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Monday, September 15, 2014

Can You Help Big Bird? National Cage Bird Show

The show hotel is sold out for the National Cage Bird Show and I do not want to stay at the overflow hotel.

If you know of anyone or club holding an extra room, please e-mail me at

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kicking It Up A Notch - Gain A Competitive Edge By Feeding Blattner's Sisken & Finch Seed

Wishing you could do something to make your birds more competitive?

After being unavailable in the US for several years,  the popular European Blattner Siskin & Finch Seed is now sold here by Bird Supply of New Hampshire.

Feeding a small amount of this high quality balanced seed mix has made a dramatic effect on my Border Fancy and Columbus Fancy canaries confirmation and tightened up the feathering on colorbred, Stafford and German Rollers. The positive effect is visible in just 24 hours after feeding!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Novice Yorkie Breeder Asks Big Bird

Dear Linda,

I am a novice Yorkshire hobbyist. I've just bought 30 birds 2 months ago. I am actually planning to breed them but i was wrong as i just realized that this particular bird is not easy to breed.
In this 2 months, i just try my best to raise and re-condition all the Yorkshires and 
make all of them healthy. But again it is very very difficult.
I have feed them w/ the best food i can get here is prestige mix seed by versele laga, 
haver seed, eggfood and i gave them apple and different kind of veggie everyday. Also i 
gave them vitamin( soluvite d by vetafarm)in their water everyday. 
They also take bath almost everyday and i put them under sun light twice a week but still 
i have not seen my Yorkshires in a very good shape, sometime they look like very sleepy 
and very quite. 
I am writing this email to you seeking your professional advise how to make all my 
Yorkshires back to normal and healthy condition. 
FYI, i am living in tropical country called Indonesia. I put my birds in semi indoor area 
which is not windy. The temperature is 27celcius in the morning, 31celcius in the 
afternoon and back to 29celcius in the night time. Pls advise if air conditioned room 
I really appreciate if you can give me some advise.

Big Bird: You are right, this is definitely not an easy breed to start with. You are trying hard to do the best for your birds and hopefully together we can get them healthy and breeding.

Be sure you have the males and females in separate cages. Separate timid ones sleepy one from others.
Your high temperatures are about where I start running the air conditioner here. Do the birds sit around with there mouths open? Birds do not have sweat glands so open mouths and spread wings means it is too hot. Otherwise the temperature is OK.

In order to breed them, they must be healthy. Check the weight on the ailing ones. Are they thin? If so add sunflower chips (pieces), cous cous with olive oil (see blog), regular uncooked oatmeal, and white bread.
Listen to the breathing for any sound of clicking. If so, google mites on blog and treat them immediately.

How much daylight per day are they getting?
Breeder: As I put them in semi outdoor room, they can get 10 hours daylight. But that is from indirect sun light as I do not put any light on top of their cage.

Big Bird: When the birds breed best here, they are 14.5 hours day length. When do your natural days get to that length? Are the wild birds breeding now?

I would not expect my smaller varieties to breed till a minimum of 12 hours but they do best at 14 hours. My Borders do best at 14.5 which is typical of larger birds.

At 10 hours, males here would not be singing the breeding song or doing the macho dance. How are they acting? The idea is to get the males ready first.

Birds tend to get up 30 minutes before sunrise and go to bed 30 minutes after so does that mean they are up 12 hours? Do you have a light timer? If so set it 30 minutes before they normal get up. It is critical that the light not be dropped as that precipitates normal molt. If the light per day varies because humans may vary and sleep in one day etc it makes them unhealthy after a time.

Breeder:The cocks are not dropping their wings when singing.

Yes some of them are losing feathers.

Some of them has clicking sounds in their breathing and i treat them with Ornicure already,
And some of them is very thin and i don't know how to cure the thin one. 
Big Bird: The clicking means you need to treat for air sac mites. google mites inside my blog. Ornicure I think is antibiotic if so it treats some bacteria not mites. First You Need to treat for mites immediately. and again ten days later. If you do not get rid of the mites, any chicks will be attack by the mites and die.
Losing feathers could be still molting or it might be soft molt. Lets get them on liquid B vitamins in the water.
Breeder: Tdy I have treated all the 30 Yorkshires w/ SCATT to eliminate Air Sac Mites. Can I see some improvement of health directly from this treatment?
Big Bird: Also make sure mosquitoes can't get them as you do not want canary pox. Treating should bring improvement.

 When you get them healthy and ready to breed, it is very important to trim the feathers around the vent and up a bit on the lower abdomen on the males to increase the chance of fertility.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Common Canary Seed Mix - Seed Sources For The Most Important Breeding Amino Acids Methionine and Lysine

Canaries prefer a canary mix that includes a high proportion of plain canary seed (Phalaris canariensis) usually 40 - 75% of their seed mix. Canary seed is usefully for its high energy content, but it is very low in the most important breeding amino acids, methionine and lysine.

Canola Rape seed  is typically 25 - 40% except in some countries where millet is used instead. Rape is an energy seed and lysine rich.

Millet is eaten best from sprays. It is helpful in weight control as canaries will not over eat millet. It is helpful because of its high level of methionine but it is lacking in lysine. In some mixes they may represent a third of the seeds. My birds love millet sprays but refuse to eat millet in mixes.

Oat groats are the richest natural source of lysine and the most important grain for breeding. Typically it represents about 10% of the seeds in a canary mix.

Sunflower (chips/hulled pieces) are very useful as they are rich in both methionine and lysine. Because of there high oil content, they are fattening.

Wheat provides the most balanced ratio of amino acids, especially lysine. It is feed soaked, sprouted or as cous cous.

