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Baby Rose Breasted Cockatoo looks like he wants to wean? Help

RawPasta

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Hello all. I am hoping that by posting this here, I can get some answers/insite on my current situation. I have a baby rose breasted cockatoo. He was hatched 4/4/18, which puts him at almost 10 weeks. He's still with the breeder.
For the past few days (3?) He's been really unenthusiastic about his formula feedings. Refusing them completely 2 days in a row. He was gaining every time I visited and weighed him (crop empty each time). Yesterday morning he took a feed but would not pump for it and then shook about 5 to 10cc of formula all over the plexiglas and me (and the feeder). Today was the same, they seemed to want to leave it up to me, but I told them they are the experts, so if they thought he needed the feeding, to do it. After, he was very grumpy and had formula all over his face, head, neck and chest.

Should I ask the breeder to skip feedings and see how he does with weights? He won't pump on the syringe anymore at all. I asked today what they think wean time will be, and the guy that feeds said 3 more weeks probably. He's been eating his pellets and fruits and veggies really really well, but again, was only hatched 4/4, so I want what's best for him.

Even they have noticed he's not interested in formula, but still.... force, I guess is what it seems like... it on him.

The other babies go crazy at the sight of the feeders, and he did in the beginning, too. Now he doesn't even glance up when he hears the others go crazy, he just eats his pellets or shreds his kiwi slice, which is his current favorite thing to eat.
 

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JLcribber

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To do things right with a cockatoo it can and should take a whole year to "properly" abundance wean. The minute that breeder rips that bird from everything it knows and you get it, the bird is going to regress anyway and you will be starting over.

Let me be blunt. You have no experience or skill with birds and you're getting a "baby" cockatoo. You have no idea what you're in for and are going to be over your head in no time.

Read this.


Abundance Weaning and Fledging

Wilhelm (Bill) Kiesselbach

Permission granted March 31, 2009

There is absolutely nothing more important for the healthy emotional and intellectual development of a young parrot than Abundance Weaning and Fledging. The term "Abundance Weaning" was created and trademarked by Phoebe Greene Linden of Santa Barbara Bird Farm. She has written extensively about it and subsequently, the term has been adopted by bird behaviorists as identifying the single most important contributing factor to the birds' emotional and physical health. As opposed to "forced" weaning where birds are on a specific schedule and, usually based on their age, the breeder decides when they ought to be weaned, "Abundance Weaning" leaves that decision to the bird.

Supplied with a variety of foods ranging from fruit and vegetable tidbits to pellets that should be available all the time, the bird is continued to be hand fed. A properly weaned bird learns to trust humans through the actions of it's caregiver. It gains self-confidence, learns to accept different foods readily and is comfortable in a changing environment. While initially "Abundance Weaning" is exclusively needed for nutrition, eventually it turns into the need for emotional comfort. The word "weaning" in this context implies an awareness of the bird's needs. It goes beyond the mere satisfaction of nutritional requirements. "Weaning implies love, caring, emotional support and the application of simple, elementary rules. It implies knowledge of the early very distinctive stages in their maturation and the birds' individual changing and very specific behavioral patterns.

The Poultrification of parrots is an expression coined by Sally Blanchard and refers to the indiscriminate breeding of parrots on a large scale expressly motivated by profit. While there are even breeders who incubate eggs on a large scale and then ravage feed the babies without individual attention, emotional support or even a modicum of "Abundance Weaning", the worst case of poultrification is the bird breeding program by Petsmart. They breed birds by the thousands and then distribute them into their sales outlets. Everything Petsmart and volume breeders do literally flies into the face of everything we know about the emotional and intellectual needs of a young parrot. Birds "produced" in this manner are very likely to develop very serious behavioral problems. In many cases, breeders and pet shops will even offer a discount to those who are willing to buy an unweaned bird, a clear indication of a breeder or pet shop who doesn't care beyond the "jingle" in the cash register.

While the consequences for this lack of care won't be apparent when the birds are still babies, it will be very evident when they mature. They are prime candidates for seriously dysfunctional behavior. This, of course, is not to say that an Abundance Weaned bird is guaranteed to become a wonderful companion. A lot of knowledge, work, understanding, respect and love are still necessary. Abundance Weaning merely represents the vital foundation on which to build.

