Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Preschool - Deluxe Extension in the Sky

Stafford Mosaic Checking It Out

One Small Step For Birdie, One Giant Leap Toward Best In Show or Maybe a Higgins Trophy in Tulsa!

Time To Check Back Out! Wow What A Great Top Line, Even As He Moves!

My Turn!

Looks Like A Stafford Party Going On, We're Living Large!!

Regardless of the Correct Show Cage, Introduce Potential Show Birds First to the Open-Wire Border Show Cage - Principle Seven

Once chicks are five weeks old, they can begin preschool show training. On the first exposure, place green and bread in the show cage and a seed mix on the bottom. Securely hang the show cage to your birds cage at waist to head high level.

My first goal was to get the birds to enter the show cage. They are very easy to train to do this because just seeing the treats, they will venture into the cage just to get a bite.

These pictures were taken around noon last Sunday when I first attached the Border show cage to this flight of Stafford canaries. Within minutes the first bird was checking it out and then more and more became curious until the show cage was full but even when many birds entered the cage at the same time, there was no fighting. By the next morning, every trace of greens and bread were gone.

With the first goal accomplished, the second goal was for the birds to enjoy hopping back and forth. Now that the only treat is regular seed on the floor. The most attractive thing about the show cage is the fun it is to move in and out and hop back and forth. The fact that they like their cage swings also helps them to like moving between perches. By the second day, most of the birds are enthusiastic about the show cage and not at all timid like the first day. Without greens or bread treats in the show cage, usually only one or two birds enter at a time.

Today I started goal three which is get them comfortable with my head close to the cage. I talk calmly to them as I approach the cage and I think by tomorrow they will let my head get pretty close without spooking. The higher the show cage is hung, the less threatening. This cage is hung at shoulder level.

Once they are comfortable with my head, I will start showing them my hands and eventually I will be directing them to hop back and forth when I move my hands. Since many are comfortable with eating a bite of bread from my hand while I am still putting it between the wires, this will go much easier than if they were not already somewhat tame.

In preparation for the next phase, I will then place a drinker in the cage and once they drink from it, they will be ready to have me separate the cage from the flight and move it to various places in the room and finally close to the full spectrum lights.

Once we are finished with molt, I will introduce the correct three sided show cage. Even if you are not planning to show your bird, get a border cage and see how much they love their cage extension and living large!

Check my comments to this blog for border cage sources.

Critical Concept: For birds that show in three sided cages, start their training in open wire border cages!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Feathers Are More Than Fluff

Good Nutrition Makes A Big Difference in Feather Quality

When we admire our birds, at least 90% of what we see is feathers! Although the intended principal functions of feathers is flight, insulation against heat loss and waterproofing, but what we really admire about our birds is their beauty. It is feathers that make them beautiful! It is the feathers that are beautifully colored and lustrous and it is feathers that conform to natural body contours to give a bird its beautiful shape!

Feather Formation

A birds first molt is actually when it loses it down feathers which still a nestling. In its subsequent molts, each bird produces approximately 2,000 new feathers, feathers that are around 90% protein. During molting, the bird's metabolic rate increases 30% and body temperature raises one degree. This energy-draining process reduces vitality and significantly increases nutritional demands, especially for protein.

To make good quality feathers, provide a nutritious diet supplemented with vitamins especially B vitamins for protein metabolism and extra attention to essential amino acids either from Miracle vitamin supplement or food such as bee pollen granules or brewer's yeast and in addition, liquid or water soluble calcium.

When the diet is as described, the feathers are strong enough to penetrate the skin rather than grow under the skin as a feather cyst. The majority of feather cysts can be prevented by a diet high in multiple amino acids especially methionine.

Malnutrition can impact feather quality and even the speed of molt. Insufficient protein may even result in a partial molt where the bird never completes it full molt and is stuck in a loose partial molt.

Feather Condition

Feather condition is improved by frequent bathing or spraying. This encourages shedding the old feathers and feather shafts so that new feathers grow unhindered.

