I've heard that first time brooders can sometimes brood themselves to death - by refusing water or food as they brood. I believe this is happening to one of my birds.
She's been broody almost a month, beyond a normal broody period, and this is her first brood. She's under a year old, and we don't have roosters, so she's sitting on unfertilized eggs that we regularly remove. Until today I assumed she'd been eating, but now I'm beginning to suspect she hasn't. I just pulled her out of the nest box, and something is wonky. She was in there with another of our broody birds who, upon removal, was a bit sluggish, but eventually perked up, ate and drank, and then marched back into the box. So in other words, our other brooder is acting like her normal broody self, and I'm not worried (she broods every spring). But something is off for the bird in question. Upon her removal I realized she was practically skin and bones, very very pale waddles. She sort of swayed around, looked dizzy, then fell back down. It was clear something was wrong with her. (Normally my husband pulls her out, so I have no idea how long she's been like this. I think she must have just recently crossed a critical threshold or he'd have noticed, he isn't one to ignore signs.) I removed her from the flock, put her in a bin with hay, food and water, and set her up in my heated bathroom. I looked her over, no other signs of disease or illness. I mixed up an electrolyte solution, and squirted it into her beak. That squirting encouraged a swallowing reflex and I got a couple syringes of electrolytes into her. But she is still refusing food. (I've tempted her with fruit, oats, a little cornmeal with bacon grease mixed in, a bit of salmon... she refuses it all.) She is still acting lethargic, but perhaps a little less lethargic after the electrolytes? My questions are:
1. If this is indeed broody behavior, is there anything else I could do to encourage her to eat or drink? (I don't have skills or interest in tube feeding.) Or do I just keep her away from the nest box, push electrolytes, and hope for the best?
2. Am I correct to assume this is the result of her starving herself while sitting on eggs? I didn't see any signs of parasites or worms or mites. I may give her a mite dusting just to be sure. I'm also considering giving her a little "spa" treatment - a soak in epsom salts. Any other ideas? I routinely add apple cider vinegar to the water, and our other birds seem healthy. No signs of worms or mites. Plus our other broody bird was squeezed in there with her, and totally normal. So I think it likely she's just been brooding for too long. Just wondering if there is something obvious to look for. I've had an egg bound bird before, this seems different.
3. Has anybody else had experience with a broody bird who starved herself? If so, were you able to turn it around and save the bird?
Thanks for any input! I'll update this thread with any changes. If nothing else, maybe it will be helpful to somebody else!