Home » How To Take Care of A Baby Parrot (from Hatchling To Juvenile)
baby parrot care guide

How To Take Care of A Baby Parrot (from Hatchling To Juvenile)

Caring for baby parrots (chicks) is a rewarding experience, but it requires knowledge and commitment. Baby parrots shouldn’t be purchased until they’ve been weaned to avoid health complications.

Once weaned, baby parrots should be fed soft seeds, fruits, and vegetables until they’re old enough to eat pellets and dried seeds.

They must be kept at a temperature of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

When choosing a cage, ensure the bar spacing isn’t too wide. Provide perches of varying widths and position them throughout the cage.

Wild parrots care for their young for at least a year, which involves more than feeding as parrots teach their chicks how to become independent.

Parrot Growth Stages

There are five development stages of a baby parrot’s growth:

  • Neonate (hatchling)
  • Nestling
  • Fledgling
  • Weanling
  • Juvenile (pre-adolescent)

Neonate

During the first stage of life, newly-hatched parrots are born with closed eyes. They’re also naked, blind, and deaf, so they depend on their owners.

In the wild, hatchlings are fed food that their parents regurgitate. Without a mother and father, owners must give chicks a special hand-rearing formula through a syringe.

Nestling

When the parrot reaches the nestling stage, it opens its eyes but remains dependent on its owners.

Imprinting occurs during stage two. When the chick first opens its eyes, it bonds deeply with its parents. If another parrot isn’t present, the baby parrot will imprint on its human owner.

This stage is vital for development, as it needs visual, touch, and sound stimulation.

Fledgling

The fledgling stage is when a parrot begins to learn how to fly.

Some parrots start to lose weight as they’re more preoccupied with flying than eating. As a result, they’re dependent on their owners or parents for food.

Once the parrot has learned how to fly, it’s a good time to clip its wings. However, doing so too early will prevent a parrot from learning to fly.

Wing clipping partially stops a parrot from flying away and protects it from dangers around the house, such as windows, ovens, and ceiling fans.

Weanling

In the weanling stage, parrots consume solid foods independently. Weaning parrots begin to forage and develop skills that allow them to care for themselves.

Juvenile

Parrots become pre-adolescent birds and can fend for themselves. They’ll be on solid food without the need for formula. They’ll be independent of their parents but won’t have reached sexual maturity yet.

At this stage, juvenile parrots won’t have their full adult color. This develops after the molting season, so don’t be alarmed if your baby parrot doesn’t look how you’d expect it to.

The parrot should be at least 8 to 12 weeks old before it’s given a new home.

baby parrot feeding schedule

What Do You Feed Baby Parrots?

Hagen Avicultural Research Institute artificially incubated psittacine eggs, and babies without parents must be hand-fed for 3-5 months.

To do this, mix your chosen hand-rearing formula in boiled water that’s been allowed to cool. Stir all the lumps and bumps to form a smooth, thickened mixture.

When hand-feeding baby parrots, the temperature of the food must be below 45°C before feeding; if the food is under 40°C, there’s a risk of it fermenting and causing infection.

However, most chicks will be cared for by their parents during their initial life stages. Get parrots that have been weaned, as hand-feeding has complications that can compromise the parrot’s health.

Once the parrot has reached the weaning stage, it needs seeds and vegetables. Safe foods include:

It takes a while for a baby parrot’s digestive system to become robust enough to cope with dried seeds and pellets. However, leaving a small dish of pellets that parrots can forage through is safe.

Also, ensure a shallow bowl of fresh water is left in its cage.

Baby parrots shouldn’t be fed water orally as they can drown. They receive hydration through regurgitated foods and hand-rear formula, so they only need water bowls once they move onto solid foods when they’re around 4 weeks old.

Baby Parrot Feeding Schedule

According to VCA Hospitals, how much and often you feed the baby parrot depends on its age and growth rate. Young birds need regular feeding and eat more often 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 bird 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, veggies, and pellets can be put in the cage.
  • 7 weeks: Place the bird in a large cage with pellets in cups scattered across the floor.
  • 8 weeks: The weaning process should be started. Then, provide nutritionally complete pellets.

