Step By Step instructions on how to make a Brooder
Even if you don't breed birds, You may need this for a hospital cage until you can get your beloved bird to see an Avian vet. There are a few different ways online on how to make one I've Tried a few different ones. For the last 3 1/2 years I've used a Fish tank but recently my 2nd heating pad died and It is very hard to find one that doesn't shut off in my area So since December I've been using the Critter keeper Brooder Both are listed below. I've liked using both and have no issues with either version. I hope with this step by step guide it'll help a sick or injured bird until it can be seen by an Avian vet. or if your breeding it helps so you'll know what to do if you plan on (or have to) hand feed babies)
I also put a Small - Medium (depending on the birds size) teddy bear in the brooder with the babies even if there are more than one , this gives them something to cuddle with and also helps keep them warm and snugly. This page lists what the brooder needs to be at temperature wise for the age of the chick- It is from a cockatiel breeding site, but I use it on all my birds. http://www.cockatiel.org/articles/handfeeding.html
Lay a towel or small blanket down on a table or stand placing a heating pad(one that does not shut off after so many hours) on one end of the stand/table
Use the excess towel/blanket or a 2nd towel/blanket to cover the heating pad , I use a child sized throw blanket (the fleece kind) that my kids have outgrown
Line the tank with a few layers of newspaper then a few layers of white paper towels this serves two purposes one being it makes for easy cleaning (the paper towels) also with the paper towels the baby won't get all ink stained, but layering the papers and the paper towels also helps the baby not get burned when they lay on the heated end. Place the tank with one end sitting on top of the heating pad, and one end not on the heating pad, With one end not being on the heating pad this gives the baby bird the option to move away from the heat source if he gets too hot
Using a screen mesh lid like for reptile tanks Place this over top of the tank it helps keep the heat in for the baby bird(s).
Cover the tank with another towel or blanket - in the picture I have it only covering the lid But I also cover the entire tank , once the heat is staying steady where it should be at the tank can be covered partially like in this picture.
Use a Thermometer it is best to use one that shows the Temperature plus Humidity %, it is very important to keep the tank and the correct temp for the age of the bird(s) As you see at the time of the picture this one was only at 70.5 degrees and I had no birds in the tank yet, Even though I pull my babies at 2-3 weeks old their brooder needs to be no less then 85 Degrees F* for the temperature
This is one of the other Thermometers I use, I try to use at least 2 different ones this way I will know if they're giving me the correct temperature This one shows the Time, The temp and the humidity the humidity in most cases needs to be at least 50% - when I took this picture there were no babies in the brooder I was just setting it up. The second set of numbers was the temp inside the brooder.
Using a Critter Keeper as a Brooder I do not use any extra heat source with this method, But if you are having problems getting the temp to where it is supposed to be You can use a Heating pad in the same fashion as I have listed Above.
Start with a clean Critter keeper These come in a few different sizes Mine is a bigger one because I do hand feed several babies at once most of the time But I have used it with success for just 1-2 babies
Line the critter keeper with plain white paper towels (if you can't find plain white just use the non printed side it still works just as fine) I did add a Shammy (As seen on tv) to it this time Only because I found it in my cabinet - its felt and I wanted to give a little more padding You do not have to do this!
Add in some Care Fresh Bedding for extra Padding and it also gives the babies a grip-able surface. Some Breeders use Aspen, or non treat pine Shavings I however do not trust anything but Care Fresh Bedding I've had very bad experiences with Aspen and Won't ever use anything but care Fresh bedding again (I use this in my Nest boxes as well So the babies are already used to it)You don't need a lot I put just a couple hand fulls then I smash it down they will fix it to their liking :~)
Add a small-Medium sized stuffed animal and the thermometer. As I mentioned above the stuffed animal makes the babies feel safe even if there is a group of them, They will cuddle up with it along with each other. and the Thermometer is so you can keep an eye on the temp., I bought this one at Walmart last month for roughly $5 its wireless runs on batters and gives me the Temp. Plus Humidity
Put the baby or Babies in the Critter Keeper. As you can see in this picture there are 4 Lovebirds and 1 Cockatiel , later today there will be 1 more lovebird added in and there is more then enough room for all 6 birds in this Critter keeper. (remember mind is the Large)
After you have your Critter Keeper all set up and ready and babies in it, Put the lid on it - Mine does have a lot of openings Some other types don't have as many though.
This is the final step to creating a brooder using a Critter keeper - You get a thin blanket or towel and cover the critter keeper to help keep the heat in. I'm using a thin Fleece Throw that My kids have outgrown. I have many of these on hand :) So when I need to wash them(side note: do not use Fabric softener,Dryer sheets, or scented Laundry soap when washing) I always have a back up while one or more are being washed and dried.