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Fostering a week old zebra finch - am I doing okay so far?

Discussion in 'Canary & Finch Court' started by Nissili, 4/16/18.

  1. Nissili

    Nissili Walking the driveway

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    Okay, so brief preface. Family had a pair of zebras, were under the impression they were the same sex, and didn't realize they had laid and hatched an egg until yesterday, and for some reason, separated the baby and parents for who knows how long. They bring them into my work, wanting to return them all, cold hungry baby and incredibly stressed parents, who of course, don't even give the baby the time of day even though it's vocal and trying to get their attention. It was easily 4-5 hours they barely even moved, and the baby whined for food and warmth to no avail. Work makes the collective agreement that the parents are probably not going to calm down enough soon enough to get back in the nest and take care of the baby, and so trying to care for it gets put on me first, because out of everyone available I've dealt with birds the most and had supplies at home already (my emergency sort of.. incubator for lack of a better word, in the event of a sick bird) and we just want the baby to survive.

    So! We made it through night one, and I want to make sure I'm doing the best possible that I can manage, and I have my info straight.

    Baby is about a week old, I figure based on the pin feathers on the tail and wings, but not a lot elsewhere, and only a Tiny bit of down on the head, eyes open, very vocal. Pretty decent feeding response, takes a little bit at a time ("borrowed" a couple of our smallest oral syringes with permission, just small enough to fit in the beak when they grab onto it) and I'm watching closely to make sure we're swallowing and not aspirating. (I keep getting super anxious when they decide they're done and just lean their head down, but so far so good)
    I unfortunately lack a scale to check exact weight with as the days go by, so I'm doing my best to give them a good look over in their makeshift nest (small tank, heat mat under the bottom, paper towels lining a small mammal fleece bed, thermometer right next to them to make sure it's not too hot or too cold, we're managing around 82 degrees right now, though I've read warmer is better, so I covered half the tank with one of my spare coats, and it seems to be helping warm it up a little more)

    They seem to respond best to less watery food, but I know they're not ready for solid yet, so I'm going for a mushy consistency and here and there a little more water for hydration. I've got baby formula (for birds, of course) but I'm also wondering if it would be okay to soak some pellets in warm water and use that? It's what I had to do at work to feed them, as we had nothing else, but I'm not a huge fan of the brand of formula I'm having to use right now, and if it would be safe/better for them, I'd rather soak some roudybush and use that.

    I just want to take proper care of the poor thing, I'm planning on making a warm little sort of neck sling to insulate, because there's a very high chance I'm going to have to bring them with me to work so I can keep them fed. (Thankfully, my bosses weren't too bothered by this idea.) I read that at this age, they eat roughly every 3 hours, but to make sure the crop has either emptied or mostly emptied. I work full time shifts now, and though my mother offered to feed the baby while I'm gone, bless her heart, she's never fed a baby before, and I've at least done it a couple times, albeit larger babies. I don't want her to accidentally do something wrong and lead to disaster and guilt.

    I'm in a bit of a pickle because I've never reared a bird before, and while I have approximate knowledge from researching here and there for such an emergency (for lack of a better word) i want to ask for advice in general. Anything helps, both to know what im doing right and what I may be doing wrong or could do better.
     
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  2. MommyBird

    MommyBird Rollerblading along the road Avenue Veteran

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  3. finchly

    finchly Biking along the boulevard Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Vendor

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    Hi there! Thanks @MommyBird for the heads up!

    Sounds like you are doing great so far. A big NO on the pellets at this age. Keep using formula; order some Roudybush formula if you can (maybe Amazon has some??)

    82 is good for the temp. When the feathers are in a little more, maybe in a week, you can drop it down to 80. Don't go as much by the feeding times/charts as you do by simply STUFFING that baby. I don't mean over feed, but think about how they look so full of seed when the parents feed. So if he's ready to eat at 2.5 hours, feed him!

    The most common mistake I see is people making the formula too thick. If baby's skin begins to look dark or shiny it is a sign of dehydration. If the crop becomes slow to empty, or you find it is still full in the morning, add a little apple sauce or a single drop of apple cider vinegar to the next feeding.

    What else....don't worry about weighing. I have a hard time weighing mine even on a tiny scale I own.

    I made a tiny purse-like thing and wore a baby around in it to keep it warm. Also if you have to take it with you someplace, you can take one of those plastic baby wipes containers, wash it out and line it with paper towels. Makes a nice carry box.

    I will try to think of what else.
     
  4. SandraK

    SandraK Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran I Can't Stop Posting!

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    Hi, welcome and thank you for trying to save this family - I'm hoping @mythic55 might be able to help you. Believe she might be at work right now though.
     
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  5. Nissili

    Nissili Walking the driveway

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    Glad to get a response so quickly, thanks much to all three of you!

    Will keep on the formula. I'll look into ordering some better formula today, the kaytee will have to do for now.
    One question, since yesterday he's (she? we'll see) has been a little less keen on eating in one sitting, and I'm not sure if that's okay for him. I have no problem with more frequent, small bits of food, as long as that's not bad for their health. Duly noted on their skin, though - so far it seems more matte and lighter than it was when I first started feeding them. Just to be safe, I've given them tiny bits of water (not cold, of course) here and there as well, as dehydration was something I was really worried about.

    I'll do some more research as for photo examples of a safely filled crop compared to where to stop - I most certainly don't want to underfeed, either. I'll look into getting some applesauce in the next couple days, even if I have to walk up to the store for it.

