GARDEN BIRDS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Malurus_cyaneus_PM.jpg)PARK BIRDS Photo © Janet MacphersonWATERFOWLGAME BIRDSPARROTS - Photo © Colin MorganGRASS FINCHES Photo by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com)  (Courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stagonopleura_guttata_3.jpg)EXOTIC FINCHES (Photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cucullatamachocolombia.jpg)SOFTBILLS Photo © Janet MacphersonSPECIALISED BIRDS Photo by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eudyptula_minor_Bruny_1.jpg)
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Snippets of Information

This page is dedicated to short snippets of information donated by our members relating to different aspects of bird keeping and facts about birds.


Mutations
Segregating Young Birds
Feather Bleeding
Green Feed
Neophema Nest Boxes
Wood Shavings in Nest Boxes for Large Parrots
Keeping Meal Moths out of Mealworms
Soaked Seed Jars
Doug Bailey's Insectivorous Cake
A Different Type of Nest Box by Patrick Webb
Hens Need Calcium (especially during the breeding season)
Mixing Parrots and Finches in the Same Aviary by George Bryant
On Breeding Gouldian Finches by Michael Paul (Junior Member)
Perches
When checking a parrot nest, what do you look for to see if the eggs are fertile?
Flock breeding of the Cordon Bleu Finch
How did the Red-faced Parrot Finch gain its name?
A neat trick to detect if there are mice in a planted finch aviary
If you think that we have many different bird species in our aviaries, consider this:
Blue-faced Parrot Finch by Mark Ryan
Diet habits that will rule a young birds selection in the future
Checking nest boxes as a part of daily routine
T-tree in finch aviaries


Mutations

If breeding mutations, especially if you are using splits, keep accurate records or you may accidntially part with the bird needed to develop the mutation further.

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Segregating young birds

A spare aviary should always be availale for the segregation of the young from adult birds.

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Feather bleeding

A growing feather has a rich blood supply. These feathers can be easily identified by the dark blue quill. Mature feathers have a clear white quill. If the forwing feather is broken, profuse bleeding will result.

What to do for feather bleeding:

  1. Restrain the bird by wrapping a towel around its body while grasping the lower beak with one hand.
  2. Locate the bleeding feather by separating and examining the feathers. Water or hydrogen peroxide can be used if necessary. If the bleeding is profuse, apply finger pressure to the base of the quill for 2 minutes. This will stop the bleeding temporarily.
  3. Grasp the broken blood feather with needle nose pliers, hemostats or your fingers. Pluck the feather out. Plucking the injured feather out stimulates a new feather to start growing. If you are unable to remove the broken feather, continue finger pressure and contact your avian veterinarian.

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Green Feed

Green feed should be be crisp, brittle and fresh – never tough, limp, brown or wilted. Sun wilted leaves can, however, be freshened up and made quite appetising by standing them in water overnight.

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Neophema Nest Boxes

Suitable Neophema nest boxes can be about 300mm deep and 175mm square with an entrance hole 35mm in diameter.

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Wood Shavings

Use wood shavings (not dust) at least 75mm deep in the bottom of nest box for big parrots.

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Keeping Meal Moths out of Mealworms

Mealworms - Wikipedia (Author:  Pengo   Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis)    Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis)  Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis)
Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis) - Wikipedia (Attribution: ©entomart)

Wormwood (Artermisea absinthium) -  Wikipedia (Author:  AfroBrazilian)

Mealworms are commonly used as a live food source for a multitude of animals - birds, lizards, fish and mammals.

To keep the Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis) out of your mealworm box place a twig of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) on the top layer of hessian. The odour will drive the moths out.

Wormwood used to be grown in Australia years ago as a low growing hedge. It is however a rather straggly plant in appearance. It is a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae) and has a bluish grey leaf.

From Wikipedia - The Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis) is a cosmopolitan moth of the family Pyralidae. Its larvae (caterpillars) are pests of certain stored foods, namely milled plant products.

From Wikipedia - Artemisia absinthium (absinth wormwood) was used to repel fleas and moths, and in brewing (wormwood beer, wormwood wine). The aperitif vermouth (derived from the German word Wermut, "wormwood") is a wine flavored with aromatic herbs, but originally with wormwood. The highly potent spirits absinthe and Malört also contain wormwood.

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Soaked Seed Jars

Sketch of a jar used for soaking seed.Soaked seed and sprouted seed are recognised as beneficial to breeding birds and cage birds generally.  There are many different methods to achieve the desired result but one of the quickest and cleanest methods that has been used successfully by many breeders is worth demonstrating.

