresh fruit in the enclosure- and without fault, you will leave to run and errand and return and you your puffy sparkling clean little guy looking like he was dipped in honey.

The fledglings while weaning will literally 'SIT' in the dish.... a wet cotton ball is the answer. Ensure however that you have the means to keep the baby warm after the 'bath' until they are dry.

Which brings me to another point--- hard to keep a bird 'wild' when you are feeding and grooming them like a mother bird....
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Breakfast at 4 weeks-
Wax worms, formula, and a chopped mix of fruit, pellets and hard boiled egg.

I feed a small amount of formula and insects (varies by meal), then leave him to his own devices to eat the other solid food. The formula ensures that he is getting enough hydration and added nutritional value.


UNDER CONSTRUCTION. THIS PAGE IS STILL BEING CREATED.

Although all birds were once wild and are now domesticated.... I do not condone raising wild birds. This was a unique rescue situation. If you cannot dedicate yourself 24/7 care (even through the night) and have experience raising birds, then bring your bird to a rescue facility.

Baby birds are *usually* fledglings when found outside. This means they deliberately jumped out of the nest...The mother and father will take care of them on the ground (feeding, etc). If you bird is feathered- leave it be.

In my case: An Baltimore Oriole nestling was dropped from about 20ft from the talons of a hawk.
Mostly likely the hawk stole him from the nest- and was chased by the parents or the nestling slipped from his grasp in flight.  I could see the bird was injured after a quick inspection.

There was a scratch/puncture near the sternum, bent spine, suspected wing sprain (or break) and a lesion near his nare/beak damage- I had no idea where the nest was... could be blocks away high in a tree top. I left him in the yard for about an hour till a raven spotted him... I took executive action and scooped up the freezing baby. By that time the wound near his nare was swelling and he had trouble breathing.
- In fear he would be put down at a wildlife center, I opted to care for him myself.

I had a bit of trial and error with him. Ill explain the methods I found successful for raising a Insectivorous nestling to adulthood.

Why Orioles are unique:
Dietary differences- insectivorous, yet eat fruit and have a heavy sweet-tooth. After migration they ingest massive quantities of fruit. In the wild:
  • Consuming: Insects, meal worms, grubs, caterpillars, flying insects
  • Also Consuming: Fruits, particularly oranges, apples, peaches, berries, figs and bananas
  • They especially love grape jelly - added for flavor in backyards
  • Special designed tongue for access into fruit and crevices. That tongue is adorable!
  • Beautiful song- very distinctive
NOT seed eaters... so their dietary requirements in the parrot world are actually closer to a Lorikeet but they are more closely related to a blackbird.

Insectivorous birds have always been considered to be relatively difficult birds to feed well in captivity. Since many of them are excellent singers and do get attached to their owners, many people attempt to keep softbill/songbirds  (but the failure rate for even the local wildlife rehab center here in Minnesota is 1 of 3..... not good odds for our feathered friends).


How to raise young historically:

The earliest work I have seen gives specific instructions for feeding insectivorous birds is Cesare Mancini's dated 1575. Mancini seems to have kept nightingales, wrens, rock thrushes, song- thrushes, european blackbirds, black- caps and larks. Apparently, he fed them on raw beefheart, hard-boiled eggs, and a dry crumb. The next noticeable mention was by:

William Floyd Cornish saying the similar thing with the addition of Hemp Seed. Also in 1832, a Mr. Cox exhibited a nightingale to members of the London Zoological Society; he had kept it for four years; it was in full song. In the Arcana of Science, Mr. Cox expressed that the failure with rearing nightingales and "other Sylviadae" was often due to over-elaborate feeding. He used finely ground meat and hard- boiled egg and considered insects by no means necessary.


However these 'crumbly' mixtures dont have nearly enough water content nor are they nutritionally balanced.... like feeding a child McDonalds every day with no water. The lack of fruit can cause slow crop (ultimately sour crop) and are not nutritionally balanced. Below you will find a nutritionally complete mix that I believe is ideal as well as ready made mixtures for your feathered project.

