Socializing Chicks

Many people comment on how sweet and tame my chicks are but few bother to ask how it was done. Some believe that properly socializing chicks takes a lot of work that they don't have time for. If birds play a very big role in your life already it actually takes very little.

Let your chicks use you as a jungle gym. When the chicks' pinfeathers first begin to erupt you can start taking them out for handling. Before this I never do anything except feed them. Taking them for feeding before this time allows their bodies to cool quite a bit but at this point heat loss won't be a significant problem unless the room is very cold. Take the bucket or container the chicks are in and place it in your lap while you are reading, watching television or are on the computer. I have four little tiels next to my keyboard as I write this. As you sit hold one baby at a time and pet it. Stroke its cheeks, feet, wings and especially its back. It doesn't need to be awake for this, babies will mostly just sleep, but it's important that they get used to being touched all over.

The back is very important. Many chicks I've met from other breeders are scared of being touched on their back. Hawks are a natural predator of parrots and so most are scared of objects that come from above. You can easily alleviate this fear by grabbing your chicks by the back whenever you pick them up (be careful when you do this not to wrap you fingers around the front of the bird, birds breathe by extending the keel in and out so if you press on their chest they will be unable to breathe). I've seen breeders patiently wait for their chicks to step up and step down on their finger when they move them. These babies will often be frightened of any approach over their back. I don't see the point to such movement. Chicks can't even perch until well into weaning and those who can are usually very clumsy and slow at it. Grabbing chicks and plopping them down is not only much faster, but it gets them very used to handling.

This is basically my socializing process. It takes no time because it's done while you're doing normal day activities. It gets the chicks used to handling as well as strange noises and sights around the house. When they're old enough you can spread out a towl on your lap, wear a poopie shirt and let the little guys crawl all over you.

Feisty Feathers
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