It consists of a wide mouthed glass or plastic jar like the old sweet jars in the local store.  Most of the centre of the plastic lid is cut out and replaced with fly wire.  It is then a simple technique to place the seed in the jar, wash and drain by inverting the jar.

To sprout seed, it is allowed to soak in the water for 24 hours and then washed and drained for two (2) more days with two (2) rinses per day.  Sprouting time will vary with seasonal temperatures. Sprouted seed with small white shoots (about 1cm) is said to contain more vitamins than in its dried state.

Sufficient supply can be sprouted and stored in the refrigerator for daily use up to 3-4 days.

Soaked seed is different in that it is soaked but not sprouted and usually overnight is sufficient to soften the husk and seed.  There is no doubting the birds' preference for this seed while breeding.

For further reading see An Approach to Aviculture (Part II) by Mark Fidler.

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Doug Bailey's Insectivorous Cake

Ingredients:

250g margarine (melted)
250-300g raw sugar
6-8 eggs + shells
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
750g self raising flour
2 dessertspoons baking powder
500g cottage cheese

Method:

Blend margarine, raw sugar, eggs + shells and sunflower oil in a blender.  Mix the self-raising flour, baking powder and cottage cheese together.  Gradually add wet mix from the blender.  Bake in a conventional oven for 1 hour or more at 300Fo.

When cool, cut into slices and wrap in "Gladwrap" and store in the freezer.

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A Different Type of Nest Box by Patrick Webb

I have been using Coconuts as nest boxes and have found that they are quite acceptable to the birds.  I have had up to 12 birds roosting in one coconut and one nest had five young in it.  I find they are just as easy if not easier to make as a traditional nest box.  They certainly are easier to clean out.  I use a circular saw to cut the hole in the front of the coconut.  I supply two nuts per pair of birds.  One for breeding and one for sleeping in.

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It is important during middle to late autumn (and during the entire breeding season) for a hen to receive a good source of calcium in her diet.

This calcium is necessary for the formation of the eggshell and for the normal functioning of the muscles, including the muscles in the egg canal.  If the hen is low in calcium, egg binding can occur.  Sources of calcium commonly used are cuttlebone, shellgrit, eggshells, and oysters hells that have been ground up.  These can readily be made available to the birds.  Another way to provide calcium is to use additives such as Multi-vitamin compounds (Ornithon, Pet-Vite), Calcium Sandoz and most of the green foods are a good source as well.

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Mixing Parrots and Finches in the Same Aviary by George Bryant

An aviculturist who specialises in finches will not need as many aviaries as a person who keeps parrots.  A finch keeper can place several varieties of finches in the same aviary and be a successful breeder, but try the same thing with parrots and trouble usually arises.

My approach to finches is to house three to four pairs of breeding finches to one aviary, allowing about six square feet floor space per pair of birds.  Each pair being a different variety, and generally they all go about their own business without interfering with others.  They usually take an interest in each other's young when they first fly.

For success with parrot breeding it is best to accept the fact that one pair of breeders require an aviary to themselves.  This idea is open to criticism and it is possible to mix some breeders together, but in the long run, there are less headaches if one adheres to this principle.  I found that introducing a pair of parrots to an aviary where finches reside invariably caused finch breeding to stop.

Those persons accommodating one pair of parrots to an aviary who feel that, one or two pair of finches could possibly do all right housed with them, might be interested in a suggestion that a corner of the aviary be wired off with netting, large enough for the finches to pass through but excluding the parrots.  The brush for the finches to build in can be placed behind the netting, thereby preventing the parrots crawling through the brush and wrecking the finches' nesting site.  I have found that generally, finches and parrots get on well enough together.

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On Breeding Gouldian Finches by Michael Paul (Junior Member)

In an aviary which measured six feet wide, eleven feet long and six feet high I had a pair of Gouldian Finches Chloebia gouldiae.  The male was a red head and the female a black head.  The pair started breeding two months after I put them in the aviary.  To my amazement the female Gouldian finch laid 15 eggs.  I did not think the pair would have much success in hatching one quarter of these eggs but was proved wrong.  The pair hatched eight eggs out of the fifteen laid and eight baby Gouldians came out of the nest.  The reasons that I believe made my Gouldians breed successfully were:

  1. Seeding grasses were supplied.
  2. Wet seed was given.  I give them wet seed because it was easier for the finches to grind the seed to feed their babies.
  3. Wooden nest boxes were supplied.  Four of them were screwed onto the back wall approximately eight inches apart and were all the same height above ground.
  4. A small tussock of dead grass was put in each nest box to help the birds build their nest.
  5. Minerals were given, such as grit and cuttlebone.
  6. The seed mixture was two parts canary, one quarter Japanese millet and one quarter Hungarian millet.  No white millet was given to the finches at all.

