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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm sure this question is a little...daft... but I'll ask it anyway. I adopted two little squabs from the wildlife rehab in my area today. The rehab doesn't take pigeons, due to disease concerns and the fact that the plethora of pigeons that they get would quickly overwhelm their resources... so they farm the pigeons out to willing volunteers. Enter me, the willing volunteer.

The little ones are about... 18-20 days old and are covered in "cracking open" pin feathers. After several attempts to syringe feed them with a baby parrot formula, I was about to give up (with that particular technique, anyway). I only managed to get about a cc into each baby and I was worried that they were going to starve or dehydrate before I could get any into them. So, after leaving them for a couple more hours to let them get a little hungrier, I was contemplating giving them subcutaneous fluids to keep them hydrated. Then I tried to feed them a dry millet mix, thinking they may be old enough for seeds, rather than mush. Still no go. Then I wet the seeds down (they were rooting around in my hands for food) and had an idea. I filled my hand with soaked seeds and made a loose fist, thinking that they might instinctively look for seeds inside a "crop". The first squab discovered the seeds in my fist and shoved his little head in there and ate about a tsp of seeds immediately. Then I filled my fist again, and he did it again but this time his sister joined in. I fed them like this for about half an hour, until their crops were about half full. So, after all of this here's my question: How much extra water do they need if I am feeding them soaked seeds? I am adding a touch of the baby parrot slurry to the seeds for extra nutrition and water and I'm going to feed them about 4 times per day (leaving dry seeds in their pen for them to experiment with on their own). They are knocking their water dish over and I don't think they are even thinking about drinking out of it. Do I persist with the water dish (I recognize they need water- I just don't want their pen to turn into a mucky mess and get them soaked and dirty...) or is there an easier, more effective way to get water into them at this age?

I have a "mentor" for the squabs in a cage beside them. Last year, I rescued a (male?) pigeon whose wing was badly broken. He is non-flighted and still quite wild. I would like him to show the squabs how to eat on their own, but I'm not sure how to go about that.

Just so you have a bit of an idea of what my background is: I have raised and rescued chickens for 12 years and know a fair bit about their health and welfare. I am a wildlife biologist with a major in ornithology and have also worked as a vet assistant off and on for about 15 years, as well as volunteering with the wildlife rehab since 1998. Raising baby pigeons is new for me, but I'm eager to learn as much as I can.

Thanks,

Laura
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Okay- update on the little squeakers. I went to feed them again this evening before going to bed and they immediately wanted to feed out of my "fist". So, thinking that they were not getting enough water, I formed my fist and held a dish of soaked seeds and water below my hand so that they stuck their heads through my fist and into the dish. The first squab drank about 40 ml right off the bat, which made me so happy. I refilled the dish, did the same thing and the other squab got about 30 ml and a few seeds. So, hoping that they start to recognize that the dishes as food, rather than me. I left a small dish of fresh seeds and water in their pen (hoping it doesn't get knocked over) and will check on it in the morning. Fingers crossed that they figure out that they can feed and water themselves... :)

Laura
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the idea! I had done some "internet research" yesterday and had tried the following: 60 cc syringe with the whole end sawed off (so that the plunger could literally be pushed right out the end of the syringe). Then I took a nitrile glove, cut a piece off the back and fastened it to the end of the syringe with an elastic band so it was flush and tight against the end of the syringe (like a drum skin). I filled the syringe with the baby bird formula that I'd made up and then put the plunger back into the syringe. Next, I poked a hole in the nitrile glove "skin", big enough for a bill to fit through and offered it to the first, most eager baby. The squab shoved his beak in... and came out coughing and sputtering... shaking his head and not at ALL eager to give it another go. I persisted for half an hour with both squabs until we were all covered in baby feeding formula. I wonder if it would work better if the squabs were younger... but these ones seem reluctant to try it. Again, it may be the taste of the food, rather than the consistency. I'm not sure...

Anyway, there were lots of poop piles in their pen this morning, and they were eager to try feeding on the soaked seeds again, so I gave it another go. Their crops are fairly full, so that's a good sign. I will, however, print off the photos of the squabs being fed with the bottle to show the wildlife rehab so that they can show other pigeon volunteers how to feed their babies! That method looks so easy!

Thanks!

Laura
 
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