Nita's Nest - Moxie, the story of a Meyers handfed from day 1

My meyers pair, Connie and Jasper, had uncharacteristically gone back to nest while I was handfeeding their last two kids.  Normally they wait about six months between clutches.  I found they had hatched two kids on October 11 and on October 13 (2005). 
They still had two more eggs as well.  I checked their box on Saturday, the 15th, and found one baby dead and the other with no food in it's crop.  The parents were in the box but not brooding the chicks or eggs.  I made the decision to remove eggs and chicks. 

I checked the two eggs and found one was DIS (dead in shell) and the other was heard to be faintly peeping.  The peeping egg and the live chick were placed into the usual brooder set-up which is a plastic Kritter Keeper placed over a heating pad.  I placed shredded newspaper in the brooder, covered with several layers of paper towels. 

Since the chick was way too small to use the usual bent spoon I've been using for years, I decided on an eye dropper.  ONE drop was given, and apparently that was too much, for the baby died within about a second.  I felt incredibly guilty, thinking I should have known a drop would be too much. 

The egg was still peeping, so I had one more chance.

The next morning, Sunday the 16th of October, the egg was still peeping but there was no sign of the chick trying to hatch.  Sunday afternoon I was getting a bit concerned, and in the end I removed the shell very carefully from the chick, and released him.  I believe he would not have been able to hatch on his own, since his beak and eye tooth was not in the proper area where the airspace is.  This chick was very tiny and I knew I needed something VERY small to use as a feeding implement. 
I ended up fashioning a tool from one of those plastic rectangular things that are used on loaves of bread to keep the wrapper twisted.  I cut this into a tool that was pretty thin on one end and wider at the other, so I could more easily hold it. 

First feeding was later that night, after he had absorbed most of his yolk sack.
I gave what amounted to about a half drop of very thin formula.  I have been feeding Zupreem handfeeding formula so that is what I had on hand.  I mixed it very thin and added some Probiotic powder, to give the baby some good bacteria he would not be getting from the parents.

The baby on day 1 ~ October 16, 2005
Weight 4 grams
I fed the baby every 70 minutes to start with, round the clock.  I didn't let myself get too hopeful to start with, because it is just so hard to handfeed a newly hatched chick.  Normally I pull my kids at ten days, and they are huge by comparison.  Plus the parents have given them a great start in life.  I knew this would be a battle.

October 17 ~ 2nd day of life
Weight 4 grams
October 18 ~ Day 3
Weight 6 grams
October 19 ~ Day 4
Weight 6 grams
October 20 ~ Baby's 5th Day
Weight 6 grams
By Friday the 21st of October, I was feeling very hopeful.  He was eating better and had doubled in size, up to 8 grams.  He was eating every hour and a half during the day and going for two hour stretches at night. 

When I fed him at midnight he was doing great!  Very lively and sitting up really well.
This picture was taken around midnight. 
I was feeling extremely good about things.

Two hours later, that all changed.
October 21 ~ 6th day of life
Weight 8 grams
When I got up at 2 am to feed him, I found him UNDER the paper towels.  He had been so lively he not only managed to get under all the layers of paper towels but had also pushed aside the shredded paper and was lying directly on the plastic, and over a hot spot in the heating pad.  He was stretched out, very pale, and very hot to the touch.  He was so close to death I expected him to stop breathing at any moment.  I picked him up and held him in my hand, lightly blowing on him to try to cool him off a bit.  I gently stroked his back and told him to fight.  His breathing seemed very labored and he had no feeding response when I put my fingers at the sides of his beak. 

When he was still alive after 15 minutes, I laid him gently back on the paper towels.  No danger of him getting under them now.  I set my timer for another two hours and went back to bed with a very heavy heart.  I fell asleep saying prayers for this little guy. 

When the timer went off at 4:15 I dreaded what I would find, but to my surprise he was still alive.  He seemed in the same condition, but the fact that he had made it for two hours was a miracle to me.  I again talked to him, telling him repeatedly to fight for his life.

At 6:15 he was still alive!  This kid was a fighter!  But now he showed signs of dehydration from the heat he'd suffered.  He still had some food in his crop from the midnight feeding of the night before, too, which was not good.  When birds get dehydrated, the water is drawn from the crop leaving behind hardened thick food that can't continue through the system.  Eventually this leads to sour crop, where gasses form in the crop and make it blow up like a balloon.  He was a mess.  And he still had no feeding response.  I got maybe half a drop of warm water with some probiotics into him, but that was all I dared. 

For the next 24 hours or so it was really touch and go.  I did my absolute best to bring him back.  I mixed baking soda with water and probiotics to try to counteract the sour crop and to rehydrate him.  One half to one drop at a time.  At the last feeding I gave him on Saturday night before I went to bed I was almost ready to give up.  He was acting like he was in terrible discomfort - craning himself over backwards and flopping around, and the crop was still very gassy.  I could sometimes "burp" the air out but it quickly formed again.  My husband said "what do you think?" and I nearly cried.  It was definitely a low point.  But the kid was still alive and not giving up, so neither would I.  I had told some friends about this while it was going on, and I had people all over praying for this kid!  From Mexico to Australia to New Zealand, on both coasts of this country and in places in between, people were rooting for this little bit of fluff to make it.  It was incredible.  I honestly believe it made all the difference. 

At the 2 am feeding he seemed less uncomfortable, and his feeding response was there for a second!  I mixed some applesauce in with the warm water and baking soda and probiotics and he took a couple drops. 

At 4 am his crop was actually smaller for the first time! 

Things got progressively better and after a couple days you'd never know he was at death's door such a short time before. 

This picture was taken on October 23, when he was one week old and just starting to come back from his brush with death.

Here you see him in a Cool Whip container, with tissues under and around him.  I was taking no more chances with him getting under the bedding and overheating. 
October 23 ~ still 8 grams
I was amazed he didn't lose weight during this time
It was at this time, as I saw him coming back, that I named him Moxie.  I thought it was a very fitting name, because if anyone had shown moxie, it was this little fighter.
October 23 ~ one week old, Moxie is looking good again here!
Same feeding - look how he can lift his head again!
On October 25, Moxie finally had a weight gain.  He was up to a whopping 12 grams! 
October 26 ~ about a week and a half old
Moxie's weight was a bit lower when weighed this morning, down to 10 grams,
but he still seemed to be doing well so I wasn't alarmed.
These were taken October 27th, and you can see how nicely he's sitting up again.  Also the tiny little slits where his eyes will open someday soon.  And doesn't he look to be smiling in the pic on the right? 
Weight back up to 12 grams, too.
Also taken the 27th, this pic shows Moxie in a smaller plastic container - also lined with paper toweling - within the Cool Whip container.  I had noticed his legs spreading a bit and was concerned at his developing splayed legs, so I found the smaller container helped train his legs to remain in better position.
October 30th - Moxie is 2 weeks old!
He is up to 14 grams now and doing really well.
Above two pix are taken before feeding.
Still using my trusty flat plastic feeding tool,
or more accurately the second one since the first broke!  Soon he should be graduating to a small spoon. 
And look at my big boy after feeding! 
He actually has a decent sized crop now and can sit up both before and after eating.
The eyes are still not open, but very close.
Feeding intervals are now 3 hours!!  Yes, I can sleep for 3 hours at a time now!
This page was last updated: 1/2/2014
October 31, 2005
Moxie has gained a couple more grams to weigh in at a whopping 16 grams!
November 1, 2005
He is definitely back on track. 
Another 2 grams weight gain puts him up to 18 grams!
November 2, 2005
Up to 20 grams!
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Anita M. Golden
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