Sunday, April 12, 2009

Apache & SuperModel's Chicks(4)

Here is 1 of the 3 Apache chicks being hand-fed with a cricket today.

The last photo on this blog showed the chicks at 12 days of age. This was shortly after they had left the safety of the nest. At that time it could be seen from the looks on their faces, that they were bewildered by the world outside their nest. Two or three days will need to pass for the chicks to settle down. Meanwhile, their feed should continue in the same manner as before they left the nest.

When feeding chicks in the nest, it is necessary to place the food directly in the beaks. The chicks will stretch in the direction of the food they see but they expect to have the food placed directly in the beaks and will not peck at the food. For the first 2 to 3 days after they leave the nest, they should be fed the same way.

Around the 14th or 15th day after hatching, they will have settled down and will begin exploring the cage or aviary. This is the time that I place some dry food and live food directly on the floor of the cage. As the chicks wander around the cage, they will inquisitively peck at almost anything they see. Anything that moves slowly, such as a crippled cricket or molted mealworm will attract attention and receive a peck. Dry food on the floor will also be tasted and a little eaten.

The above photo shows the chicks today, at 19 days of age. By this time, the chicks are taking about ½ their intake of food from the floor of the cage. They will be calling less for food but they will still need to be fed now and again. Chicks that are very hungry will not explore and look for food but will just sit and call. They will start looking for food somewhere between hand-feedings. To encourage the chicks to ‘hunt’ for their food, the time between feeds should get longer and longer but always taking care to feed them before they get too hungry.

As soon as the chicks start pecking at food on the floor, the manner of their hand-feeding should change. Instead of placing the food directly in the beak, the food should be held slightly away so that the chick will have to reach out and peck at the food. It takes a few days but by the 19th day (as can be seen in the above photo) the chicks have become quite adapt at it.

The method of feeding chicks set out above is similar to the way that the chicks will be taught by their parents to eat on their own. By doing what the parents would do, we are bring up our chicks in a somewhat similar fashion.

If the chicks are not taught to eat in the manner set out above, it will take much longer for them to learn to eat on their own and even when they are more than a month old, they will still gape for food. Such birds tend to become over dependent on humans and not the type that hobbyists in Asia look for.

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