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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

I am new to this forum and thought I'd share this story with everyone to see if I can get some advice from some more experienced cockatiel-keepers.
I have a 9 week old cockatiel named 'Chikka' who is a little bit odd. He was born to a pair of aviary birds along with 4 other brothers and sisters. One of these larger chicks passed away within the first week and appeared to have an inflated looking crop. A few days later, I took two chicks out to hand-rear. They were both incredibly small compared to their other two clutch-mates and I didn't think they would survive in the nest (the eldest chick was about 10 times their weight so I was concerned they'd physically crush them). The smallest of these two chicks had issues from the get-go, with a hard crop that wouldn't empty, protruding veins on the head and abdomen and a strange habit of shaking his head around constantly. I did everything I could, but unfortunately he passed away about 2 or 3 days after I took him in.
The surviving hand-reared chick, Chikka, I thought would definitely die, too. His droppings were very dark and he was barely growing. He constantly cried, and I mean CONSTANTLY cried. I'd feed him 10% of his body weight and he'd still be crying sometimes up to an hour after feedings. It drove me crazy but I stuck with it, as I've had a chick that'd been put down due to sour crop and I know the damage feeding too much can do.
At about 3 weeks old, he only weighed 30 grams. His brothers and sisters were about 90 grams with well-developing feathers and he still looked like a tiny muppet. I tried to book a vet at the time, but because of the lock-down laws they weren't ready to take in non-emergency patients and told me to just keep an eye on him. I eventually decided to give him Gastrolyte - about 2ml - with every feed as I'd read that dehydration was the primary cause of stunting. He instantly started to grow again and his begging calmed down (although it was still far more begging than any other normal chick I've reared).
He's now a good weight and eating seeds, pellets and veggies, but he's still a bit strange. He has a noticeably smaller head than the other cockatiels, even though his body seems about the same size, he's very uncoordinated, has a weak bite, is less stable with his flying and still has some strange behaviours when it comes to food (he cries when I feed him formula, flies away as if he's finished, then sees the formula and flies back and cries again like he forgot he's already been fed. He also spends a lot of time eating seed and pellets in general).
He's incredibly sweet and cuddly; he flies over to me the moment that he sees me and loves to be petted.However, I'd still like to know what happened in those first few weeks of his life to cause such severe stunting. I've reared other chicks in the exact same manner and never had this severe of a stunting problem before. I am also planning to keep breeding cockatiels, so I think it would be sensible to find out if there's some kind of genetic thing going on with these chicks. I've thrown out the nesting boxes just to be safe in case there's some sort of yeast or bacteria in there. However, Chikka had no issues with crop emptying, which I know is incredibly common with these types of conditions.

Otherwise, I'm curious to see what everyone thinks of all this. No matter what I look up, I can't find anything that has the exact same symptoms, so he's a bit of an enigma. I'll attach some photos of him to have a look at.

Thanks and sorry about the long read!
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