Finch Conservation

I have been ringing the bell for parrot conservation over and over but now I want to look at smaller birds, the ones who are a joy in the aviary but might be overlooked in the wild. No matter how small, these birds usually eat some insects which is an important service to an ungrateful world. Continue reading “Finch Conservation”

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One Hundred Finches Versus One Hundred Macaws

I get some strange looks when I tell people I have 70 birds. Years ago, when I had one hundred birds, I got even stranger looks. But as I rescued cockatiels and budgies and conures, the flock just grew until cage space became limited. Then we acquired the aviary, and our daughter moved out. Birds migrated to the outside cages and the back bedroom became the bird room. Continue reading “One Hundred Finches Versus One Hundred Macaws”

Facebook is Unending

So there are lots more birds that you might share your world with, and lots of groups on Facebook that have wonderful opportunities to share. I just want to say that my heart is aching for a woman whose husband is hours away from the end of his life due to cancer, and the Congo African Grey who is the man’s companion is aware of something changing. Her human is not awake very much, and she sits on her cage close to his bed, watching and watching. This touching part of life would never have come to my attention without the wonderful folks at African Grey Parrot Lovers. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AfricanGreyParrotLovers/?fref=nf

I have lots of plans for my lovebirds, and two of my pairs are in nest boxes right now. The violets have three chicks, which is really exciting. Lovebird Connection is for breeders and focuses on Fishers, but there are great photos and good information there. https://www.facebook.com/LovebirdConnection

The group known as Agapornis Passion is also about breeding, but a little more open instead of one breeder’s page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/agapornis.passion/ I am thinking of starting a page for lovebird companions, in my spare time.

The Macaw forum is a fairly new site, with a focus on rescue, breeding endangered types of macaws, and helping people find lost or stolen birds. Not a bad reason to be out there. https://www.facebook.com/pages/MacawForumcom/149259131753385 Macaw Breeders Association is another good source for information, but you would think not so much for sharing pet stories and photos. But breeders also love their birds, and share lots of great photos and fun stories. https://www.facebook.com/groups/macaw.breeders/

My husband and I love canaries, and there’s a pretty nice group on Facebook called Canary Breeders Wcbc. This is a friend rather than join page, and so far the few photos I have seen are really nice. https://www.facebook.com/canarybreeders.wcbc

If you love zebra finches, then you will love Zebra Finch Lovers. Breeders, of course, because I am one of the few people who have zeebs just because I like them. And there are photos of all the beautiful mutations available. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ZebraFinchLovers/

Again, if you have many parrot types, like I do, you want a group where you can share any photos of your beloved companions. For Love of Parrots https://www.facebook.com/groups/593106950808104/ is just such a group, for all parrots and lots of sharing of photos and adventures.

Don’t forget the birds all around you, and all over the world. For a great site to view amazing photos of all sorts of avian species, green bee eaters, red tailed hawks, ducks, gannets, even simple sparrows. Bird Watchers is a great group to join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/globalbirdwatchers/

Happy joining and viewing, sharing and commenting. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Yet More Further Different Randomness

Hope the earlier batch of videos and articles were entertaining. I have a few more to share. This one is just another adorable baby parrot but his huge beak makes him really precious.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uINaAl0fnPg

This is the first part of a two-part video showing a wonderful aviary for African Greys. Not high quality filming, but still you get the idea. And you should be able to find part two on the same page.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQFLV4QSefY

And a beautiful finch aviary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amktKfqcolg

Here are two different videos on how to build an aviary. This one is indoors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn_oSUECO-Q

This one is outside, and has a love seat so you can enjoy the birds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Waf2e3rAGHg

Here are several random aviaries with good drainage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfFCiA5R4DU

And a specific aviary for budgies. It’s so pretty!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8FU8hANdps

This isn’t the right time of year to be building aviaries in Southern California, because you don’t have enough warm weather left to let the birds acclimate to the out of doors. If you were building a larger home for the birds, that wouldn’t be so bad. June and July are the best time here to build an aviary or outdoor flight cage, because you can count on July, August, September and at least half of October to be warm and the right conditions for moving birds to the great outdoors.

And that’s our post for today. I’ll be back on Sunday.

Blue Baby Budgies

Genetics can rapidly put me to sleep. The details look like alphabet soup in some cases. For instance, finches, Lady Gouldians especially. You have to crack the code. RH PB GB = Red Head Purple Breast Green Back or Normal RH. BH PB BB = Black Head Purple Breast Blue Back, or a really pretty bird! Here’s the decoder ring: http://www.candoaviary.com/page6.php and more input: http://www.finchstuff.com/GouldianFinchColourMutations.aspx and my all-time favorite gould: http://www.finchinfo.com/genetics/lady_gouldian_finch/index.php

Zebra finches at least use normal words: Isabel, creamino, grizzled, but also have initials like NG for normal grey, OC for orange cheek, BC for black cheek, and my favorite, CFW for chestnut-flanked white. These do get complicated with things like Split OB/BB/BC which means at least one parent of the bird being described had an orange breast, black back, and black cheek. Here’s that decoder ring: http://zebracrazy.byethost13.com/Abbrev.htm

