Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wing and a Prayer

This is a sad story for someone who has lost a pet bird. Today, my step-daughter found a lutino cockatiel on the ground, obviously away from home. It was dirty, and hungry, but now found. She rushed it home, so I could take care of it, feed it and clean it up. It is a beautiful bird, hand fed, and very hand tame, unfortunately unbanded, and unclipped.

I am a strong believer in both banding and clipping wings, especially in pet birds. Clipping the wings could have prevented the loss of this family pet, and sadness that this family is going through without their feathered friend. My step daughter is in the process of scouring the neighbourhood to find out who may have lost their family member. We will do our best to find the family it belongs too. It's unfortunate that this had to happen. With a few minutes , and a sharp pair of scissors, its wings could have been trimmed and all this could have been prevented. If the bird was banded, the breeder could have been contacted, and information on who the bird was sold to could have been found, and the bird safely returned to its family.

Until then, we will be its adoptive home, where it will be well fed and well loved. Tomorrow, she has an appointment with a sharp pair of scissors.

I'll keep you posted

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Feeding Your Bird Some Homemade Cooking

Everyone knows to eat a balanced diet. The better we eat, the better we feel and the healthier we are. The same goes for our feathered friends. They need a well balanced diet to stay healthy, and live longer. Conures are susceptible to some of the very same health issues we humans are. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even couch potato syndrome, or in their instance maybe perch potato syndrome. The point being, we need to take care of our feathered friend just as we should take care of ourselves. I have posted a few healthy and safe recipes on my website where you can read a few of these recipes. Please feel free to submit your own, and I will post them.

Still no news to report with the breeding pairs. The Normal Green cheeked conures are snuggling a lot, and spending the evenings in their nest box. The Yellow sided green cheeks are spending the nights in their nest box, but the hen is spending a lot of time in the nest box throughout the day. I want to check the box to see if she lays eggs, but I don't want to spook her now that it seems they finally settled down. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Apples n Carrots - hold the banana

I'm entering week 2 of giving the breeding pairs Nekton-e. Not much seemed to be happening until yesterday. I went in the room to do my regular feeding/cleaning of the birds. They get a Tropican mix blend of pellets and seeds. I always offer them fresh fruits and veggies. It seems only one of the pair, the green cheeks like banana. The yellow sides can't stand it. Both pairs love Apple, and some raw carrot. There is never much left by the time they are done feasting on it. But thats besides the point. I have noticed that the female yellow side has been spending a lot more time alone in their nest box, and less time out in her cage with her mate. I'm no expert by any means, so I wrote my mentor and asked a very simple question. "My female yellow side is spending more time in the nestbox, does that mean she will be laying an egg or two?" Not that I was getting very excited about this ( sense the sarcasm?), but I was anticipating an answer. Unfortunately, I had to head to work, and wait a whole 9 hours for the answer. I kept watching the clock, counting down the minutes till I got home from work.

I raced home, and ran upstairs to my laptop in hopes that I get the answer I have been waiting for. With a very short answer my faced gleamed with excitement. "That's very good news! I'd say she's getting ready to lay eggs. :D Keep me posted! " That was enough for me to be excited and with that thought in mind, and my fingers crossed, I hope that my mentor is right.

So for now, its apples n carrots hold the banana.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Only a few short minutes a day

I am an internet junkie. I spend countless hours everyday, looking, reading and searching. I'm not sure if it is just the quick fix for information, or that it is just brain candy. All I know is that I am hooked. I read countless articles on breeding birds, what you should do and what you shouldn't do. Right now, not that I have put a great deal of time and resources into this new venture, but I am anxious for some kinda results, a.k.a. eggs.

From all my research I have come up with a few almost but not quite definite things I have to do to have successful breeders.

1) Find a bonded pair that like each other: - I have 2 pair of green cheeked conures. They both seem to like their intended mate, with the older pair having successful clutches. So item one : Check!

2) Proper space: Each pair has a big enough cage that they can flit around in, undisturbed, and curtained in, with most importantly a nest box with pine wood shavings, and pine blocks of wood to chew to give them a place sleep and breed in a safe environment. So item two: Check!

3) Proper lighting: I have two 40 watt full spectrum lighting, for 14 hours. So item three: Check!

