Not only are parrots attractive and beautiful birds, but having one as a pet can be a pretty rewarding experience.
Although great companions, owning a parrot is not a simple feat, and caring for a parrot can be quite demanding.
These high demands are most important during the early stages of a parrot’s life, as in the wild, a baby parrot will be cared for by its mother for at least a year before they start to fend for themselves.
This care not only involves feeding but teaching parrot chicks how to become independent.
If you’re raising a baby parrot, you will have to take on the natural role of their mother, and knowing just what that entails will grant you success in raising your parrot.
This is a big commitment, and it’s recommended to purchase a baby parrot after they’ve been weaned to avoid any health complications.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the processes, tasks, and handy techniques that you’ll need when it comes to raising and taking care of a baby parrot.
We’ll also look at the equipment you’ll need, and top tips such as using a reputable breeder.
Growth Stages Of Baby Parrots
As mentioned, baby parrots take around a year to reach maturity.
During the first few months of their lives, they are dependent on their parents for feeding and learning how to become independent.
There are five basic development stages in a baby parrot’s growth. Let’s look at them in detail.
Also known as the hatchling stage, this is the first stage of a parrot’s life. As newly-hatched birds, parrots are born with their eyes closed.
They’re also blind, deaf, and naked, and are completely dependent on their parents (or owners).
In the wild, like most birds, parrot hatchlings are fed by their parents by regurgitating food.
In the absence of their parents, hatchlings are fed by their owners by hand. A special formula is given to the baby parrot through a syringe.
Once the parrot reaches the nestling stage, it can open its eyes. However, it is still dependent on someone to care for them.
This is also the stage of a parrot’s infanthood in which it will imprint on someone. When a baby parrot first opens its eyes it develops a deep bond with its parents.
However, if there are no other parrots present, a baby parrot will imprint on its owner instead.
This is a very vital part of a parrot’s development. During this stage of their life, they will need sound, touch, and visual stimulation.
The fledgling stage is when a parrot begins to learn how to fly.
However, you need to monitor your parrot carefully during this stage because they’re so preoccupied with learning to fly that they neglect their need to eat.
During this stage of their life, a parrot is still dependent on their parents or owners to feed them.
Once a parrot has learned how to fly, it’s a good time to clip its wings.
Wing clipping can stop a parrot from flying away, and can also protect them from dangers around a house such as ceiling fans, ovens, and windows.
However, it’s important not to clip a parrot’s wings too early, as this can prevent them from learning to fly properly.
During the weanling, stage parrots will begin to eat food independently and will be able to start consuming solid foods.
This is where parrot care starts to become a little easier as you don’t need to hand feed your parrot with formula and a syringe as frequently.
In the wild, weanling parrots will learn how to forage, and it is the time in which they develop skills that will allow them to become independent from their parents.
At the juvenile stage, parrots are classed as pre-adolescent (similar to teenagers) and will be able to fend for themselves. At this point, they no longer need the formula and can consume solid foods.
Although independent from their parents, juvenile parrots are not sexually mature, which means that they cannot mate with other parrots.
They also won’t have their full adult color yet, as this tends to happen after molting season. Do not worry if a juvenile parrot doesn’t look how you would expect.
Most reputable breeders will sell parrots at their juvenile stage, as most of the heavy and intensive care is complete.
In terms of timespans, parrots should be around 8 to 12 weeks before they are taken to a new home.
How To Feed Baby Parrots
Hand-feeding baby birds are a vital part of aviculture success.
Psittacine eggs are artificially incubated and when hatched, like baby parrots who have been pulled away from their parents, they need to be hand-fed for around three to five months.
As noted, parrots are born blind, naked, and deaf, so they are completely dependent on one another to help.
They are unable to feed themselves because of their softbills, which makes them unable to eat solid food, and their inability to thermoregulate so they need to be kept warm.
Several different methods and techniques can be used to feed baby parrots, but baby parrots will need to be hand-fed as they are unable to consume solid foods.
