Posted by: Mossie | 2008/09/13

Cape Sparrow

On 2008-09-09 I was in a shopping centre when a Cape Sparrow (Mossie) chick fell from the roof (inside the centre). I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for my order when I noticed this. I saw the parents (?) come down and peck at the little one. It was lying on its back. I went over and picked it up. I couldn' t see the nest anywhere as the roof (or any other nesting area) was very high up.

I took the chick with me. It has feathers and even small tail feathers. It can flap its wings but can' t fly. When its cold it doesn' t move welll. I' ve read somewhere once that you' re not suppose to feed chicks Pronutro. I tried giving it small seeds as it started to peck two days ago. Today I noticed that the seeds are not digesting. I gave it very small pieces of meat, twisting it like it was a worm and it was eager to eat it and managed to grab it. I did this twice of over two days but not again. I am giving it watery Bfast cereal which is like Pronutro. It is feeding well on it but I know there must be something more/else I must feed it.

I don' t want to see it die. Can you please advise me on how to care for this chick? I would also like to know when would be a good time to release it, if possible at all? How will I know if it will adapt back into the ' wild'  or became too tame? I am keeping it warm with a padded warm water bottle, making sure it' s not too hot nor too cold. It feeds itself from a syringe. I push a little, it swallows and appears to determine by itself when it' s full. At the moment I' m feeding it more or less every four hours but not during the night when I' m sleeping. Any advise would be much appreciated.


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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Dear Mossie

I also think a rescue centre of some sort may be the best to speak to.

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Our users say:
Posted by: daphne | 2013/07/15

we hand reared a cape sparrow, she is 4 years of age and live's in our bedroom. she goes into the kitchen but will not go into any other room in the house. Is this normal behaviour?

Reply to daphne
Posted by: jax | 2008/09/15

Hi Mossie,

- ok, going on the info you' ve given:

for a sparrow of that age, Pronutro is not the worst thing you can feed it. If possible, get parrot hand-rearing formula from a bird shop (looks a lot like Pronutro), otherwise use the pronuto instead. Also, soak dog or cat pellets in water till mushy, geat them up and syringe those for alternate meals. Leave seeds plus a few soft bits of dog pellets down, but change them at least twice a day, so that when he is ready to pick up he can.

As to how much, sparrows are pretty good at telling you when they want. Watch the left hand side of his neck which normally stays bald for quite a while, and you will see his crop filling up as you feed. Don' t let it get bigger than a syringa berry even if he says he is still starving. Rather feed more often - by now he should be fed about every hour. Only feed from as early in the morning as you wake up till sunset - birds don' t feed at night.

A hot water bottle is great. He should feel slightly warm to the touch, and - as you' ve noticed - doesn' t move or eat if he is cold. Chill is right in not handling him too much as well. You' ll know when he is ready to leave - as long as he is flying well and feeding himself. As he starts eating on his own, cut back on the feeds you give him by syringe. Sparrows are pretty good babies - demanding as all heck, but as they grow up they become independant quickly.

Mail me on jcat456 at gmail dot com if you have more Qs - leave me a phone number and I can call you.


Reply to jax
Posted by: Mossie | 2008/09/14

I' ll take your advise on phoning World of Birds. Never thought of it. Don' t think I' ll be feeding it the stuff you suggested though cause the bird seeds I have fed it comes out undigested, oats and bread might be fine for adult birds but I don' t want to risk it with this baby. Thanks for the reply though, it' s much appreciated.

Reply to Mossie
Posted by: Chill | 2008/09/14

Damn, I can' t believe I put an apostrophe in it' s over there - I meant: ' peck its own food'  - apologies!

Reply to Chill
Posted by: Chill | 2008/09/14

I' m hoping Jax will see your question and give you some expert response!

Meantime, I think you should handle the bird as little as possible, so that it doesn' t become ' imprinted'  with humans too much. Also I would say that it should learn to peck it' s own food as much as possible - you could provide a handful of mixed stuff - off the top of my head, I' d think perhaps some mealie rice, breadcrumbs, wild bird seed, maybe even a few jungle oats flakes - all stuff I' ve seen my garden mossies tuck into happily. Just be careful if you use breadcrumbs that they don' t go mouldy - only sprinkle round a bit at a time, so you can give fresh ones the next day.

What I' m saying is by no means comprehensive or even authoritative - but I know how it is when you rescue a little bird and aren' t sure what to do.

Another idea: phone the World of Birds and ask them some questions - they' re in Hout Bay, and have helped me out with advice before!

Good luck with the little thing - I hope he makes it!

Reply to Chill

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