But what really makes a feathers look finished is its luster. Low fat diets, such as feeding an exclusively pelleted diet, result in dull feathers where higher fat diets produce feathers with a glowing sheen, it is sheen that makes a good bird strikingly beautiful! To get a good sheen, provide a higher fat foods such as some flax (linseed) seeds and other oily seeds and additional oils such as olive and palm. Avoid over feeding flax seed or loose stools may result.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Combating Aggression - Making Every Birdie Welcome

Could not resist showing the Soy Protein with some of my heirloom tomatoes. Remember how I reported a bird ate some of my seedlings, these are from some of my seedlings the bird left and are the black tomato variety called Black From Tula, very delicious! The box in the back includes Celebrity, Tigerella, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Roma, Rutgers, Juliet, Pantano Romanesque, Paul Robertson, and Black Krim.

Preventing Cannibalism and Mutilation By Other Birds

Feather picking by hens who are frantically wanting to start another nest is fairly common. Yet during the molt, the risk of feather picking again resurfaces as an issue when birds are mutilated by other birds. This brings up living conditions issues from housing to lighting and diet.

Avoid Overcrowding:

Overcrowding due to increased bird density is the number one issue in the mutilation problem. Prevent overcrowding by reducing the number of birds in an enclosure or get more cages but always remember that the fewer birds per cage the better.

Aggression is more likely when birds are overcrowded in small open enclosure where less dominant birds have less opportunity to escape. Be sure an offer safe places such as swings or use perch dividers so that a timid bird has a place to go out of the reach of an aggressive bird. Even increasing the number of perches and feeding station will give some relief as it to reduces perch and food competition. It is also helpful to remove particularly aggressive individuals from victim birds.

A very common mistake that promotes mutilation is adding new birds to an established group of birds, as this upsets the already existing social order. Rather if you need to regroup birds move them all simultaneously to a new cage setting to totally disrupt the established social order.

Reduce Lighting:

Another important factor in the feather picking issue is bright lights. Under bright lights, birds are more aggressive, mischievous, and activity. So in addition to promoting molting, subdued lighting has an additional benefit in that it greatly reduces the risk of feather picking.

Reduce the Amount of Animal Protein in the Diet:

Behavior is greatly effected by the amount of animal protein in the diet. The more they eat animal protein the more aggressive they become! It may be only feather picking but in extreme cases where extremely high levels of animal protein are fed such as feeding monkey biscuits or baked chicken, cannibalism and even eating toes can result.

During the molting phase, weaned birds should not receive large servings of egg food, just small dishes and no more than once a day. It will also help calm the birds if you reduce the amount of hard boiled egg in the egg food and add additional soy protein powder or soy grits, more carrots, and more cous cous or wheat.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Working With the Weather

Using Changes in the Weather to Shorten the Molt

Kansas is known for abrupt weather changes and last week was a good example. One day we had a high of 107 F and a low of 86 F. Last night the low was 60 F and the high was 78 F! Changing temperatures in the aviary, along with the hours of sunlight which are either shortening or lengthening throughout the year, that clearly communicate changing seasons.

My aviary is heated and cooled with a heat pump unit in the window. In addition, I have a separate full size house exhaust fan in the aviary attic with a large ceiling vent to pull out air. Some people are concerned about keeping canaries out of drafts. To that I say, Rubbish!! You can not imagine the draft in my aviary when I open the windows and turn on the big exhaust fan!!

In addition to the exhaust fan, I have a ceiling mounted large electronic precipitator air cleaning machine. With the windows closed, the air cleaning machine will completely clean the aviary air ever six minutes. This unit is similar to what you find collecting pollutants in a club.

Amazingly, exhausting is actually more effective at removing feather dust than filtering the air with a clean air machine! It is also more energy efficient so I keep the exhaust on day and night year round when temperatures are between 60 and 90 F. Together the exhaust fan and the clean air machine remove feather dust from the air making it safer for me and the birds to breathe the air.

When it is hot during the summer, I usually let the aviary get to 90 F but last week when it was 107, I let it get to 95 F. That extra hot weather made everyone one shed clothing and feathers! Clearly the temperature communicated that it is hot and very safe to molt. In the evening, I turned off the heat pump as usual and opened the windows and turned on the exhaust fan. That night the room never got below 86 F.

Now that we have a cool spell, I have the exhaust on all day and night. Having a cold spell is new warning cautioning the birds that they need to get this molt over, as cool weather is just around the corner. I especially like these cold spells during show season as it really helps tighten up their feathers!

Don't miss Shawn's Comments to this posting!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Preschool - Raising a Virtuoso

Still Molting Young German Roller, Surely a Future Virtuoso! Note that Dolly Parton Chest!!

Another Shot of the Promising Star showing the chest depth. I can not help fantasizing about the deep tone he will produce!