For instance, a bent teaspoon can be used to feed formula to a parrot, but this can get a little messy, and can be quite time-consuming.
However, spoon-feeding may produce a tamer bird, as it increases handling, and is a favored method of some of the most experienced bird handlers in the world.
With that being said, there is a greater chance of disease transmission with spoon-feeding, as the spoon repeatedly touches the baby parrot’s mouth and is dipped back into the formula.
This is largely an issue for those caring for multiple baby parrots at once.
For younger parrots, small plastic pipettes are often the preferred method of some breeders.
However, as pipettes can only hold a few ml of food at a time, they require repeated dippings for one feeding which can be very time-consuming and can potentially spread disease as well.
One of the most popular methods of hand-feeding baby birds is catheter-tipped syringes.
Syringes come in various sizes and can be used to slowly dribble food into the bird’s mouth.
They’re also easier to use when it comes to calculating exact measurements.
The best syringes are the ones that have no rubber gaskets, and that have a concave round end.
To disinfect the syringe between feeding, soak it in a tamed iodine disinfectant.
To use the syringe, gently hold the baby bird’s head by placing a finger on both sides of the beak and cupping the back of their head.
Place the syringe on the left side of the bird’s mouth and shoot the food towards the back of the head.
This is a relatively simple method but takes some practice before it is done without any mess or resistance from the baby parro.
As syringes are relatively cheap, a different syringe can be used for different babies to prevent the risk of disease or infection.
Whatever method of feeding you choose, the utensils should be disinfected between feedings and replaced periodically.
This is because baby parrots have little to no immune defenses, so they can become easily sick.
As an extra precaution, wear latex gloves when handling or feeding baby parrots.
What To Feed Baby Parrots
Wild or parent-fed baby parrots are fed by regurgitation, as they are unable to consume solid foods. However, if you are hand-feeding a baby parrot you should use formula.
Most parrot chicks are fed a dry mash formula which is mixed up fresh before each feeding.
Making a fresh batch of formula helps minimize any hygiene risks which may occur from storing food.
For each feed, the formula needs to be properly weighed and the water needs to be accurately measured.
In addition, the formula needs to be heated so that it cooks and then fed to the baby parrot at a temperature of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
If it’s under this temperature there’s a risk that the food may ferment, which can lead to infection.
Similar to baby formula, it needs to be checked for hotspots. You can also keep the food warm by leaving the feeding syringes in a cup of hot water.
The consistency of the formula will also change as the parrot ages. First feeds need to be relatively thin, with no more than 10% of the volume of food being solid.
Between two and four days, baby parrots are unable to cope with rich diets and can have upset stomachs or illness if they consume too high of a concentration of fats and carbohydrates.
As they grow, chicks can have up to 30% solids, with the consistency of their formula slightly less than applesauce.
Once a parrot has reached its weaning stage, you can start to feed them soft seeds and vegetables. Some safe foods include:
- Soft vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Cooked sweet corn kernels
- Soaked and sprouted seeds
- Greens like dandelion left or chickweed
It will take a while for a parrot’s digestive system to become robust enough to handle dried seeds and pellets.
However, you can leave a small dish of pellets in their cage for them to forage through. They should always have a shallow dish of water in their cage too.
Do not feed baby parrots water orally as they can drown. Baby parrots will receive hydration through regurgitated food (from their parents) or through the formula they have been hand-fed.
They will only need water bowls at around 4 weeks old, which is when they can start to move onto solid foods.
How much and how often you feed a baby parrot will depend on their age and growth rate.
In comparison to older birds, baby parrots will need to be fed more regularly. Feeding should be carried out between 6 A.M. and midnight.
The following guidelines are as follows:
- 1 – 2 weeks: Feed between 6-10 times a day, every 2-3 hours
- 2 – 3 weeks: Feed between 5-6 times a day, every 3-4 hours
- 3 – 4 weeks: Feed between 4-5 times a day, every 4 hours.
