Thursday, July 17, 2008

Care of Chicks

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:08 pm Post subject:


Hi Arjan,

Thank you for diligently providing us with a photographic record of your chicks every two days. This is something that I had wanted to do for the Forum but never got down to it.

The chicks are growing very well and from their rate of growth, I would expect them to leave the nest-box on or about the 11th day. This is the most crucial time for the chicks and as this is your first experience with baby shamas, it might be useful if I bring to your attention some of the things that you will need to be careful about.

When the chicks leave the safety of the nest-box, it will be a foreign world to them. It is likely that they will be disoriented by the new experience. Unlike the chicks of eagles that may flap their wings while standing on the nest to strengthened them for some weeks before taking their first flight, the shama chicks emerge from the box and after standing on the edge for awhile, will spread their wings and fly. The flights on the first day are always unsteady and plenty of perches should be provided for the chicks to land. Without such perches, the chicks will come up against the wire of the aviary and from there may fall to the ground and injure themselves.

All large containers that contain water and that are provided for the birds to bath should be removed from the aviary, or covered up, for the first 2 days. There have been several instances I know of where chicks have fallen into the bath trays and drowned. By the 2nd day, the flights will be strong and the chicks will be able to make a u-turn in mid flight. The bath trays can then be returned.

You will need to watch the chicks on the first day that they leave the nest-box to make sure that they are being fed. If you hear the chicks calling hungrily, it means that they are not eating. It is easy to be lulled into thinking that they are eating well as you will see the parents carry food to the chicks and nudge at them to open their beaks. Here is where you will need to observe the chicks make sure that they do open their beaks and that they are fed. Perhaps because the chicks are injured by their falls and they are disoriented and in pain, they will sometimes call piteously to the parents and despite the best efforts of the parents to feed them, they will refuse to open their beaks.

Chicks that are not eating and that are left in the aviary will die by the next morning. To avoid this, you will need to hand-feed such chicks for one or more meals. The interval between feeds can be about 2 hours so as to give the parents a chance to feed the chicks. If the parents are as tame as your birds seem to be, you might be able to just feed the chicks in the aviary instead of removing them. After one or more feeds, the chicks will be stronger and should be willing to eat when the parents feed them. If you see a chick open its beak and the food placed in it even once, you can safely conclude that the chick is eating and there are no feeding difficulties.

Hope you will have no problems but I thought you might like to know what to do to prevent them from arising and to resolve them if they do occur.

Best wishes,


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