Above is one of our favorite chickens, a beautiful big girl we called "Heart" because she was so friendly. She absolutely ADORED spaghetti (which you can see being handed to her). Our Silkie "Bantam of the Opera" is standing right behind her.
Above is a 9-day-old baby Cockatiel. We named him "Dino" after the pet dinosaur in the old Flintstones tv show, because he looked like a baby dinosaur.
Above is a 14-day old Diamond Dove, first time out of his nest.
Adult Diamond Dove, parent of the above chick.
~*~ The Story of Aloysius J. Finkledove ( "A.J." for short) ~*~
One evening early one Spring, right after a windy storm, I saw a Mourning Dove nest on the ground. The nest was a very poorly made one - just a few twigs, and the parents were a very young couple (this was probably their first nest). The 2-day-old babies were on the ground, one was dead, and the other alive, though his eyes were unopened; he was naked and unable to move.
It was beginning to rain again and night was coming on. He'd never survive the cold rain even if the neighbor's cats didn't find him, so I brought him in. (The parents went on to build another sturdier nest and successfully raised 2 other little ones that summer.)
Aloysius J. Finkledove (nicknamed "A.J.") was tiny, but he was determined to survive.
Luckily I had some squab (baby dove/pigeon) formula powder on hand because I sometimes needed to handfeed our Diamond Doves.
It's been my experience that cropfeeding seems to work best for the tiny Diamond Doves (see our Diamond Dove page: www.diamonddoves.webs.com) but for larger doves, you can improvise an "artificial crop" for them to drink from.
(A.J. drinking from the little finger cut from a rubber glove [the kind folks used to use when washing dishes]. He was 4 days old in the above picture, his eyes had just opened. )
(A.J. drinking from a shot glass which had a piece of vet wrap bandage across the top fixed by an elastic. I poked a hole in the bandage for him to put his beak into. He was 17 days old in the above picture.)
(weaned and 6 weeks old in the above picture, A.J. is very devoted to his "Daddy")
Because his eyes were unopened when we took him in, AJ became imprinted on humans and on cages. A mourning dove can live over 12 years in the wild, but their life expectancy in the wild here is about a year - due to the horrible "dove shoots" they have here in Ohio. AJ is perfectly happy as a pet bird, calling us over to him when he wants to indulge in mutual preening sessions.
Doves form deep emotional attachments to their mates and they mate for life. (Which makes the "dove shoots" even more cruel.) We wanted AJ to have a loving companion and because he was exhibiting male behavior (and by feeling his pelvic bones) we knew he was a male. We purchased a young, very pretty, white ringneck female and he has bonded with her.
Both he and Angel are both extremely tame and love humans - as well as each other. They even lay fertile eggs, though I remove them and substitute wooden eggs.
(above, Angel is offering AJ a piece of Bermuda grass bedding)
(above, AJ graciously accepted the grass, and then lovingly offers it back to Angel - who then plays the coy, modest maiden....lololol)
Interacting with them, watching them interact with each other, and hearing them coo in the morning and again at dusk are some of our very special precious moments.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
~*~ ~*~ The Story of Zumador ("Zoomer" for short) ~*~ ~*~
This fall, I noticed a very small hummingbird at our hummingbird feeder. All the hummingbirds appear to have left for the year, except for two, an obviously full size female adult, and a half-grown youngster. The adult female hung around with the little one at the feeder for about another week, and then she left. The remaining hummer was constantly at the feeder, hunched over, fluffed up, and not moving - he looked miserable. He was out there 2 days, and on the evening of the second chilly, rainy day, I couldn't stand it any longer - and went outside to check on him. I thought he was dead, he didn't move as I gently picked him up. But he was alive - barely.
Young birds look female until the males mature and get their adult male plumage, (usually all the young hummers starting their winter migration look female, and when they return in the spring the boys have their male coloring), so I have no idea if this little one is a boy or girl, for simplicity sake, I'll refer to him as a "he."
I put him on a soft cloth in a small hospital cage (examples of them can be seen on our Diamond Dove site www.diamonddoves.webs.com), and he lay on his side not moving. I hooked up a heat lamp, and carefully monitoring the temperature, warmed him up. He finally got his legs underneath him and was shakily balancing upright. I put his little beak into the hummingbird feeder and he drank a little. I fed him often during the next 2 days, making sure that he could move closer or further away from the heat lamp, as he wished.
