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Friday, July 18, 2014

Troubleshooting Youngsters - Part 2 - Skinny Birds

From a distance you notice this German roller is very tubular looking for a roller.  When viewed from the side, you can nearly see a thin breast bone protruding without catching him. When you catch him, it is obvious he is too thin and his breast bone is sharp even without parting the feathers.

Even though we supply ample food and nutrients to our birds, it is not uncommon to find some “skinny” birds. What are “skinny” birds? A skinny bird is one with a sharp breast bone, prominent pelvic bones and no visible yellow fat layer on the lower abdomen.

What are some possible causes for thin birds  and how can it be resolved?

1st Consider Their Housing.

The most common reason for chicks being thin is keeping both males and females in the same cage. This results in the less aggressive youngsters being denied food access resulting in weight loss.

Overall male chicks are often more aggressive than females. While many female chicks are timid and high risk for weight loss, some females are aggressive. The reason being that each additional egg the hen lays in a clutch has more and more testosterone producing cells regardless of the sex of the chick. This is nature’s way of helping the smaller later hatched chicks compete favorably for food.  So it is female chicks whose egg was laid early in the series that are low “t” females who are housed with males that will invariable be too thin. 

Solution: Separate males and females promptly. If you can’t tell by color (roller males within a nest are deeper yellow colored) or the males are not singing, separate the thin birds from the normal weight ones. Most will be females with an occasional low “t” male who will need to be sorted out later.

2nd Diet and Exercise may be a problem to normal weight gain.

High protein/low carbohydrate diets are responsible for weight loss in birds just like the Atkins high protein/low carbohydrate diet results in weight loss in humans. To encourage weight gain feed more fats and carbohydrates and drop hard-boiled eggs from their diet. Adding some sunflower pieces to the regular seed mix is fattening as well as feeding some fresh white bread or offering dishes of dry nestling food. In addition, I also feed cous cous with olive oil and additional carbs to encourage weight.

Severe weight loss may occur at weaning time. Birds naturally love to stay on the highest perch and weaning chicks will fly up to the high perches and beg to be fed. To avoid losing youngsters from not eating, when chicks are being weaned, used a small breeder with no perches so the chicks will stay on the floor with the food and keep eating rather than flying.

Any thin birds need to have food readily available and limit their exercise which naturally happens when they have to fly up and down to forage for food. Limit flying by housing thin birds in breeding cages rather than flights.  And add additional perches so that the bird can easily hop rather than fly to get to feeding stations.

Try a weight gain supplement. This one works well.

3rd Make sure the thin birds are healthy and not infected with mites.

Examine the birds for any signs of illness. Begin by observing them from a distance and then catch them and listen to their breathing and check their abdomen for any unusual color and determine whether they have a thin fat layer.  Treat any illness discovered.

4th It might be genetic.

When birds are inbred they become smaller than normal and less healthy and sometimes they are too thin. Care must be taken to select only the strongest and healthiest birds for breeding.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Troubleshooting Youngsters -Part 1 - Dumpy

Suddenly the weather started dropping from a hot 95 F to a more comfortable temperature and I promptly turned off the air conditioning in the aviary, opened the screened windows and turn on the aviary full-sized house exhaust fan to bring in the fresh cooler air. Before I realized it, a few hours later the temperature had dropped to 58 F and the aviary was cold. At that point I noticed a couple of Dumpy looking German Roller youngsters.

 Both youngsters look short and wide with their feathers starting to fluff out. They were chilling and way too cold. So I turned off the exhaust fan and observed them.

Compare these two youngsters from the same nest. The one on the left looks normal but the one on the right is timid, shy, and dumpy!

Closer examination of the dumpy youngster revealed a sharp breast bone.  The youngster is too thin.  Thin birds chill easily, just like thin people. Birds fluff their feathers to keep warm.

So the two dumpy youngsters have been moved to an empty cage together.  Immediately, one of the youngsters was happier and eating. The positive thing about this is that the chill in the room helped me find the thin chicks quicker before they were sickly.

Tip: When moving birds to a new cage, do not add them to an existing group where the new kid on the block is subject to harassment from the establishment. Rather move all you wanted to house together to a new cage setting to disrupt territorial problems.