After feeding, examine the crop. While the bird has few feathers, you can see when it’s full. However, an examination using the thumb and index finger can also help you 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 and can cause health problems.

Similarly, temperatures above 85 degrees cause heat stress, and parrots also need appropriate ventilation to remain cool and comfortable.

However, keeping young chicks warm is more complicated, as even the slightest temperature change can be fatal. However, in the absence of parents, you’ll need to provide the baby parrot warmth to ensure it survives. To do so, follow these steps:

Make A Brooder

You’ll need a container for the parrot to live in. Commercial brooders are expensive, but you can easily make one with a fish tank or plastic container. Opt for metals or plastics that are easy to sanitize.

Choose a brooder that allows the parrot to move about as it grows.

Fill It with Substrate

You’ll need to 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 try to eat it. 

Heat The Brooder

If you’re using a commercial brooder, it’ll already have a thermostatically controlled heating function.

If you’ve made your own, you’ll need to line it with a heat mat. Ensure your chosen heat source has a thermostat so you can amend the temperature.

You can also use a desk lamp set up 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: 91°F
  • When they’ve most of their down feathers: 84-89°F
  • When the wings and head are mostly covered by feathers: 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 the parrot lives in is maintained at the right temperature.

Do Baby Parrots Sleep A Lot?

The majority of parrots are either tropical or subtropical.

They live near the equator, which gets 12 hours of darkness each night. So, parrots are awake from sunrise to sunset and need between 12 to 14 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day.

Baby birds need more than this as they’re growing and developing. Although it’s hard to know how often they’ll sleep, chicks will rest as much as they need to.

It’s not uncommon for baby parrots to only wake up when they’re being fed, sleeping at all other times of the day until they’re older and stronger.

how to keep a baby parrot warm

How To Set Up A Parrot Cage

Parrots live in cages from around the age of 7 weeks.

Because they’re still growing, selecting a cage that’ll provide enough room for your parrot to be comfortable when it’s fully grown is important.

Follow these cage setup tips to get started:

Determine the Space of the Bars

Parrots can get their heads stuck or escape from cages with bars set too wide apart. You shouldn’t risk it if you’re out of the house and can’t supervise it constantly.

  • Small parrots, like conures, need bars spaced ¾ inch apart.
  • Medium-sized birds, like parakeets and cockatiels, need bars spaced ½ inch apart.
  • Large parrots, like Amazons and Macaws, need 1 inch between the bars.

Find a cage that allows a parrot to roam freely without too much restriction.

Perches

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 your parrot to adjust its feet to the widths of the perches ensures that it stays supple and flexible, preventing health problems later.

Rope perches can be adapted to fit the cage. Also, add a Pedi perch to the cage so your parrot can keep its claws filed down and its beak under control.

When adding perches to the cage, space them out so the cage doesn’t become crowded. Parrots prefer high perches and tend to ignore all others in the cage.

To start with, place the perches around the mid-level of the cage to allow your parrot to get used to them. Then, move them higher once the parrot has settled and the perches feel familiar.

Food and Water Bowls

Most cages come with at least one food and water tray.

However, with trays that rest on the bottom of the cage, it’s easy for parrots to drop empty seed husks back into it, especially while learning how to forage.

This leads to a risk of starvation, so it’s a good idea to put a couple of upright feeders in the cage. That way, you’ll know that there’s always food available for your parrot.

Position them close to your parrot’s favorite perches so it can easily reach its food.

Substrate

To make your parrot’s cage easier to clean, line the bottom with a layer of substrate. Newspaper will make removing old seed husks and feces easier when it’s time to sanitize the cage.

How To Train A Baby Parrot

The breeder will have done most of the work when it comes to training. However, to get your parrot used to your presence and encourage it to behave appropriately, you’ll need to perform training.

It’ll take time and patience, and training is essential if you want a sociable, tame parrot.

To successfully train a baby parrot, follow these steps:

Start Handling Your Parrot

Your parrot will need to become comfortable with you touching and holding it. It’ll believe it is in charge if you don’t do this right.

Always stand above your 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 such as “step up.”

When your 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 onto it.

