Friday, May 29, 2009

Latest New Hatches - 21 Day Hatch?

Three Day Old Pure DKB German Roller Chicks, Note their large wide bodies!

Another photo of above chicks, note the highly visible yellow fat layer under the skin on the chick's rump!

New One Day Old Border Chicks

Another photo of above border chicks, note how fluffy they are so even though they are not stuffed, they are doing well!

Chicks Still Hatching In My Aviary

Although the breeding season is coming to a close, chicks are still hatching in my aviary. I know that the season is coming to a close because not only do I see increasing numbers of long flight feathers but also the percentage of eggs hatching on the 13th day have decreased from 90% to 30% and falling. When your chicks hatch on the 13th day it is a sign that things are working extremely well, that is your A game but when they hatch on the 14th day, your are down to your B game!

Recently, I had a hen with five eggs who was nesting in the outside cage style nest. After 14 days, no chicks had hatched. My normal pattern is to check fertile eggs that failed to hatch by noon of the 14th day for live chicks by floating the fertile eggs in warm water and any that move I transfer to another hen for hatching.

On this hens, 14th day, I worked a day shift rather than my normal 2nd shift so I just let her be. In fact, I forgot all about her and focused my attention on the other hen in an outside nest in the cage who was also sitting on fertile eggs but due a week later. To my surprise, on the 21st day the first hen hatched four chicks which was the same day that the other hen hatched four chicks on her 14th day.

I kept looking at the calendar and sure enough this hen hatched a week late! I had noted at the time how poorly this hen was sitting on her replaced eggs in spite of my giving her unlimited hemp seed. So I thought, that is reasonable, she just waited a week to get her incubation temperature and this is my first time for 21 day hatching! Luckily, I only told Leng in an e-mail about this unusual 21st day hatch instead of blowing breaking news all over the Internet!

After about a week when the nest was soiled by the four new chicks, I cleaned it out and to my surprise, there was a layer of five eggs covered in nesting material below the level of hatched chicks! The hen had a good laugh on me as she had built over the five eggs I had put back in nest and laid a second clutch with the other hen. So it was really another 14 day hatch like usual! Man am I glad I never mentioned this 21 day hatch in this blog!

The hen has now set her second round and sure enough she repeated the same pattern, building over the replaced eggs and laying an immediate second clutch! I hope all her chicks are cocks as I do not want an aviary of hens doing double clutches. I have had a few cases of border hens who would lay double clutches of nine eggs but six eggs is about all a hen can cover. I had a high number of seven egg clutches. High methionine and other amino acids encourage hens to lay more eggs, in my aviary this is from the ABBA Miracle vitamin product that I add to my egg food.

Question: Have you ever had 10 or 12 eggs laid in one nest with only two birds in the cage?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Easy Seeds to Sprout

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

These seeds are so easy to sprout. You just soak them in water for a few hours, rinse, and then either place in a collander or in a large open pan. Rinse them a couple of times a day and by the second day, you will have nutritious and tasty sunflower sprouts.

Sprouted seeds are easy to shell and chick love to have something to nibble on and play with! The first time I introduce the sprouted sunflower seeds, I mix them with sprouted rape. In addition to weaned chicks, I also feed them to any hen feeding banded babies.

The only down side of this is the hulls are messy but oh well, anything for the birds!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Terror in the Aviary

Shocking Attack on Chick

Yesterday, I discovered one of three two week old chicks in a breeder cage had been attacked. The other two chicks were totally unharmed. I quickly checked the underside of the hen and cock beaks for signs of blood.

As I suspected would be the case, the cock was the culprit with tell tale chick blood under his beak. Even though he had been single paired with the hen and he had helped feed chicks, now that the hen is ready to mate and lay their next clutch, he turned on the chick! Had I not discovered the chick, it would most likely have been killed!

This cock was removed from the breeding cage and is retired from breeding this season. I suspect he consumed too much egg food for himself instead of passing it on to his chicks!

Till they are weaned, the three chicks will remain with the hen. Today, the hen laid her first egg. Since the cock was in with her for several weeks, the hen does not need the cock to fertilize her clutch of eggs.

Once weaned, I will keep the wounded chick in a separate cage to prevent other birds from picking on its head. Housing in a separate cage is necessary whenever feathers have been picked down to bare skin on highly visible parts of the body. You can get by with feathers being plucked in the lower abdomen as it is not so visible.

Feathers will grow back in time and eventually you will not be able to identify which chick was damaged. The chick is even looking better today!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Empty Nest Snydrome

This Border Hens Five Eggs Vanished!

