Early Parrot Education Stage 2 – Pre-Fledging
This is a big step as the chick, now deemed a pre-fledgling, is challenged with many new occupations – those that come naturally as well as those that require a continued guidance by the caretaker. He now will explore his environment. Physically, the pre-fledgling is up on his hocks more regularly and he’s a little more vocal, especially when he sees his nursery caretaker. He might begin to perch, nibble on a little extruded weaning granules, and seek companionship with his clutch mates all while he continues to further develop necessary motor skills and coordination. In this step, the lessons introduced in Stage One are still being reinforced by the avian caretaker. While the chick remains in the comforts of his chick pen, a few changes to his chick pen are implemented. These changes will prove useful for his upcoming advancement to his weaning cage-and no, these items are not toys! Additions to his chick pen will include a rope perch placed in the substrate. This little edge of height will help condition his feet for perching. The rope surface will be easy to grip and aid in building his confidence. A retreat, either cardboard box or small animal den, is provided to allow the pre-fledgling, at his own discretion, to utilize for periods of rest or security.
Chick’s Physical Characteristics
- Feathers have emerged on 75-90% of body. Head and body feathers as well as wing coverts have emerged. Tail and flight feathers are continuing their growth
- Body weight now gradually resting slightly off hocks. Feet can now begin to grip perch
- Natural downsizing and firming of the crop occurs and is encouraged since the chick will gradually begin to perch and must not become injured with a large crop. Balance and agility will be more challenging for the chick if the crop is too large
- Beak commissures are beginning to harden
- Plateau stage on weight chart reached for the larger species
- Chicks cannot yet perch with confidence and so weight monitoring must still be done in bin
- Nails are very sharp but should not yet be groomed
- Chicks are now sleeping approximately 75% of the time; most of their time awake is spent in den, self preening and preening clutch mates
- Curiosity & increasing mastery of gross motor coordination increases foraging through substrate
Chick’s Educational Focus
Occupational Lessons introduced in the previous stage, such as warm moistened towel placement, daily weight recording and general health inspection will continue. The nursery caretaker might begin a little game session with the towel with a short interval of peek-a-boo. Pre-fledglings are also introduced to some items that will prove to be more useful in the future steps, such as flight harness and the sound of a low speed nail salon trimmer. While it’s not expected for the pre-fledgling to fly, or get his nails groomed, the desensitization process to these items at this stage will make future lessons a breeze.
The nursery manager continues with some syringe feeding at opportune times such as early in the morning and a good feeding at night. In between those times, soften formulated extruded diet in a shallow dish of extruded weaning granules are continuously available to the bird. The hand feeder should also offer the soaked, yet still shaped morsels of extruded diet by spoon. For many seasoned hand feeders, spoon feeding might sound time consuming and messy, but the value of this feeding strategy does more than encourage the bird to eat on his own. The textured morsels mixed with the hand feeding formula help maintain good gut motility as his crop will start to reduce in size. And, while it might be tempting to offer bits of other foods such as seed or fruit and vegetable mix, it is imperative that the only food offered to the pre-fledglings be extruded weaning diet and possibly spray millet to encourage foraging. This measure ensures that the pre-fledgling learns that extruded food is what he should eat. The introduction of other enrichment foods, such as fruits, vegetables and treats will come later in the education process.
As chicks are beginning to consume more dry extruded diet, water should now be offered in the cage in a shallow yet stable ceramic dish on the chick pen substrate
To learn more about the Stage 2 of the Early Parrot Education program and the techniques to use, we encourage you to review the slide presentation below.
Early Parrot Education & Weaning Program
Comprehensive and easy to follow, HARI’s EPE Program is available on 10 DVDs and comes with supporting documents including forms and charts (all provided on a CD), as well as complimentary reading material. The cost is only $70.00 for the complete program and supporting materials.