Cornish woman hand rears newborn chick abandoned by its parents

  • Watch Jessie grow from a tiny chick into an adult bird.

A Cornish woman has hand-reared a baby chick that was abandoned by its parents.

Jester, fondly known as Jessie, is a Gouldian Finch who was born in an aviary at Duchy College Rosewarne in Camborne.

Her parents were young and "inexperienced", the agricultural college explained, which led to them abandoning Jessie and her sibling, who later died.

Thankfully Katrina, one of the animal care technicians, took Jessie under her wing and helped her grow into an adult finch.

Katrina said: “Hand rearing her was a challenge but because she was still alive and the other chick had passed I felt she deserved a chance.

"It's always a risk hand rearing such small altricial birds, they need to be fed little and often, they are completely helpless and rely on their parents for everything food, heat, comfort like a newborn baby.

"Being so small I started feeding her using a fine paintbrush, one mouthful was enough to fill her tiny crop."

Katrina increased the size of the paintbrush twice before Jessie was big enough to feed from a syringe.

However, raising the chick brought some unique challenges.

"At about 8 days old Jessie developed sour crop and over 3 days I had to use a cannula to draw out the undigested food and air bubbles from her crop and keep her hydrated.

"This was the only point I actually thought I may lose her. Every feed I would uncover her and think the worst, but she got over it and went from strength to strength," Katrina said.

Although Jessie started out as a silent little chick, as she grew her call got louder and louder.

She travelled to work with Katrina each day, where she could be fed and cared for by all the technicians at Duchy College.

Katrina explained: "Jester was named by my sons who thought she was always messing around, playing with anything she was strong enough to pick up. 

"Chicks being abandoned like this are uncommon at the Rosewarne aviaries however this was Jessie's parents' first clutch and they were inexperienced.

"They went on to have two more clutches with 100% success rate in rearing their chicks.

"Jester was wonderful at home, loved our Christmas tree and playing card games and tormented the dog - under supervision of course."

Although Katrina enjoyed having Jessie around, she knew that once she had grown big enough, the finch should move back into the aviary to live with other birds.

"Here she is thriving, learning to be a bird, although she still chooses a cuddle every time we do her daily duties," Katrina said.

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