Hand-raising baby ringneck doves, whether as pets or in wildlife rehabilitation, requires warmth, a clean living area for the birds, and proper feeding. There are three stages to bird development. During the "hatchling" phase, the bird is naked or has some fuzz and has not yet or may have just opened its eyes. "Nestlings" are bigger birds with eyes open, but still fuzzy rather than feathered. "Fledglings" are feathered and beginning to explore outside of the nest. The fledgling phase usually occurs after three to four weeks. If you, rather than the parent ring doves, are hand-raising the birds, you will have to provide care and feeding during all three stages.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Margarine tub
- Shredded newspaper
- Heat lamp or pad
- Commercial hand-feeding formula
- Syringe and tube
- Large enclosure
Make a "nest" out of a clean plastic margarine tub or bowl. Fill the nest 2/3 with shredded newspaper, to be changed daily.
Provide a heat lamp or heat pad. The warmth that the bird would normally receive from sleeping underneath its parent needs to be provided via a heat pad under the nest or a heat lamp over the nest.
Prepare a commercial mixture designed for hand-raising baby parrots. Simply add hot water and stir until the desired consistency is reached. Nestlings need a thin, gruel-like consistency. Heat the food to between 35 and 40.6 degrees Celsius.
Feed the nestling by using a syringe and tube to release the mixture directly into the bird's crop. Gently open the bird's beak and stretch the neck upwards. Carefully insert the tube down the throat, avoiding the glottis at the base of the tongue, Release the food slowly. If the bird starts to spit up, remove the feeding tube immediately.
Feed two or three times daily, or whenever the crop has emptied. On average, a nestling will need about 5ml per feeding, or until the crop feels full and firm to the touch.
Hatchlings and Nestlings
Move fledglings from the nest into a large enough enclosure for the bird to walk, climb and flap its wings. Add branches for perching and climbing
Feed a thicker mixture. Fledglings will need about 15ml per feeding.
Introduce seeds and a shallow water dish to the fledgling's enclosure
Slowly reduce hand-feeding once the bird is eating seeds.
Tips and warnings
- Put a fledgling dove in an enclosure with adult ring doves. The fledgling will learn to eat seeds faster by observing its elders.
- Trichomoniasis, also called "canker," is a contagious disease common in ring doves. Symptoms include vomiting, anorexia and a ruffled appearance. In the later stages, yellow or white, foul-smelling "cankers" appear in the crop, throat, and mouth. To avoid Trich, quarantine infected birds and disinfect feeding tubes between use. Trich can be treated with a one-time treatment of Emtryl.
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