Cage bound birds which are suspicious of changes in their lives, who reject their caregiver, who become phobic or even feather pluckers most likely have not been properly Abundance Weaned.

It is a fact that in the wild, African Greys as well as Cockatoos for instance, are "Abundance Weaned" long after they have fledged. 2 year old Cockatoos have been observed being fed by their parents and other relatives. Greys are being weaned and taught the "ways of life" for a number of years to prepare them not only to survive in a hostile environment, but also for the rules of behavior within their very own flock. Bobbi Brinker the noted breeder has instituted a system of "Nanny Birds" which helps her raise her babies. She has the reputation of producing healthy and well-adjusted parrots. (The title of her latest book: "For the Love of Greys*)

At this point, it may be interesting to recount the stunning behavioral difference between wild caught African Greys and captivity raised birds. While African Greys have the reputation of being feather pluckers, there has been almost no incidence of feather plucking observed in wild caught birds. While being trapped, caged and transported must represent a level of trauma to an intelligent and sensitive creature that is hard to imagine, these birds clearly came emotionally equipped to deal with that. On the other hand the birds bred in captivity, cared for, fed and never subjected to the tremendous stress of their wild caught cousins are historically more prone to becoming phobic. The answer seems to be that they are ill prepared to deal with the uncertain, ever changing circumstances of a life with a bunch of mammals who don't even begin to understand them. Something was missing in their upbringing — in all likelihood they have not been properly weaned is a major part.

There is another component in successfully growing up: Learning to fly. Birds must learn to fly. Their sense of self-confidence and emotional well being depends on it. They must be able to maneuver and land safely. While the pure act of flying is a vital part of their development, it has been suggested that letting them learn to fly may even impact their eating habits. When a bird gets ready to fledge, it will instinctively reduce its food intake. That is to loose some of the accumulated baby fat and make it lighter. Many times loving caregivers become extremely concerned about lack of eating and weight loss. It has been suggested that our birds must fly to lose their focus on losing weight and regain their "normal appetite". Even though we may later clip their wings in order to protect them from injuries or escaping, they must fly first. Once we decide to clip them, we have to make sure to do that correctly. There are very clear guidelines on proper wing clipping which are based on bodyweight, size and general agility and are different for every species. Properly clipping is important and won't harm the bird's self esteem; doing so improperly can be devastating, physically dangerous and cruel.

Finally, "Abundance Weaning" is entirely the breeder's responsibility. There is no question that the bird's future behavior patterns, his/her ability to relate, the levels of socialization and emotional health are very largely dependent upon the care it receives early in its life.

The battle cry among all those dedicated to the well being of our companions parrots is: "Don't buy an unweaned bird" —and for a reason: Doing so clearly supports those who are in this business without regard to for the well-being of the creatures. We all should know the difference between a good breeder who cares for the birds and a bad, unscrupulous breeder. The entire future relationship between the buyer and the bird may very well depend on the breeder. A good breeder will never sell an unweaned bird and the bad breeder should be put out of business.

 

RawPasta

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To do things right with a cockatoo it can and should take a whole year to "properly" abundance wean. The minute that breeder rips that bird from everything it knows and you get it, the bird is going to regress anyway and you will be starting over.

Let me be blunt. You have no experience or skill with birds and you're getting a "baby" cockatoo. You have no idea what you're in for and are going to be over your head in no time.

Read this.
I don't have experience with weaning birds, no. But I do have experience with birds. I've had my nanday for 11 years, rescued a baby hahn's macaw, and grew up with a sulfur crested cockatoo.

I do appreciate your input, that's why I asked. Like I said, I just want what's best for him. If he needs longer, that no problem, he can take as long as necessary. We still visit for a few hours every day. It just looked like he's being forced while trying to resist. If that's normal, then no problem.
 

RawPasta

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Also he does have constant access to food. I haven't asked them to deny him formula, on the contrary they were going to skip his feeding the other night and i asked that they try just in case. He took under 10cc and appeared grumpy after.
 