I hope these notes on the Gouldian finch will help breeders who may have had trouble with breeding them.

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How nutritious is the seed you have purchased?

A simple test to see how nutritious the seed you may have purchased may be, is to sprout it.  If less than 80% of the seeds sprout it is poor value.

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Perches

Always provide various thicknesses of perches in your aviaries.  This provides valuable exercise for the bird's feet.

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When checking a parrot nest, what do you look for to see if the eggs are fertile?

After the hen has been incubating the eggs for about one week, the colour should begin to darken and look greyer.  An infertile egg will look very similar to a freshly laid one, it will be a pinkish white. If you have a small torch, place the egg on top of the light.  The light will shine straight through an infertile egg but once it has been incubated at least one week the light cannot pass through as well because it is blocked by the chick and its membranes.  Once the eggs hatch, it is still important to examine the chicks daily.  Feel them to make sure they are warm and check that their crops are full.

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Flock breeding of the Cordon Bleu Finch

Flock breeding of the Cordon Bleu finch can be achieved if there are more hens than cocks and there are at least three pairs present.  Most breeders feel that live food is just about a must if the Cordons are to raise young successfully.

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How did the Red-faced Parrot Finch gain its name?

The Red-faced Parrot finch gains its name not from the fact that it is supposed to resemble a parrot, but because in its native New Caledonia, it follows small parrots around and eats the remains of the fruit left after these parrots have used their strong beaks to open the fruit in the area.  The finches would not be able to open the fruit by themselves.

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A neat trick to detect if there are mice in a planted finch aviary

A neat trick to detect if there are mice in a planted finch aviary is to place a piece of white or light painted coloured board on the floor with a small amount of fresh seed or an effective bait such as bacon rind.  Check the following morning - if there are any mice, their droppings will stand out against the light colour of the board.

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If you think that we have many different bird species in our aviaries, consider this:

There are approximately 700 species of birds that have been recorded in Australia, not including the introduced species.  Of these 50 are rare visitors and 500 are land based who live and breed within our continent.

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Blue-faced Parrot Finch by Mark Ryan

Sketch of a Blue-faced Parrot finches nest demonstrating bamboo lining.Young blue-faced have often been a problem in the nest boxes.  Being a fairly large bird, their droppings tend to fill up and dirty the nest to an extent that the young birds are almost forced to leave the nest.

My pair of Blue-faced solved this problem themselves by filling the base of their nest with bamboo leaves. Bamboo leaves do not bind themselves into a nest like grass and feathers do, thus allowing droppings (which dry quickly in a nest as long as they do not build up) to fall to the bottom of the nest.  This allows the young to have a free and tidy nest.

The solution seems quite obvious as bamboo leaves are available in the Blue-faced habitat.  It is known that Blue-faced prefer to nest in bamboo thickets anyway.  This is one example of why large varietes of materials should be provided for the bird's selection.  No matter how much you as an aviculturist feel that you know what is best for the bird, it always knows its needs better than you.

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Diet habits that will rule a young birds selection in the future

In many cases we don't know what our birds diet in the wild state actually consists of.  However it is well accepted that birds are creatures of habit and this is particularly seen in the type of foods they select in captivity.  Young birds are extremely playful and inquisitive and will try to eat anything that looks edible or which they may see other birds, especially their parents, eating.  This stage of life sets the habits that will rule their selection of diet in the future.  You should aim to feed your newly fledged birds as wide a selection of seed, greens, fruit and other supplements as you can find. This will ensure an easier life for you in the future and increase the bird's chance of accepting a balanced diet.

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Checking nest boxes as a part of daily routine

Many aviculturists find it a must to have the nest box in a location where it is easy to examine the young. Those who do stress that it is something that must be done as part of a daily routine or not at all. &nbpsIf you wait and blunder in when you think a problem has arisen you will almost certainly drive the hen away from the nest.

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T-tree in finch aviaries

A good idea to help when using T-tree for a finch aviary is to tie it in small to medium sized bunches. If you want to remove only a portion this makes it more manageable.

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