Facilitating Developing and Regenerating Brain Song-control Center - Principle Six

Every year during molting season, cocks lose their brain's song region function and stop singing. To sing again after the molt, they must self-repair nerve cells and brain circuitry in the brain song-control region. This unique canary brain regeneration happens naturally and coincides with their normally increasing testosterone levels after the molt.

Young cocks start rudimentary attempted singing or babbling called sub-song, when they are only one or two months old. Their mature song develops much later when they are about six to eight months old. It is often erroneously assumed that free singing during their first molt is an indication of a young virtuoso but when their mature song develops, invariably early free singers are disappointingly the worst quality sings of the bunch! Free singing during the molt does not bring quality sound but by overworking the syrinx during early development, the potential for a real virtuoso developing is nil.

Therefore, rather than promoting singing frequency during the molt, the goal for singing birds during the molt is body and syrinx development, which will support high quality singing when Fall comes! So than, how do we keep a singing bird quieter? Shutting off artificial lights is important because it quiets the singing and prevents overworking the syrinx, shortens the molt, and also it resets their biological light sensitivity clock.

Singing competition cocks will also need to be heavy, as they sound the very best when they are fat and losing weight and they will lose considerable weight at the shows. In addition to seed mix with sunflower chips, flock raiser, daily white bread, greens, and egg food (which has lots of cous cous etc), they get petamine breeding formula, and occasional toasted wheat germ. For rollers, go lightly with the toasted wheat germ as it is fortified with vitamin E. and you do not want to push them into breeding song. They also get poultry vitamins and water soluble calcium in their water like all the birds but after the molt, the show song birds will be switched to distilled water only. After the molt during September, I will be adding more song enhancing seeds and carefully controlled limited amounts of bee pollen granules till show cage training.

Rollers compete best in adolescent boys song and once they sing the breeding song they are over the hill for competition so I want to bring them along slowly and once I am within a month of competition the diet in the show cage will be primarily rape with a little canary, some white bread and plain water. At that time, they may get a few sprouted hemp seeds as needed for individual birds that are too slow in their song development.

Critical Concept: For highest quality song, keep young cocks in subdued light to limit their singing so that you will not overwork the syrinx. Provide them with high calorie nutritious but fattening diet during the molt which includes high protein foods and controlled amounts of additional vitamin E to slowly increase testosterone production.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Preschool - Developing Balance and Coordination

One German roller is perching in the swing while another is about to perch in it. Note their small swing is attached to the ceiling.

This most recently weaned German roller is perching in a fantastic singing position, on his very first day with a swing!

The larger swing, for Borders, Staffords and Colorbreds, has holes that are 3 1/2 inches in diameter and width of 1/2 inch. The smaller swing for German rollers, has a diameter of 2 1/2 inches and a width of 3/4 inch.

The narrow width encourages birds to stand upright while the wider width encourages them to lay down while they perch.

Hooks can be added to adjust the swing lower in the cage so that the Borders, Stafford and Colorbred are encourage to stand upright while they perch.

Learning to Land and Perch on a Swing Teaches Balance and Coordination - Fifth Principle

Coordination and balance skills are important acquired skills for birds whether for our enjoyment, for grace in the show cage, or successful mating. Some birds seem to develop these qualities naturally but all can benefit from some developmental training. The goal is for the bird to fly to a moving swing and perch while keeping its proper position even when the swing moves.

Birds that win shows distinguish themselves by keeping their confirmation even when they move. The more comfortable they are with movement and form the better they will show!

To begin, start with the swings being stationery so that they do not move when the bird perches in them. The smaller holed one for the German roller should be attached to the ceiling while the larger one for the other birds should be hung just above their regular perches. Place some additional perches strategically so that the birds are close enough to initially hop to the hole.

After a day or two when they are filling the holes and comfortable with perching on the stationery swing, free it so that it will swing easily. Then after they love the swinging movement, move the additional perches further from the swings until they are flying to the swing.

Once they are comfortable with flying to the swing remove the extra perches so that are flying upward to the swing. The Borders, Staffords, and Colorbred should then be introduced to a single occupant swing that will move even easier, even moving as they are landing. After mastery of this skill, the Borders should have perches replaced so that they are again encouraged to hop to the swing so that they will keep their confirmation while hopping.

