Sunday, July 4, 2010

Will Hen Feed Chicks When Male Has Died?

Hi! A person on the parrotlet forum suggested that I contact you with my question. Our male parrotlet died suddenly a few days ago and left behind his mate who just hatched out a chick today. I understand that the male helps feed the chicks - so am not sure what we should do. The female looks to be fine, but we are really not experienced with breeding birds - let alone face a situation like this. Any help you can give us would be appreciated.

Thank you for your email. Sorry to hear about the loss of your male. Actually, males usually do not ‘help’ feed the chicks. They provide food to the hen who then feeds the chicks. Some hens allow males to feed but usually it is not enough to keep the chicks alive. His job is to provide food to the hen and she feeds them.

In this instance, whether or not she will continue to incubate and provide to the chicks depends on your hen. It certainly isn’t what nature intended. Usually, they abandon the nest. In the wild, they cannot both provide food and protect the chicks and certainly will not starve themselves so it would not be unusual for her to abandon the chicks and remaining eggs. However, I have had a few hens in this situation that did continue to provide food and care for the offspring. They were hens with a lot of experience in raising offspring. Only time will tell. If this is a first-clutch, I sincerely doubt she would care for them. Instinct prevails in this situation and Mother Nature designed them to care for themselves so they can go on and raise more chicks in the future rather than sacrifice themselves over this clutch.

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