Common Tailorbird – food for nestlings

posted in: Feeding chicks | 2

This is an update of the earlier post on the Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius maculicollis) nest LINK.

“Feeding of nestlings has picked up intensity. During peak periods feeding episodes are every 2-3 minutes. Both parents seem to share the work equally for this nest, often coming one after the other followed by a gap. Neither parent seems to stay at the nest to offer protection. Feeding episodes can be broken by gaps of 20 minutes when parents (presumably) do their own feeding. Either adult will call, when bringing food, until they reach the nest when they will be silent until exit (audio recordings later).

“Food bought to nestlings is a mixture of caterpillars (top) (and other worm like invertebrates) and many different insects – small crickets (second row, right), spiders (third row, left), etc. No vegetable matter. Hard to document this on camera as approach is done carefully when we are watching and movement is erratic.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
10th June 2012

Disclosure: Only one visit was made to the nest when both parents were away. No attempt to touch the nest or disturb the surrounding vegetation. Brief episode to get some images and no flash used.

Amar

2 Responses

  1. I caught a young tailor bird in the rain don’t know what to feed her with. Please help

    • Lee Chiu San

      Depends on whether it is still begging for food or capable of eating on its own. Look at the corner of the beak. If the beak appears like that of an adult, chances are, it can feed on its own. If you still see fleshy extensions on either side of the beak, chances are, the bird has to be hand-fed.

      Tailor birds are insectivorous,and partially nectivorous. If the bird is capable of eating on its own, start with some insectivorous mix (I personally use German or American brands available from Goodwill Bird Trading in the pet sales complex around the Blocks 151 to 154 at Serangoon North Avenue 2, but if you are nowhere in the area, the food sold at most pet shops for feeding shamas and Magpie Robins is a temporary substitute.

      Moisten the food, and add some killed mealworms. Warning – mealworms bite hard, and can injure or even kill young birds by biting their guts. Only adult birds should be fed live mealworms. You can kill mealworms by drowning, or, if you are not squeamish, by snipping them into pieces.

      Hope that the bird will take the food.

      If it is a very young bird, you will have to hand feed it. Buy a number of plastic syringes from a pharmacy. Choose the smallest, with a capacity of maximum 1 c.c. per syringe. These syringes are meant for single use in the medical profession, but I have successfully re-used them up to a dozen times for feeding birds before they jammed and had to be discarded.

      Grind and moisten the above-mentioned mixture until it can flow and be sucked into the syringe. If the bird will gape, you can feed it directly. If not, get someone to help you open its beak and inject in a VERY SMALL AMOUNT of food. I cannot emphasise enough times that small birds have very small stomachs, and when force-fed with a syringe, even one tenth of a c.c. is a huge amount.

      Stop feeding as soon as you notice distress or fullness in the bird. It should close its eyes and droop when it is full.

      Repeat the process every two hours during daylight hours.

      The bird should be weaned within three weeks.

      Best of luck.

      To address this situation of what to do with baby birds, as I have some experience in aviculture, and have also currently rescued a fledgling from my cat, I will post a photographic record and instructions on hand-feeding by the time the bird in my care becomes independent in about two weeks.

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