Baby Greys
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The African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus)
Babies born 7th & 8th November 2006
with a combined weight of 36 grams.
The chicks were removed from the nest at a day old as their parents have a history of killing their young.
This is unusual as Greys are normally excellent parents.
When the babies are removed from their parents, they are placed in a heated brooder with a temperature of 28/29 degrees C.
The first 5 days of their life, they were fed a hand rearing formula with a probiotic to support the gut flora, every 2hrs for 18hrs a day.
They are not fed through the night, this time allows their crop to completely empty.
At each feed they took approx one ml of formula.When the chicks were 5 days old, a syringe was used to feed them and they were fed 6/7 times a day.
At each feed they took approx one to one and a half mls of formula.
Much of the time they are asleep but active when awake and sometimes still calling for food. The first week of their lives they gained 52 grams, thus doubling their body weight.
I shall keep up dating this page on a weekly basis, and keep the weights as a combined weight For anyone who is hand rearing for the first time, some babies put more weight on quickly than others, and I would hate to think some one is trying to ply their baby with more food to achieve this weight, when their baby, maybe a slow starter, So the weight gain I am showing is accurate then divided between them making this an approximate baby weight.

A combined weight of 88grms.
The chicks, into their second week of life are continuing to do well and with satisfactory weight gain.
They have been very vocal when their beaks meet in the tub. I am sure they think it is feeding time again. They are now taking up to 3mls of feed a time.
Their downy coat is continuing to thicken whilst the skin is changing from the lovely fleshy pink to a light greyish colour. This is the start of feather development under their skin.

At the end of week 2 their combined weight was 114gms

A combined weight of 114grms.
The babies are continuing to do well, although they are going into what we call their prehistoric stage. This is when their head, tummy and feet are out of proportion with the rest of the body, you will see this clearly in week 4 picture.
I have to be very careful feeding them now as they go into a feeding frenzy, and would take onboard far too much food in one sitting. This violent jerking of the head is to stimulate mother to regurgitate food.
I have gradually increased their feed through week3, and they are now taking approx 8mls of feed each, a session.
Their eyes are continuing to open, and now have a black dot a little smaller than a match head in the middle of their eye.
They are very receptive to human touch.

At the end of week 3 their combined weight was 218grms.

A combined weight of 218grms.
This week the babies have had their identification rings put on their legs. These rings are colour coded and this year (2006), the colour was red. On the rings there is a group of letters and numbers for identification purposes and the letter “V” which is the ring size applicable to an African Grey. This ring stays on the bird for the rest if its life. For 2007, the colour of the ring is black.
A mouth swab test has been done and sent to the laboratory were it will be tested to determine the sex of the baby. It can be 7 to 10 days before we receive the results.
The babies now have full vision and watch you walking about. They like being held and stroked.
Week 4 has seen a massive weight gain. Each baby takes approx 12mls of hand rearing formula at each feed.

At the end of week 4 their combined weight was 364grms.

A combined weight of 364grms.
We have now received the DNA results for the babies – we have a boy and a girl (a cock/male and a hen/female). The male is the front baby on week 5s picture. When fully grown the only difference between the male and the female, is that the male could be a bit bigger. Be slightly darker in colour and the forehead a little more predominant than the female. This is by no means an accurate way of sexing as African Greys range from Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa to Kenya and Tanzania on the east coast. Depending which region the Grey comes from, they can be lighter or darker, larger or smaller. Birds from the Cameroon and Congo are often lighter and larger than the birds from Ghana.
The babies will now run across the brooder to be fed and are taking up to 20mls of hand rearing formula. Between them they have gained 154gms in week 5.
Their feathers have broken out of their wings and are just starting to open and there are lots of minute feathers on their heads. I have seen them trying to preen themselves but invariably they over-balance and fall over. They have both been flapping their wings, which they do very well – often bedding has been “flapped” out of their tub in to the brooder.

At the end of week 5 their combined weight was 518grms.

A combined weight of 518grms.
Now half way through the hand rearing process the babies have achieved more than half their expected body weight of between 480/550grms each.
They are now being fed up to 30mls of formula 6 times a day.
The first of their red tail feathers have started to show, they are now looking like baby greys, now they have grown out of the prehistoric look of week 3.
They have also got little characters the boy or cock bird is always trying to escape out of the box they are kept in, but the hen or girl still likes her sleep, they both have now got a lot of power in their beaks, not that they are biting, but if a fingers goes near their beaks they think its food.
The brooder temperature is running at 20 degrees C now, and we will be looking to put them into an unheated brooder next week.
The wing feathers are breaking out of the quills, and you often see them trying to preen them selves.
By the time I write Week 7s diary the babies will have had their 1st Christmas, so to all of you following their progress a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year from them and us at babygreys.

At the end of week 6 their combined weight was 694grms.

A combined weight of  694grms.

The babies are now very active and awake a lot of the day, they come running across the box at feed times, and perch on the side of the box waiting to be fed, they are taking 40mls of feed 5 times a day. I have introduced them to solid food, they are curious but I think they are only licking it and feeling the different textures at the moment.
I put of putting them in an unheated brooder, as we have just had a real cold snap of weather locally, that is me being daft, but when you are in bed all warm, you can’t get to sleep wondering if they are ok, must be a parent thing.
As you can see by the picture, the feathers are really breaking out now they look different every day, and now weighting in at over 400 grams each they feel really cuddly and soft, they just fall to sleep when you stroke the back of their necks.

At the end of week 7 their combined weight was 848grms.

A combined weight of  848grms.

