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Cockatiel Chick Problems?

Raptor40

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Hello again,

I have just recently finished cleaning off two cockatiel chicks, as they had faeces on their feet (only recently realised why you need to clean the nesting box regularly) and noticed that one of the chicks has a strange abnormality with its foot. It looks as if it's either paralysed or just on a strange angle and I'm not sure if this problem is due to the faeces on its foot (although it was positioned higher up on its leg) or whether something else is going on.

The same chick also still has its eyes closed, one eye which looks like it's got something on it (I tried to wipe it but it wouldn't go). I had also weighed it, and it came to 27 grams, which is actually lighter than the chick I am hand-raising, which happens to be the youngest chick (he's now 30 grams and has now opened its eyes), but maybe the one I'm rearing is just fat.

I have noticed that the parents also don't seem to be going in the nesting box much anymore. I'm not sure if maybe they aren't feeding them enough and they might be stunted. Since I already have one chick inside anyway, would it be a good idea to just take the other two and rear them just to make sure they're growing and receiving the right nutrition, or would it just upset the parents too much?

I am also having trouble getting a bit of faeces off the hand-reared chick's foot. I had been using warm water and paper towelling, but I heard the chick screeching and saw a little bit of blood on his toe. I'm not sure if I should keep working on getting it off, or whether it would be best to just see a vet.

I have attached some photos of each of the chicks below, as I am curious as to what everybody else thinks. The one with food on it (I've been cleaning it off, but he's just messy) is the youngest hand-reared chick, the one with the splayed leg is the middle-child and the one with the crest spikes and most feathers is the eldest.

I know I've been making a lot of posts lately but I can't stop worrying about them! Thank you so much for all the help, too!
 

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Mockinbirdiva

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It's always best to let the parents feed the babies but if you see they aren't feeding the babies then yes, you'll have to pull them to feed. The little bit of poo on the foot isn't as concerning but you can before feeding take a warm paper towel and wrap it around that toe long enough for the poo to soften and then see if you can rinse it off with minimal rubbing. You can also consider co-parenting where you leave the chicks in the nest box and pull them out, give them a feed if their crops are empty and put them back to ensure they are getting what they need. And yes, the one chick is splay legged. I'll have to dig for a solution for that but not at the moment. This is the time you want to try to correct it though. Perhaps someone who has time before I get back to your post can help. I did have a green cheek chick long ago from when I raised that had splay legs, or one leg where the bone was actually twisted. We splinted the best we could but to no avail. She was still able to climb and perch well with that leg when she matured.

Baby Hope GCC.JPG

Bby Hope Gcc 09.JPG

splint baby 2.JPG

Hope 09 adult.JPG
 

sunnysmom

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I don't have baby tiel experience but here are some things that might help.

 

Mockinbirdiva

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Cody. You mentioned bringing the other chicks inside.. where do you keep your adult birds?

If you aren't comfortable in making a proper hobble for the splay legged chick then by all means go to a certified avian vet and have them help you with it. When I have a chance I will scour videos to find the best one for making a hobble. You'll need an extra set of hands to help you put it on. Are you up for this? If not, and you are planning on going to a vet then I won't take the time to search for a video.
 

Raptor40

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Cody. You mentioned bringing the other chicks inside.. where do you keep your adult birds?

If you aren't comfortable in making a proper hobble for the splay legged chick then by all means go to a certified avian vet and have them help you with it. When I have a chance I will scour videos to find the best one for making a hobble. You'll need an extra set of hands to help you put it on. Are you up for this? If not, and you are planning on going to a vet then I won't take the time to search for a video.
Thanks a ton for the reply!

I've actually just booked a vet appointment for next week (the only avian vet we have in the area is a 45 minute drive away and they're off for the week), so I'll probably just see if they'll put a hobble on him for me. I really appreciate the offer for help though!

