Problems can arise if the mother refuses to look after one of her chicks. In this event, you’ll need to hand-feed the chick until it’s 8 weeks old. At this point, the chick will be weaned and can feed itself.
If a mother budgie doesn’t feed her chicks, you’ll need to get some formula and a needleless syringe.
Inject the food slowly, taking 15-20 seconds, and repeat until the baby budgie’s crop is full. A chick will need 2-4 ml of food at 2 weeks old, 4-5 ml at 3 weeks old, and 5-7 ml at 4 weeks old until weaning.
Baby budgies should be fed 6 times a day when they’re very young, every 3-4 hours. As they grow older, increase this to every 4 hours and begin offering solid foods after 5 weeks.
Baby budgies should never miss a meal and will rarely survive more than 24 hours without food.
Why Do Budgies Not Feed Their Babies?
It’s believed that if a person touches a baby bird, the parents won’t accept it. However, birds don’t rely on their sense of smell, so they’re unlikely to be concerned about the chick’s scent.
Olfactory senses aren’t as well-developed as vision. As a result, if you return a young bird that’s fallen out of the nest, the mother won’t reject it and continue to provide it with food.
However, it’s different when the mother has intentionally abandoned the chick. In this situation, putting the chick back in the nest is unlikely to help as there’s a high chance that the mother won’t feed it.
Here are some common reasons why mother budgies stop feeding their chicks:
Chick Falling from Nest
A mother budgie may stop feeding her chick if it falls out of the nest and onto the ground.
Parents will likely view it as a waste of time and energy. So, they’ll divert their attention to the chicks that remain under their care, leaving the baby to fend for itself.
Survival of the Fittest
The chick may be sick, underdeveloped, diseased, or deformed. The mother can detect this in the chick and may choose to abandon it for any of these reasons.
This can include throwing it out of the nest, ceasing to feed it, or killing it to protect the other babies. According to the National Academy of Sciences, this is sometimes decided by which chicks beg the loudest, with the weaker ones being quieter.
Similarly, if the mother realizes there are too many chicks, she may remove the weaker ones to ensure that others have a better chance of survival.
This saves her time and resources that would otherwise be spent on a chick unlikely to survive.
Sometimes, budgies are compelled to abandon their young due to food scarcity.
They may realize there won’t be enough food for all of their offspring. So, the mother focuses her energy and attention on ensuring that some of them survive, ignoring the rest.
A mother may even abandon all her chicks if she believes there isn’t enough food to support herself. She can have more chicks if she survives, so it’s unwise for her to risk dying due to looking after her current chicks.
Sometimes, budgies abandon their chicks, even if there’s sufficient food for everyone, but food competition is strong. For example, you may have a dominant budgie that guards the food.
According to Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the parents believe they won’t survive long-term, especially if they’re supporting chicks, which leads to the mother ceasing to feed her young.
So, provide plenty of food. If you have several budgies in the same enclosure, consider setting out two or more food and water sources.
Better put the parents and their chicks in a new enclosure with their own secure food source.
What Food To Feed Baby Budgies?
Some commercially available budgie-chick diets and supplements provide a balanced diet of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, similar to what a newly hatched budgie would get from its parents.
Chick food should be blended based on the package directions.
It should have a gloopy consistency and be neither hot nor cold. If it’s too hot, it can burn the chick’s throat. If it’s too cold, it might lodge and decay in the chick’s throat, causing sour crop.
Each chick’s meal should be precisely measured and supplied at a temperature comparable to an adult budgie’s regurgitated seed. A thermometer may be used to measure the temperature.
Never use a microwave to accelerate the warming process as this could cause hotspots in the food. The ideal temperature of the food is 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
How To Feed A Baby Budgie with A Syringe
Get a needleless syringe to guide food into the chick’s beak. Before each use, sterilize the syringe by cleaning it with soap and water or boiling it for 5 minutes. Then, allow it to air-dry until cool.
Prepare The Syringe And The Chick
Prepare the chick food based on the instructions on the rear of the container. Once it’s ready, put the syringe in the food and draw back the plunger.
While holding the syringe, use your other hand to prepare the chick. Then, wrap your thumb and forefinger over the chick’s body, lightly enclosing the base of its neck.