Typically, smaller sized birds master swings and balance/coordination must quicker than larger ones. It is so impressive to watch a particularly clumsy Border develop grace in their movement with some swing training!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Preschool - Instilling Confidence

Importance of Cage Placement - Fourth Principle

All young birds need to be housed in cages that are waist or head high to help the birds develop confidence. In my aviary, I have mostly three tier cages and an additional two stacks of four tiers.

The bottom tier in all cases is used for older stock birds whether hens or cock but separated by sex. In the four tier stack, the bottom two tiers are used for the same separated older birds. These birds have had confidence training when they were young and at this stage of life are completely happy with living in low level cages that offer privacy and promote a laid back life style.

The very top tier is used for the most timid birds, primarily young hens, and any bird that does not develop confidence during waist high housing. By housing in cages that are head high, self confidence will develop over time especially when you spend a little time talking with them. This is especially important for young hens, as come breeding season, I want them comfortable with me so that when I check her nest for egg shells during hatching, she does not freak out on me. With confidence training, I avoid the problem of timid hens that so adamantly protect her newly hatched chicks from perceived predators that after a peak she will only sit and not feed. If I happen to purchase any birds, whether young or old, I give them confidence training by housing them in the upper tier.

I prefer the waist high tier for my potential show Borders, Staffords and Colorbred because I want them to stand up and show their best confirmation. Rollers can be housed at this level provided the perches are placed very high in the cage.

Critical Concept: Confidence is improved when birds are housed in cages that are waist or better yet head high.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Preschool - Taming

Notice: The perch in this cage of German rollers is near the top to encourage them to lay parallel with the perch and their bread is close to the perch.

Contrast the German roller picture above to the Border in this picture who is stretching to reach the bread and their perch is placed much lower in the cage. The second bird is Houdini, the German roller escape artist! Notice how the bread is placed too high for Houdini. And he would likely hang on the wire, damaging his tail, to get to the bread if he is housed in this cage.

A young Stafford going for the bread. Notice the height of the bred placement is between the distance of a roller and border, higher than the roller but lower than the border. The other bird, who in spite of getting the same color food is creme colored, is a very promising mosaic Stafford young hen who will likely be very white after the molt.

Another Stafford has just gotten a bite of bread and is off about their business. Looks like this one will need smaller pieces, less frequently and perches far apart to slim her down a bit!

Developing a Trusting Relationship - Third Principle

Canaries are easily tamed if you just work with them a bit. My favorite way to tame them is putting a piece of bread in the same spot between the cage wire every day. The birds quickly learn that bread is coming and will come near the wire to get the first bite. When training any animal, you get them to trained by mini steps. As soon as the master the first step you up the requirements for the same reward. In this case, once they are anxious for a bit of bread, I slow down a bit until they are approaching me from behind the wire and taking the bread as I put it between the wire.

Not only does this get them ready for more training but it is a good trick to prevent weight loss after being shown. After competition, I put the bread between the wire of the show cage and they will readily eat it even in the dark box on their journey home.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Couple More Tricks to Induce Molting

Border hens enjoying some bread!

A flight of German Roller hens will eat 1/2 slice of soft bread each day!

Getting the Last Couple Hens to Molt

The artificial lights have been off now for a few days and almost all hens have given up nesting behavior but a couple of hens are persisting with trying to nest on the floor, in spite of a sudden drop in day length. And with of no cocks in their cage, no nests, decreased protein seeds, and dim lighting, yet these gals just do not want to give up!

Time to try another couple of tricks. First, I am raising the temperature in the aviary. Temperatures up to 90 F should be easily tolerated and will enforce the let's molt message. When raising the temperature, be sure to keep fresh water available and watch heat tolerance. The birds are fine until they sit around with their mouths open because they are too hot. Without sweat glands, opening their beaks is their way of cooling off. Should they sit with open beaks, I will drop the temperature slightly and offer bathes to cool them down. Usually my birds do not sit with open beaks unless the temperature is 100 F.

My second trick is to feed the hens bread to increase the carbohydrates in their diet. They love to eat the soft bread and it will help them to also gain back some weight that they may have lost during breeding season.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Share Your Experience - Debbie Eaton

Take Nothing For Granted in the Bird Room

Deb writes, "Today (Tuesday) I had a great quality hen that I noticed was sitting yesterday (Monday) and Sunday afternoon, in the very same spot at the back of the cage on the floor. I thought she was going through the motions of wanting to nest again with no nest in the cage, that was her spot. Yesterday, I put a cup of food close to her hoping to draw her out, but today she did not look good.

