Another breeding season is upon us and I have hesitantly set up nest boxes in the outside aviaries. We aren’t even done with January and already it’s been a bad year at Windrose Aviaries. Much can be laid at my door due to not keeping the area clean and rodent free, and in one case using too small of a nest box. Still, some of it is bad luck and the forces of nature.
My pair of violet mutation peach-face lovebirds has given me three clutches per year for the last nine or so years. I don’t know how old they were when I got them. I give them a long break between those three clutches and attempt to keep them well fed and happy all year long. This year they started out pretty much as always, laying 8 eggs. But only 3 of the eggs hatched. I pulled those and fed them, pulled the unhatched eggs a few days later, just to be sure, and cleaned up the nest a bit. Their second clutch was 5 eggs and only one hatched. I checked the nest three days after the first chick appeared. The unhatched eggs were still there, but the chick was gone. No body on the bottom of the cage, no sign of attack, no clues to explain what happened.
The usual predator in my cages is mice. Without a doubt, a mouse could have gotten into the nest and killed the baby. But when this has happened in the past, the chicks are left in the nest. I don’t usually need to look around for the corpse. I can’t think that a reptile got in there and didn’t eat the eggs too.
After dealing with the disappointment, I realized the fertility rate for this pair had dropped steadily. It’s time to retire them. I will bring them inside and let them be happy together. Meanwhile, I have my bonded pair of girls, one of which is of a different bloodline than my other purps. And I have a youngster that is not bonding with its cage mate. I will have to check the sex of the youngster, Tip, and if we have a boy, I may be able to set him up with Rebel. It leaves something of a dilemma because Rebel’s buddy is Fin, and she needs help with feeding and grooming. My hope is that an artificial insemination kit can be devised for lovebirds and I can create the chicks I want without breaking up a happy home.
I replaced many of my zebra finch hens and set up nests in two aviaries. So far not many eggs and the ones I saw had been there a while, I thought. Apparently, the eggs were fresher than I thought. I found a hatchling out of the nest and deceased on the floor of the cage. I expect it was pushed out and died of exposure during the cold night. No signs here of any foul play and the crop had food in it. Darn the timing. Later, I heard chicks begging for food, so apparently, in one of the cup nests, there are live babies.
I let my ringneck doves keep the last set of eggs to give the hen a break in constantly laying and having the eggs taken. Two, plump chicks hatched and were well cared for by the devoted parents. The next day there was only one chick in the nest. I checked around and found the smaller of the two chicks on the ground below the cage.
Here’s where a series of unfortunate actions on my part led. I was using a small wooden platform for the nest box for the doves. The chicks are huge almost from day one. I think the older and stronger chick pushed the smaller one out accidentally. The chick was still alive when I picked it up but cold as ice. I realize now that if I had warmed it up on the heating pad and then slipped it back into the nest, it might have survived. However, I warmed it up and attempted to hand feed it. I managed well on the first attempt. The second attempt went awry and the poor thing aspirated the liquid food.
My American budgies have been playing with the nest boxes I finally put out there, but no serious intentions have been displayed. They won’t even eat the eucalyptus leaves I put in the cage. Studies show that there are enzymes in the eucalyptus which stimulates breeding in budgies. It’s as if they know. But one final nest check and hallelujah! Eggs in at least one nest.
I do need to put nest boxes inside for my English budgies. They are paired up and ready for the commitment. I am dithering over which size nest box to use. I guess as long as the hen can get in the hole, all will be well. My inside finches also have nests, but one is a mixed breed couple whose eggs are not fertile and the other is a young couple. The hen is one I got from a near-by bird farm and the male is the offspring of a pair of zeebs a friend of mine has. She thought she had a girl because the chick feathered out like the mom. As soon as I saw the bright orange beak, I knew we were looking at a boy. I hope they do start breeding as I need a new bloodline that is not being colony bred.
Outside, the Indian Ringneck parakeets are showing no signs of getting back in the nest box but it’s early in the year yet. And if I can get the cockatiels set up somewhere with boxes, I will let them make the attempt to breed again. The red rumps inside have a nest box, but no signs yet of wanting to make a family. I would love to hand feed some red rump chicks but am just thrilled to have these wonderful birds in my home.
May you be blessed with all the fertility and eggs you desire. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.