I also have attached a photo of the parent cockatiel's aviary. They spend most of their time out there, although we've had to bring them inside into their smaller cages a few times for aviary renovations and to keep them out of the heat, as I live in Australia and we've recently had a few 40 degree (140 fahrenheit) days. I've also attached a photo of the chick's current set-up. I've placed him in a box within a bird cage (we have cats) with a red heat light and a temperature gage inside. It's also sitting on top of my lizard's enclosure, which is warm as well.
 

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Mockinbirdiva

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I will write more later about a few things. Call the vet back and see if they will give you a few minutes of time to put the hobble on chick before next week... like tomorrow. I can't stress how important it is to go ahead and get this done. Their rate of growth is so rapid it could be too late to correct the problem next week or have that much improvement if you wait a week. Plus, at this age the chick isn't as mobile as it will be in a weeks time and doing it now it won't be as stressful. It has a chance at a more normal life the sooner the better. Later I will poke around for a proper video but if you can please call the vet back and try to get them to see this chick because time if of the essence for a successful correction.
 

Raptor40

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It's always best to let the parents feed the babies but if you see they aren't feeding the babies then yes, you'll have to pull them to feed. The little bit of poo on the foot isn't as concerning but you can before feeding take a warm paper towel and wrap it around that toe long enough for the poo to soften and then see if you can rinse it off with minimal rubbing. You can also consider co-parenting where you leave the chicks in the nest box and pull them out, give them a feed if their crops are empty and put them back to ensure they are getting what they need. And yes, the one chick is splay legged. I'll have to dig for a solution for that but not at the moment. This is the time you want to try to correct it though. Perhaps someone who has time before I get back to your post can help. I did have a green cheek chick long ago from when I raised that had splay legs, or one leg where the bone was actually twisted. We splinted the best we could but to no avail. She was still able to climb and perch well with that leg when she matured.

View attachment 328122

View attachment 328123

View attachment 328124

View attachment 328125
Thank you so much for the reply! Your green cheek chick is honestly the most adorable thing! Loving his little cast and very glad to hear his foot got better, even if it didn't fully recover. Gives me a lot of hope for my bird. I've actually booked a vet appointment for next week, so hoping for the best!
 

Raptor40

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Just a quick update on the chicks.

I ended up taking them all in, as I noticed there were a few more problems that were a bit concerning and that I wanted to keep an eye on more closely. I really feel bad for the parents, as they are definitely trying, but I'm actually just a little bit concerned about them at the moment, too.

I put all three out on the lino for a walk while I changed the lining in their box and noticed that the chick I had taken in earliest to rear actually had completely turned-in feet. I don't know why I'd never seen it before, I guess I'd just always held him instead of letting him walk. I'd noticed that, compared to the other chicks, he wasn't sitting up and begging and to be honest I thought he might've been dehydrated as he was a little bit redder in colour (took away the heat a little bit more and gave some 'spark liquid' in their food). The eldest chick not only has abnormally large feet (he's constantly falling backwards), but I've also noticed a lump on the front of his neck and a pretty big bruise on the front of his abdomen. Very glad I booked a vet appointment.

My concern with the parents was that I'm only now thinking about whether or not they could possibly be related. I never even thought about it earlier, but I had bought them both from the same pet store (mother about 6 months or a year earlier) and I had never gotten any information about their parents. I just assumed that they would have a lot of different supplying breeders, but now I know it was probably a pretty dumb thing to assume. Does this sound like a case of interbred chicks to you guys?
 

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Raptor40

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I will write more later about a few things. Call the vet back and see if they will give you a few minutes of time to put the hobble on chick before next week... like tomorrow. I can't stress how important it is to go ahead and get this done. Their rate of growth is so rapid it could be too late to correct the problem next week or have that much improvement if you wait a week. Plus, at this age the chick isn't as mobile as it will be in a weeks time and doing it now it won't be as stressful. It has a chance at a more normal life the sooner the better. Later I will poke around for a proper video but if you can please call the vet back and try to get them to see this chick because time if of the essence for a successful correction.
I had actually called a few vets in the meantime but unfortunately none of them would work with birds. I think, because of the area I live in, there's very much an 'if it lives, it lives and if it dies, it dies' mentality, as cockatiels are very common natives here. I wish I could find somebody earlier as well and was really hoping I could find somebody today, but again, none of them work with birds. There might be a few about an hour away, but it is in a capital city and the traffic is terrible there (takes about 3 hours each way most of the time) and I dont know if the chicks would last that long without food. The only vet I'm certain about is the one I've already booked and I know that the vet definitely isn't in until Tuesday (I made sure to book the earliest appointment). I'd actually even called an emergency clinic at one point, but they said they didn't know about birds and just to see if he survived the night. We definitely need more exotics vets around here!

