My little guys are left with the parents for the first couple of weeks but are handled and weighed everyday from the get-go. I have conditioned my parent birds to regular nest box checks, and although they always have a beady eye on what I am doing with their babies, they are quite content with minding out of the way for me to do my checks before going back in to make sure all is well with the babies.
I aim to pull my babies for hand feeding at between two and three weeks old. This first couple of weeks with mum and dad gives them the best start in life, they really are the best suited parents for little chicks just starting out. Just as breast feeding is best for human babies, young cockatiels benefit from antibodies and natural gut flora passed on from mum and dad that they would miss out on if taken on day one. Chicks that have had this time with mum and dad tend to have a better start in life than those who need to be cared for by humans right from the start for emergency reasons. (As well as this, new born cockatiels are tiny and can be easily damaged by clumsy fingers or feeding techniques, not to mention the round the clock feeding required for the first two weeks!)
The chicks weights are recorded every day to keep track of their progress and make sure they are all putting on weight as they should be, it’s a good way to be alerted to any problems early enough to be able to do something about it.
I keep my babies in an incubator setup with extra heat for them until they are big and feathery enough to be able to regulate their own temperatures, and once they are old enough start to introduce seeds and other food stuff for them to play with. Eventually they realise that these seeds and veggies aren’t just toys and that their beaks are for more than just begging for food! When they have started to crack and eat seeds on their own, I gradually cut down on their feeds until they can sustain themselves totally on their own (this usually takes about 8 weeks but can take up to 12)
From time to time I will also allow my parents birds to raise a few chicks themselves, meaning that I will sometimes have hand-tame babies available for sale. This is for the benefit of the parents. I believe that being able to rear some chicks of their own rather than having them all taken from the nest, will benefit my birds psychologically. I don’t like to think that they might become unhappy and dissatisfied feeling like they never have successful clutches. Once fledged and eating on their own, I keep the babies in with any others I am currently rearing to help them learn by association that people can be nice.
During my time with them, I have the babies out with me in the house so that they can get accustomed to household goings on such as hoovering up, music and other sights and noises. They are handled by myself, my husband and my children in an effort to get them used to all types of people, we even try to encourage all of our guests to handle and visit them so that they can get used to seeing new faces, and learn that sometimes a new face brings tasty treats!