4-week old baby parrots can be transported to a cage with a low perch, and given a shallow water bowl
- 5 – 6 weeks: Feed 2 times a day. Able to eat soft fruits, vegetables, seeds, and a small bowl of pellets can be placed in their cage
- 7 weeks: Parrot can be transported to a larger cage with pellets scattered across the floor (in cups or small bowls)
- 8 weeks: The weaning process should begin where parrots can gain all the nutrition they need from pellets
After each feed, you should examine a parrot’s crop. This is a small muscular pouch that can be found at the front of their neck just above the top of their chest or sternum.
The crop is an enlargement of the esophagus in which they store food.
Whilst baby parrots have very few feathers you should be able to easily check their crop to see when they are full.
You can also place your thumb and index finger gently on the crop to examine its fullness.
A healthy bird will respond well to every feed, and their crop should empty in between feedings. A well-nourished bird should also produce regular droppings.
Housing A Baby Parrot
As parrots age they can be transported to a cage, however, they need to be kept at a temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit can be fatal to birds, as they can lead to numerous health problems.
However, temperatures exceeding 85 degrees can cause stress, so, there needs to be sufficient ventilation to keep your parrot cool.
Keeping hatchlings and younger chicks warm, however, is far more complicated, as even the smallest temperature change can be fatal.
In the absence of the parent birds, it is your task to provide the baby parrots with enough warmth to help them survive.
Before your parrot is old enough to be transferred to a cage, they need something known as a brooder. Let’s look at them in more detail.
There are as many different baby bird brooders as there are formulas. From homemade wooden boxes to adapted metal containers, or glass tanks with custom heaters.
No matter what it looks like, the brooder serves one purpose – to thermoregulate newly hatched chicks.
As brooders can be expensive to purchase, you can make your homemade brooder to accommodate your parrot chick(s).
However, avoid using heating pads as these often result in cooked babies, thermal injuries, or cold babies as it is difficult to maintain a constant temperature.
The issue of not having precise humidity control can be quite difficult when using a homemade brooder.
Commercial baby brooders, although more expensive, have more accurate temperature settings.
How To Make A Brooder
Although there can be issues with thermoregulating a homemade brooder, you can easily make one to house a baby parrot.
It’s best to avoid using cardboard as they don’t last long and cannot be cleaned.
For the best results use a fish tank.
Not only can these be easily sanitized, but you can place a small aquarium in a much larger aquarium or plastic pan which should be filled with about 3-4 inches of heated water.
The water should be maintained at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) with a submersible aquarium thermostat heater.
You should also add salt to the water to reduce the growth rate of pathogenic bacteria. Replace any evaporated water.
Try to create a brooder that allows for your parrot to move about as it grows, but be wary of using too big of a brooder, especially if you are caring for more than one baby parrot at a time, as this helps with disease prevention.
Parrot babies who are less than 2 weeks old can be kept on paper towels. Their bedding needs to be kept clean and dry and should be replaced after each feeding.
After a couple of days, to firm up the bedding, transfer your baby parrot onto paper towels and wood shavings to prevent splayed legs.
At around 2-3 weeks of age, parrot babies can be transferred to small plastic containers lined with newspaper that are buried under a few inches of wood shavings.
Be mindful of using wood shavings, however, as some curious chicks may try to eat them.
Using towels can help you to see what droppings your baby parrot has released, but their feet and feathers can quickly become caked with feces, and a lot of time and energy will be needed to keep washing the towels.
Disposable diapers are a great alternative to use as bedding, however, they can be expensive. Stick to using processed paper products like paper towels or newspapers.
Avoid using walnut shells, corn cob, and pellet-type beddings.
If you’re using a commercial brooder, they will already have a heating function that can be thermostatically controlled.
If using a homemade brooder, trying to maintain the right temperature can be a little difficult, but not impossible.
Parrots are not able to thermoregulate themselves until around 4 weeks old when their feathers have grown.
So, you only need to control the temperature of your baby parrot for the first 3 to 4 weeks of their life.