Cockatiels are less diverse, possibly because they don’t breed as rapidly as the finches. And last time I looked, they used whole words, albino, lutino, pearl, white-faced grays, cinnamon, and the always present normal grays. Well, according to this site, the alphabet soup has conquered cockatiel breeders: http://www.internationalcockatielresource.com/mutation-abbreviations.html

Lovebirds have almost finch-like mutations. When you have a green bird, you have blue and yellow to work with. There are several species of these adorable little parrots, but we will look at peach-faced lovebirds because that’s the most confusing. I think there should be a law against naming a bird for a color on it, but then we would need to rename so many species it’s just mind boggling. So remember that peach-faced is the name of the whole species, and not one of the mutations. There are lutino pfls, cherry head lutino pfls, violet pfls, sea green pfls. Well, here’s a good site with a more complete list: http://kmbreeding.weebly.com/peach-face-lovebird-mutationsgenetics-general-info.html and of course the African Love Bird Society, where you can learn about other lovebird species too: http://www.africanlovebirdsociety.com/species/eyering.htm

And all of the above are just external signs of the genetics. The action happens as the fertilized egg leaves the hen and the embryo weaves its genetic material from the parents into its own unique self. If you understand all that alleles and chromosomes, you will enjoy these sites: http://feistyhome.phpwebhosting.com/mutations.htm for beginners and http://birdpets.onenessbecomesus.com/Genetics.pdf more advanced. Really technical: http://www.graybloomfield.com/budgies/gentext.html

I’m thinking about this subject now because my budgie chicks are feathering out. They’re blue! Well, duh, both parents are blue. Mom has a yellow head, and apparently one of the chicks also has a yellow head. Two out of four have the black lines on their wings and backs. So I think they are going to be really beautiful birds.

Here’s a guide to budgie colors and mutations, cause they are totally the best: http://www.budgieplace.com/colors.html Be sure to look for and click on the half-sider link. Pretty interesting!

So this should give you something to think about over the holiday weekend. Old-fashioned genetic manipulation actually involved sex and breeding. Sometimes, the old ways are the best. See you on Wednesday.

Nineteen Years

Early this month, my husband and I celebrated 19 wonderful years of living together. This is not to be confused with our wedding anniversary, which happened about two years later in June. The occasion marked in March is the night he moved in with me.

I mention Mike in most of my posts here, because he is my support and help in all things in my life. We traveled over some rough patches, but instead of shaking our relationship apart, we have grown stronger.

At the time we joined our households, I had two cockatiels and a pair of finches. I decided to rehome the finches, but we kept the tiels. Palafox and Paradise, a male normal gray and a female lutino, were not as happy to be together as Mike and I were. Paradise tried very dilligently to interest Palafox, but he would have none of it. He might not have known what he was, but he wasn’t whatever she was, and didn’t want to do those things she suggested.

I always felt a bit sad watching them in different parts of the same cage, pleasuring themselves alone when they could have made the same music together. Oh, well.

Mike evolved from reluctantly accompanying me and the kids to a bird club meeting to readily interacting with the various parrots and finches. He’s not a club kind of person, so that is now something I do on my own, but he still likes the flock. He monitors the water daily, feeds as needed, and cleans the cages weekly. Without this help, I could not keep my birds at this time.

I believe I mentioned before in this blog that our first sun conure, Zazu, came to my attention when his owner chose to give him away, and I made all the arrangement to travel north a bit and pick him up. We had him home less than an hour when he decided to attack me. Mike could hold him, get him to step up, and be a kissy bird, but I was a threat, an intruder, and not to be tolerated.

Over the years, Mike has been bitten by finches, canaries, parrotlets, budgies, cockatiels, conures, and once by an Congo African Grey. That was our Bo Dangles, who politely said she was sorry after she bit him. Of course, she had no toes so she couldn’t hold on when she lunged at him, and ended up falling a few feet. Maybe that was what she was really sorry about.

My darling husband has also been roped into loading and unloading cages of all shapes and sizes. I have a terrible tendency to insist some cage will fit, and when we had a minivan, I was pretty often right. But once we opted for two Toyota Matrixes . . . Matrices? Well, anyway, when we got two small cars, I often erred. This resulted in getting a great deal at a bird mart two hours north of home, and once we rolled it all the way out to the car, found it would not fit. And Mike didn’t have tools with him. He ended up dismantling the cage with a small screwdriver. And then some of the disassembled parts nearly didn’t fit. We still refer to that incident when I insist on being spacial.

Oh, and Mike never ever liked that cage, either. He was very pleased when we sold it.

I may have mentioned that he does woodworking and cage building for me. He created and added the sides and roof to the aviary, and when we added the outrigger cages, his term, he designed and built the cage supports and the enclosed areas. He’s had to add smaller wire around the bottom to keep baby button quail inside, been responsible for putting up and taking down nest boxes in there, and also does the nest checks when the cockatiels are breeding.
He comforts me when one of the birds dies, sometimes even when his own heart is bruised. His task is to build the fires where we send the small bodies off to their next stage. His task is to keep the birds hidden in the freezer when visitors come over.

