Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Boy Wonder - chick feeding chick

Even when Boy Wonder was in the nest, I could see that he would likely be male as he had extraordinarily dark feathers.  Sometimes these dark feathers start to lighten as the chick develops and the earlier promise is false and it turns out to be female.

I can only be sure that a chick is male when one or more blue feathers start to show on the head or neck region. The blue feathers usually start to emerge only when the chick is about 30 days old.

In BW's case at the age of 22 days, the blue feathers are already prominent.  They can be seen in the area around his collar and upper back in the first photo below.

BW may eventually grow very long taimong tails.  In my line of shamas, very long taimong tails indicate that the adult tails will also be very long. For the taimong tails to be considered very long they will need to exceed 6.25" and preferably be close to 7" when fully grown at the age of about 65 days. With taimong tails of almost 7", it is likely that the primary tails after the first moult will exceed 13".

Its a long time to wait for the end of 65 days and I always would like some early indication if the chick is likely to have long tails. From experience with my line of birds such as Firefly and Pretty Good, I know that if a chick has tails exceeding 3.25" at the age of 32 days, its taimong tails will likely substantially exceed 6" when fully grown.

I think there is a good chance that BW will have long taimong tails. Last Sunday, I measured his tails at 1.25".  He was then 20 days old.  Yesterday evening I measured his tails at 1.75" i.e a growth of 0.5" in 2 days. The rapid growth may stop and the tails may eventually be short.  I will measure his tails again when he is 32 days old to get a better indication of his eventual tail length.

I mentioned in an earlier post that BW gets hungry within half the time of other chicks and he eats twice as much.  He must have a very high metabolic rate. This by itself is noteworthy but he is proving to be very interesting in another way.  At the very young age of 22 days, he is already showing some extraordinary parental behaviour.  In the past I have seen on occasion, a chick feeding another chick.  This is usually a one off happening for the chick.  In the case of BW, he seems to regard it as his duty to feed the 2 chicks with him.

On Sunday evening, I had transferred Spark's 2 twelve days old chicks to the same cage as BW who was then 21 days old.  BW could already feed on his own and he had done so for the past few days.

Yesterday (Monday) BW fed the 2 chicks off and on throughout the day.  The 2 young chicks still need to be hand-fed, but not as often. [Update: By noon today, BW had been feeding the 2 chicks so diligently throughout the morning that there was little need for my helper to also feed them. I expect that BW will continue to feed the chicks and he will teach them how to feed themselves in due course.]

Below, are 3 photographs that I took of BW feeding the chicks yesterday evening.

The first photo shows him stretching out to offer a cricket to a chick.  It did not open its beak so he hopped to the other chick and fed it as shown in the 2nd photo.  The 3rd photo shows him really making sure that the cricket is deep in the beak of the chick.  It is necessary to do this as a 13 days old chick still needs to have the food placed deep inside its beak.

This morning before I left for work, I took the video below of BW feeding one of the chicks.  It is interesting to observe that when he himself intends to eat an insect, he quickly kills it and swallows it. However, when he is feeding it to a chick, he first softens the insect in his beak before feeding it to the chick.  This can be seen in the video below.  This is exactly what a parent would do when feeding a chick of this age.

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