It’s important to keep your baby parrot warm as chilled babies may die, even after being heated up.
The room in which you’re nursing your baby parrot should be kept somewhere between 78 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature inside the brooder should be:
- 1 – 5 Days: 96°F
- 5 – 10 Days: 95°F
- 10 Days (or When They Have Begun to Develop Feathers: 91°F
- When They Have Most of Their Down Feathers: 84-89°F
- When Both Their Wings and Head are Mostly Covered by Feathers: 72-82°F
As noted, at around three to four weeks of age, parrots can begin to regulate their body temperatures.
You can then remove the heat source, but make sure that the room in which the parrot is living is kept at a warm temperature.
To make sure your parrot is being kept at the right temperature make sure you monitor its appearance.
If temperatures are too high, a chick may pant, be restless or hyperactive, and may have dry and reddened skin.
If temperatures are too cold, a chick may have digestive disorders, be unable to feed, shiver, be inactive, or display crop stasis (size reduction). As noted, cold temperatures can result in death.
Wild parrots nest in cavities in wooden tree trunks, which tend to have relatively high humidity. Paired with moist droppings from chicks, their natural nurseries are humid spaces.
Hand-reared parrots, however, are traditionally raised on dry heating pads, electric coils, or light bulbs.
As noted earlier, you can use a water bath (small plastic container or aquarium in a larger plastic container or aquarium) as a source of both heat and humidity.
Studies have found that parrot babies kept in a range of 55-70% humidity are quieter, fatter, and have a greater growth rate than those kept at levels of 15-35% humidity.
Water baths are most effective in the first week of a parrot baby’s life.
From around 7 weeks, parrots can be transferred from brooder or lined plastic containers to cages.
As they are still growing, you must pick a cage that will provide enough room for your parrot to be comfortable as it grows.
Here are some tips on picking the perfect cage.
Consider The Space Between Bars
This is one of the most important factors as parrots can easily get their heads stuck or escape from cages if the bars are too far apart.
This is particularly important if you are out of your house for several hours per day and cannot supervise your bird.
For small parrots, like conures, the bars should be spaced 1/4 of an inch apart.
For medium-sized birds, like cockatiels or parakeets, bars 1/2 an inch apart. For larger parrots, like the Macaw, bars should be 1 inch apart.
Your parrot will need a cage big enough that allows them to roam freely. If their cage is too small they can become stressed as they will feel claustrophobic.
To make the cage easier to clean, line the bottom of it with substrate. Wood shavings are a pretty popular form of substrate, but for practicality, a newspaper will do just fine.
By lining the bottom of your parrot’s cage, it will make it easier to remove any old seed husks and feces each time you sanitize the cage.
Food And Water Bowls
Most cages will come with at least one food and water tray.
However, these trays are usually made to place at the bottom of the cage, and it’s far too easy for parrots to drop empty seed husks (or even feces) into their bowls, especially whilst they’re still learning to forage.
This can lead to underfeeding, so it’s always worth adding some upright feeders to the cage as well.
That way you can be sure that there’s always food available for your parrot.
Parrots spend the entirety of their time on their feet, even whilst sleeping, so perches are an important part of setting up your cage.
Wild parrots have the benefit of trees and branches providing resting spots in various shapes, sizes, and widths.
It’s important to try and emulate this inside your pet parrot’s cage.
Allowing them to adjust their feet to different widths of purchase will help their flexibility and help prevent health problems later on in their lives.
Rope perches are pretty popular and they can be easily adapted to fit any size cage. But it’s also good to include a Pedi perch, as this allows your parrot to keep their claws filed down.
When adding perches, be sure to space them out so that they don’t become too overcrowded.
Just because parrots before higher heights, it doesn’t mean that they will ignore lower down perches.
At first, you’ll want to place the perches around the mid-level of the cage.
This is so that they can become familiar with them. Once used to the perches, you can begin to move them up higher.
Training Baby Parrots
If you’ve bought your parrot from a reputable breeder, they will have done most of the legwork when it comes to training.