The babies are now in a training cage, with out heat. They have being offered the big bird food and water although they are curious with the food and tonguing it I doubt they are getting any nutrient value out of it yet. The water they do not understand at all and can’t understand this substance they cannot see, gets them wet.
They have 4 feeds a day taking between 30/40mls a feed.
Very active and trying to climb onto a house brick I have placed in the bottom of the cage, this is not because I want them to be bricklayers, but is the first stage of their claw manicure, it acts as a nail file, at the moment their claws are like needles and gives you great pain when they grip your finger, as they climb onto the brick and play about on it, it files their nails I believe it is more natural for them, than me cutting or filing them, but as they learn to climb they will find the THERAPEUTIC perches we offer them and these will take over from the brick, for the rest of their life’s, and saves you money on vets fee’s for nail and beak trims.
Very affectionate and love being cuddled.

At the end of week 8 their combined weight was 884grms.

A combined weight of  884grms.

The babies are really using the brick now - both often go to sleep on it all night ! ! They have now found out they can climb and have found all the perches in the cage (as the picture shows). Not a great weight gain this week but I believe it is due to their increased activity through the day - they must be burning up the calories.
CAUTIONARY NOTE. A reader asked a question, How do I feed baby hand rearing food.
I warm the formula up in the microwave. This practice can be dangerous as microwaving food produces hot spots. I heat the formula to 45 / 46 degrees C. I have eliminated the risk out of guessing the temperature and bought a digital thermometer – if it is too cold the babies tend to reject it and if it is fed too hot can result in crop burn. If this happens it is very difficult to treat and the loss of the baby could occur. . I hand whisk the food to remove hot spots – leave it to stand for 2 minutes - retest the temperature and actually taste the food before feeding it to the baby. Always follow manufactures instructions. Mix the formula too thin and the baby will not get the nutrional value out the food and too thick and the baby will dehydrate.

PLEASE NOTE: EMP EGG FOOD IS NOT A HAND REAING FOOD. It is an excellent product that should feature in your baby’s diet after your baby is weaned. If it is fed as a hand rearing formula it will block the crop. My theory as to why this happens, is that the baby will absorb the water content but at this age cannot deal with the solids – thus resulting in a blocked crop. If this happens, feed warm water and massage the crop every couple of hours until the solids are broken down. I would also recommend a trip to the vets.

At the end of week 9 their combined weight was 920grms.

A combined weight of  920grms.

The babies are now active most of the day and have both tried small flights. They always look surprised on take off, and always terminate their flight with a crash! As these are low level flights, no harm is done.

A word of caution. Large windows can be dangerous to the bird at this stage because they cannot see it - they tend to fly full pelt at it, 9 times out of 10 they will not harm themselves, but there is always a chance of a broken neck, resulting in death. This can be avoided by net curtains or voiles.

The babies are now being offered 3 feeds a day, Breakfast is always taken with relish but the mid day feed is sometimes rejected. They are eating and drinking well. Their food bowls are still on the cage floor as they tend to spend a lot of time at the bottom of the cage. This week food will be put in the bowls that are provided with the cage.

They seem to like the sprouted pulses we offer and at this stage show no great preference for the dreaded sunflower seeds. I say that because just a sunflower mix is not a healthy diet for a parrot - it is high in fats and is not of great nutritional value. We add a small amount of sunflower seed to our sprouted pulses - see our parrot diet sheet. They do like their veggies and fruit and now again they have had some boiled egg and cheese.

At the end of week 10 their combined weight was 970grms.

A combined weight of  970grms.

The baby’s feathers around the neck have now grown in and they are constantly preening themselves. The female baby has started to climb into the water bowl and has a bath much to the amusement of the other baby. Neither of them likes being sprayed with water, but hopefully they will get use to it.

They are now eating really well and are only offered the hand rearing formula twice a day - morning and evening. Sometimes they will take 10mls of the formula but I think that is only because it’s offered. Some babies continue taking the hand rearing formula up to 14 weeks of age. I no longer put the food bowls on the cage floor as they have found the food bowls on the side of the cage. Our policy is to let the bird decide when it no longer wants the hand rearing formula.

One of them has achieved proper flight and I expect the other one to fly in the next day or so. On a night they sleep on the rope perch but through the day they spend a lot of time on the therapeutic concrete perch which is the highest perch in the cage.

At the end of week 11 their combined weight was 1014grms.

A combined weight of  1014grms.

Well this is the final entry of these babies first 12 weeks of life, as always I have enjoyed every minute of them, they have been a great source of enjoyment and amusement.

I have met the new owners on several occasions when they have visited their babies and I know the love and attention the parrots will receive in the years to come, we will keep in touch and they now they can contact me at any time for help and advice.

As you can see by the week12 picture, they now look fully grown birds they will keep their totally black eyes for the next 10/12 weeks, as a iris will gradually form, once this happens the age of the baby will be lost forever, unless the bird is close rung, and you have genuine paper work for that baby. The ring on its leg should have a year date on it this year it will show 06, the letter V tells you it is the proper size ring for an African Grey, and the mixture of numbers and letters are the breeder’s identification, some rings may be colour coded but be aware this can wear off after a period of time.

The ring on your birds leg is only their for honest people, should your bird finish up in the wrong hands the ring can be cut of in seconds, I would strongly recommend you take your bird to a Avian Vet and have it micro chipped, then when a dispute over ownership occurs you have the proof you own the bird. A slight loss in body weight may happen while the bird is weaning, but this will come back in the coming months as muscle tissues develop.

Please remember your African Grey will need a Calcium supplement for the rest of its life.

At the end of week 12 their combined weight was 1137grms.


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