I might see if I can find some of those videos and put together a makeshift hobble though, as I am very concerned about one of the chicks having both feet turned in.
 

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I had actually called a few vets in the meantime but unfortunately none of them would work with birds. I think, because of the area I live in, there's very much an 'if it lives, it lives and if it dies, it dies' mentality, as cockatiels are very common natives here. I wish I could find somebody earlier as well and was really hoping I could find somebody today, but again, none of them work with birds. There might be a few about an hour away, but it is in a capital city and the traffic is terrible there (takes about 3 hours each way most of the time) and I dont know if the chicks would last that long without food. The only vet I'm certain about is the one I've already booked and I know that the vet definitely isn't in until Tuesday (I made sure to book the earliest appointment). I'd actually even called an emergency clinic at one point, but they said they didn't know about birds and just to see if he survived the night. We definitely need more exotics vets around here!

I might see if I can find some of those videos and put together a makeshift hobble though, as I am very concerned about one of the chicks having both feet turned in.
I'd hold off searching for info on the net, there's a lot of bad info out there to trawl through. This needs to be done right so best to wait for @Mockinbirdiva to come back here with links.
I wish you luck with this chick. I'm living with a splayed leg budgie right now (caused by crushing in her case). The vet did his best but he had to fix her pelvis first which delayed the splinting. While it's not fully fixed she can still perch, and walk on her heels. Chin up, parrots have a way of adapting.
 

Mockinbirdiva

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Cody, It's not easy finding a great video... actually torture having to sit through and watch some to see if I should link it. Some people will use a tape method to hobble the legs. I just read this page and liked the information in making the correction in increments. Tape can be a bugger to get off a wiggly chick so choose one that isn't so adhesive to the skin on the legs. Also... if you are going to do this... do it prior to feeding. Ask for some assistance from a family member and have a load of patience for a wiggly chick. The other alternative is using a thin foam make up pad. I'm linking a video that's kind of rough. I didn't watch all the way to the end but will late in the afternoon after I get home. You'll get the idea of how it's to be done but as the first link mentions the tape will give more mobility to your chick. Does it move around now as it is or is your chick pretty stationary? Should you go the tape route be sure not to go too tight around the leg itself so as not to restrict blood flow. Scroll all the way down to the lower part of the page to read about the splay leg... other portions of this ( actually budgie page) have good information on it too but I'll review that again later and ask you what the interior of your nest box is and what type of substrate you use in it. I like your aviary... take the nest boxes down if and when you remove the other chicks from the nest. I'll explain later.

Changed my mind on that video. I think it's more difficult to put a chicks legs in something like it. I'll look more but follow this page for now. Wish I was there to help you.

 

Mockinbirdiva

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Cody, I know the link I attached mentioned water proof tape... buy that as well as non-water proof tape to begin with. At least if you have a hard time getting the tape off when you change the hobble you can wet it and make it easier to take off. You'll be changing this hobble every two-three days and keep an eye on it that it holds it's form. You might also pick up a small styrofoam ball and a box of toothpicks.... that's for you to stick a couple toothpicks in the ball and make it like it's the chick and practice first . Or use a small piece of fruit. Post more photos of the baby... maybe after you've fed so he isn't so wiggly. I think you should get a great result for the little one after just looking at his photos again.. Ok... I'm off for a while.
 

Mockinbirdiva

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A video of a cockatiel chick similar in age to yours with the taping method. I haven't found the first videos of this chick to show where the taping begins yet.