He gained more strength and began moving around the hospital cage and using his wings. On the third day I moved him to a small regular cage, cutting thin willow branches for perches. I moved the heat lamp close to the cage, and put the hummingbird feeder into the cage with him. He enjoyed basking in the warmth of the heat lamp and drank often from the feeder.
(above, enjoying the warmth of the heat lamp)
(The solution in the hummingbird feeder above is cloudy because I added a Lory nectar powder to her sugar-water solution.)
After a week, he was doing much better, but I noticed that when the doves fluffed themselves and bits of feather dust particles wafted through his cage, he would fly after and "catch them" as though trying to feed on insects. (Hummers do not use their "tongue" to catch insects, but instead open their beaks at an odd angle and actually catch flying insects that way.)
Since hummingbirds eat a lot of insects, they do need protein and fiber in their diet. I needed to think of a better method of feeding and a better diet. He needed a more protein-rich diet, and I needed to be able to refill his solution from outside the cage.
I removed the hummingbird feeder from the cage and pried out the little plastic yellow flower. Then I took a regular parakeet glass tube waterer and filled it with the solution, and stuck the yellow flower in the solution at the bottom. I clipped 2 wires on the side of his cage, bent them back slightly, and then fitted the bottom of the waterer through the hole in the cage, and used plastic-coated wire to hold the tube to the outside of the cage.
Bless his heart, he immediately began drinking through the plastic flower. I let him drink through the flower for a few days and then removed it. And he began drinking right from the waterer!
I then looked over the different dove feeding formulas I keep on hand in the freezer. Roudybush Squab diet had 50% protein! Super! The formula is very powdery and mixes extremely well with water. His solution is made fresh twice daily and consists of this:
3 1/2 tbsp water (bottled Spring water only)
1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tbsp Lory nectar powder
1/2 tsp Squab powder (50% protein)**
He loves the solution, and it's very easy to quickly switch his old feeder with a new one from outside the cage, so he's disturbed as little as possible.
** The Squab powder is the one described on our website: www.diamonddoves.webs.com which also has a page listing sources of excellent bird supplies.
(Be sure to use only bottled Spring water, not tap water or any water that goes through a water-softener. Make changes to the solution SLOWLY to accustom the bird gradually to the new taste. And never, never, never add red food coloring or dye to solution - even in an outside feeder.)
I also put a banana in his cage once a week, hoping that it will attract fruit flies. Also, since hummers like to drink water, there is a small glass ashtray filled with fresh spring water (daily) at the bottom of his cage. And just to make sure that minerals are available, I took a mortar and pestle and ground up bird charcoal, mineralized oyster shell and cuttlebone - and sprinkle the mixture on the paper towels on the bottom of the cage.
Little Zoomer is getting stronger and growing nicely. He gets quite a lot of exercise "zooming" around his little cage. His cage is in front of a southern-facing window, so he gets lots of natural sunlight and can observe the goings on in the back yard. I deliberately have him in a small cage, because it is a safe temporary home. I do not want him banging his head hard against the cage wires which he would do if he were in a larger flight cage. And because he is a hummingbird - he doesn't need a lot of room in order to exercise his wings and fly.
Since his cage is only a temporary one, it’s safer – for his sake – that it be small. He is extremely content in his cage, and only gets nervous when people go near it. When standing away from the cage and giving him a "comfort zone" he zooms contentedly around the cage (curiously, not frantically), basks in the warmth of the heat lamp (which is kept on 24/7) and drinks his feeding solution. He exhibits the same "expression of content" that domestic pet birds do by shaking his wings and then stretching upright while shaking his tail, and then beak-swiping the perches.
Unlike AJ, Zoomer imprinted on his "real" Mom and is not comfortable with people around him. He is in a quiet "bird room" with A.J., Angel, and Henrietta (a rescued cockatiel) and is very content. I go into the room twice a day to clean cages, refresh solution, water and food and to check on them, but otherwise I am leaving them quite alone. I move slowly and speak quietly, which reassures him.
It's too late in the season for him to be making his migration. But we'll keep him well fed and cozy during the winter, and when the warm spring comes and we see the hummingbirds coming back from their winter migration - we will be setting him (or her) free.
I hope he will continue to visit our feeder, and I hope that he will find a mate and produce baby hummers. I know that every little hummingbird we see from now on will remind us of our wonderful little temporary houseguest.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Update: I just now saw that Roudybush (www.roudybush.com) has three different powder formulas for captive hummingbirds (NOT for outside hummingbird feeders): for babies, young, and adult. Their protein percentage seems a tad low to me, hummingbirds eat a tremendous amount of insects (I've read they can eat 600 fruit flies in a day).
