Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Carrie Stephens
Caring for baby parrots (chicks) may be necessary in certain circumstances. However, it’s preferable that the parents wean baby parrots to avoid health and behavioral problems.
For about a year, wild parrots like macaws look after their young, teaching them valuable survival skills like flying and independent feeding.
Before weaning, parrots learn to fly (fledge) and develop the skills to forage for food. During weaning, baby parrots stop drinking crop milk or formula and start eating solid foods.
The parents hold their young with their feet and beaks to assist with weaning. You can replicate this process by finger-feeding a baby parrot moist and warm food like cooked carrots and yams.
Ceasing feeding prematurely (force-weaning) can cause health and behavioral problems. The consequence is stress-related sickness, hyperresponsivity, and highly strung behavior.
Parrot Growth Stages
There are five development stages of a baby parrot’s growth:
- Neonate (hatchling).
- Juvenile (pre-adolescent).
During the first stage of life, newly hatched parrots (hatchlings) are born with closed eyes. They’re also naked, blind, and deaf, relying on their owners for survival.
In the wild, hatchlings are fed food regurgitated by their parents. Without a mother and father, owners must feed chicks a hand-rearing formula through a syringe.
When a baby parrot reaches the nestling stage, it opens its eyes but remains dependent on others.
Imprinting occurs during stage 2. When the chick first opens its eyes, it bonds deeply with its parents. If another parrot isn’t present, a baby parrot will imprint on its human owner.
This stage is vital for development because it needs visual, touch, and sound stimulation.
The fledgling stage is when a parrot learns how to fly.
Some parrots lose weight because they’re more preoccupied with flying than eating. Consequently, they depend on their parents (or owners) for food.
In the weanling stage, parrots consume solid foods independently. Weaning baby parrots teaches them to forage and develops skills, enabling them to care for themselves.
Parrots become pre-adolescent and can fend for themselves. Consequently, they’ll eat solid foods without the need for formula. They’ll be independent but haven’t reached sexual maturity.
Juvenile parrots won’t have their full adult color at this stage, which develops after the molting season.
The parrot should be 8 to 12 weeks old before it’s given a new home.
What Do You Feed Baby Parrots?
Hagen Avicultural Research Institute artificially incubated psittacine eggs, and baby parrots without parents were hand-fed for 3-5 months.
To do this, mix a hand-rearing formula in boiled water that had time to cool. Stir out the lumps to form a smooth, thickened mixture.
When hand-feeding baby parrots, the food temperature must be below 45°C before feeding. If the food is under 40°C, it may ferment and cause infection.
Most chicks will be cared for by their parents during their initial life stages.
Once the parrot has reached the weaning stage, it needs the following foods:
- Soaked and sprouted seeds.
- Cooked sweet corn kernels.
- Soft vegetables.
- A selection of greens, including chickweed and dandelion leaves.
It takes a while for a baby parrot’s digestive system to cope with dried seeds and pellets. However, leaving a small dish of pellets for parrots to forage through is safe.
Baby parrots shouldn’t be given water because they can drown.
They receive sufficient hydration through regurgitated foods and hand-rearing formula, so they only need water bowls once they move onto solid foods at about 4 weeks old.
Baby Parrot Feeding Schedule
The amount and how often you feed a baby parrot depends on its age and growth rate. Young birds need regular feeding and eat more frequently than older birds.
The following guidelines set out how much food the average baby parrot needs. All feeding should be carried out between 6 am and midnight:
- 1-2 weeks: Feed 6-10 times daily, every 2-3 hours.
- 2-3 weeks: Feed 5-6 times daily, every 3-4 hours.
- 3-4 weeks: Feed 4-5 times daily, every 4 hours. The parrot can be put into a cage with a low perch and a shallow water bowl at four weeks old.
- 5-6 weeks: Feed twice daily. Soft seeds, fruits, vegetables, and pellets can be added to the cage.
- 7 weeks: Put the parrot in a large cage with pellets in cups scattered across the floor.
- 8 weeks: The weaning process should be over. Then, provide nutritionally complete pellets.
After feeding, examine the crop. While the parrot has few feathers, you can see if the crop is full. An examination with the thumb and index finger enables you to check the crop’s fullness.
Healthy parrots should respond well to every feed, and the crop should empty between feedings. They should also produce regular droppings.