 

Raptor40

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I'd hold off searching for info on the net, there's a lot of bad info out there to trawl through. This needs to be done right so best to wait for @Mockinbirdiva to come back here with links.
I wish you luck with this chick. I'm living with a splayed leg budgie right now (caused by crushing in her case). The vet did his best but he had to fix her pelvis first which delayed the splinting. While it's not fully fixed she can still perch, and walk on her heels. Chin up, parrots have a way of adapting.
Thank you so much for the reply! They seem to be getting a lot better so hopefully they’ll be alright. It’s great to hear your budgie got around it too!
 

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@Raptor40 Did you see my three messages above? Have you attempted the taping on the splayed leg chick?
 

Raptor40

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Cody, It's not easy finding a great video... actually torture having to sit through and watch some to see if I should link it. Some people will use a tape method to hobble the legs. I just read this page and liked the information in making the correction in increments. Tape can be a bugger to get off a wiggly chick so choose one that isn't so adhesive to the skin on the legs. Also... if you are going to do this... do it prior to feeding. Ask for some assistance from a family member and have a load of patience for a wiggly chick. The other alternative is using a thin foam make up pad. I'm linking a video that's kind of rough. I didn't watch all the way to the end but will late in the afternoon after I get home. You'll get the idea of how it's to be done but as the first link mentions the tape will give more mobility to your chick. Does it move around now as it is or is your chick pretty stationary? Should you go the tape route be sure not to go too tight around the leg itself so as not to restrict blood flow. Scroll all the way down to the lower part of the page to read about the splay leg... other portions of this ( actually budgie page) have good information on it too but I'll review that again later and ask you what the interior of your nest box is and what type of substrate you use in it. I like your aviary... take the nest boxes down if and when you remove the other chicks from the nest. I'll explain later.

Changed my mind on that video. I think it's more difficult to put a chicks legs in something like it. I'll look more but follow this page for now. Wish I was there to help you.

Thank you so much for these videos! I really appreciate the time you put in to finding this information, especially if it was that painstaking to go through!

I actually ended up booking an earlier appointment in the capital city yesterday. One of the chicks was very lethargic looking and I was worried he might've been on his last legs, so I decided to go there last minute. They were also a specialist avian vet, which was handy. Took hours to get back and they were very hungry and crabby, but luckily they were old enough to handle it.

In the end, the chick I was worried about turned out to be completely fine. They just gave him an injection to up his fluids, as I was worried about dehydration, but by the sound of it, he was fine either with or without it and they just did it as a precaution. He might just be spoilt and lazy lol.
The chick with the splayed leg I originally posted about had a toe on one of his feet that was pointing the wrong way, so they used some tape to pull it back (Midi-Vet Wrap/micropore surgical tape, which is actually super affordable and very safe). The largest chick just has strange feet by the sound of it, and his liver is showing a bit through his abdomen due to his translucent skin, but apparently this is actually very normal for some birds (wrote about all these problems earlier in the thread).

I'm definitely going to go over these videos, as I have a feeling that it's not the last time I'll come across feet problems in cockatiel chicks.
Felt a bit silly at the vets though because as soon as the vet brought the chicks out, they decided to walk like normal birds again. I think, because they're so young and not used to walking, they're probably just doing weird things while they learn to use their feet. Might've also been the nesting material, like I feel you were hinting at, or even the change in diet. I take them out every time I give them a feed though (every 4 hours or so now) so I'll keep a close eye on things to make sure

Also, thanks for the advice. I took the nesting boxes out yesterday. They had a product just generally called 'finch nesting material' in their boxes, which is a fine fiber. I had purchased a bag of material that had a mix of everything in it called 'cockatiel nesting material' but it was the consistency of dirt and the chicks ended up with it everywhere. I'll attach a photo of it to this message.

Thanks again for all your help! It's been amazing and it's great to know there's some knowledgeable people around who can help solve these problems, as there never seems to be enough information about birds at this age.
 

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Mockinbirdiva

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Thank you so much for these videos! I really appreciate the time you put in to finding this information, especially if it was that painstaking to go through!

