After we trap all the birds we are hoping to get, we end up with a room of 14 MAFD and 24 GOWE.
Each day then becomes fairly routine, feed and monitor all the birds to make sure they are eating, pooping, and acting normally. I spend a great deal of time each day looking at the output of birds.
The MAFD feeding is straight forward. Doves are pretty, but not always very smart. So when they are brought into a holding situation, they have to be taught to eat. They normally find food up in trees, not on a plate in front of them. Learning to eat from a tray can be stressful, so we plan on teaching the birds to self-feed once they are back in the mainland US. To maintain the weight and health of the birds, we tube feed the doves a specially prepared gruel 3 times a day. Thankfully, the doves take to this process very easily and after the first 1-2 feedings, they are calm and often just step off our hand back into the holding box after being fed.
GOWE are small birds. They generally weigh between 15 and 20 grams each. That is about the weighed of 3 or 4 nickels.
For such a little creature, they are amazing little food consumption machines.
The diet that is provided for the GOWE is pretty simple. They get fresh water at all times, a small bowl with live mealworms, a ½ tablespoon of bird pellets (multi-colored pellets that smell but DO NOT taste like Fruit Loops) and a piece of ripe papaya.
It is the papaya consumption that is the most amazing.
Every morning, each GOWE gets a piece of papaya that weighs roughly 20-25 grams.
By the middle of the day, that piece of papaya generally is gone – all but a small sliver of papaya skin. It could not be cleaner if it was cut by a professional chef with a sharp paring knife.
Depending on the appetite and the weight gain of the bird, some of the GOWE will eat 3-4 pieces of papaya a day in addition to the pellets and mealworms that they are offered.
Roughly calculated, that is approximately FIVE to SIX times their body weight a day that they are consuming. All while maintaining a healthy weight…. I wish I could eat that way with the same results.