However, your parrot will need to get used to your presence and their new environment and to get them to behave properly, you will have to do some of your training.
For a sociable and tame parrot, it will take some time and patience. Here are some tips to get you started.
Handling Your Parrot
To start handling your parrot, you need to make sure that they are comfortable with you touching or holding them.
If you don’t do this properly, then your parrot will believe that it is the dominant figure in the relationship.
When handling your parrot, always make sure that you stand above them, so that they know that you are the master.
You can then encourage your bird to move onto your finger by gently placing your finger on its lower chest.
Use commands such as “up”, “come on”, or “step-up”. These will become signifiers to your bird that you want them to climb onto your finger.
Every time your parrot successfully follows a command, be sure to reward them with a treat as positive reinforcement (similar to dog training).
You may have to practice over and over again until the command becomes second nature to your bird.
A cool trick is to practice laddering with your hands. This is where you continuously move your hands into a higher position whilst encouraging your parrot to keep stepping up.
Not only is this a fun activity, but it will also help to develop a strong bond between you.
Discourage Biting Or Aggressive Behavior
Pet parrots should never be allowed or encouraged to bite or behave aggressively towards others.
But it’s worth recognizing that parrots often give gentle “nibbles” as a sign of affection.
However, when they do this they will use their tongue to touch your skin rather than their beak.
Most parrots will also use their beak to help maintain balance, and if they are being handled they may use your hands or arm to help coordinate themselves.
If your parrot moves suddenly towards your hands, don’t assume that they are going to bite you, as this can make your parrot feel nervous.
However, biting should not go unpunished, and if you do get bitten it’s important to remain calm.
Instead of shouting, firmly say “no”, and place your palm in front of your parrot’s face as a stop gesture.
If your parrot continues to bite you, blow a sharp puff of air at them until they release.
Put them away in their cage and don’t reward them with any treats so that they know it is a punishment.
Don’t Overfeed Them With Treats
Only give your parrot a treat when you want to encourage them to do something.
Giving them too many treats too often will break the association between treats and training.
It can also lead to overfeeding, and your parrot may reject their regular food in favor of delicious treats instead.
Entertaining Baby Parrots
As parrots often spend the majority of their time in their cages, you must provide them with entertainment to help keep them mentally and physically fit.
If there is not enough stimulation for them they can become irritable and destructive. However, there are lots of different ways that you can keep your bird preoccupied.
At the earlier stages of their life, parrots must develop environmental awareness. If they don’t they may develop a range of behavioral problems. Fortunately, toys are a great way to develop this skill.
Some toys that are good for entertaining parrots are:
- Building Blocks
- Preening Rope
- Paper Sticks
- Chewable Objects
- Toilet Paper (to shred)
Bear in mind that you should not put every toy for your parrot in the cage at once as this will confuse them, and make the cage too cluttered.
You’ll want to regularly rotate the toys, which will keep your parrot alert, engaged, and entertained.
You should let your parrot out of its cage daily so that it can have mobility and get a change of scenery.
Keeping a parrot in their cage for too long can cause them to become withdrawn or reclusive, so they must walk around your house to stretch both their legs and wings.
Make sure you set aside some time each day to interact with your parrot.
Not only will this socialize them and stimulate their mind, but it will also help to strengthen the connection between them.
Place some toys or activities inside their cage that encourage movements, such as ladders and puzzles, so even when they are inside their cage they can be stimulated.
Music And Playlists
If you need to leave the house for an extended period of time, make a playlist for your parrot to listen to whilst you’re gone.
Not only is it more comforting than the sound of an empty house, but research also shows that parrots can process the sound of music.
This means that they will spontaneously move to music, which is pretty similar to dancing.
Studies show that parrots respond best to rock, pop, folk, and classical music. Be sure to avoid high-tempo music such as electronic dance, as that can cause them distress.
How To Tell When A Baby Parrot Is Sick
It is very rare to see parrots showing signs of illness in the wild.
