Last night we spirited the five baby lovebirds away from their parents, and brought them over to my house, where they will be hand-raised for about a month, until they fledge and wean. At that point, I’ll be looking for homes for them. (Want one? Two? Three?)
The reason we hand-raise them is because they make much better pets if they’re raised by humans. They learn to trust people and see people as flock mates, so they’re tame and friendly. Parent-raised birds, on the other hand, make better breeders.
This morning was the first weighing and feeding. The babies range in age from 9 to 16 days, and in weight from 10 to 40 grams. For you non-metric types, an ounce equals 28 grams; I credit my misspent youth for this particular piece of knowledge.
There’s a huge difference between the biggest and the littlest birds, even though the biggest one is only a week older. He can see, his wings have the beginnings of feathers, he can hold his head up and wrap his feet around my finger, and he walks like a drunken penguin. The littlest guy is pink and naked and blind and helpless and I’m scared of him. I’m scared I’m going to squeeze him too hard or fall in love with him or something.
The first feeding didn’t go very well, but that’s normal. They have to get the hang of it, and so do I. I’ll feed them again in a couple of hours.
It’s the weirdest thing how the parent birds appear so cavalier about the disappearance of their babies. They barely noticed their absence, even though their lives have revolved around the babies since the eggs were laid. You’d expect them to get frantic and search everywhere for them, but no…they were just thrilled that we’d hung a shoot of lemongrass in their cage. No empty nest syndrome for them!