My granddaughter Mary dropped by after school to work on some homework and once it was done, Granny gave her a canary hand feeding lesson! I remember my mother teaching me to hand feed with toothpicks when I was about her age.
First you have to get the birds to open their mouth. Mary gently brushes them under their chin with her finger to get them to open wide. Although these three little pigs are never really hungry, they are just the right size and temperament for her lesson. They respond to her gentle tickle.
I chose the larger chicks for the lesson because they will keep their mouth open longer and once they start eating, they will keep begging her for more food.
Small chicks in good shape, readily open even when the nest is giggled a bit, but you can feel pressure to get the food into their mouth quickly before they close up. The lesson above all else, must be fun and not intimidating!
Using a couple of toothpicks dipped in Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula mixed with warm water, she delivers the food into the open mouth. At ten years old, she is more comfortable doing it this way then actually inserting the toothpicks straight into the beak as I would have done.
When I feed, I only put the toothpicks crosswise in the mouth when the bird is reluctant to open. In very small ones or those that really badly need feeding or they will likely die, the closer to death they are the more they refuse to open up. In that case, using just one toothpick to pry open their mouth, I rotate it to deliver a small amount of food. After a taste, they often open up unless they are in bad shape.
After just a couple of days and three supplemental feedings with Exact a day, the roller with the dark wing feathers that was losing out to his fat three little pigs siblings, now has a nice fat layer!