Another Border Hen was sitting on a pile of thin-shelled broken eggs!

Case of the Disappearing Border Eggs

After setting a border hen with five eggs, was I ever surprised when I peaked in on the nest a few days later to find no eggs in the nest and none on the floor. It is common for hens to pitch infertile eggs out of the nest and eat them so that no evidence remains. I found that hard to believe in this case, as I had observed them mating and the cock had been with the two border hens for several weeks.

So I decided to check the other border hens eggs in the same cage. The second border was sitting on a pile of egg shells, none of her five eggs were intact. It seems the egg shells were so thin that when the hens set on them, they broke!

This was the third round of eggs that these hens had laid and one of the two hens had no surviving eggs in any of her three nests. The other hen had raised a foster border chick in her second round.

In all my years of canary breeding, I have never seen this before. This is the year to raise my awareness of problems in calcium absorption especially in borders.

Calcium is stored for several months prior to egg laying and once calcium stores are depleted, thin shelled eggs or even egg binding may result. For so many years, I have always used liquid calcium and had great productivity. My not getting around promptly to getting a liquid calcium source and getting it started at least 3 months before breeding and continuing through the breeding season was a big mistake especially for the borders. I certainly knew it was important but I underestimated how very critical it is to productivity!

On a good note, I have been able to salvage enough border hens that I have enough borders offspring to fill all my show cages and learning this can have a big impact in helping more border breeders to improve their productivity. All lessons have consequences, but I am truly thankful for any learning that helps me and others connect with our birds!

Moral: All of Life is for Learning.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Poisonous Plants

Plants That Are Toxic to Birds!

There have been few actual documented cases of plant poisonings in birds, partly because birds enjoy shredding leaves more than ingesting them so that little may be actually eaten, because they have rapid gastrointestinal transit time so that a toxic blood level is not achieved, and because parrots have the habit of removing plant outer covering, which frequently contains the highest concentration of toxins, prior to eating them.

Signs of plant toxicity in canaries include cessation of perching, anorexia (loss of appetite), fluffed feathers, increased respiration rate, outstretched wings, and death. Most canaries that died did so within minutes to hours following the ingestion of plants. Documented plants that are highly toxic for canaries include foxglove, lily of the valley, diffenbachia, avocado, yew, lupine, and oleander. There are actually several varieties of avocados commercially available (Guatemalan, Mexican, Nabal, and Fuerte) which differ in their toxic capacity with the Mexican variety possibly non-toxic but it would be wise to avoid all types of avocado as it is just not worth the risk.

Other documented plants with mild or only transient symptoms included parsley, rhododendron, black locust, wisteria, clematis, cherry, pyracintha (fire thorn), and privet. Bird species do vary in the responses to various plants, but it is wise to avoid planting any documented poisonous plants near aviaries such as oleander (toxic foliage), Castor bean (toxic seeds and branches), pencil tree, poinsettia, and rosary pea.

My thanks to the New York Bird Club who recently contacted me with a question regarding feeding birds rhubarb that led to this blog post. A review of a list of toxic plants for cage birds printed in Clinical Avian Medicine and Surgery by Harrison and Harrison, does list rhubarb along with 53 other plants that are toxic to birds. The addition reference for this blog posting is Avian Medicine: Principles and Application by Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chosing Foster Homes

Above photos show a nest of three borders. Note the percentage of greens being fed to these banded six day old chicks!

Compare the non-color fed Stafford to the color fed Stafford.

Nest of two borders and a fostered German Roller

German Rollers Fostered by adding another nest.

Best Chick Placement

it is very helpful to set a number of hens of the same kind at the same time so that if a foster home is needed you have several with chicks of the same size to choose from. At times, the choices are slim, as when this Stafford chick pictured needed a home, the only one available was a German Roller nest. Either it went in with two roller chicks or it would likely be lost. Notice the difference in the light colored fostered Stafford chick who did not get color fed and the color fed Stafford chick. The fostered Stafford chick's flight feathers will not color this year but the body feathers will color just fine. I might be lucky on this one as maybe it will be mosaic and then it could still be show material. To make sure the flight feathers get colored, I try to foster color fed birds to color fed nests.

On another occasion, I needed a place for a roller chick and the only likely foster was a border. It actually worked out fine as the border mom is a great feeder and the cock helps her keep up. Border hens feed more variety and less straight hard boiled egg and egg food than the roller hens but the roller and other kinds of chicks will grow just fine on what the border selectively feeds. The roundness of the head on the border chick in the foreground is very striking!