How To Keep A Baby Parrot Warm
When a parrot is old enough to live in a cage, the ideal temperature is 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 40 degrees are dangerous for birds.
Similarly, temperatures above 85 degrees cause heat stress. Also, parrots need sufficient ventilation to remain healthy and comfortable.
Keeping young chicks warm is more complicated, as the slightest temperature change can be life-threatening. Without parents, provide the baby parrot warmth to ensure it survives.
To keep a baby parrot warm, follow these steps:
Make A Brooder
You’ll need a container for a baby parrot to live in. You can get a commercial brooder or make one with a plastic container. Opt for metals or plastics that are easy to sanitize.
Choose a brooder that allows the baby parrot to move about as it grows and develops.
Fill It with Substrate
Cover the floor of the container with a substrate. Small parrots do well with folded-up newspaper on the bottom of the brooder, but you can use paper towels.
Avoid wood shavings or cat litter, as curious chicks will eat it.
Heat The Brooder
If you’re using a commercial brooder, it’ll have a thermostatically controlled heating function.
If you’ve made your own, line it with a heat mat. Ensure the chosen heat source has a thermostat so you can adjust the temperature.
You can also use a desk lamp over the brooder, which uses a red bulb that won’t disturb the chicks. The temperature inside the brooder should be:
- 1-5 days: 96°F.
- Days 5-10: 95°F.
- From 10 days until they’ve developed some feathers, it’s 91°F.
- When they’ve most of their down feathers, it’s 84-89°F.
- When feathers mainly cover the wings and head, it’s 78-82°F.
Once the chick reaches 3 to 4 weeks of age, it can regulate its body temperature. At this stage, you can remove the heat source. To keep a baby parrot warm, ensure the room is at the right temperature.
Do Baby Parrots Sleep A Lot?
The majority of parrots are tropical or subtropical.
Parrots live near the equator, which experiences 12 hours of darkness each night. They’re awake from sunrise to sunset and need 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day.
Due to growth and development, baby birds need more sleep (up to 20 hours). Although it’s hard to know how often they’ll sleep, chicks will rest as much as necessary.
It’s common for baby parrots to only wake up when fed, sleeping at all other times.
How To Set Up A Parrot Cage
Parrots live in cages from around the age of 7 weeks. As they’re still growing, selecting a cage large enough for them to be comfortable once they’ve grown is essential.
Follow the cage setup advice below to get started:
Parrots can get their heads stuck or escape from cages if the bars are set too far apart.
- Small parrots, like budgerigars and parrotlets, need bars spaced 1/4″ to 1/2″ inch apart.
- Medium-sized birds, like cockatiels and Senegals, need bars spaced 1/2″ to 5/8″ inch apart.
- Large parrots, like Amazons and Macaws, need 1 to 1.5″ inches between the bars.
Find a cage that allows a parrot to roam freely without excessive restriction.
Parrots are always on their feet, even while sleeping. Therefore, perches are an essential part of the cage’s setup. In the wild, trees and branches provide resting spots of all shapes, sizes, and widths.
Allowing a parrot to adjust its feet to the widths of the perches ensures it stays supple and flexible, preventing health problems like bumblefoot (pododermatitis).
Rope perches can be adapted to fit the cage. Also, add a Pedi perch to the cage for 1 to 2 days per week so the parrot can keep its claws filed down to a comfortable length.
When adding perches to the cage, space them out to provide options. Parrots prefer high perches.
Food and Water Bowls
Most cages have at least 1 food and 1 water tray. However, with trays that rest on the bottom of the cage, parrots drop their food. Adding a couple of upright feeders to the cage is recommended.
Line the bottom with a substrate like newspaper or paper towels to make cleaning a parrot’s cage easier.
How To Train A Baby Parrot
You must perform training to get a parrot accustomed to your presence and promote positive behavior. To successfully train a baby parrot, follow these steps:
Start Handling The Parrot
A parrot must become comfortable with you touching and holding it.
Always stand above the parrot so that it knows you’re in control. Then, encourage it to move onto your finger by placing it against its lower breast. You can begin to add commands like “step up.”
When the parrot does what you want, reward it with a treat to reinforce the message.
Once you become comfortable around each other, practice laddering with your hands, which involves moving your hand to a higher position while encouraging the parrot to step up.