I emailed Roudybush asking about the low protein content of their hummingbird formula, and they said that Hummingbirds do not need high protein. When I pointed out that hummers were basically insect-eaters they said:
What animals, including humans, eat often has little to do with what they need.
They also indicated that their formulas had been designed for captive hummingbirds. BUT those hummingbirds were living in a pseudo-natural environment containing lots of natural flora and insects. Folks rehabilitating sick hummers usually keep them in a cage where they do not have access to insects.
Think I'll stick with the formula I'm using since it seems to be working so well. Zoomer has tons of energy, is growing larger and he's becoming quite strong; and spends a lot of time "zooming" around his cage when he is not "sun bathing." :-)
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
A lovely lady by the name of Jill Long contacted me about an orphaned baby mourning dove, whose Mom and sibling had been killed by a cat. She brought baby Peanut over in a box which contained a soft towel. Tiny Baby Peanut was dwarfed by the towel. Peanut had no real feathers yet, only pin feather, though his eyes were open.
(below) Baby Peanut has his first feeding of Squab formula (a substitute for the crop milk he would have been drinking from both his parents). The syringe is only 1 cc, so you can see how tiny Peanut is compared to it.
(below) After only a few days, his baby feathers emerged and he tripled in size.
So far, Baby Peanut seems to prefer being fed by the syringe, which he opens his mouth wide for. He is no longer hugging the heat lamp, but moving away from it a bit because he now has feathers to keep himself warm. He is a healthy, happy, chubby little dove; and time will tell whether he is really a boy or a girl.
(above, Baby Peanut, probably about 12 days old, is now perching on my finger and exercising his wings. At this stage in the wild he would be perching on the edge of the nest and flapping his wings - strengthening them in preparation for his first flight. Today he was moved from the small hospital cage to a regular small cage. I put a low perch, close to the floor, so he can practice perching, but still have baby blankets on the cage floor for softness. As he gets older, he is going to prefer to stay on a perch rather than on the bottom of the cage, and at that time I will put paper towels on the cage floor. He still has access to a heat lamp, though does not hug it closely.)
(Above, at about 12 days of age, he seems to be growing and filling out daily)
Above, Peanut is a happy and healthy young adult. His pelvic bones are getting closer, so it looks as though he really is a "he." Since male doves are not compatible, Peanut could not be put in with AJ & Angel, but he shares a flight cage with an older female Cockatiel who is so infatuated with him that she has been making "come hither" motions and begun nesting. I would not put an adult dove in with a cockatiel, but Peanut was put in with her when he was still a baby, and they live together fabulously.
Baby mourning doves are very hardy, and not difficult at all to raise. But unfortunately, they DO take a lot of time and effort; and I have a LOT of rescue animals which I am taking care of - rescue dogs, rescue cats and rescue birds - besides raising Dachshunds. So I can no longer take in any more orphaned birds. I will be happy to show local folks how to do it, though.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
I regret that I can no longer take in orphaned birds, including mourning dove babies. Look up wildlife rehabilitators on the net - there might be some very close to you who can take care of the baby.
However, it is not difficult for folks to do it themselves. I always have on hand the things needed for orphaned mourning dove babies because, as devoted as the parents are, doves are notoriously bad nest builders and their flimsy nests frequently come apart during high winds, or with any kind of disturbance.
The things I keep on hand are:
flexible tube feeding syringes (the kind used for finches). there are metal feeding tube syringes, but I've always used the flexible plastic tube syringes - available from ladygouldianfinch.com
small "hospital" cage
baby blankets for soft bedding in the cage
heat lamp with several heat bulbs
squab (baby dove) formula and older dove formula (remember tiny baby doves drink "crop milk" from both parents, and cannot digest any solids whatsoever!) foyspigeonsupplies.com has both the squab formula for the tiny babies and the Formula 3 powder (for older dove babies) I keep the bags of formula in the freezer where they will keep almost indefinitely, only taking out a cup or so when I have baby birds to feed. If you are unsure about how to crop feed - hit youtube and watch some videos of it being done.
Additional supplies might include shot glasses, vet wrap and elastic if you can persuade the baby dove to drink by himself.
Eventually the baby will have to learn to drink water and peck seed. REMEMBER that doves eat the whole seed - they do not hull seed the way hookbills (parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, etc) do - so they will also need a source of grit (you can read on the Dainty Diamond Dove website what kind of grit and seed I like to supply for birds).
