Although most aviculturists prefer to leave parrot chicks with the parent birds until they are 2 to 3 weeks old, it is sometimes necessary to raise the babies from the day they hatch. Baby parrots must be hand-reared from day one if the parent birds have a history of abandoning, injuring or killing their offspring, and of course if the eggs were artificially incubated. Hatchlings are more delicate than older chicks, and their tiny size makes them more difficult to feed. However, when properly cared for, the survival rate of baby parrots raised from day one is quite high.
Examine the baby parrot's abdomen for the presence of a yolk sac. This appears as a yellow bubble under the skin surrounding the umbilicus. If there is a substantial yolk sac, you should wait until the chick stops defecating before feeding. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. Chicks that have little or no visible yolk sac may be fed immediately after hatching.2
Make a diluted formula mixture by combining one part formula powder, one part water and two parts electrolyte solution. Heat the formula to 105 to 110 degrees F. Stir thoroughly, especially if you heated the formula in a microwave, and use an accurate, instant-read thermometer to measure the temperature.3
Hold the baby bird's head upright with your left hand, using your thumb and forefinger. Avoid putting pressure on the eye area.4
Fill the eyedropper or pipette with the diluted formula mixture. Use the tip to gently pry the chick's beak open and slowly drip the formula into the bird's left side of the mouth. If you are facing the bird, this is the side on your right. Allow time for the bird to swallow. Most day one chicks will consume 0.25 to 0.5 cc's of formula, but this varies considerably depending on the species.5
Use a soft cloth to clean any excess formula from the baby parrot's beak and head. Formula dries very hard and can be nearly impossible to remove if not cleaned off while it is still wet. Return the chick to the brooder.6
Continue to feed using the diluted mixture and eyedropper or pipette for the first 5 days. Feed the bird every two hours for 18 hours a day (e.g. 6:00 a.m. to midnight). On the sixth day, switch to your regular handfeeding formula and use a syringe or spoon as usual.