Injuries:
If they are truly 'nestlings' and not 'fledglings' then often the small birds were 'pushed' or 'stolen' out of the nest- Artemis was grabbed by a hawk and 'dropped' on my front lawn. Small sternum hairline fracture, bent spinal column and sprained wing. Could not perch, nor actually stand/move and in pain. These sorts of injuries require advanced medical care and should be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center. However do be aware with this level of injury in a migratory bird, they may be put down. Migratory birds of this type are not considered a priority (and in fact- in Florida orioles are considered to be 'pests').

In the case of Artemis, he has two abscesses near is nare on his head- this caused serious inflammation. He needed to be treated with doxycycline, topical antibiotics and amoxitrex for fear of the infection spreading. The dosing of doxycycline is difficult with a bird that doesnt drink water on its own- and crop dosing amounts are tricky, but I crushed one 50mg tablet in 2 ounces of water and gave him .5cc daily until the signs of infection decreased. I followed this with probiotics.

Disease:
Wild birds are often carrying disease.... Mites should be treated ASAP. The small mites will suck the blood of the baby bird, and potentially infect your family and pets. Treat for Mites ASAP. Monitor the feces- any signs on infection will require vet attention. Droppings: should be well formed and have bright white urates, medium brown formed feces and a small amount of urine. Orioles are more attracted to dark colored fruits, so dont initially be alarmed by darker/blue feces as it could just be the color berries consumed.

When I feed Artemis cherries or blueberries, his feces darkens temporarily. Temporary is the key word... If you are feeding the formula below and there is discoloration in the droppings- stop immediately and look at the page dedicated to breeders (poopology). Troubleshoot the issue or your baby may die.
Food should be diverse- ensure you are not missing essential nutrients. The first week is critical.
Emergency Formula:
Formula is difficult to prepare, there should be a multitude of ingredients:
Feedings is the same as feeding for a finch (one sided crop of your left- their right)... 10% of body weight every hour (dependent on age)
1 tsp pureed beef of chicken (baby food will do if you cant puree it yourself)
2 tsp orange juice
1/2 tsp ground and soaked high quality cat food (as it has taurine)
1/2 tsp banana
1/2 tsp quinoa flour (Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants)
1/8 tsp honey (local and fresh if possible)
1/8 tsp peanut butter
1/8 tsp hard boiled egg (this is high fat and will help your baby recover from a dramatic situation)
1/8 tsp apple sauce
sprinkle of probiotics and Thrive for bird vitamins
-Add a probiotic water to desired thickness.
After the first week, add

Please order some:
Wombaroo Insectivore Rearing Mix- This can be mixed as a paste for syringe feeding, and mixed with mixed minced meat for adults. It makes weaning much easier and the above is not necessary- just add a bit of orange juice or banana to make it more palatable.
Mazuri Insectivore Diet- they make a formula, and a 'pellet'. I purchase the pellet type and use this as soaked or ground into a powder for hand feeding and leave pellets in the adult enclosure with hard boiled egg whites and fruit.
Lorikeet nectar -filled with the fruits, herbs and pollen they need for a strong immune system. I prefer the brand- it is expensive, but well worth it. It even has pau de arco (to keep mites and other things away).
Parrot hand rearing formula- (if you are experienced- you should have this on hand)  this is just a filler as it has the potential to 'gum' up the system (non readily digestible ingredients, not nutritionally balanced... but can create mass, which may be important under certain circumstances).

