Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

About this blog

I thought I'd do this blog to recall my experiences in hand rearing chicks and hope it may help others if they have to do this.




Entries in this blog


Reading over the Blog 'Hand Rearing Birds' which featured Shadow & Co. it was hard to believe that was in May 2016 and its now February 2018.   Shadow is still with me and he is still in the house (;))

5a73533af37f2_3rdJan2018(15).thumb.JPG.67f95333255bbca2bfa41b51f06fd18c.JPG  Shadow January 2018


He now has a mate (a white zebra finch) and they have just finished rearing these 6 lovely little chicks. 



5a737c8396a19_Dad(Shadow)Mum(Snowy)andtheir6chicks6thJanuary2018.thumb.JPG.3260e29edbf51c30af757302cf327658.JPGA 'Family' photo ;) left to right: Shadow, two of the chicks , Snowy (the mum) and the other 4 chicks. 

Guess there's no chance of Shadow and Snowy going out to the aviary now:lol:



Well it is now the 25th May 2016 and Shadow and Co. are all doing well. I still have them in the house - nothing wrong with them - It's ME I'm finding it difficult to put them outside in the aviary. :(

Saying that I have been trying not to handle them so often and I have taken the nest box away that they always slept in at night. (I'm being cruel-am I not?;))

25th April 2016 25th April 2016.JPG

Shadow and one of the Bengalese chicks


25th April 2016 25th April 2016....JPG

The four hand reared chicks.


5th May 2016 Shadow  hatched on the 3rd April 2016  resized    (1) -.jpg    Shadow 5th May 2016


15th May 2016 Shadow and the 3 bengaglese chicks that were hand reared  (2)resized.jpg 15th May 2016

Shadow eating seed.


Here are two video clips of Shadow at the end of the hand rearing.


1. Shadow lasts time being fed

2. Shadow eating seed no more  hand feeding


(seems that video No.2 is coming up as the talking parrot ?? if you go into you tube and type  (16th May 2016 Shadow eating seed no more hand feeding from now on)  No 2 should come up) I think the problem is I downloaded the two video clips at the same time.)

Hope you enjoyed reading about Shadow and the  three Bengalese chicks.






29th April 2016

They are now 26 days old

This is them on the 19th April --16days old:

5723ce3b221a7_19thApril2016(10)-Copyresi                  5723cd7142c47_19thApril2016(7)resized.th  Cute -looks like Shadow is growing ears like a rabbit

There is a saying, "What a difference a day makes" well watching Shadow's and 1,2 & 3's (the Bengalese chicks) development nothing could be more true.

The last entry was what was happening to them from the 10th  to the 15th April when they were 12 days old and when I had transferred them into a proper nest box and put the nest box into a brooder.

They were in the brooder for almost a week then they were transferred to a proper cage with the nest box inside on the bottom of the cage with no extra heating  (the cage was near a radiator in the house)

5723cf6f37914_20thApril2016(4)resized.th   :rolleyes: By the look on Shadow's face he  doesn't seem to approve of the latest move.:lol:

They were now being fed 4 times a day with the formula mix at the weaning stage:  1 part formula to 2 parts water.

On  April 20th I moved the nest box onto the outside of the cage, this encouraged them to hop out onto the perches to get fed.


On the 21st April I decided to find out what would happen if I let the out from the cage to feed. So to keep them safe I took their  cage into the shower room.

What happened next really surprised me :

5723d59b884fc_21stApril201612and3theBeng                                                                                                                                                                                         When I removed them from the nest box and put them on top of their cage and stood back they immediately flew onto my hand.

They now go to have a fly about in the shower room most days but always come back and land on me.

They are now 26 days old and I've  already put some millet spray on the bottom of their cage so next thing will be to get them to start eating by themselves but until then they will still need to be given some formula.


will  be continued:


10th April 2016

I am now feeding them every 3 to 4 hours and every time they get fed their nest box gets cleaned before they are put back. 

10th April 2016 3 Bengaleseand 1 zebra finch chick (1)resized.jpg 7days old:.10th April 2016

One thing for sure Shadow has a really good set of lungs;) when they are wanting fed he is louder than the other three put together. This is when I really noticed the difference in the sound they make. Fascinating.

Shadow is now 1 week old but the Bengalese are a few days older and I can see a difference in them every day. More feathers are appearing too.

I’ve also increased the ratio of the formula to water: 1 part  formula to 4 parts water. I am also using a larger syringe now which makes feeding much easier and  takes up less time too.

11th April 2016 (2)resized.jpg   8 days old: 11th April 2016

Every day that passes there is a difference.

They were becoming a little bit squashed up in the dish I had them in so I decided now was time for them to go into a proper nest box but the nest box would be inside the large brooder which had a 60w red bulb (this would soon be changed to a 40w bulb but the nest box wasn't placed as close to the light bulb as shown in the photo the opening in the nest box faced away from the light and was closer to the vent that is in  the side of the brooder

15th April 2016 bengalese and zebra finch (Shadow0 (5)resized.jpg  15th April 2016 15th April 2016 bengalese and zebra finch (Shadow0 (4) resized.jpgMore room to move about.