HER TOE was caught between the back wall of the cage and the tray (it's an ABBA Breeder). I would never have dreamed that was the problem. I picked her up and the toe was bad, and she was so dehydrated. Gave her a quick drink and then set her up on the floor in a clean spot with glucose water and food then added a perch with more water. I felt so bad....

This time of year, with the onset of molt and end of breeding, you have to pay attention to what they are doing. I was in a hurry yesterday to go to an appointment and took it for granted her reason for just sitting there."

Thanks so much Deb for sharing this frightening experience with us. It is a great piece of advice!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Preschool - Perch Placement

Getting the Right Amount of Exercise and Proper Stance - Second Principle

It is time to assess the number of perches and there placement. If the birds are too thin, increase the number of perches so that they make short hops rather than fly and make their food and water easily accessible. If they are too fat, reduce the number of perches to two and make them far apart to ensure they fly the length of the cage and up and down for food and water.

It is also important to adjust the height of the perches to encourage the bird to assume the correct stance. German rollers sound the very best and deepest when they perch parallel to the perch and even drop their chest below the perch level. To encourage this posture, I move the German roller perches up high in the cage so that they are close to the cage ceiling. I just keep moving them higher until I like the way the rollers are laying down on their perches.

My type and color birds need to stand upright so the perches in their cages are placed much lower but not so low that they hang on the cage wire. By watching stance and adjusting perch height, the birds will be encouraged to stand naturally at the appropriate angle.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Preschool - Off Season Early Show Training

Learning When to Eat and When to Show Their Stuff - First Principle

Now that I have turned off all artificial lights, it is time to begin preparing my birds for the Oct/Nov/Dec show season. Perhaps it seems a little early to you but there are real benefits to making show behavior as natural for the birds as possible.

The first show training principle is to always feed in dim lighting. It is so tempting to want to come in the aviary turn on all the bright lights and feed our birds. But what are you teaching the birds to expect? That when the lights come on bright, it is time to eat!

Certainly, moving to the show bench, whether type, color or song involves going from dimmer light to brighter lighting and when that happens we expect the birds to show their stuff or even sing! No points, in any category are awarded for eating seed off the floor or looking for seed in empty cups!!

It is fine to give the birds short mini doses of bright light under similar bright show lighting but do it after they have eaten their fill in dim lighting! For all my birds, whether Rollers, Borders, Staffords, or Colorbred, I use 10 minutes maximum of bright lighting at different times of day once daily now and up to three times when we reach a month before show season starts.

Regardless of the type of bird that I am judging, whether it is type, color or song, it is surprising how many show birds have been trained to expect to be fed when they are set before me! Sorry birds, it's my husband and not me who is the phenomenal cook!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sweet Tri-color Corn For The 4th of July

Fresh Husked Ears are Great for Perching and Eating

Never mind the goal of some folks for corn knee high by the 4 th of July, true Kansans want fresh corn on the table by the 4 th of July!! And for me that's table and aviary!!

Actually there is only a short 3 or 4 week interval when corn is young that the canaries love to eat it off the cob, when the kernels are small and sweet. I can tell if it is young enough for them by breaking the ear. If the ear can be easily broken by hand into 4 or more pieces it is just right. If on the other hand you need a knife to cut the cob, the birds will likely find it tough and inedible.

Note how they like to perch on the ear and nibble at the corn at their feet and at other times they like to munch on the ends. They may need help turning the ear the first time but they quickly catch on and rotate the ear without any help. All of my birds were eating corn for the first time this morning but only this cage of newly weaned Borders were photogenic!

Update: Well one cage did roll the cob and got all the kernels but I had to turn the rest of them over but alas this morning every kernel on the cob had been eaten.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Only Four Resourceful Hens Remain Persistent

This Stafford hen has resourcefully selected a feeding dish for her nest!

She optimistically sits on three infertile eggs.

This German roller has laid infertile eggs in seed on the cage floor and does not seem to notice that a couple of her eggs have rolled out from under her.

A closer look shows she really has a five eggs.

Here a couple of hens have gathered stray nesting material and feathers and have made a nest to share in the cage corner.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

The sound of fireworks outside is not deterring these last persistent hens from building nests and laying infertile eggs. Although I have started them on a lower protein diet complete with fine grind milo/corn free choice, they just do not want to leave breeding season and start their annual molt. Perhaps they are smart enough to not fall for the milo/corn molting trick!

