parent aggression towards chicks....help!
by Sophie Allington
Please please help!
In Febuary I bought two Lovebirds. A peach faced male and a green pied peach faced female. They quickly settled in to their new surroundings and cage and within 3 days had mated. the female then produced 3 chicks (approxmatley born March 24th)
There are 2 larger ones who resembling the Father (I call them 'the twins')and a smaller one who is like Mother (paler and will be yellow like her).
At first the Lovebirds they were very good parents, and it was charming to watch.
Now all has changed! As soon as the chicks were able to wander outside and explore (still with just a little fluff and mostly bare), the parents mated again and the female laid more eggs. The chicks cannot fly yet but are rapidly growing more fluff and a few tiny feathers. She is now very aggressive and is harming the 3 babies...especially one of the 'twins'.
She is actively biting them to a point of damaging them and one now has a bad leg which he holds up most of the time. She is definitely only aggressive towards 'the twins' whom I assume are male, and not so much towards the little pale female one who is now as big as the other two (and was always the bravest and most independent)
I decided to take drastic action today as I could not bear the aggression any longer, and was worried the Mother would pluck the chicks to use their down for her new nest.
I removed the nest box and eggs today, hoping this will calm her down as well as give the pair a vital rest. I also transferred them all to a larger cage. The Mother continues to be very aggressive and upset. Although she squabbles with her mate they are still very much a pair. I can understand that she is confused and shocked at the sudden loss of her nest box and eggs, together with the new larger cage.
She seems to be very against the male birds...I have even seen her mate protecting the chicks from her. He will also 'tell the chicks off' when he is annoyed with them, but is not dangerously aggressive like the Mother.
The two twins look miserable,and have little wounds now (though not serious as yet). They are remarkably tough and resilient and are amazingly feeding well (when Mother is not looking) and whenever they fall or are bitten, they some how bravely clamber back up the cage monkey-fashion using their beaks.
They are certainly very tough, and full of character. But they seem to be sleeping badly and sometimes even sleep clinging on to the side of the cage where mother cannot get at them.
I feel I should give them a 'comfortable' bit of material to snuggle up in......but they are too nervous and I doubt the Mother will not let them use it anyway. When Mother eventually calms down to sleep, the 3 chicks snuggle up together on their wooden platform.... a little peace until dawn.
I really don't know what to do........and I am worried I will lose 'the twins'. I find their behavior so upsetting and what turned out to be a joy is now becoming a big worry and not so enjoyable anymore. These birds are sadly not at all tame and are really very nervous and bite hard! they are very slowly getting used to human company, but they are very very timid and hide whenever they can.
What do I do please?
-Do I separate the chicks from the parents in another cage? Are they still too young?
- Is the new cage too big for the chicks and would they prefer their previous slightly smaller cage where they cannot harm themselves so much falling?
-Do I keep them altogether and will the Mother's aggression stop eventually? (do I risk it?)
-If I do separate them can I eventually put them all back in the same larger cage when they are older?
Hand rearing is out of the question I am afraid, my current life style does not give me the time to do this unfortunately. The chicks seem to be able to eat on their own and are weaned, They are quite greedy actually and love their cereal,grain and seeds and drink water. They have a wonderful cage and lack for nothing. they have fresh fruit, water and seeds and nuts everyday and are always kept extremely clean.
Please help me with my dilemma.........I adore my little parrots and its so upsetting to see them like this.
I would be most grateful for an urgent reply as I am scared I may lose one of the chicks before very long!
sophieallington (at) mac.com