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Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 17 Jul 2015, 17:33
by treegod
A while ago, a robin set up nest in a little hole at the bottom of the stairs to my house. They hatched, and everything was fine for a while, but then my dog found the nest. I was not best pleased! One chick died, the other disappeared.
The next day, however, a friend of ours found it on the floor near the stairs! We were quite happy that it had survived. Since then we've been feeding it with a mixture of egg yolk and bread, and the occasional bug we can find for it.

It's growing quite strong, and can fly a bit, but not much. It can eat the bugs by itself, but not the mix. My question is, when would be the best time to release it back?

Re: Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 17 Jul 2015, 19:53
by Sciethe
My old friend Ian did this with a blue tit chick. Which died at this very point in its development. I think you have reached the danger point, and cannot advise with certainty, but I think you need to reduce then stop the bread and get maggots or something like that to feed it on (in the UK fishing shops are helpful) and watch carefully for the moment when it's suitable to leave a window open (flying strength) while continuing to feed it. Good luck! :shake:
S

Re: Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 17 Jul 2015, 22:29
by treegod
Thanks. :)
Not sure where the nearest fishing shop might be, but I'll have a look.
Been reading, but getting a mixture of ideas. It's still quite attached to the mush, I gave it quite a few insects drowned in the swkming pool, but it would't tale them all and just wanted the mush. I shall start digging the compost heap for worms.
The other sign it being too small, I suppose, is that it still opens its mouth to be fed and does't quite peck at the much. It hasn't started drinking just yet either, ad we have to do that manually too.
Still a lot to do.

Re: Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 18 Jul 2015, 08:21
by ShadowCat
I agree, reduce the bread/grains and start feeding protein. They need heaps of protein to grow at this point. Otherwise they might get deformaties and won't last in the wild once they are released. In the Netherlands you can find dried mealworms and other nice things in angler-stores (and in highpriced novelty foodstores too). Soak them in water for a few hours to rehydrate and mush them a bit. If you can find live mealworms, pinch of the heads before you feed them to the chick. Mealworms, maggots, rainworms and fat bugs (check them with a fieldguide, there are poisonous ones around) are great. Flies they usually don't get eaten with enthousiasm. If really no other proteinsources are available, mix in a bit of catfood without additives in the mush (but not the chickenvarieties due to the risk of poulty-disease)

It also helps if you use a pair of pincers to feed them (carefully). With the pincers you can mimic the movement of the parents beak. And a little at a time, very often (every half hour or so) works better than a few big meals too.

When giving food or water, be careful that it goes down their right hole, for there is a risk of pneumonia when food goes down the windpipe. Remember, until they fly out, their only source of water is their food, so they won't drink much. They might not even have the good reflexes for it yet.

And they need a bit of tlc too: since they don't have the warm mama on top of them, cup them in your hands and keep it close to you a few times a day.

Hope you pull it trough, it's hard work but very rewarding.

Re: Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 18 Jul 2015, 13:02
by treegod
Thanks, ShadowCat. We have no cat food, but we do have plenty of egg yolk, and as many bugs as we can find. It seems to have grown well, and is now almost ready to be let outside.

Today we let it outside for the first time in the forest, but it didn't do much, so we took it back. We'll do that a bit more every day and see how adventurous it gets.

Re: Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 19 Jul 2015, 19:04
by treegod
Second day out in the wild. Today it was a bit more active, but because of the tie of day. Yesterday we'd gone out mid-afternoon when most birds aren't active, but this time we took it out in the morning. It flew around a bit, caught a few bugs for itself, but didn't go too far from us.

It met a wren, and seemed to be interested in this other bird being, observing it a bit. It's own calls were attracting other robins, and there seemed to be quite a few, possibly on their territory borders.

In the end, we went back up the path, but it followed us, so we took it back. It's not ready to be independent. We're thinking that it'll be ready to stay there when it disappears on its own and doesn't look back. Each day as it comes. :)

Re: Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 20 Jul 2015, 08:21
by ShadowCat
It's good to hear the babybird is doing alright. You paint a vivid picture, Treegod. It's almost like I saw it cock it's head a bit while looking at the wren.
I've raised orphaned birds and patched up wounded ones many times. Birds often decide to trust us (while we must seem ungainly earthbound behemoths in their eyes) very fast when they sense your intention to help. The little chick following you shows that too. It's a magical time to spend together. And when they go, they teach you not hang back "for old times sake", but to be grateful and then move on.

Re: Caring for an Orphaned Chick

Posted: 21 Jul 2015, 18:58
by Sciethe
It's good to hear the babybird is doing alright. You paint a vivid picture, Treegod. It's almost like I saw it cock it's head a bit while looking at the wren.
I've raised orphaned birds and patched up wounded ones many times. Birds often decide to trust us (while we must seem ungainly earthbound behemoths in their eyes) very fast when they sense your intention to help. The little chick following you shows that too. It's a magical time to spend together. And when they go, they teach you not hang back "for old times sake", but to be grateful and then move on.
Like :)