Happy Easter! I love that there’s a day when it is appropriate to celebrate eggs. I know, many of you celebrate other things on this day, and that’s fine. But the promise of rebirth is a little different in my world. I long to see the next generation of zebra finches, society finches, and button quail who promise to keep the flock alive and healthy.
Before I get into the exciting news, I want to share another tragedy that happened for the same reason as a previous one. You see, I have breeder cages which I bought second hand. They had gaps in the wires and at the time, my husband thought we would simply use plastic wire ties to patch the cages. For years now, there has been no problem. I didn’t even think about how we did that as time went by. Then, over a rainy week last year, I realized I hadn’t heard my Indian Ringneck male, Wraith, for a couple days. I risked the downpour and checked it out. At first, I couldn’t see how he got out. I became paranoid (fine, more paranoid) and put locks on most of the cage doors. Oriana was in the next box on eggs, so she had not made the great escape. I was taking off the rain-proofing tarp when I discovered that the weighted pipe had fallen off a lift door and the wire ties holding it in place had been chewed off.
We did a hasty repair job and Oriana, once the eggs proved infertile, lived alone in the cage. I shortly after received my current beautiful blue male, Charlie, whom Oriana did not like at first. So he was in the cage next to hers. In March, I took Charlie with me to a demonstration opportunity, and when I put him back that night, Oriana acted excited to see him. She was ready.
As another precaution for successful pairing, I moved them both into the breeder cage next to the doves. The ringneck doves had a similar issue with their cage, in that when we enlarged a door so I could put a bigger splash dish in for them, a patch had fallen off. I lost the male dove and one of the babies. Again, a quick patch was done until a permanent patch could be managed.
Well, one day I looked out in the evening while letting the dog out, and saw my beautiful Charlie sitting on top of the cage he had been moved to. He called out loudly to me. It took a beat before I realized he was supposed to be inside a cage. I went out and got him, and you can imagine how happy he was to be rescued. I couldn’t see my Oriana anywhere. Again, I couldn’t see how she could have gotten out. Mike came out and pointed to the patch that had fallen off. Oh, dear. Charlie really wanted to be a pet rather than a breeder. I’m giving up on breeding IRNs for now. Probably for good. We’ll see.
So, on to the good news. All three of my sets of button quail have laid eggs. Only one has produced a viable chick, and that chick did not live. But I have fingers crossed for the rest of them. The pair in the aviary haven’t picked a place to gather the eggs. A half dozen landed in a protected corner of the aviary. This happened to be the spot where baby zebra finches, pushed out of the nest by parents who want to lay more eggs, gathered at night. The button quail hen would sit on the eggs and the finches happily. I half expected the eggs to hatch out under the finches, but unfortunately the mice seem to have gotten the eggs. The hen is just not that in to sitting.
I’m to the point with the prolific zebra finches of giving away huge clumps of them. They are some of the prettiest birds I have ever raised, fawn, creams, whites, and black cheeks. I try to take the birds out while they are coming into their adult plumage, with maybe a touch of black on the beaks. Otherwise I run the risk of taking parents away from babies.
I moved all the society finches from the large aviary into the cage where Oriana and Wraith started out. I discovered that if I shoo the birds into the air lock, it’s much easier to net them there. Next time I need to grab some I will be able to do it much more quickly. I have three nest boxes for them and hope to get another three before long. Already there is one egg in the first nest box. I have never before had success with society finches, but I think it’s because the zeebs were so aggressive about nests.
The ringneck doves are a story unto themselves. I replaced Storm with Squinty. Sky didn’t take to him at first. Then I adopted a pair of doves from the humane society and put them in with the first pair. In no time, Sky started making up to Squinty and cooing at him. There were curved wires in the corner of the cage meant to hold dishes in place. Sky took a liking to one of them and sat there. Sometimes Squinty would get there first and Sky would sit on top of him. They did some very silly mystery positions that would not have fertilized any eggs. During one of these sessions, the new male from the couple came down to see what the heck they were doing. Squinty chased him off, probably to impress Sky. I took the wires out of the corner to discourage her but then she laid eggs out on the cage floor. I picked these up and put them under the new female, who had been happy with the nest and box I provided for her. I half expected that she would hatch out four or more chicks, something that might overwhelm two-at-a-time doves. I finally broke down and gave Sky back the food dish that was her favorite nest ever. She took to it immediately. The new girl, I noticed today, has kind of abandoned the eggs she had. Oh well.
Inside, of course, I have fewer breeders. A pair of zebs gave me five chicks, which all seem to be male. So when I rehome them I’ll pull females out of the aviary to go with them. None of the conure pairs seem to be interested in breeding. The two girl lovebirds lay eggs all the time, so I leave the eggs in there so they won’t do more. Fin has gotten very aggressive and I am worried she may hurt Rebel. Down the road, I may need to separate them. That won’t be fun.
My Fife canaries feed each other, play with the burlap strings, and roost on the edge of the nest. They seem to view it as a toilet area and nothing else. I recently acquired a pair of Irish Singer canaries. The male is white and the female is cinnamon. They came with a nest containing two eggs but the girl did not go back to sitting on it. I cleared it out, finding only one egg (this happens a lot) which I then stuck in the Fifes’ nest. They so don’t know what to do with it. I hope the Irish can show them the way it’s done.
I have a group of 3 pearl society finches who have to date laid zero eggs. Or if they laid any they then ate them. I wanted to keep them separate, but I don’t know what sex the third bird is. One male sings and dances and mounts one girl. The third bird sleeps with them and otherwise stays out of their way. So maybe they need to be with my other societies.
I hope your mid-spring is going well and that you celebrate eggs and whatever else you think you should with lots of smiles and songs. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.