In any case, the outside temperature has hit 100 degrees F and it is time to stop this fruitless late breeding activity and precipitate the annual molt! So I will abruptly turn off all artificial light in the aviary. Only natural light coming through the double standard window on the south, the two sky lights, and the double standard tree shaded window on the west will light the aviary. The aviary room is about six feet longer than a two car garage so the light coming in is dim and unstimulating but still has plenty of light for eating. Day length, likewise, is now much shorter as it is on the natural sun pattern instead of the extended hours during the breeding season.

Critical Concept: Dropping the level of light and the day length is an excellent way to facilitate a quick molt!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Store Bought Veggies

Buying Vegetables

Living in Kansas, I am truly blessed with local farmer grown seasonal produce available at Farmer's Markets and vegetables grown in my own backyard. It is hard to imagine that many of you can only get fresh produce from your local grocer.

Those who read along my blog will recall that this Spring my birds, for the first time, refused to eat grocery store broccoli. So taking my clues from the birds, who did not care for any of our different grocers broccoli, I switched them to frozen peas.

In the past, my birds hardly ate frozen peas but this year, in the absence of tasty broccoli, they eat frozen peas quite well. In fact, they are currently eating a minimum of one lb a day and on days where I am short of other veggies, they eat two lbs!

In addition to frozen peas, I also use grocer carrots when local ones are not available. I like to process them to coarse and them add flock raiser and continue processing till it is more of fine grind crumble. This carrot/flock raiser crumble is added to cous cous (semolina), poppy seed, and quinoa mixture and also to my nestling egg food.

Peas and carrots purchased at the local store have always been safe. "Spider" brought up the question of purchasing the various greens from grocers or even health food store. One of his friends birds had gotten E. coli from health food store organic produce.

Hardly a week goes by that either meat, cookie dough, or even produce is not being recalled as unsafe because of bacterial contamination. By coincidence, right before the cookie dough recall, my grand daughter was shopping with me and we decided to make cookies from scratch rather than buy what turned out to be the recalled cookie dough brand! Experiences like this make me wonder just what is safe from my grocer.

What's the Point: The point of all this rambling is that variety is great but grow your own or buy from a trusted local farmer, or if you are concern with store bought veggies safety, limit your grocery store buying to carrots and frozen peas!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Keep watch for signs that a bird is being hassled and picked by its cage mates. The lower back is a common picking site. Move any picked ones to a new cage, either separate or with other picked chicks.

Carefully examine the space between the last gray wire (far left) and the brown side of the cage (far right). Note how not only is the air space narrow but the width of the air space decreases on its way down until it is more narrow than the width of a bird band. Birds can get their band caught in the upper wider region and struggle toward the bottom where they are totally stuck.

Insert packing in the air space to protect the birds from getting trapped. I cut strips of padded foam and lodge it in the space between the last wire and cage side. Even cardboard would work. The packing shown is "griprite", a non-slip liner purchased in a roll for $2 at the Dollar General Store!

Providing a Safe and Hassle-Free Cage

Take a critical look at your young birds especially their lower backs for any signs of picking. If so, decrease the animal protein in their diet and move any picked birds to their own separate cage. Also be sure and move any thin birds away from the others as they are high risk for picking and going light. Likewise separate female birds from the more aggressive male birds.

In addition, free your cages from any potential unsafe conditions. It is a terrible tragedy when a bird is accidentally trapped in its cage and breaks it leg. Sometimes this can be a wire sticking out that somehow that manages to slip under the bird's band, trapping the bird. The bird will fight for freedom and in the process breaks or severs its leg.

Or like the example above, the space between the side wire and solid cage side is narrow but not so narrow that a bird's band can't get lodged in the air space. To make matters worse the air space decreases as you look toward the bottom of the cage so that as the bird struggles and moves toward the cage bottom, the narrowing space will more firmly secure the lodged band. And just like the wire accident, the caught bird struggles to get free and in the process will break and sever its leg. Unless seen before the break, the bird will unfortunately loose its leg.

A few years ago, I bought a large expensive name brand four tier floor to ceiling cage. Yesterday, as I was taking care of my birds, I noticed a flutter at the door area of the bottom cage. To my shock, a bird had its nail caught where the wire met the cage door. Luckily, I was able to free this bird without a dislocation or break but what if I had not seen the bird in time?