However, my experience with border chicks is that they do not grow well when fostered to any canary other than a border. Rollers feed lots of egg and egg food and in my experience, that does not agree with the border chicks digestive system. The best foster for a border is another border.

Today, I needed a place for two roller chicks not quite banded and I have bigger and smaller but not their size. I could put them in with the larger ones but the risk is great that they will get buried under the two larger chicks and be killed. Likewise, they are way to big to place in a nest with newborn chicks. With no good alternatives, I placed a second nest in the cage and the foster mom and dad are taking turns feeding both nests!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seeing Red All Around Me - Red Crises in the Aviary

Cornmeal mixed with Canthaxanthin

Red Ground Color Canary Nestling Egg Food

Cous cous, quinoa, poppy seeds, with palm oil and carrots.

Color Feeding Red Ground Birds

What a spectacular red color show all around me! As I admired the red blooming poppies and red cacti, I was reminded that I needed to reorder my birds some more bogena intensief, to continue their color feeding.

Bogena intensief is my favorite red coloring agent. To a large 500 g size bogena, add 50 grams (9 bogena container dippers) of canthaxanthin. One dipper of this well mixed mixture is then added to one cup of my nestling egg food and feed first thing in the morning, once a day, every day. I have been very happy with the well colored flight feathers which are colored even to the tip and the deep even coloring throughout the bird.

My friend, Doyle Johnson, always orders enough bogena for me and adds the canthaxanthin to it for me. I have told Doyle that I am his "me too" friend! When I called Doyle, I was shocked to learn that Bogena was not available from Miami Pet Supply, our normal source. A quick Internet check only turned up one other US source for the 500 g size but instead of $60 expected price, it was $112. I just do not want to pay that as I typically use 3 or 4 of those containers each breeding and show season!

Over a diet soda, Doyle and I developed a plan. He still had plenty of canthaxanthin but how much should we used. We discussed my phone call to a good color breeder who uses only canthaxanthin and carrots. He makes large batches of color food by processing carrots in a food processor, adding the canthaxanthin, mixing and then adding flock raiser. Other breeders use the canthaxanthin in the water but we remember what a mess that makes!

After more discussion, we came up with a plan. To the large 500 g bogena empty container, we added corn meal, and the 50 grams of canthaxanthin. We will continue to use the one dipper of this mix to a cup of nestling food. But we will need to get more beta carotene into their diet. So I made my cous cous with the red palm oil and added grated carrots to it. Red palm oil is available in speciality food stores which sell African or Nigerian foods. I found mine in an Indian Emporium who has a Nigerian section and they even had three different sizes. For maximum beta carotene, add palm oil to cous cous after the mixture cools to room temperature to avoid inactivating beta carotene. Boiling can destroy beta carotene and after a while it can even turn the red palm oil colorless! I offer the cous cous mixture free choice in a separate dish and some of the cous cous mixture is added to my nestling food.

To know if the birds are getting enough coloring agent, check for a slight red color in the droppings. I am doing that now and perhaps I will need to feed the red nestling food twice a day... The good news is that our young potential show birds have not started molting their body feathers. Once they do, you can not change the coloring type or amount as that will make them uneven and worthless for show.

As I write this, I smell the smoker going. Pat is cooking ribs. You can tell good ribs by looking at the depth of the red smoke line which indicates the degree of smoke penetration into the meat! Guess I am still seeing red! LOL

Wish we could all sit down and eat some fantastic ribs and discuss birds!!

NOTE: TODAY, WEDNESDAY, I learned that Miami Pet has bogena in! I actually started this a week ago and at this point I am going to stick with my new plan!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Practical Way To Save The Tail!

Broken Tail Feathers Caused By Hanging on the Cage Wire

When chicks are well weaned, they no longer are content with no or low placed cage perches and quickly learn to hang on the wire, usually high in the cage. Over time, the tail gets beaten up and many broken feathers result. Once a feather is broke, it will need to be pulled and in about a month a new slightly longer feather will replace it.

Since the new feather will be slightly longer then the rest, it is best to preserve the tail feathers and prevent damage. The best way to do this is to place perches high in the cage at as near the level where they are hanging on the wire as possible.