This is because sick birds are usually the first that are attacked by predators as they can sense that they are weak and easy targets.
This means that it’s hard to tell when a baby parrot is unwell. However, there are several symptoms that you should watch out for. These include:
- Poor feathers
- Unusually fluffed feathers
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in drinking habits
- Crop not getting full
- Crop not emptying
- Refusal to move
- Sleeping more often
- Bleeding or other signs of injury
- Weakness or lack of energy
If you notice any of these symptoms (or any other irregularities) with your parrot you must take them to an avian vet specialist. They can help diagnose and treat your parrot.
You need to be extra cautious whilst your bird is young, as this is when they are most vulnerable. Even the smallest changes in their health can have fatal effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Get your last-minute queries answered below!
Why Is My Baby Parrot Shivering?
There are numerous reasons why baby parrots may shiver or shake. It could be as simple as their cold, nervous, excited, or scared, or could also be a sign of illness.
Let’s look at some of the most common reasons as to why they shake.
- They’re too Hot: Parrots will lift and shake their feathers to move cold air around their body when they’re too hot.
Although they’re not technically shivering, it looks very similar and is their way of trying to cool down.
- They’re too Cold: As noted, baby parrots need to be kept in warm temperatures, as they are unable to thermoregulate themselves.
If a baby parrot shivers, it could be trying to generate body heat if they are too cold.
- They’re Stressed or Scared: Parrots can be nervous or stressed out when they’re in new, unfamiliar environments (especially if they are away from their mother for the first time).
Birds are highly sensitive to their environments, and even the smallest change can cause upset.
Speak slowly and move gently around your parrot, and take time building your bond as trying to rush a connection can make your parrot feel unsettled.
- They’re Ill: Illnesses in baby parrots are easily hidden, which is why it can be difficult to pick up on it, so you have to monitor their body language.
Shaking is one way in which a parrot may signal that they’re unwell. If you’re unsure, take your parrot to an avian vet, just to be on the safe side.
When Can Baby Parrots Leave Their Mothers?
Although wild parrots may stay with their mothers for up to a year, parrots bred in captivity are normally ready to leave their mothers at around 7 to 8 weeks.
This is because parrots mature quickly, and once they are weaned they are ready to leave the nest.
However, a lot of breeders prefer to wait until a parrot is around 12 weeks old before they separate them from their mothers.
One of the reasons is that some parrots take longer to wean than others, and this is usually dependent on both their genetics and personality.
What Should I Do If My Baby Parrot Is Scared Of Me?
Like most domesticated animals, it can take a while for baby parrots to adjust to new environments.
In the wild parrots are prey, so they’re hard-wired to fear or be cautious of their surroundings until they feel safe or relaxed.
Until they are relaxed it’s very likely that your baby parrot is nervous, and is still trying to figure out whether or not you are a threat.
There’s also the possibility that your parrot doesn’t like being handled.
It can take a lot to build up trust, and attempting to gain their trust by handling them more frequently can do more damage than good.
However, with a bit of time and patience, your parrot will become comfortable with your presence and touch.
Here are some helpful tips for building trust and calming your bird:
- Don’t make loud and sudden noises
- Don’t over-handle your bird
- Keep your parrot away from other pets until they are comfortable
- Don’t disturb your parrot whilst they’re sleeping
- Keep your parrot in a quiet and neutral room
With some time, care, and attention, your baby parrot will learn to trust you and you will be able to build a bond with them.
Caring for a baby parrot is no easy feat. As they’re born blind, naked, and deaf, baby parrots will be completely dependent on you for the first few days of their lives.
Although they mature quickly, they need constant care and attention until they are around 3-4 weeks old.
It can also be hard to build a relationship with pet parrots.
As prey animals, they’re naturally nervous and cautious, but with some time and patience you can build up a bond that will last their lifetime.
Although difficult at times, parrots are very rewarding pets. Not only are they sociable, but they’re entertaining, and love showing off.
We hope this guide has helped prepare you for caring for baby parrots.