My local bird club is amazing due to the impressive speakers that come to our meetings. Part of the reason such a variety of impressive speakers are available has to do with being so close to the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park. Andrea Cabibi spoke at the January meeting, and is an employee of the zoo.
Some years ago, Andrea was chosen by her employer to attend a conference on artificial insemination for birds. This process is vital in saving some endangered species. Andrea explained that as population numbers get lower, and in-breeding occurs, the animals lose their libido. In other words, they can but they just don’t want to.
She brought what she learned back to San Diego, and is now a leading authority on the subject. They have a pretty high success rate with the technique. Because sex organs with most birds are different than those for mammals, learning more about the avian process has been key in helping species survive. Success with other animals can make bird problems more frustrating. http://www.sandiegozooglobal.org/what_we_do_preserving_wildlife/in_the_lab/innovative_reproductive_technologies_aid_conservation/
The San Diego Zoo is deeply involved with the conservation efforts of Hawai’i, where bird artificial insemination comes in very handy. Grab a box of tissues and read this touching story of the loss of one key bird in a dwindling population. http://blog.sandiegozooglobal.org/2016/01/18/po-mahina-an-amazing-alala-passes-away/
I learned so much from Andrea’s talk. I already knew that insemination happens when the male and female birds match up their cloacas, also called the cloacal kiss. What I didn’t know is that the cock can secrete semen into special holding tubes near the opening of the cloaca. And the hen has similar tubes that can keep the semen ready until the right time to fertilize the egg. Which is why I have always been told to keep hens separately if changing out pairs.
Another awesome bit of information is that there is so little liquid in bird semen that it can dehydrate and kill the sperm in seconds. Andrea Cabibi invented a preserving liquid to extend the time the samples can be handled and worked. Because after Andrea became the expert in artificial insemination for most of the known world, she decided to figure out how to do it for her hobby, breeding canaries. Here’s her video on the process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL_uoZSvvJE
She sells a wonderful insemination kit on her web site so you can make sure your canaries actually lay fertile eggs and you can raise the next crop of winning bird show entries. And because she’s so good to other folks who breed birds, she will soon have a kit available for parrots, too. www.cabibiscanaries.com