4) Well balanced diet: The two pairs each receive pellets, a nut mixture that includes raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, corn, various other nuts and legumes, and of course fresh food and water replaced daily. So item four: Check!

5) Entertainment: Each cage is equipped with a few toys to shred, peck and tug at, all to the tunes of the 70's , 80's and 90's adult contemporary music. So item five: Check!

6) A very quick pit stop: Trying to limit my time of disturbing the breeders, I whistle when I come into the room so they know that I am coming. I change the water, add the food, add the fresh produce that have been sprinkled with the Nekton E powder that is supposed to stimulate breeding, and in no time flat I am in and out of the room, unless of course I have to get the cages cleaned, and that takes about another 5 minutes. So item 6, only a few short minutes a day. Check!

So it seems that I am doing everything right, but the trick is to figure out what I am doing wrong in those few short minutes a day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Their Little Secret

There is a breeder where I purchased our green cheek from, that is just a wealth of information. They are also hobby bird breeders, and have been very successful with their birds. Their green cheek conures have, and are limited to 2 clutches of eggs a year. Their clutches are always healthy,playful, well socialized birds. When I picked up my breeding pair from them, I began drilling them for information, what do the birds eat, how much light do they need, how much space do they need, do they need toys? They are very patient and are willing to answer all my questions, and are more than willing to mentor me. One of the very first things she told me about the breeder birds ( to be named later by my fiances school age program class) was to ensure that they are getting a multivitamin . She recommended Nekton-E. NEKTON-E is absolutely essential for helping build up and preserve the supporting tissues.Vitamin E has a far-reaching effect on the whole metabolism and acts as a stabilizer on other vitamins. A lack of vitamin E causes muscular dystrophy, which can befall the whole muscular framework, heart muscle and stomach muscle. Birds fed on foodstuffs poor in vitamin E are also susceptible to all kinds of infectious diseases. NEKTON-E is particularly interesting for bird breeders because it encourages the breeding instinct. Its effect on the reproductive organs and sex hormones is highly important. Lack of vitamin E results in animals disinterested in breeding and in some cases sterile. In addition the vitamin reserves of female birds are very often not enough for the care of embryos or babies at the same time. By ensuring a rich supply of vitamin E for his birds before the laying period a breeder can look forward to larger clutches, fewer infertile eggs, better hatchability and a reduced number of deaths among embryos and young.

That's their little secret. Now, I sprinkle a little bit on the birds food everyday, in hopes that the birds will learn the secret too.

One word of warning though...NEKTON-E should be given to animals regularly at least three
weeks before the breeding period begins. Please observe the following rules when breeding birds. When the female has laid the first egg and is brooding, cease doses of NEKTON-E as the
brooding process may be disturbed by a too strong mating instinct in the male. This could cause damage to the freshly laid eggs.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hurry up and wait.....and wait......

In the last week I have managed to put together a small place where I can house my green cheeks. I have a small area of the basement all cordoned off. The space is about 8ft by 5 ft, all curtained off, in an attempt to make the birds feel safe in their own space. The two pair are separated by a short divider, where they can't see each other. I have a double bank of fluorescent full spectrum lights set up above them. Below them I have I much smaller fluorescent light also set on a timer. Why the two lights? Simple I don't want the birds to be waken by a sudden burst of light, nor do I want them to go to sleep in sudden darkness. There is about 20 minutes of overlap during the night, hopefully this will simulate the sun setting. In the morning the smaller light comes on for about 20 minutes before the big light turns on. Hopefully simulating sunrise. Will it benefit the birds in the long run, I'm not sure. I have read on other sites that this was a successful tip to help the birds adjust to their surroundings, and at the same time making it a safer environment for them. At this point any information that could make this endeavor any more successful, I'm willing to try. Like having a radio on. A few of the other breeders I have been talking too suggest that playing a radio for the birds has a few benefits. Firstly, it helps drown out any surrounding noises, and can help drown out the occasional squawking form the birds.

