What is Co-parenting?

Article by By Marcy Covaul, President, Pyrrhura Breeders Association
www.birdcompanions.com

Co-parenting is a term used to apply to some degree of joint rearing of chicks from hatch to weaning — depending on the situation, the temperament and setup of the parent birds, and the schedule of the person doing the co-parenting. It includes, but may not be limited to, the following three methods:

  1. Supplementing handfeeding morning and evening, handling/playing with the babies, and leaving in the nest box through weaning;

  2. Handling/playing with the babies for a daily period of time (usually 5 to 15 minutes) without handfeeding, and leaving in the nest box through weaning (and even beyond); and

  3. Handfeeding in the morning, handling/playing with in the evening, and pulling from the nest box at or near fledging for handfeeding (and/or co-feeding with parents).

Some smaller aviculturists have been experimenting with variations of co-parenting for many years. Co-parenting can also be useful when first-time parents are not quite tending the babies as well as experienced parents would. The breeder can supplement feeding, also handling the babies for early socialization, while leaving with the parents (provided the parents tolerate this intrusion).

U.C. Davis did a study years ago on orange-winged Amazon babies, basically using method #2. They had rigged up a way to shut the parents out of the box, so there wouldn't be a problem with aggression toward chicks or handlers during the interactive chick play times. Follow-up studies on generations-level effects are being conducted. These hope to discern the adult temperament impacts of the co-parented birds themselves (as distinguished from either wild caught or handfed from an early age) as parents. It may be a few years before results are published.

Parent raised babies — If you want to raise only breeding birds and are not concerned with tameness, then parent-raising is an option, IF your pair are good parents and will rear to weaning and beyond. Some will and some won't! Also, you must be vigilant in removing weaned parent-raised babies from the flight with many species, as parents may pluck or otherwise attack fledglings in that confined environment, particularly if the parents want to go back to nest. Fledglings, even if tolerated, may also destroy eggs or kill new babies. This isn't true with all species or all pairs, but it's better to err on the side of caution than walk out to a chewed up baby on the floor of the flight!



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