Long story short, the chicks are back in with their dad, we are pretty sure he's not pulling feathers, and we have instituted a process of close inspection of each of the chicks as we take them out for their hand feeding/weighing sessions. One thing we learned for sure is that Mr Greenburg is in fact doing a good job of feeding the little birds. Better than we are if the scale is to be trusted.
A little bowl of cute
That's grams not ounces
Still the current situation is a sad one for all of us. Sad for Billie Holiday as she is separated from her family for an extended session of 'isloation therapy' in the back bedroom. Sad too for Mr Greenburg, being separated from his best friend and mother of his chicks. I don't think I am anthropomorhizing too much here. During the day we keep the door to the back bedroom to help her feel a little less isolated. Occasionally the two birds, Billie and Mr G will begin chirping back and forth to each other. When this happens, he turns and faces the back of the house and all his attention is focused in the direction of her voice. For her part, Billie will be literally climbing the walls of her cage and has even been observed trying to lift the door. Well, it makes me sad anyway.
Because this set of circumstances takes him away from job one (feeding the chicks) we close the door on the hen and turn on some music for Dad. We have cable so we get a suite of radio stations. I usually give him a little reggae or classic R & B. Mrs Dr C is partial to Contemporary Christian. He'll develop an eclectic repertoire when he becomes a more accomplished singer, (think Barry White rocking Speak Life).
Of course, when this happens, he's not paying any attention the chicks. And how sad do you think this situation is for them? I don't know how much they 'think' but it gets pretty anthropomorphic around here when you can hear the little babies peeping away inside the nest box. But of course their needs trump any concerns for the sorrows of the two adults. It's sad for us too, this is not the scenario we would have chosen, but it is what it is and so we'll do what we must to engineer the best possible result. Parakeet chicks are normally weaned at about 6 weeks of age. That means we'll be helping to feed them one way or another until about the middle of February.
Our little intervention on Friday included a slight interrution of Mr G's feeding efforts for the chicks. We removed them from the nest box in the afternoon and then, once we had settled on our course of action we retuned them to the nest box that evening. We could see the effect when we took them out the following morning (Saturday) for their morning feeding. All the birds had lost weight overnight, but I don't know if that is normal. At this stage, weight loss is a red flag, the right amount of weight for these yooung chicks to gain is MORE. Actually the target is about 10%.
On Saturday we left them in with dad and provided supplemental feeding and by that evening they had all regained the weight they had lost, and more. They don't get much when we feed them, so I can only assume that Mr Greenburg is doing a good job of feeding his babies. They all gained more than 10% of their body weight which made us feel good.
Today (Sunday) we did not feed them at all, just left it to the big guy to see what he could do on his own. We weighed them in the morning and again this evening. They all gained weight which is a vote of confidence for Dad. Chick #3 (one of the smallest) gained almost 11%, the others gained between 6.5 and 7%. As I said earlier, good but not great. We will monitor this for the next couple days and hope that things pick up. If not we will step in with supplemental feeding. It will probably be necessary in a couple weeks any way because by that time the chicks will be so big that Mr G will probably not be able to keep pace with their needs. Anyway, he's making a valiant attempt.
Morning weigh in
fuzz to feathers