A flight cage in order to exercise muscles and learn how to fly.
Then the horrible decision. Do I release the bird or keep it? Doves live a LONG time in the wild - but, unfortunately, not here in Ohio where they have the awful dove shoots and the life expectancy drops to 12 months or less. And, contrary to popular myth, not all rehab babies (or even adults) survive long in the wild....but that's another story.
IF you decide to keep the dove - he/she MUST have a large flight cage. And doves bond for life, so you'll need to find a tame ringneck partner (easily available in any pet store) - of the OPPOSITE sex. Feel the pelvic bones and learn how to determine if your dove is male or female, and get an appropriate partner. Remember male doves do NOT live together peacefully. And a dove must have a partner in order to be happy.
Remember also that, outside of swings, doves don't play with toys much, they enjoy eating, courting and nesting. Your couple likely WILL lay eggs (perhaps even fertile ones), so make sure that you replace these with wooden eggs, such as those found at dovepage.com (get the ringneck size for mourning doves).
Taking care of babies of any species usually depends mostly on keeping them fed, keeping them warm and keeping them clean.
A few tips
(Also refer to our sister site: http://diamonddoves.webs.com/ - particularly the page: Handfeeding Baby Doves. Many of the suggestions of caring for Diamond Doves are equally applicable to Mourning Doves.)
Although one review called the book "sorely outdated" - it is one of my favorites for referring to feeding baby birds: Hand-feeding and Raising Baby Birds by Matthew M. Vriends. It can be purchased used for about $3 on Amazon.
Use ONLY bottled Spring Water (not tap water, not "bottled drinking water", not softened water) to make up the baby formula.
If the baby's eyes is closed, or it feels dehydrated or starved (check the prominence of the keel bone), keep the formula rather thin, so the baby can easily digest it.
In the mornings, if the baby's crop is empty, make the first feeding rather thin, so the baby will hydrate quickly, and then follow up in an hour or two with another feeding of normal consistency.
If the crop feels thickish or lumpy, make the feeding rather thin, and GENTLY massage the crop to try to break up the congested mass. If you can't, don't try to do it too roughly, just leave it.
Fill the crop until it feels spongy - not overfilling, which can lead to a "stretched crop" which has lost the muscle-tone to allow digestion.
The frequency of feeding depends on too many things for me to make a general statement. Starved, dehydrated and tiny babies need to be fed more frequently. And remember, baby doves drink - they don't eat - so the liquid is going to digest faster than solid food. Use your common sense and learn when and how often YOUR baby needs feeding.
Make sure the formula is lukewarm - NOT cool (babies cannot digest cool formula), and definitely NOT too warm - which can lead to crop burn, or even a crop rupture. (those are usually fatal, but some success has been had by using an artificial skin available at drug stores which are frequently used for human burns.
IF you use a microwave to warm the formula, warm only as much as will be consumed during that feeding. And use your finger to stir, stir, stir the formula - not only making it a smoother consistency, but to dissipate any "hot spots" in the formula which might burn the crop.
IF the baby is drinking by himself (as pictured on the Dainty Diamond Dove page - Feeding Baby Doves), be sure to clean off the remaining formula from the feathers, particularly beneath the chin and chest - it will harden to cement and then be impossible to remove.
Position the heat lamp to a CORNER of the small cage, so as to allow the baby to move closer or further away to maintain proper body warmth.
A baby bird cannot digest food if he is cold - he HAS to be kept warm in order to allow him to digest his food. After the baby has feathered out, he will need less outside warmth, but I still like to have it available until he is weaned.
The baby CANNOT go without formula for hours during the day. So if you work - either take the little one with you, or find someone else who can raise it.
Monitor the baby's weight and feather development to make sure he/she is thriving. KNOW how to check the keel bone to monitor healthy body mass.
Because of the extraordinary high protein of crop milk (or squab formula) baby doves feather out very quickly.....or rather, because they feather out so quickly they NEED a very high protein diet. Expect baby feathers to develop from the pin feathers in about a week. By 2 weeks, the baby should have baby feathers.
The easiest way for a baby dove to learn to peck seeds and drink water is to put him in a cage with another (preferably older female) dove for a few hours a day. If this is not possible, use your finger and tap the seed in a pecking motion to encourage him to peck on his own.
Baby doves are generally hardy and don't give up easily - even if they have been injured or starved. Although I've found antibiotics helpful for older birds, with little babies not so much; the babies either make it, or don't make it. Generally they make it - they just need a little help. :-) You can do it!