Get The Food in The Beak
Touch one side of the baby’s beak with the tip of the syringe as this should encourage it to open its mouth. Use the other side of the beak if it doesn’t open. Then, guide the syringe into the mouth.
Instead of aiming directly at the beak, approach from the side and slightly above; the syringe should be at a 45-degree, downward angle.
Once inside, steadily deliver the food into the budgie’s open mouth. Don’t release too much food at once to avoid choking the budgie. Remove the mouth of the syringe after 15 to 20 seconds.
Wait a few seconds before touching the baby’s beak again. If the chick’s beak opens up, begin feeding. Every 15-20 seconds, repeat the process.
When To Stop Feeding
Cease this process once the budgie is full. An easy way to tell if it’s full is by measuring the food you provide. A baby budgie will consume the following:
- 2-4 ml each feeding at 2 weeks old
- 4-5 ml at 3 weeks old
- 5-7 ml at 4 weeks old until weaning
However, these are estimations. Better ways to stop feeding include when the:
- Baby has stopped feeding and won’t open its beak. This isn’t a concern, as long as it’s eaten near the lowest estimate of the expected quantity based on its age.
- Chick eats the entire meal. Next time, add some extra food, but don’t exceed the age limit for the young budgie unless your vet recommends it.
- Budgie’s crop appears full. When the crop’s full, it should bulge slightly and feel hard when touched.
Once the budgie has finished eating, wipe the region around the beak and crop with a clean, soft cloth. It should be dampened with water to prevent uneaten food from caking on the baby’s beak.
Why Won’t My Baby Budgie Eat?
Baby budgies refuse to eat when:
- Not being fed correctly
If the budgie is sick, it’ll lose its appetite. If you notice other symptoms of illness, contact your vet.
You can ensure you’re not over-feeding your chick by tracking how much food you’re offering and at what times.
Ideally, a chick will consume 2-4ml each meal at 2 weeks old, depending on its size, and this rises to 4-6ml after 3 weeks and 5-8ml after 5 weeks.
Chicks might refuse to open their beak if you’re feeding them in quick succession or too much. Likewise, baby budgies refuse to eat if you’re mishandling them or the syringe.
How to Get a Baby Budgie to Eat?
If your baby budgie refuses to eat, you must make it feel more comfortable. Ensure it’s warm while you attempt to feed it. Use a soft towel to cover it, but avoid holding it too firmly or squeezing.
Never open its beak by force, and don’t force-feed the budgie if it hasn’t eaten its regular amount.
Always wait for it to open its beak naturally by tapping the edge with the syringe. The idea is to mimic their chick’s natural eating pattern.
A vet may recommend a tiny spray of warm water and crop massaging if the chick refuses to eat.
How Long Can a Baby Budgie Go Without Food?
A chick is unlikely to survive for more than 24 hours without eating because they have a fast-paced metabolism. Chicks burn calories to produce energy quickly, so they need to eat every few hours.
How To Tell If A Baby Budgie Is Hungry?
You can tell if a baby budgie is hungry by checking how long it takes for the crop to empty. Touch the bottom of the chick’s beak with your finger after a meal, as the crop should feel puffed out and firm.
After feeding, check the crop every 60 minutes. It’s time for another feeding session when the crop barely protrudes and feels mushy but not empty.
Of course, there’s no need to inspect the crop after each feeding session. Check it once every 1-2 days to verify if it’s still emptying regularly.
Here are other common signs of hunger in baby budgies:
- Being more alert and restless
- Crying out and chirping
- Opening and shutting their beaks as if seeking food
- Moving their heads to the side as if looking for food
- Tilting their heads toward your fingers, hands, or clothes
How Often Do You Feed Baby Budgies?
Feed the chicks at least 6 times a day initially. Depending on the chick’s age, the food will be cleared from the crop within 2-4 hours. So, it’ll need to be fed every 3-4 hours.
Baby budgies develop quickly, and their food consumption must keep pace. After 3 weeks, the feeding schedule should become less demanding. Then, feeding can be done every 4 hours.
You may start putting food in bowls after 5 weeks, allowing the budgie to follow its natural urge to forage, and it’ll be self-sufficient after 6-7 weeks.
However, you’ll have to monitor its eating habits since not all budgies adapt to independent eating as soon as others. At 8 weeks, hand-feeding may still be necessary if the budgie isn’t eating independently.