I knew I absolutely had to check the babies today and band the oldest ones since they would be 11 days old. Banding with closed bands is best done at 9 or 10 days. Knowing the parents do not want to let me touch their kids did not really make me eager to do this, but what must be done must be done.
The parrotlets with kids are set up in 3 cages attached to the wall, one atop the other. The blues are on the bottom and the two newer pairs are above them, with the pieds at the top and the green hen and dilute turquoise in the middle. I started with the blues since they are easiest to access. I can actually look into their box without a step-stool. I was armed with a plastic spoon and a gloved hand, and my plan of action was to “urge” the parents to vacate the box. No such luck. They wouldn’t budge. The plastic spoon was used to gently nudge them off the kids. They were not impressed, but one did make it out the hole and into the cage. The other managed to make a beeline out the top of the box and into the birdroom. So glad I had shut the sliding door between this inner room and the outer room where the big guys are. Despite things not going exactly as I’d hoped, I did now have access to the box. I discovered SEVEN babies! This blue pair is very prolific. I pulled out the two largest kids and banded them, #01AG15 and #02AG15, and put them into a little container since I was planning on pulling them for handfeeding at this point. The other 5 were not ready for banding and were left in the box to await the return of Mom and Dad. I took bands #03 through #07 and put them onto a safety pin so that all of this blue clutch will have consecutively numbered bands.
On to pair number two. These two sit even tighter than the blues, which is hard to imagine but true. Basically the same thing happened as with the blues and one escaped into the room. There are only five kids in this clutch, but they are BIG kids. I was able to band the oldest three, #08AG15, #09AG15, and #10AG15. The oldest one was a real bear to get that band on! The baby was not impressed with my attempts, either! Finally I weaseled that band on, pulled the back toe free, and moved on. I left the two smallest kids in the box and put the three that were now banded in with the two blues. I also put bands #11 and 12 onto a safety pin so that this clutch, too, will be consecutively numbered.
Then on to check out the pied pair. It’s the top cage and I can barely see into the box. I’ve been using a compact, opened so that the mirror can look into the box and I can see the reflection. I had seen a baby the same day as the first babies hatched for the other two pairs, but had not been seeing a bigger and bigger baby when I checked. Many days I could see no baby at all. What I found today was ONE baby, and quite small, though not newly hatched. Maybe four days old or so. If it really is the first – and only – baby they hatched, then it is incredibly stunted in size. It did, however, have a nicely rounded crop today so I know that at least as of now they are feeding it decently. I think that being an inexperienced pair, perhaps that first baby died. The baby they have now may have been the second, third, or even fourth baby hatched, and it took them this long to figure out how to keep him alive. Some parents are not adept at raising their kids, but usually they will get better with practice. Needless to say, this baby was left.
I should also note that after disturbing the parents this way, there is always a chance that they will not go back to their parenting duties and I was prepared to have to pull all the kids now to handfeed if necessary. I checked about 15 minutes later and they were still not back in their boxes, but within an hour all were back to the business of raising their kids.
The kids should be good on five feedings per day so my schedule would be 7 AM, 11 AM, 3 PM, 7 PM, and 11 PM. If their crops are totally empty before the next feeding is due, I will have to change to six feedings for a week or so. It may be a bit tricky since there are still 8 babies in the nests that will have to be pulled when ready. Since the babies were pulled around 2:30 today and had full crops, I waited till the 7 PM scheduled feeding to see if they were ready for a first go at handfeeding. At 7, the crops were indeed empty and each of them ate quite well from my trusty bent spoon. Scott bent this spoon for me in 1985! It has fed many a beak!
So for the first good look at these five babies…
Aren’t they absolutely adorable?
I will be doing a diary for these parrotlets, and will hopefully start on it tomorrow. I will post a link once I have it set up and posted. As always, there will be pictures and videos and weights posted, and really it’s the next best thing to being here and watching them grow up in person!