Hand rearing cockatiels is no easy task, but there are times when you will need to rear neglected chicks to ensure their survival, or simply to fetch a higher price when you sell them at a later stage.
If you notice that one of the chicks seems to be falling behind its nest mates, you can provide it with supplementary food in order to ensure its survival. Feeding should take place once in the morning and then again in the evening. Reduce the time that the chick is away from the nesting box by preparing the food before removing the chick.
Offer the food to the chick on a teaspoon that has the edges bent inwards to form a sort of funnel. A spoon is better to use than a syringe, as it will allow the chick to eat at its own pace. With a syringe, you may force too much food into the chicks mouth and cause it to choke. After the feeding, always wipe the chicks beak carefully to remove any deposits of food. If the food is allowed to adhere onto the soft developing beak, it could cause permanent distortion in later life.
Checking the bird’s crop at the base of the neck will tell you whether the chick has eaten or not. If the crop is slack, the chick is hungry, and if it is whiter in color than the surrounding skin, then it is full. Feed the chick until the crop appears quite full, but mustn’t look as though it is going to burst.
If hand rearing birds, they will need to be fed at regular intervals. Never let the crop empty completely. Baby cockatiels will need to be fed three to four hourly. Most young parrots will gape for food, but cockatiels will move their heads in a bobbing fashion to elicit food from an adult bird. This may prove quite difficult to feed at times, until you get used to it.
If you are hand rearing the cockatiel away from its nest, you will need to keep it warm in a brooder. For new chicks the temperature should be at 37 degrees centigrade. Gradually reduce this to 27 degrees centigrade as the chicks get closer to two weeks old.
Although hand rearing cockatiels is rewarding, it is also hard work, so make sure that you are able to dedicate yourself to the task at hand before you take on the responsibility.