Don’t Overfeed Treats

If you feed your parrot treats too often, it won’t associate them with training. There’s also too much potential for over-feeding, and your bird may reject its regular food.

Discourage Biting

Parrots should never be allowed to bite or behave aggressively. Biting is different from a gentle nibble, in which your parrot will use its tongue to touch your skin.

Also, many parrots use their beaks to balance and may use human hands to coordinate themselves. If your parrot moves toward your hand, don’t assume it’ll bite you, or it may become nervous.

Don’t shout at your bird if you get nipped. Instead, remain calm and say “no” firmly, placing your hand (palm facing forwards) in front of your parrot’s face as a stop gesture.

If your parrot bites you and refuses to let you 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

As parrots spend a significant amount of time in their cage, you must provide entertainment and enrichment to keep your baby parrot mentally and physically healthy. Birds without stimulation can become irritable and destructive.

There’s plenty you can do to keep your parrot occupied, including:

Toys

The first stages of your parrot’s life are crucial to its environmental awareness and development. The bird could grow up with various behavioral problems if it isn’t nurtured.

One of the best ways to combat this is to provide toys such as:

  • Puzzles
  • Toilet paper for parrots to shred
  • Paper sticks
  • Chewable objects
  • Ladders
  • Preening rope
  • Bangles
  • Building blocks

Putting all toys into the cage at once is impossible, as it’ll cause confusion and take up too much space. Instead, regularly rotate the toys and games to keep your parrot alert and entertained.

baby parrot not eating food

Exercises

Let your 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 to walk around the house to stretch their legs and wings.

Assign time each day to interact with your baby parrot. This will help you form a bond that the parrot will take through to adulthood.

When your parrot is in its cage, place ladders and other games inside it to encourage your parrot to keep moving, as this will stimulate its mind.

Parrot Playlist

Create a music playlist for your parrot to listen to when you need to leave the house.

Current Biology confirms that parrots can process the sound of music. They also spontaneously move to music, meaning they can dance. A study by Dr. Franck Péron found that Parrots seem to enjoy:

  • Pop music
  • Rock music
  • Folk music
  • Classical music

Avoid high-tempo electronic dance music because the same study discovered that parrots subjected to this type of music squawked in 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. As a result, it’s hard to tell when chicks are unwell.

That said, many symptoms indicate when 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
  • Crop not emptying
  • Crop not getting full
  • Vomiting
  • Drooped wings
  • Refusal to move
  • Increased sleeping
  • Inactivity
  • Depression
  • Bleeding or signs of injury

If you notice one or more of these affecting your baby parrot, take them to an avian vet.

When Can Baby Parrots Leave Their Mother?

In captivity, baby parrots are normally ready to leave their mothers at around 7 to 8 weeks of age. Once a chick hatches, it matures quickly and, once weaned, is ready to leave the nest at around 8 weeks old.

Some breeders prefer to wait until 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:

Cold

Baby parrots must be housed in temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The baby parrot will shiver to generate heat if the room is too cold.

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.

Hot

The parrot will lift and shake its feathers to move cold air around its body to cool itself down. It isn’t technically shivering, but it appears that way.

Scared or Stressed

After moving your baby parrot to its new home, it 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, and small changes can unsettle them.

When around your new pet, speak gently and move slowly to avoid frightening it further. Work on building your bond but move at your parrot’s pace.

Unwell

Baby parrots hide their sickness, so it’s difficult to determine whether 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

Understandably, baby parrots take a while to adjust, especially after moving to a new environment.

As prey animals, they’re hard-wired to fear their surroundings until they know you don’t pose a threat. Until that time, they’ll be wary and fearful of you.

Some parrots don’t enjoy being handled and never will. Attempting to win your parrot’s trust by touching it more often is unlikely to help and will only make it more scared when you’re nearby.

However, baby parrots are young enough to adjust to your presence if you follow these steps:

  • Don’t make any loud noises.
  • Let it live in a quiet, neutral room.
  • Don’t handle them too often.
  • Keep it away from other pets.
  • Don’t disturb them while sleeping.

Over time and with care and attention, your baby parrot should start to trust you, allowing you to begin building a bond with your new pet.