Don’t Overfeed Treats
If you feed a parrot treats too often, it won’t associate them with training. There’s too much potential for over-feeding, meaning it could reject its regular food.
Also, many parrots use their beaks to balance and may use human hands to coordinate themselves. If the parrot moves toward your hand, don’t assume it’ll bite because it may become nervous.
Don’t get annoyed with the bird if you get nipped. Instead, remain calm and say “no” firmly, placing your hand (palm facing forward) in front of the parrot’s face as a stop gesture.
If a baby parrot bites and refuses to let go, blow on it with a sharp puff of air to make it release. Then, place it back in its cage without a treat.
How To Entertain A Baby Parrot
Parrots spend significant time in their cage, so you must provide things to keep them healthy. There’s plenty you can do to keep a parrot occupied, including:
The first stages of a parrot’s life are crucial to its environmental awareness and development. The bird could develop behavioral problems if it isn’t nurtured. This can be avoided with the following:
- Toilet paper for parrots to shred.
- Paper sticks.
- Chewable objects.
- Preening rope.
- Building blocks.
Regularly rotate the toys and games to keep the parrot alert and entertained.
Let the parrot out of the cage daily for a change of scenery.
Parrots that spend too much time in their cage may become withdrawn and reclusive. Allow them access to a bird-safe room to exercise and stretch their wings.
Assign daily interaction time to form a lasting bond with the parrot.
Create a music playlist for the parrot to listen to when you leave the house.
A study by Dr. Franck Péron found that Parrots enjoy the following genres:
- Pop music.
- Rock music.
- Folk music.
- Classical music.
Avoid high-tempo electronic dance music because it leads to distress.
Signs A Baby Parrot Is Sick
Wild parrots avoid showing signs of sickness. Sick birds are the first to be attacked by predators if they sense the parrot is weak and easy to kill. Consequently, it’s hard to tell when chicks are unwell.
The following symptoms indicate that a parrot is sick:
- Poor feather quality.
- Unusually fluffed feathers.
- Changes in appetite or eating habits.
- Changes to drinking habits (drinking more or less often).
- Weakness and lethargy.
- The crop isn’t emptying.
- The crop isn’t getting full.
- Drooped wings.
- Refusal to move.
- Increased sleeping.
- Bleeding or signs of injury.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms affecting a baby parrot, take them to a vet.
When Can Baby Parrots Leave Their Mother?
In captivity, baby parrots are ready to leave their mothers at around 7 to 8 weeks of age. Once a chick hatches, it matures quickly. Once weaned, a baby parrot will leave the nest when 8 weeks old.
Some breeders prefer to wait 12 weeks before allowing a baby parrot to go to its new home.
Why Is My Baby Parrot Shaking?
Baby parrots shake and shiver when cold, scared, excited, or sick.
The most common reasons why a baby parrot would shake include the following:
Baby parrots must be housed in rooms between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the room is too cold, the baby parrot will shiver to generate heat.
A parrot shakes after having a bath. A parrot’s muscles contract involuntarily to generate heat and keep it warm. As soon as the parrot is warm, it’ll stop shivering.
The parrot will lift and shake its feathers to move cold air around its body to cool down. It isn’t technically shivering, but it appears that way.
Scared or Stressed
After moving to its new home, the baby parrot might shake out of nervousness or stress, especially when it’s away from its mother for the first time.
Birds are sensitive to their environments, meaning small changes can unsettle them. Speak gently and move slowly to avoid frightening it further.
Baby parrots hide their sickness, so it’s difficult to determine if they’re unwell. Parrots can’t tell us when they’re ill and rely on us to pick up on it through their behavior and body language.
My Baby Parrot Is Scared of Me
Baby parrots take a while to adjust, especially after moving to a new environment. As prey animals, parrots are hardwired to fear their surroundings until they know you don’t pose a threat.
Some parrots don’t enjoy being handled. Attempting to win a parrot’s trust by touching it more often is unlikely to help and will only make it more scared when you’re nearby.
Baby parrots can adjust to your presence if you avoid the following:
- Don’t make loud noises.
- Let it live in a quiet, neutral room.
- Don’t handle them excessively.
- Keep other pets away, including cats and dogs.
- Avoid disturbing them while sleeping.
Over time and with ongoing care and attention, a baby parrot should start to trust you, allowing you to begin building a bond with your new avian pet.