I actually ended up booking an earlier appointment in the capital city yesterday. One of the chicks was very lethargic looking and I was worried he might've been on his last legs, so I decided to go there last minute. They were also a specialist avian vet, which was handy. Took hours to get back and they were very hungry and crabby, but luckily they were old enough to handle it.

In the end, the chick I was worried about turned out to be completely fine. They just gave him an injection to up his fluids, as I was worried about dehydration, but by the sound of it, he was fine either with or without it and they just did it as a precaution. He might just be spoilt and lazy lol.
The chick with the splayed leg I originally posted about had a toe on one of his feet that was pointing the wrong way, so they used some tape to pull it back (Midi-Vet Wrap/micropore surgical tape, which is actually super affordable and very safe). The largest chick just has strange feet by the sound of it, and his liver is showing a bit through his abdomen due to his translucent skin, but apparently this is actually very normal for some birds (wrote about all these problems earlier in the thread).

I'm definitely going to go over these videos, as I have a feeling that it's not the last time I'll come across feet problems in cockatiel chicks.
Felt a bit silly at the vets though because as soon as the vet brought the chicks out, they decided to walk like normal birds again. I think, because they're so young and not used to walking, they're probably just doing weird things while they learn to use their feet. Might've also been the nesting material, like I feel you were hinting at, or even the change in diet. I take them out every time I give them a feed though (every 4 hours or so now) so I'll keep a close eye on things to make sure

Also, thanks for the advice. I took the nesting boxes out yesterday. They had a product just generally called 'finch nesting material' in their boxes, which is a fine fiber. I had purchased a bag of material that had a mix of everything in it called 'cockatiel nesting material' but it was the consistency of dirt and the chicks ended up with it everywhere. I'll attach a photo of it to this message.

Thanks again for all your help! It's been amazing and it's great to know there's some knowledgeable people around who can help solve these problems, as there never seems to be enough information about birds at this age.

I'm glad you went to the vet and had the babies checked over. So are you now hand feeding all of the chicks and have pulled them in the house? Pay attention to the consistency of the formula, if it's too thick it will take longer to digest and could cause a little dehydration... as well as your brooder set up with the heat lamp? I would suggest a heating pad under one half of the (box or brooder) you are keeping the chicks in.. monitor the inside temperature at all times.. a digital thermometer that also reads the humidity level would be great. Keep the box the babies are in darker lighting ( cover with a towel but leave an opening for air circulation) and only use dim lighting when you are feeding (as they would be in the nest box with the parents).

So, the one chick that was presenting with the splayed legs is no longer splayed but just the one toe pointing the wrong way? Take some new pics and let us have an update on their progress when you can. Nesting materials are important and a substantial amount will help decrease many of the problems with eggs and how babies develop. I prefer aspen or small pine shavings that aren't too dusty. The material you used could easily catch the legs on the tiny chicks. I'm attaching a link for you to read... a lot of great information on eggs, candling... all you need to know and more. There are a couple things I personally would not do ( the salt and silica gel packets, or using news paper for bedding). It even goes into information on splayed legs. If you have any questions on the entirety of the article please ask.

I'm glad you took the nest boxes out too. Cockatiels are notorious for excessive egg laying which in turn is so unhealthy for the hen. You'll need to really study diet, how to keep them in great condition and if you intend to breed again learn more about hand feeding, how many clutches would be acceptable for the health of your birds. And by all means, make sure you have planned homes for any babies. The more you have the more taxing it can be on you to be responsible if there are always chicks with problems.

 

Raptor40

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Hey!

I had taken all chicks in and hand-reared them. From that time I'd been keeping a very close eye on formula consistency, temperature and how much I was feeding them by weighing each chick before and after feeding to make sure they only got 10% of their body weight in food. The chicks, on top of their heat lamp were also sitting on my bearded dragon's enclosure, which is very warm due to his heat-light. They eventually got too hot up their tho so I'd had to move them.
However, one of the chicks unfortunately had to be put down due to crop emptying difficulties at about 5 weeks old. I'd known there was something wrong with him since he was about 2 weeks old and had spent about $1000 on five separate vet appointments. Eventually I was told it was probably a neurological issue and he'd have to be put down. Pretty upset, as I'd spent days at home medicating with Nilstat, trying to massage the crop and using home remedies.
The eldest chick and the chick with the splayed toe have survived well though! They're eating seeds as well as some fruits and veggies (love apple) and are now household pets that are being kept in a large indoor cage, as well as getting let out each morning and afternoon to fly around and explore.