Once a perch is at the favorite spot, the weaned chicks will use it instead of hanging on the cage wire. In addition, make sure that any cage perch, whether that is their regular cage or even a show cage, is not so close to the cage wall or wire that the bird can not easily turn around without hitting its tail. Hitting its tail on the small show cage wire not only damages the feathers but also is a common reason for incomplete or no song at song competitions.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Young German Rollers Switching Outside Nests

How Many Chicks Should A Hen Raise Each Year?

What was two outside nests with four chicks each in a colony flight of two hens and one cock, has had some nest switching and only one lone chick is in one end and the other seven are snuggled in tight in the other end! It is so amazing to me that the chicks do the nest switching even before they are seen leaving the nest! The larger bird seen in the upper right hand corner is the hen and she really is trying to sit on seven chicks!

If that isn't enough activity the hen with the busy nest had laid two eggs in that same nest!! Naturally those eggs are slightly soiled since seven chicks and the hen were sitting on them but I collected them and we will see if they hatch!

Actually, I think it is enough if a hen does one round if she feeds four or five chicks. Hens that only feed two chicks can easily go more rounds. And if they have infertile eggs, they can keep clutching till they get the minimum or four chicks. Just be sure you have them on D3 and liquid calcium.

Last year I had some really prolific roller hens that just kept producing till they went three rounds and had produced a dozen or more chicks each. After producing so many chicks last year, none of these hens hatched or raised a single baby this year!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sorting Weaned Chicks

Time to Begin Separating the Sexes

Once the chicks are eating well, it is time to begin separating the chicks into groups. There are several division that can be made but outside of broad divisions such as: kind of song bird, type bird or color bird the most important division is by sex. Housing the sexes together should be avoided as it is a stressful environment for the young hens who may not thrive and also for young cocks who may learn faulty notes from the young hens or faulty non-related young cocks chirping.

Some kinds give you clues to the sex such as the darker chicks within a nest are usually cocks or the slightly browner chick of a green line (bronze etc) of any ground color (red, yellow, white), the more likely it is a hen. Since hens are browner and that is not desirable in a green line show bird, it is best to show cocks in the green line but since brown is desirable in the brown line (red brown etc), hens are a better show specimen in the brown series regardless of the ground color.

Another way to divide them is thin chicks from fatter chicks. The thinner chicks tend to be less aggressive females and if not separated may go light and become emaciated with a prominent sharp breast bone, sit around with their head under their wing, and eventually die.

Within the German rollers, I separate all full brothers in separate cages and then half brothers so that their song differences will be apparent and if one is a crow, I have not taught the same fault to all of the relatives and I can more easily analyze where the problem is coming from. Make this caging a conscience effort as for the very same reason you do not want to go shuffling young cocks around from cage to cage. My late friend Janice Klein, once did just that. First she moved them to flights for a few weeks and then shuffled them around in smaller groups. When she figured out she had the dreaded chung gluck, a very contagious fault, it was too late, all her birds had it and there was no way of going back to see which breeding had produced the problem crows. The effect was devastating as all of those young and all of the old cocks had to be placed in pet homes! Only the hens could be salvaged!

Within the crest birds, I separate crested from non-crested and any really promising show birds from all the rest in color or in type. With all the cage grouping, I have run out of cages and I am being forced to stop breeding!

Lesson: Take time to think out your young bird grouping making sure that young hens are separated from young cocks, and if it is a song bird, do not move cocks around from cage to cage, only remove the misjudged young hens from the young singers.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Repairing Back Slip Claw

Fixing Inability to Perch

Occasionally a chick will have slip claw where the back claw is always pointed forward. When the chick tries to perch, it has only a club foot to balance with and is not able to properly clasp the perch.

To fix the slip claw, I use 3M brand micro pore surgical tape (if paper tape is not available you can use tape from a band aid) and mould the foot in the proper position. Use only the very smallest diameter perches in the cage to encourage the bird to learn to grip. In very severe cases, it may be necessary to start the bandaged chick in a cage with no perches for a week before it learns to perch.

As the bandage gets soiled, I remove and check how the chick is perching without the bandage. If he does well, I leave the bandage off and just keep an eye on his perching. Should he not perch correctly or revert back to not perching correctly, I will keep replacing the bandage until it is no longer necessary.

The procedure is most effective on young chicks but can even work on older birds, it just takes longer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Variety Encourages More Feeding Behavior

Readily Fed Cous cous with Quinoa and Poppy Seed

Sometimes cocks won't sing or feed the hen and just want to mate immediately. A times the hen cooperates but at other times fighting breaks out. If fighting breaks out, I like to use a cage with a divider and put the hen on one side and the cock on the other side. I give all the goodies, greens, sprouted seed, and also cous cous with quinoa (keen-wha) and poppy seed. The hen seeing all the treats in his cage, will beg him for some and with the feeding a romance begins! After a couple of days, it is safe to remove the divider and the pair should be compatible and productive now.