Formula should be mixed / heated as listed in the 'Breeders' Section of this site. Be very aware of the temp, and ensure they are getting the proper amounts. NEVER overfeed a baby- crop should be full,  but then emptied between feedings..... be sure not to aspirate. The formula should be thick- and in the case of Artemis:
Week 1:
He needed .5ml formula every 30min for the first week- 3 night feedings
(nothing but cute naked fluff with a few pin feathers)
Week 2:
.5ml formula every 45 minutes- no night feedings. Start at 6am, end at 9pm.
(some feathers on wings, and pin feather on tail)
  • Bird should be about 18 grams
Week 3:
1ml formula, live insects, small pieces of fruit and hard boiled egg every hour
(feathers on head, wings, and some short tail feathers- fledgling)
  • Bird should be roughly 24 grams
Week 4:
.5ml formula, live insects (increased amount), fruit chunks, hard boiled egg, ground meat every two hours..... weaning, so pellets and food are in the enclosure. I left pellets soaked in orange juice, fruit chunks, mealworms with heads cut off, and hard boiled egg whites in beak-sized pieces.
(tail should be filling out nicely and growing almost 1CM A DAY! no joke!, Im my case- my bird needed extra medical care and became completely bonded to me. Rubbing all over me, grooming me and has a strange beak behavior- pushing beak in between my fingers and opening- this is a foraging behavior that is pure instinct. He would fly a few feet away, then fly back for food... so I was officially his mother).
  • During weaning, it is common for them to lose weight.... but should have feather growth, standing, flying and at least 24 grams.
Week 5:
Formula as needed- 3 times a day (roughly). Pellets, fruit and live insects in enclosure. Hand fed minced meat, hard boiled egg and insects.
At this point a new enclosure is important as your bird needs to fly during the final stages of feather development and completing weaning. Larger is better, but watch the bar size!
Birds should have room in the enclosure to fly from one side to another and climb up and down on natural branches.
You played god: Remember that. Your options are to contact/deliver him to a Zoo or special aviary- if the bird it attached to you- they can not be released into the wild. Birds should have a few hours a day outside the enclosure to fly in the house and interact with you.... this bird is attach to you, and has been raised by a human- you are now responsible for its future.

I use a clicker training so I can easily put him back in the enclosure. In the enclosure should be a plethora of activities- foraging is important- try boxes, paper crumpled, wood with holes, pine cones, parrot toys, etc.

Weight gain:
Should be gaining weight daily... if you dont have a gram scale- GET ONE. Weigh you baby every day in the morning before the first meal.

Enclosure/Nest:
Make sure the temp is relatively high dependent on age. Please see the 'dedicated breeders' section of this site for temperature information. Please provide a nest (preferably made from a microfiber cloth and cup so you can clean it daily), and a perching location inside the enclosure. Allow light to filter in, but not full sun- If your baby has feathers- please do not put your baby in a box. My enclosure is as such:
(Image)
Note the grates are covered by unscented paper towels so I can monitor the droppings. There is a large branch with multiple grooves to learn to perch. There is also a 'nest' with towels. ALL bedding MUST be changed daily. (if not more often).

Weaning/Solid food intake:
At about 3 weeks begin integrating solid food. Bird should be mostly feathered but still needs to be hand fed. Best food when you are weaning as as follows:
Strawberries (Vit C and Calcium)
Blueberries (Potassium and Vit K)
Cherries (Vit C and A)
Orange (Vit C and Potassium)
Banana (Potassium and Magnesium)
Grapes (Vit C and K)
.... there are trace amount of everything else important to have variety- but these are easily digested and cut into small pieces.
  • Dip all fruit, mealworms (heads cut off), crickets (head cut off) in the formula or lorikeet nectar. This ensures there is at least a more balanced intake of vitamins and minerals required for feather and organ development. Give pieces no larger than 1/2cm.

Young Adults: They LOVE fruit, the above items but also: yams (cooked), sweet potato (cooked), corn on the cob, all berries, figs and grapes and pumpkin, which must be provided daily. They eat a 'lorikeet' nectar mix, pellets, minced meat with vitamin mix and live insects (crickets, mealworms, waxworms, catapillars, etc. Please dont feed pure dry food- the dry insects do not have the moisture for the balanced nutrition. They need adequate sunlight so ensure you have a UV light.