How to Hand-Raise a Baby Bird

My mother's breeding pair of canaries produced five eggs last week. Two chicks hatched, one died, and three eggs are thus far inactive. A chick is alive & due to the young hen not feeding him, we are.

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How to Hand-Raise a Baby Bird
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To prepare the chick's environment we used a baby's wipes warmer because we couldn't find our heating pad.

To prepare the chick's environment we used a baby's wipes warmer because we couldn't find our heating pad.

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This is the brand of baby bird food we are using for darling Herbert, which is what I have christened the little guy... Or girl, I guess... Oh well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

This is the brand of baby bird food we are using for darling Herbert, which is what I have christened the little guy... Or girl, I guess... Oh well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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For the demo on how to mix the food, I'll be using this small glass bowl. Usually I use a disposable plastic container like the kind you get from restaurants (not McDonald's) for to-go sauces.

For the demo on how to mix the food, I'll be using this small glass bowl. Usually I use a disposable plastic container like the kind you get from restaurants (not McDonald's) for to-go sauces.

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Depending on the age/size of your bird, you will use more or less of the formula. This is how much we roughly make for Herbert at 3/4 days.

Depending on the age/size of your bird, you will use more or less of the formula. This is how much we roughly make for Herbert at 3/4 days.

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Soon after taking the last picture I dropped the measuring spoon as I was trying to focus the iPhone camera and was thusly showered in yellow powder, making it necessary for me to blow-dry my pants.

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As Herb is a canary chick and we own he canaries we were told to mix just a touch of the adult's regular egg food into the baby formula. If your birds, like my keets, don't get egg food, skip.

As Herb is a canary chick and we own he canaries we were told to mix just a touch of the adult's regular egg food into the baby formula. If your birds, like my keets, don't get egg food, skip.

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Careful of the small black seeds in the egg food, if your brand incorporates them into the mix! This can be dangerous to Herb and other little birds!

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To finish the food, add lukewarm water. The younger the bird, the more water in the food. This is about the consistency of the food we give Herb at 4 days.

To finish the food, add lukewarm water. The younger the bird, the more water in the food. This is about the consistency of the food we give Herb at 4 days.

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At first, your bird will be quite wobbly and will not be able to support his weight and therefore it is difficult to feed them, especially if you don't have a very tiny dropper with which to do so.

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Because of this, in order to feed Herb I use one of my fingers beneath his neck to hold him mostly steady. It works mostly, although I do sometimes drop some on him.

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You can tell if your bird is full by the size of his crop, which is the balloon-like skin on his neck. Herbert will stop begging when he is full but it's good to know he is eating regularly.

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You will need to feed your little bird every one-two hours due to the staggeringly fast rate at which they digest. Herb begs about every two hours when we open the lid or when we stroke him gently.

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He's progressing nicely, isn't he? This is our little guy at four days. He is starting to get super strong and you can just see the feathers beginning to form on his little tiny wings! How cute/gross!

He's progressing nicely, isn't he? This is our little guy at four days. He is starting to get super strong and you can just see the feathers beginning to form on his little tiny wings! How cute/gross!

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This is Herb at around 6 days. He is much stronger and can now stand up feebly on his feet when feeding. His wings are growing nicely and his body is taking a nice shape.

This is Herb at around 6 days. He is much stronger and can now stand up feebly on his feet when feeding. His wings are growing nicely and his body is taking a nice shape.

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I tried to take a video of me feeding Herb but he still needs to be steadied a little bit and I can't videotape while both of my hands are occupied. As you can see, his eyes are almost opening!

I tried to take a video of me feeding Herb but he still needs to be steadied a little bit and I can't videotape while both of my hands are occupied. As you can see, his eyes are almost opening!

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At this point, if you want the chick to imprint on it's parents, if you have the parents, you can give the chick back to them. If they accept the chick and feed it, your job is mostly done.

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If not, or you don't have the parents or want the baby to imprint on humans, you have two more weeks to go.

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I will update this guide every day until Herbert is grown!

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New pics!

New pics!

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04-23-13

04-23-13

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04/26/13

04/26/13

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