I make a huge batch of the cous cous with quinoa and poppy seed and freeze an aviary daily portion in plastic bags. Using the largest Tupperware bowl, I place six cups of cous cous and one to one and a half cups of poppy seed. I add four to six tablespoons of olive oil or red palm oil and mix. Then I add boiling water to not only cover but an extra about 1/4 inch above the cous cous (one full electric tea pot of boiling water) and mix occasionally. I cook two cups of quinoa in a rice cooker and add to the cous cous.

Not only do the cocks of prospective breeding pairs readily fed the hen this mixture but also the hens as well as cocks love feeding it to their babies! This is a very nutritious feed as cous cous is semolina from wheat and quinoa has the best balanced amino acids of any grain!

Lesson: Providing variety encourages feeding behavior, a really important issue in getting borders to feed their own chicks!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Birds Are Not Eating Broccoli Well This Year

Serving Peas

For some reason, my birds are not eating broccoli enthusiastically this year. I have been careful to only buy heads with obvious seeding but not yellow and still firm and I even tried two different sources. But as good as I think it taste, the birds are eating very little of it.

From past experience, I have learned to trust the birds and follow their lead. Therefore, I have started feeding frozen peas daily instead of broccoli. I know broccoli has lots of pesticides as if you grow it at home it is full of worms. In about a month, I will be able to get some home grown broccoli and I will offer it again. Till then, its pass the peas, please!!

I am offering my egg food first thing in the morning and at the second feeding, I am offering peas with CeDe. I take a half box of CeDe and put it in the food processor. Add two hard boiled eggs with shell and process. In a large bowl, thaw one lb package of frozen peas in hot water. Drain and add the processed CeDe . The birds are eating it very well!!

Question: Have any of you observe your birds eating broccoli poorly this year compared with past years?

Today's Lesson: Always keep an eye on your birds health, behavior, and eating habits, they are your best teacher, and always follow their advice!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stalling the Molt

Molting Coming Soon - Single Long Flight Feathers Dropped

Some of my canaries, especially the ones not currently loaded with raising chicks or incubating eggs, have in some cages dropped a single long flight feather! This is the first sign that you can expect non-breeding birds to be molting in one month.

If you need to hold them off, the best thing is to get them feeding chicks. I had an interesting experience with a border hen once. After she had already raised six border chicks, she laid a final third clutch of three eggs, Thinking she had done enough work, I fostered her last clutch under German roller hens in three different cages. My plan was to band all chicks in the mixed egg nests, with one roller band and one border band and then to cut off the wrong band when it was obvious whether the chick was a border or roller.

The border hen proceeded to drop more long flight feathers and then body feathers in her wing butts until she was clearly molting. Each of the foster German roller hens hatched five chicks but in each nest one chick was doing poorly. After looking for options to move the failing to thrive chicks, the only place was to try the molting border hen. So I moved the three poor chicks under the molting border hen and she immediately started feeding them. Her feeding chicks naturally changed her hormones and she stopped molting and she successfully raised all three chicks! What a border hen, she successfully raised nine chicks in one season!!

To keep the cocks fertile longer, continue giving them their weekly treatment of ABBA water soluble vitamin E once a week. This alone will not stop them from molting but it will preserve their fertility. I have had numerous cock fill eggs when they are clearly molting on their wing butts!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Calcium The Predominant Mineral In The Body

Identifying and Treating Calcium Deficiencies

Calcium is the predominant mineral in the body and represents about 1.5% of body weight with primarily skeletal system containment. It is also contained in the body fluids and plays an essential role in blood coagulation, membrane permeability (to sodium and potassium of nerve tissue), and maintains normal excitability of heart, muscles and nerves.

During breeding season, the effects of inadequate calcium is apparent by numerous hatching problems such as poor quality thin egg shells which dry out and prevent hatching when the tough membrane is impossible to penetrate so that the chick can breathe air resulting in dead-in-the-shell or eggs that are so weak shelled that they dent and/or collapse as the chick attempts to pick his way out.

Low calcium is also attributed to chick having slip claw and other leg deformities as well as hens that die sitting on the nest or egg binding, feather plucking, poor bone and feather development, nervousness, and neurological symptoms such as poor balance and muscle control. These problems signal depletion of calcium body stores and the need to quickly replete the body for optimal eggs and hatching, to facilitate chick growth and decrease chick duration in the nest, and to promote hen recycling which will not happen when her body stores are repleted.