Flax  (linseed) should be fed as a small percentage (2%) of a seed mix as over consumption like other oily seeds such as thistle may irritate the bowl and cause loose dropping that cling to the vent and may cause potentially fatal plugging.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Most Tempting Foods

A blogger asks "What is the most tempting foods to offer my canaries?"

The most tempting food for canaries are foods that are white.  Even the most finicky eaters will enjoy munching Soft white bread. I have tried whole wheat and mine just look at it. If it is dry, they lose interest in it. Soft white bread right out of the package is promptly eaten.

It is a great way to tame them and make them love their show cage.  I can cut the size down and move it up to top to encourage this Border to stretch.

Regular uncooked oatmeal (people food) is another favorite. This Columbus Fancy likes to nibble on the oatmeal flakes.

The most tempting time to feed a new food is first thing in the morning. Even with seed mix in the cages they wait and wonder "What's For Breakfast?"

My husband says "Hunger is a great sauce!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Come Back To Erin

 My husband Patrick and I will be in Ireland Oct 10 to Oct 22!

I will attend the Swords & Dist. Cage Bird Society Show. Their 2014 Annual show will be held on the 11th/12th of October. They have a change of venue for the show this year, which is, Donabate Community & Leisure Centre, Portrane Road, Donabate, Co. Dublin. This Venue has a large hall, which is double the size of our last two halls. It has excellent natural light and a good car park. Donabate is five Kms north of Swords and is accessed form exit four off the M1 motorway coming from the north or South.

After the Swords show I will travel to Northern Ireland visiting with canary people and clubs, and seeing the country side while staying with Jacqueline and Robert Bennett.

Then I will attend the All-Ireland All-Border Show:Irish Border Fancy Club, St. Colmcille's GAA Club Co. Dublin Saturday Oct 18 & 19th. I will give a talk at 10:30 in the show hall on Sunday.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Top Ten Border Breeding Tips

When the Northern Hemisphere bloggers are preparing for show season, it's breeding time in the Southern Hemisphere.  A Border breeder from South Africa has request that I write my top ten list for breeding borders and post it now for our Southern Hemisphere breeders. (Use search within the blog for articles that cover these points in detail.)

2014 Top Ten Border Breeding Tips

1. About six weeks before breeding coat the regular seed mix with fortified wheat germ oil. Use 1 cup to 50 lbs of seed.  To facilitate use 5 lbs of the mix with the one cup wheat germ oil and mix for a day or two, then mix into the rest of the 50 lbs seed. Feed this coated seed to all birds until you are ready for the annual molt.

2. Work to bring the cocks into breeding condition before the hens. Beginning giving cocks extra vitamin E six weeks before breeding in addition to the coated seeds. Start the hens on extra vitamin E three weeks before breeding.  Multiple vitamins should be fed at least twice a week. Bee pollen is an excellent conditioner.

Hens need extra calcium/D3 balanced with phosphorus for several months prior to breeding. As they approach laying they ingest more and more calcium. In areas with low iodine levels, adding some occasional to the water is helpful for thyroid function.

3. Keep a watchful eye on the both cocks and hens weight. Cocks that are too fat or too thin will breed poorly if at all. The fat cocks should exercise more (few perches up and down, window covered free flight,  place food and water at different heights so they have to fly) and be fed a lower calorie diet of greens and untreated grass seed or petamine if available. Hens need some fat layer as feeding chicks will take that off them.

4. Thin cocks and thin hens need less exercise so place perches every few inches so they hop but do not fly. Feed them additional higher calorie foods such as sunflower chips (pieces), oatmeal, cous cous with extra oil oil and white bread. Make sure they are not thin because of mite infestation. Only healthy mite free produce chicks.

5. House cocks in groups as the number one factor bringing the cocks into breeding condition is territorial fighting. Of course, should they get too aggressive and draw blood, separate them.

6. Stimulate the cocks with cooked quinoa and non-GMO soybeans (soaked in hot water to soften), processed in the foot processor and then mixed with processed veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower or whole thawed frozen peas. Keep an eye on the vent development.

Borders are very sensitive to high protein so keep them at about 16% protein and avoid using any added pure hard boiled egg to nestling food except to parents feeding chicks. Higher protein levels have a negative effect on their health, their breeding, and their feeding chicks.

Always add one lb of thawed frozen peas to four cups egg containing nestling food. Adding peas is the important difference that encourages Borders to feed their chicks. Provide extra dishes of dry nestling food with added CeDe Handrearing formula (18% protein - African Grey Parrot picture on the box) to approximate 16% protein levels. My borders also like to feed chicks seeds such as sunflower chips, hemp and song food.

7. Increase total day length by 30 minutes each week until day length reaches 14.5 hours. Smaller canaries do fine with sudden change in a day but the more difficult ones are easier to work with by smaller increment increasing the day length.

8. Pair birds only when they are ready. Cocks vents pointed forward, red and rounded on the sides (engorged) and behaving like macho cocks. Hens abdomens red and hot to touch and swollen vents.
When possible, introduce the pair with divided wire cages giving the cocks treats and not the hen so she begs him to feed her through the wire. The breeding ready cock is the number one factor for bringing the hens into condition. When behaving appropriately, they are ready for pairing.

The striker method also works well where ready hens are introduce to the cock only for quick mating and not paired.  The advantage is that the same cock can be used with several hens and only reintroduced to the hen when chicks are 14 days old again for mating.

9. During setting do not feed nestling food or greens but offer a dish of hemp with other seeds. This helps keep the hen sitting tight and improves hatching rate.

10. Offer a second nest beside the first one on the chicks 14 day.  On the 18th day or when the first chick leaves the nest, provide dishes of CeDe Handrearing formula. Chicks are attracted to its light color and immediately start eating it as their first food.  Once they are eating other foods well, cut the amount of handrearing formula with dry nestling food (15% protein).