I had taken only one of the nesting boxes out actually, as I didn't think they'd use the other one, but they ended up mating anyway and I put the main nesting box back in as I was concerned about egg binding if I didn't. I know now that I definitely should've taken them both out. The female laid 5 more eggs, all of which hatched. 1 passed away from unknown reasons in the nest and I took 2 small chicks out for handrearing again, as they were about ten times smaller than the other 2 in the nest. The youngest passed away last night after some weird symptoms (lying on back, green droppings, shaking the head side to side all the time and having a strangely small head) and have a feeling there might've been something neurological going on, as I noticed the symptoms the day I took him from the nest, too. The remaining hand-raised chick is stunted and constantly crying for food, despite being fed 10% of its body weight at a good consistency, so not sure how it'll go.

The parents, however, have already started mating again even though there are still 2 chicks in the nest. I'll be taking those chicks out soon for hand-rearing so I'll take the nesting boxes out then, but a little concerned as I really don't want the hen to be compulsively laying.

I've attached a photo of the 2 chicks together, but it's a few weeks old. Tried to get another pic but they like my phone too much and keep biting it, so the only other pictures I have are either blurry or of the inside of their beaks lol.
 

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The two babies that survived your first clutch are very pretty. I do note the possible problems for contributing factors to the deaths of some of your chicks. I doubt it had to do with a neurological problem but more with a lack of proper brooder with a temperature issue. Chilled chicks ( or fed with the incorrect temperature of formula can develop crop issues ( yeast and bacteria, sour crop), overheated chicks get dehydrated quickly and can have a difficult time digesting the formula as well. Should you, in the future, decide to allow your pair to breed again ( Like next year... and not again this year) you will have time to save up some money and invest in all the proper equipment for a brooder, utensils... etc. Take that time to study the anatomy of the cockatiel, egg laying process, egg binding.... all of it so you can better care for your birds and any future broods.
 

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Yeah I definitely had a feeling it was sour crop in the chick that was put down. Unfortunately, the first time I’d taken the chick in, I wasn’t fully aware of how to care for it and didn’t really understand how damaging formula problems could be.
The other chick from the recent clutch was very strange though, as it was given the same formula and treatment as the other smaller chick in same the clutch, yet it was the only one that had those specific problems. I’d made extra sure the formula was appropriate using a thermometer, following the instructions to a tee and weighing the chicks before and after feeding. Their makeshift nest also has a digital thermometer to keep track of the temperature so it isn’t too hot or cold. It was odd though, as I know it’s very unlikely for a chick to get sour crop in the parents’ nest and I had been cleaning the nest outside quite frequently to prevent any bacterial infections.
There have also been a few deaths in the parents’ nest previously, however all 5 chicks had hatched and I’m not sure if this may be too many chicks for a pair of parents to handle at once. I’ve never really seen more than 3 chicks in a clu
I’ve gotten most of the feeding tools I think I need (spoon for hand-feeding, a pack of syringes, thermometer and sterilising equipment etc.). If you think there’s anything missing, feel free to tell me as I’d like to make sure I have the right things. I think I will invest in a brooder at some point but they are quite hard to find. I’ve got a few reptile enclosures lying around too so I might clean those out and set them up, as they seem to have the same features as brooders.
I am a little concerned about mating behaviours though, as the parents have already begun mating and there are still 2 chicks in their nest. I’m going to remove the chicks for hand rearing soon so I can remove the nesting boxes again, and change their aviary around like someone else had mentioned in another post I’d made yesterday. Hoping for a chick-free break for the rest of the year, but might need to separate the parents if they continue breeding.

Thank you again for your help!
 
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