Update: July 20, 2014 Dumpy birds are looking great. I gave them 1/2 tsp Avi-tech AviGain Supplement mixed in to their dish of  cous cous, olive oil, poppy seed and Bird Supply of New Hampshire Belgian Nestling food.  

 Don't call us Dumpy any more!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Border Fancy Love Eating Indian Spinach

This morning while shopping at Kim Son Asian Food Market, I spotted a dark green vine-like spinach commonly called Indian Spinach.

Of course, the Borders love it!

At first I placed it low and non-treating but then moved it up higher and higher. Next it will be so high they have to stretch to get it!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Molting Time Munchies

Young Borders
This quick and easy dish is a bird favorite molting time munchies.  To prepare take cous cous add olive oil and poppy seed and add hot water to cover and leave a generous water layer on top. Stir occasionally to break it up till it is all separates. (If you don't stir, it all sticks together but once you stir you can fix it!) (I make up six cups cous cous in a batch and use 1/2 cup olive oil and 3/4 cup poppy seed) Add your favorite dry nestling food such as Novafood, CeDe or this is Bird Supply of New Hampshire Belgian Nestling food (contains perilla seed and soy protein).

 Outer cabbage leaves or broccoli florets or kale leaves are also popular. Greens are especially loved by my Borders and bring beautiful yellow coloring to their feathers.

Lucca says those are fine for the canaries but he would rather have popcorn to munch on while we intently watches the World Cup!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

German Roller Show Cages and Bird Items on Ebay

Jeff Brooks is moving and needs to sell his bird items. He writes: I am listing and will be listing more German Roller Canary cages and related items on eBay.  

eBay Item Number 201119273798 closes in just 2 days! 


This is a set of four antique German Roller Canary show cages.  They were hand crafted, not assembly-line manufactured, and are at least 50-years old.  The hard-to-find glass feeders are included as well as two perches per cage.  No cabinet. The set is matched.  Each cage has a removable wire guard beneath the pull out tray which stays in place when the tray is removed and prevents birds from escaping when you are cleaning trays.

The cages are solid and well-built, but of course used.  There is chalk writing on the bodies of the cages numbering them 1-4.  This will easily wash off but I left it on so you could see how the owner marked the cages so they would stack them the same each time when training the birds.  These are unique and hard to find. 

The dimensions for each cage are 9" L x 6.5" W x 7.5" H.

eBay Item 201122559517


Set of four German Roller Canary show cages in good, usable condition.  Because most breeders use the glass feeders and this set is outfitted with the Lustar #303 American made plastic cage cups, they are  the perfect choice for training your team of birds for the show season. Cages are old but solid.  Like most show cages you will see at German Roller shows and exhibitions in the United States, (there are not many!), the show cages show their age and wear.  Most were  made by talented craftsmen and one can appreciate their skill and love of the art of cage building.  These came to me without a cabinet.

Check out my other listings for more canary related items.  And check back as I will be listing cages with cabinets shortly. 

Kind thoughts,
Jeff Brooks

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Attention Bloggers In Ireland

Amish Cantaloupe
Can you help Big Bird?  I am planning a trip to Ireland to attend the All-Ireland All-Border Show in Dublin October 19 and 20th and would like to attend other bird shows around the same time.  Have not bought the ticket so I could attend the weekend before or after or both etc.

Am interested in seeing lots of Borders and other kinds of canaries. Would especially like to see Irish Fancy in particular as the numbers are somewhat limited here in the States.

Seems like this is a good time in my life to travel. My idea of the perfect trip is to see Canaries and attend Bird Shows! Got another idea for a bird trip?

My Kind of Fireworks! Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sprouting Seed in a Sink Colander

 A Sink Colander for sprouting seeds is one of my favorite among aviary equipment. The side handles expand to fit your sink. Shown is ABBA Products soak seed which is covered with water for six hours and then placed in the sink colander for sprouting. Seed is sprayed in the colander daily. Works great!

I purchased mine a few years ago at Aldi. Aldi is a German company offering groceries and a few extras in the US. Today's ad featured the sink colander!