The tub inside the brooder (top right.) contains a paper towel soaked with water to provide humidity when the lid of the brooder has been put back on.  The container bottom right is the one the chicks slept in before being move

This is not really a good photo of Shadow but now at 12 days old it shows not only the tiny pin feathers coming in on his back but also what is inside its mouth too :D (looks as though he has a little kitten or it could be his own little 'pet' on the roof of his mouth;):lol:

15th April 2016 bengalese and zebra finch (Shadow) resized.jpg

15th April 2016 bengalese and zebra finch (Shadow0 (10) - Copy - Copy.JPG     This is a better view of Shadow's 'little pet.'     

What do you think Shadow's 'little pet' reminds you of ? 

This is what I think :272_cat2:


To be continued - Part 3 coming soon.



Hand Rearing Birds

The first thing I want to point out - This is what I believe - I would say only attempt hand rearing if the chick's life is in danger i.e if the parent birds die or if they stop feeding the chicks for some reason - please don't do it to get a tame zebra finch - the parent birds will make a far better job of rearing their young themselves. 

I thought I would begin by telling  you about my most recent hand rearing event:

This is Shadow's Story  (Shadow's name was suggested by Clare (a member on the forum) when I first shared with her the photo of the chick's  image in the shell-  Thank You Clare that name was Ideal for the chick)

Back in March this  year when I was cleaning out some of my cages in the bird shed I found a few eggs had been laid on the bottom of the cages. So instead of binning them I gathered them up and decided I'd pop them into the incubator to find out if any were fertile (I had no idea which birds had laid  them.)- the reason I put the eggs into the incubator was the eggs wouldn't have yet started to develop because they hadn't started to be incubated so it would be at least 3/4 days before any signs of fertility would show by candling the eggs.

It turned out two of the eggs were fertile and at a later date, when I was checking them with the ovascope,  in one of the eggs I could see the image of the actual chick inside the shell

30th march 2016.JPG  The chick (Shadow) almost fully developed inside the shell on 30th March 2016.


Finch egg -Shadow 1 hour old 3rd April 2016  (resized).jpg  This is Shadow- it hatched out on the 3rd April 2016

3rd April 2016 Shadow  1 hour since hatchingresized.jpg  Shadow at one hour old.

The other fertile egg hatched out before Shadow.  So I had two chicks to care for.

I left them in the incubator for the first 12 hours - they don't need food during  this time they survive on their egg sac.

I began by giving them a few drops of water to which I had added  'electrolyte' (prevents dehydration) 

The hand rearing formula I used this time was 'Neocare by Vetafarm'  I mixed a very thin mixture of the formula (1 part formula to 6 parts water) using the electrolyte solution, but still just gave the chicks a few drops at a time. To begin with I used a cocktail stick with the sharp end removed.

My next decision was would I now foster the chicks into a Bengalese nest that already had 3 very young chicks  or would I hand rear the chicks myself.?

I thought perhaps the new chicks would probably have a better chance of surviving with the Bengalese ( I had fostered chicks with them before) 

I put the oldest chick into their nest first and when I saw it was being fed I put Shadow into their nest too.

7th  april  201657043c1b2984b_4thApril2014Bengalesenestwith2fosterchicksadded(1).resized.thumb.jpg.7ccec4e0c9ca3aab789a5f6afdc528a2.jpg   7th April 2016

It's difficult to see the two chicks that are being fostered but they are at the top of the nest.  Only 3 of the Bengalese eggs hatched out so they had only 5 chicks to feed and there were 3 Bengalese adult birds in the cage all helping with the feeding :good:

All was going well then 'disaster:(

What happened was actually a mistake made by ME!

Cleaning their  cages

After I clean  their cages, as usual I remove the cages to clean the shelves the cages sit on - this only takes about three to four minutes , then the cages are returned to exactly the same position they were in before.

The next morning I got a shock the Bengalese adults were not on the nest as usual and then I realised I had mixed up two cages and their cage hadn't been returned to the exact position it had been in  the night before. 

I feared the worst because I had learned from previous mistakes that  if I moved the position of the  cage for any longer  than 5/10  minutes if  the birds had  eggs/young in the nest the parent birds came off the nest and didn't go back.

I checked the nest and found that one of the foster chicks was dead, (I was surprised because it was the larger of the two foster chicks that had died) The three Bengalese chicks and Shadow were still alive but not moving  they were cold and their crops were empty. If I hadn't checked when I did they would have died too.

The incubator, switched on in the house because it had two rescued canary eggs in it as well as a few others (another story:D)  so I quickly removed the 4 chicks and put them into the incubator to warm them up..

As I was also hand rearing 3 cockatiel chicks that had been neglected by their parents (yet another story!!) I had all the things ready for hand rearing the 4 chicks but the intervals for feeding them and the strength of the formula was different to that of the cockatiels (a lot of time would be taken up for this but if I wanted them to survive it would be necessary -that is why I first said DON'T choose to hand feed just to make a bird tame because  you will be shocked at the time you have to devote to this and it would not be right to give up half way and let the chicks die.

Shadow was now 4 days old. Once the chicks were warm and I had fed them I transferred the to a small brooder I had just bought (it was really for heating baby wipes - (Lionheart Baby Wipe Warmer a US product but can be bought in UK)

7..JPG  7th April 2016

The 3 Bengalese chicks and Shadow in the small brooder

That first day I fed them every 2 hours. until midnight  but I didn't feed them during the night. Their crop has to completely empty at least once in every 24 hours to prevent health problems occurring.

This will be continued:






Sign in to follow this