Fia Baby

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There are a couple things to know in this situation. Parrots will wean on their own time, and rejecting hand feedings while exploring and nibbling on real food is part of the sequence. It can be hard to watch that without worry, but regular weighing is how you judge the health and growth at this point. I don't know the typical weaning schedule of a gallah, but your breeders should and should be able to tell you whether or not your baby is behaving on schedule. Abundance weaning means that hand feedings are offered at any point when the baby asks for it - by bobbing and begging, by crying for comfort, etc., while also offering an abundance of real foods and support to learn to eat it. They may only take a little, but if they ask for it, they always should be offered it. That's why it can take so long to completely wean a baby. Babies who are hungry won't try real foods - they must feel secure and well-fed to be able to explore and nibble, so a sudden "force weaning" can cause an insecure baby and delay weaning. If you see your baby rejecting hand feeding, NOT eating any real food and losing weight, then a vet check and cultures are needed asap. BUT, babies will lose weight when they fledge, and you have to consider typical weight loss for your species to make the "normal/not normal" judgement. Also, you really shouldn't attempt to force feed a baby parrot. They must pump in order to stimulate the swallow. To do otherwise is risking aspiration, and I assume your breeder is aware of this. If your baby isn't interested in a hand feeding, isn't pumping, and then is shaking it out, then you (they) need to evaluate if this is normal weaning, based on age and weight gain/maintenance, or a problem that needs to be solved. From what you've said, it sounds like it's normal weaning, but you need to check on weaning and weight norms for gallahs to be absolutely certain. AND - when you finally take this baby home, be prepared to do some hand feeding yourself - they sometimes need it for a transition.
 

Fia Baby

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A good transition method during weaning is to offer some thickened, warm, mushy food on your fingers. It can also help bridge to independent eating.
 

RawPasta

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There are a couple things to know in this situation. Parrots will wean on their own time, and rejecting hand feedings while exploring and nibbling on real food is part of the sequence. It can be hard to watch that without worry, but regular weighing is how you judge the health and growth at this point. I don't know the typical weaning schedule of a gallah, but your breeders should and should be able to tell you whether or not your baby is behaving on schedule. Abundance weaning means that hand feedings are offered at any point when the baby asks for it - by bobbing and begging, by crying for comfort, etc., while also offering an abundance of real foods and support to learn to eat it. They may only take a little, but if they ask for it, they always should be offered it. That's why it can take so long to completely wean a baby. Babies who are hungry won't try real foods - they must feel secure and well-fed to be able to explore and nibble, so a sudden "force weaning" can cause an insecure baby and delay weaning. If you see your baby rejecting hand feeding, NOT eating any real food and losing weight, then a vet check and cultures are needed asap. BUT, babies will lose weight when they fledge, and you have to consider typical weight loss for your species to make the "normal/not normal" judgement. Also, you really shouldn't attempt to force feed a baby parrot. They must pump in order to stimulate the swallow. To do otherwise is risking aspiration, and I assume your breeder is aware of this. If your baby isn't interested in a hand feeding, isn't pumping, and then is shaking it out, then you (they) need to evaluate if this is normal weaning, based on age and weight gain/maintenance, or a problem that needs to be solved. From what you've said, it sounds like it's normal weaning, but you need to check on weaning and weight norms for gallahs to be absolutely certain. AND - when you finally take this baby home, be prepared to do some hand feeding yourself - they sometimes need it for a transition.
I've been tracking his weight, and it is steadily going up. He did lose a tiny bit between yesterday and the day before, but he is up again today. I had a feeling he was too young to wean, and I asked about it. They agreed but it just looked like he was ready to stop with the feeds. We did request that he stay a few more weeks at the very least to make sure he's doing well without formula if he continues to refuse it.
 

aooratrix

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Are they a breeder or a pet store? Have they raised galahs before? If they have and the bird is healthy, they probably know what they're doing. Unless you have reason not to, trust them to handle it. Cockatoos can be notoriously hard to wean, but healthy babies transition to thinning (weight loss in preparation for flight) and then to weaning in their own time.

And, as mentioned, you will have a baby that will want comfort feedings when you get him or her home.
 