Calcium is absorbed predominantly in the upper small intestine and is regulated by an active metabolite of vitamin D3. Calcium absorption is impaired by intestinal lesions or abnormalities in some canaries such as some strains of borders. Excellent food sources such as egg shell (calcium carbonate) and good sources such as fish meal and alfalfa meal are good when you are three months or more out from breeding but when problems are already visible, it is imperative that you provide a liquid calcium product with bio-availability and maximal absorption along with D3. While all birds can benefit from liquid calcium products, Borders, especially, should routinely be given liquid calcium products to prevent numerous problems with their egg shell quality, dead-in-the-shell, and tendency to balance and other neurological problems.

My favorite calcium products are liquid as they offer maximum absorption. And include Calcium Plus, manufactured by Morning Bird and available from and Quiko calcium concentrate available at numerous sites on-line. Calcium Plus is the easiest to use as it is a complete product with not only calcium but also D3 and magnesium. It is used five days a week during breeding season and once or twice a week during the non-breeding season. Quiko liquid calcium is used daily during breeding season and can be used as double strength if you are treating an existing problem. Outside the breeding season, it should be used once a week. Quiko liquid calcium is ideal to use with poultry vitamins or other products that contain vitamin D3. The only birds that should not be given calcium are cock song birds during the competition phase as it will have a negative effect on their song quality.

Lesson: Liquid calcium is the best way to treat and prevent calcium deficiencies because of its maximum intestinal absorption .

Monday, May 4, 2009

Canary Chicks: Not All Created Equal

Fascinating Research On Testosterone Variation Within Chicks Of The Same Clutch

Dr. Hubert Schwabl, a German scientist working at the Rockefeller University Field Research Center in Millbrook, N. Y., discovered that the canary hen doles out the vital hormone testosterone in carefully tailored inequitable amounts that gradually increase from the first to the last egg laid.

While the egg is developing inside the hen, she adds, in addition to the standard accretion of protein, fat and nutrients a lacing of testosterone, the male hormone. Dr. Schwabl discovered the the hen donates the testosterone to her eggs early in their development, while they are swelling up from the follicles surrounding her ovaries but before they have been inseminated by a male's sperm. During that rapid egg production, a layer of cells is laid down around the egg yolk able to produce testosterone. Later, during incubation, as the chicks bloom within the shelter of the shell, the testosterone seeps through the yolk and enters their bloodstream.

If eggs are not removed daily as laid, the asymmetry of hatching creates a huge size disadvantage for the last chick hatched. To help level the playing field, each egg in succession is given a tailored larger amount of testosterone to create an advantage over the previous chick. In fact the amount of testosterone in the fifth egg is 20 times that given to the first egg! She does this without regard to whether the recipient is a he or she chick, but rather to lend a head start on their development.

Testosterone is well recognized by body builders and football players as a source of strength, stamina, and surliness. For canaries, testosterone increases begging, body mass, growth rate, and aggression. Chicks that fail to beg will not get fed. If they don't beg their parents will ignore them and they will die.

Chicks hatching from the last egg laid, regardless of whether they are male or female are the most aggressive! Testosterone may also play a role in the maturation of the spinal cord, allowing the chicks to coordinate their movements, lift their heads and demand their dinner.

I found this research very helpful as I always wondered why some chicks were so aggressive and how the growth rates within a clutch were so uneven. I have long known that animal protein in the diet promotes aggression but even then there was variation amongst chicks of the same clutch! I also had observed that chick vents appear somewhat male-like even when barely feathered but of course they can't be all cocks!

Lesson: Not all Canary Chicks are Created Equal, it's true, but you can help equalize the playing field too by removing the eggs as laid!

Be Sure and Read The Comments to this Post!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Draw Cold Water, It's Bath Time

Weaned Chicks Get a Bath!

While feeding the weaned Stafford chicks this morning, one of the chicks got in the dish or cous cous with poppy seeds and fluttered around as if he was trying to take a bath! Taking that as a clue, I provided an outside bath with cold water as they prefer very cold water for their bath!

I also placed a perch right in front of the bath so that they could land and take a look before jumping in. After one jumped in the water, the rest could not wait to take a turn in the cold water! I changed the bath water several times till all had a good bath! I will continue to offer them a bath once a week but it will not be on Saturday night! LOL