I can’t imagine anyone else putting up with me and carrying on with all these chores. Some people think humans don’t mate for life, but I think it just takes the right pair of bonded people. Just like with birds, the bottom line is being happy enough to roost together at the end of the day.

Take care, see you on Wednesday!

The Name Game

Most hook bills are capable of learning their names.  Many other birds recognize their name and come when called.  Mike and I put a lot of thought into the names of our birds. Many come with names already assigned.  And sometimes that drives me crazy.

For instance, Zazu.  This would be a great name for a love bird or any African parrot, because in the movie The Lion King, the secretary bird carried that name.  But for a sun conure from South America?  Boo!  And how many hundreds of sun conures are there with the name Sunny?  Almost as many are there are cats named Kitty.

Our African gray female has a special need in that she has no toes and cannot perch.  She loves to show off her little stumps  by hanging from the top of her cage by her beak.  That is how she got the name Bo Dangles.

We named our first violet love bird Jimi, after Jimi “Purple Haze” Hendrix.  We named our green cheek Esmeralda, We named a white cockatiel Mallory for her marshmallow appearance.

Psycho bird Beeby, a half-moon conure, came with his name, and it stood for Bad Bird.  He is unbelievably cute and loveable, but he does have a tendency to bite and attack us.  So he has gained many nicknames:  Beebozo, Lord Beebatron, Beeb the Merciless, and Beebus.

Elmer is a cockatiel who arrived with his name, and because he can say  “Whatcha doing, Elmer?” I could not change his name.  Newbert arrived with the name Charlie.  Eh.  He was a nearly wild cockatiel who flew into a window at my office and was brought to me.  Mike named him Newbert.  Better.

Sometimes bird pairs have names that go together.  The first rosey Bourkes I had were named Fred and Ethel.  But a pair of sun conures we were given were called George and Bella.  Bella knows her name, so I call her Gracie Bell.  It works for us.

I guess names mean a lot to me, I remember roommates naming kittens Frank and Jake.  I was astonished.  These were geeky fans like me, but they didn’t go with Jake and Elwood.  They loved westerns too, but they didn’t go with Frank and Jesse.  Unbelievable.

When I spent time on email lists or Yahoo groups devoted to various birds, I noticed a few common names showing up.  Love birds were often called Skittles.  Amazons were named Kiwi.  African Grays were named Smokey.  So I conducted a survey of the members of my bird club.  I expected to see many matches, but instead there were very few duplicates.  I was amazed, and pleased that my club contained many original thinkers.

I also think names can harm or help a bird in how folks think of them.  We were given a female cockatiel named Tweeker.  She was frantic when she came into the house, pacing in her cage and squawking.  Once the former owners said their goodbyes and left, we put her in with the community.  (I know. I have been very lucky in that I don’t often quarantine new birds, but no illnesses or other traumas have been spread to my flock)  The bird settled down immediately in the flock, and soon paired up with our largest male, TJ.  We renamed her Teena.

We received a beautiful white-faced gray cockatiel that went into our aviary.  He has the largest eyes I have ever seen on a cockatiel. They give him a surprised look, and he is not very tame.  But in coloration he is just like our inside bird named Kai.  So he has two names.  I call him KaiClone, Mike calls him Spooky.

We had Gouldian finches for some years, but never had good luck with breeding them, or even keeping them alive.  Still they were amazingly beautiful birds, the males had a sweet, soft song.  It was very entertaining to watch the males bouncing on a perch while holding grass or straw in their beak, giving a pretty girl the eye.  Mike named one Elliot Gould, and he was a character.  Whenever he got a drink out of the Lixit bottle (the type used more for hamsters and rabbits, with the ball bearing at the end of a tube), he would lean back and weave from side to side for a few seconds, then take another drink.  I have never known a bird to get so much enjoyment out of water.

Word play weighs in on bird names in this house.  That’s why we have an Indian Ringneck named Wraith (Ring –Wraith) and a tuxedo button quail named Tennessee.  I named a canary Patience because she waited all day in a small carrier at work until I could bring her home.  A cockatiel who never quite got off the ground during out time was dubbed Scooter.  A cockatiel missing a toe became Stubby.

Now and then a bird arrives with the perfect name.  A simply beautiful gray pearl cockatiel, a female of impressive circumference, bore the name Princess.  She is demanding and regal, and not at all impressed that we put her in the aviary so she can work off her extra ounces.  And our best breeding cockatiel hen is known simply as Mom-bird.

All our birds have names, sometimes they get extras due to characteristics, behavior, or playfulness.  I confess some get new names when we forget exactly what we were calling them.  The names always mean something to us, and even when we have to explain the joke to others, we know we love our birds because we have named them, just as if they were family.  Which, of course, they are.