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Should I ask the breeder to skip feedings and see how he does with weights? He won't pump on the syringe anymore at all. I asked today what they think wean time will be, and the guy that feeds said 3 more weeks probably. He's been eating his pellets and fruits and veggies really really well, but again, was only hatched 4/4, so I want what's best for him.

Even they have noticed he's not interested in formula, but still.... force, I guess is what it seems like... it on him.
First, I have not hand-fed a rose breasted cockatoo, but they are one of the fast maturing species. It should not take a year to wean them. If it does, something is wrong if it needs more than just a little comfort feeding at night.

My concern here is that the hand-feeder doesn't seem to know what they are doing? It shouldn't really be up to you IMO. The breeder should hopefully have some experience with the species. There are two major things that could be going on here. 1. the baby is healthy and starting the weight reduction portion of getting ready to fly? Has this baby been doing much flying already? Many baby birds will drop weight in order to get their fat butt of the ground for the first free flight. This means, they may refuse formula and generally seem uninterested. Then, once they've been flying for a few days or weeks, they suddenly get hungry again and demand formula in a big way. Learning to fly is a key thing in their development. If the baby has been clipped and is unable to fly, you will be unable to use that a benchmark in their developmental progress and weaning might be delayed or you might see some abnormal behaviors. This chick may be starting the process of weaning. If he's filling up on adult food, why would he possibly want to keep eating so much baby food? Why would anyone possibly want to force him to eat baby food when the whole point of weaning is for them to learn to eat adult food. If weaning is being done right, food is offered but the baby doesn't need to take it just because its offered. The baby decides when it weans. Just because Palm cockatoos can take a year or more to wean, does not mean that is true of a rose breasted. If he doesn't want to eat, don't make him. Be willing to eliminate a feeding today and add it back tomorrow.

The number 2 possibility is more concerning and that is that he's sick. If he literally has not eaten any formula for 2 days, and he's not eating any adult food either, then you need a vet. Some babies, if forced to eat when they really don't want to will regurgitate it and fling it everywhere and let it dribble down their chest and make a mess. This can either mean "I need to lose weight to fly," or "I just want to fly and don't want to take time to eat," or "I've been eating all my grown up food and I'm not hungry," or "I'm sick and need a vet asap." your hand-feeder should know the difference. This should not be up to you. Evidence to look for to decide which scenario fits would be a. has the baby already been flying for a while in which case he's likely on target to start eating grown up food in high enough quantities that he's not hungry. His weight might still be dropping a little as he's eating food with less water weight and possibly still really distracted with flying to eat a lot. b. the baby has not flown yet and it wanting to lose weight and possibly lots of it. Babies have a peak weight which I'm almost positive your rosie has already hit. After that, its all down hill in the weight department until near the end of weaning or even after when they start to slowly creep back up. A normal baby can lose between 5% and 25% of their body weight depending on how fat they are and how determined they are to fly instead of eat. Babies that want to wean fast will often lose weight fast and then discover they can eat on their own and almost wean over night or in only a couple weeks. These babies can be quite insistent that they do not want formula and seem to be living on air. During this time one should not freak out because the baby is losing weight and then attempt to force feed it so that it doesn't lose weight because doing so will stunt the weaning process and the bird's emotional development. Offer formula frequently, but no thanks is still no don't force them. c. look at the baby's poop. If the baby is in fact eating, just not formula, there should be a significant and reasonably well formed brown or green component to the poop. This means that in fact the bird is eating, its just not formula that its eating which is actually good because it means the baby is eating on its own and you should not shove formula down its throat to fill it up on baby food thereby making it want to eat less adult food and stall weaning. If you see poop with mostly just the white part and fluid and just a little bright green smear, that is your hint that the digestive system is empty. Babies that are in the weight loss portion of the program will often produce a few of these poops as they are focused on learning to fly and not eating. This is normal and you should not chase it down and make it eat because doing so will stunt the weaning process. However, if the baby is not eating formula, and its producing a lot of these little green smear with mostly white poops, that is a hint that his digestive system is empty, its been empty in a while, and if the baby is not hungry and not pumping for food and letting it dribble everywhere...you need a vet. Your hand-feeder should know these things. Also, if you do get a decent meal into the baby and his crop isn't emptying very fast or the poops still don't look normal...you still need a vet.
 
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