    The material I have to work with to make my little baby carrier is mostly cotton (some of the craft shirts you can find at like, michaels - I originally had it to use as test fabric for making patterns, but this works too, haha) and I'm figuring I could line it with paper towels/some shreds of paper towel to keep it cushioned. Would that be alright?

    I immensely appreciate your help, thank you thank you!

    I'm calling the little fellow Kudzu, because they grew on me very quickly, lol. Gotta keep up with the plant theme on the birds in this house.
     
  6. finchly

    finchly Biking along the boulevard Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Vendor

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    Yes. Wash first of course.

    As far as the eating schedule, I think it’s ok. It seems like they have little growth spurts and slow-downs, and these mess with the eating schedule. Just be sure the crop empties completely at least once every 24 hours.

    Cute name! Kudzu! :D
     
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  7. Nissili

    Nissili Walking the driveway

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    Of course - Even though they've only sat in my drawer, who knows what's in the fabric and who touched it before me. Not baby birds, I can about guarantee, lol.

    Alrighty, thank you very much - Kudzu had a little for breakfast, and since then I've gone in to check on them semi frequently (between 30 and 90 minutes) they've only begged once or twice and then act like they're done. I was worried since they were super eager for food yesterday, begging even with a full crop while they were tucked in my bandana while I tried to finish my shift and keep a baby warm at the same time. It was kinda cute, not gonna lie <3

    The tiny little whines are tugging at my heart, and apparently the society finch as well, he keeps fluttering around and hanging off his bars to get a better look whenever he hears the peeping, and then doing his little mating call. We so far assume he's calling his favorite person, my mom, haha.
     
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  8. SquawksNibbles

    SquawksNibbles Rollerblading along the road

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    Just wanted to thank you for taking this finch family in and giving them the proper care they obviously need. I have no doubts that they are now in great hands. :)

    I’m a little confused. It’s pretty simple to sex a zebra finch; they are dimorphic. Unless the family just absolutely didn’t know anything about zebra finches and how to tell gender, I don’t see how they couldn’t tell. Males have orange cheek patches, black bar in the chest, strips on the throat, brighter beak, and brown strip on their sides. Although, now that I think of it, is the finch family the whole white mutation? Is so, I guess that could be the reason. Also, pictures would be great if you and the birds don’t mind.

    Thanks again for taking in these birds. I’m sure they will bring you much joy. :)
     
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  9. finchly

    finchly Biking along the boulevard Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Vendor

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    Well, there are color mutations and it can be confusing I guess - but more often I see people that are just told (by those...umm.....experts.... at the pet store....) that this one is male and that one is female. And they never take the time to look it up, they assume that person knew! Efinch is a good site to look at zebra mutations. Look under varieties, not pictures is what I seem to recall.

    Of course the white or close-to-white are a question, you would go by beak color. Male is red and female is orange but they're pretty close. And then if you cross-breed with society finches you can muddy all the waters!

    Another thanks for taking them in. :)
     
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  10. Nissili

    Nissili Walking the driveway

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    Sad, and somewhat late update, kudzu passed away yesterday evening.

    I was a bit too emotional to take to the internet, but regardless, I appreciate the advice and support offered to me in my attempt to rear them. I'm unsure what exactly caused their untimely passing, my best guess is either too much stress, or potentially struggling to breathe, due to my own inexperience in feeding something so small. I did my best, and I did not succeed.

    The parents will be rehomed once quarantine at work is over and we know they're at least less stressed out, and if I can help it I'll make sure all the newer crew members of the pet care team are aware how to tell male apart from female, the zebras we work with are always very easy to tell, so the next family is aware they're getting a pair that may breed again, and are either prepared to remove eggs, or are better suited than I was to rear a chick if the parents don't take care of them.

    Needless to say, I am incredibly sad that little kudzu did not make it. I can only hope that this never happens again, and educate the rest of my crew on this. I already strongly discouraged beginner bird keepers from getting finches just to breed them (often with dreams of perfectly hand tame chicks, which of course, would be amazing, but is not something for a novice to attempt) but after this I feel even more strongly about such situations. I already knew losing a baby bird was a heartbreakig experience, and deterred me from ever taking a risk at home that might end in eggs, but reading about it doesnt even touch the first hand.

    Thank you all again for your advice and support. It means the world to me.
     
  11. iamwhoiam

    iamwhoiam Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Veteran I Can't Stop Posting!

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    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for trying.
     
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  12. finchly

    finchly Biking along the boulevard Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Vendor

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    Oh NO. :sadhug2:I am so sorry. My husband and I have often worked soooo hard to try to save one, only to have it pass away, so I know just what you're going through.

    You did your best. Remember that.
     
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  13. Dartman

    Dartman Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    I'm so sorry you lost him but you did the best you could and he certainly wouldn't have made it with the lack of any care from the parents. We rescued a baby female house finch from a crow on our roof and somehow she managed to survive and grow up even with my/our lack of experience hand feeding tiny baby birds. I figured we'd give it a shot but she probably wouldn't make but she woke the next morning when I touched her and demanded food so I stuffed her full and she got quiet and went to sleep and it continued from there. It really hurts when something like this happens but he knew safety and love with you for his short time and maybe someday you can help some birdy again. I certainly would give it another shot if I ever had to do it again and I sure miss Beeper who got a year and a half she wouldn't have. :sadhug:
     
  14. SquawksNibbles

    SquawksNibbles Rollerblading along the road

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    Oh, no, I'm so sorry! Just know that you did the best for that little guy. I'm sure he had a great rest of his life with you. :hug8:
     
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