Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hand rearing baby finches

No artwork today - although I have several jobs on the go - none are ready to post.
My husband often muses how much more time I would have each day if we didn't have a menagerie of pets, but I love being surrounded by critters and tending to them never feels like a chore. Three years ago, we bought a pair of zebra finches for our aviary and every 6-7 weeks since they have produced a batch of between 3-7 chicks, which we give away to our local birdshop.
Zebra finches are such good parents and I would watch them in fascination, as they took turns in relay, tending to their young and feeding each other. Earlier this week, the mother finch died. She left behind a nest full of young chicks which the father finch valiantly tried to rear himself. I bought him a new girlfriend in the hope that she might help him out - but raising chicks wasn't her thing. Sadly, raising the chicks by himself took its toll on the father finch and three days later he died too. That left me to play the role of Mum Finch. When I retrieved the nest, there were actually five little chicks, but two had already died, probably from dehydration as the father just couldn't feed them near the end. So now I have been playing Mum Finch for three days, giving the chicks formula via a syringe every couple of hours, and so far so good!!! Fingers crossed, they will continue to do well and thrive. They do look a little ugly at this stage, but another week, when they are covered with feathers and they will look very cute. You can see the little sacs either side of their spine full of formula - (I probably over feed them a bit, but they seem to be doing well).

11 comments:

Tracy Hall said...

Goodness what a job, karen, and they must be tiny. Hope your efforts succeed!

Mona said...

What a touching story Karen! My prayers are with your babies.

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

Thank you so much Tracy and Mona for your warm wishes - fingers crossed they do survive!!! :)

sue greco said...

Hi Karen,

I had a similar experience with a family of cardinals that were attacked by a cat. Only one survived out of four. I took care of it, fed it and placed it back in the nest. The parents came back but would not stay in the nest at night. Each night, I put it in a shoebox and at 5:15 each morning would put the bird back in the nest. A few minutes later the parents would come and resume tending to their baby. This went on for three days. That last morning the little bird did not go back in his nest but waited on the branch for his parents. The baby was strong, and fledged. I was very happy. It was a very gratifying experience.

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

I bet it was Sue! I couldn't just let these little chicks die and if I do manage to get even one to adulthood, it will be a thrill!

sue said...

Best of luck with your babies!
What a daunting task rearing such weeny creatures.

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

Thank you so much Sue - fortunately the zebra finches are pretty hardy, so I'm really hopeful they will be fine!!! :)

Barbara A. Freeman said...

Hi Karen, thanks for sharing your story. I hope the best for your tiny babies. You'll have to keep us posted on their progress.

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

Thank you Barbara - they are doing really well, thank goodness. I will give them another couple of days and then I'll post some updated photos :)

artbyakiko said...

What a challenge! I hope they will make it. Best of luck, Karen!!

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

Thank you so much Akiko - they were coming along so well, although I did lose one, and then I just had to pop interstate yesterday for a brief overnight trip, and left a long list of instructions with my hubby. I'm not sure what went wrong but sadly, both the remaining chicks had died this morning :((