More about the birds: The male yellowside was hatched in 2005 and is split to yellowside. He has had a previous clutch last year with another hen, and produced 5 chicks. The female yellowside will be a year old in July of this year. They have been together for 7 months now and are fully bonded. I will be placing an nest box on their cage after she turns 1. The previous breeders where an elderly couple that were downsizing their operations because of health issues. They have been dna'd and I do have the registration papers for this pair. They are close banded

The green cheek pair are almost 4 years old. They have had 5 clutches together and are fairly prolific. This pair was purchased from the breeder where I purchased Summer our family bird. They weren't the breeders pair, but a friend of theirs. These birds have not been Dna'd. They are close banded as well. They do have a nest box, that they hop in and out of. It is lined with pine shavings, and for an added touch, I have placed some small pine blocks in the box for chewing. ( I have read that chewing can stimulate breeding.)

They seem to be settling down, as I was warned that it might take some time for them to settle into their new place. The yellowsides are still very skittish, but the green cheeks have settled right in.

So, now its hurry up and wait. I go in once a day, change the food, check the nestbox and make sure everything is okay. I sweep quickly if I have too, but I try....sometimes not to successfully to limit the contact and disruption. It's sometimes harder to stay clear of the room, than not. We're anxious to start hand feeding some chicks, but then there is so much more that we have to prepare for.....

Monday, April 30, 2007

A bird in the hand is worth 4 in the basement

I have been fascinated with birds for as long as I can remember. Watching them soar through the sky, or gliding with and updraft, I have found myself always at peace observing these feathery creatures. I can distinctly remember being the age of 7 setting up a make shift trap with a box, a stick and a very long string, and a few bread crumbs, trying to catch birds to have as a pet. Long summer days were passed while I was attempting to catch then claim a bird for my own. I came close once, but my reaction time was just too slow, and the seagull was quicker than I was. The bird managed to get the bread, and I was left alone holding the string.

I got lucky one day, I was strolling along kicking a rock, and low and behold I found myself a baby robin that fell out of it's nest. I gently scooped it up, ran home as fast as my little legs would take me, all away across the park to my home. I pounded on the door, giving my mom a scare to show her my new found friend. She noticed the bird in my hand, but I still got a scolding for scaring the crap out of her. After much begging and pleading, I had to bring the robin back to where I found it, in hopes that momma bird would take care of it.

It wasn't until years later that I was able to own my very own bird. It was a double yellow headed amazon. I drove literally 400 km one way to pick up Baloo, then promptly turned around and drove back home. He was a handful, he loved to screech in the early morning, and as the sun was setting. He loved music to some extent, it was how he appreciated the saxophone. He screeched right along with it. It was one of the best experiences I ever had, watching and learning from him. Sadly, my marriage was coming to an end (not the bird's fault I assure you) so I ended up losing my best feathered friend in the divorce. He was birdnapped!!!

Time passed, 10 whole short years, do you sense the sarcasm? I stumbled upon this little green cheeked conure. So cute, so adorable, and soooooo much more quiet than an amazon. I couldn't resist her. She had so much personality wrapped in such a small package. It took a lot of convincing and a lot of stops at the various pet stores to convince my fiance that the family needed one. The kids loved the idea, so in a matter of no time, I found a breeder that was within a half hour from where we are living. They had a small clutch of 6 green cheeks, and they would be ready to go, fully weaned, I would just have to wait 3 more weeks. We were in the process of moving, and wanted to make sure that "Summer" would arrive to a completely calm and setup home. From day one Summer loved it, the kids loved it, and we were hooked.

Fast forward, another year has passed, our "Summer" has turned one. I sent a quick email to the breeder letting them know that our feathered family member was thriving. She wrote back demanding pictures of her long lost daughter. I quickly snapped a few pics and sent them on the way. Long story short, after a few exchanges of emails, we were on the way to expanding our flock by 2 more. A proven breeding pair of green cheek conures were on the way. But at the same time, I was following other breeding pairs, and stumbled upon another proven pair of yellow sided green cheeks. They were owned by an elderly couple that were getting too old to tend to their flock. I met them, and before long, the birds were mine.

Now we have 5 green cheek conures in our house. Summer, our hand fed baby, and 2 breeding pairs. Now we sit, wait, clean cages, feed them, and wait ...and wait......and wait in hopes that we will find a clutch of eggs, just waiting to be hatched and hand fed.