Sunday, January 10, 2010

This Weeks Questions For Big Bird

Post here your question that are not related to a current this week post.


1. Shawn shares tip on what to do with leftover basmati rice.


1. Gwen has an eight year old hen who drinks and drinks and drinks, leaving a wet lake in the bottom of her cage which looks like she spits tobacco!! What could be the cause of this abnormality?


1. Shawn's update on canary seasons in South Africa and feeding breads and Madeira Cake to his birds and even peanut butter and jelly! Shawn welcomes Darren, once bitten....

2. Deb reports on feeding birds peanut butter and jelly...

3. Darren Waterhouse from my web site "Letters From England" is back breeding Borders!


1. Will my canary sing with a female finch in its cage?


Sally said...

Will my male canary still sing if I add a female finch to his cage?

Linda Hogan said...

I am not sure if he will sing with a female finch in his cage. Even with female canaries in the cage some will sing and other will not. Likely he will sing more frequently by himself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda and the bloggers!

Not really a question just my 2 cents... For background, I live in South Africa and my bird calendar is a bit different from yours in terms of seasons etc. At the moment we come out of breeding seaon and straight into the annual moult - which is where I am at the moment feathers, feathers and more feathers!

I read in previous blogs when you guys were in moult about the daily bread. This is a fantastic idea and works well with my birds now also. They dont like wholewheat or brown bread only white, but I wanted to try something else also. Ever heard of Madeira cake? Well my birds love it! It has a (I think) vanilla like taste and is yellow coloured. I buy it in small loaves, we normally have it with warm custard or double thick cream for Sunday afternoon tea - mmm.
Anyway, I give the birds this about three times a week about 1 slice to about 10 birds and they obviously have taste buds cause they finish it within an hour! Plus it seems to have a bit of oil or butter in it so it adds for the bit of weight I like them to have while they moult out. The extra oils will no doubt also help put sheen on the feathers.
Ps: I have also tried giving them hotdog rolls without the vienna! I cut these into diagonal strips and they enjoy it aswell, and I usually put some canola margarine on it - only thing is their faces get dirty! Oh well...
Years ago I had barbery doves and I sat many times after school eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich, I gave them some as they would fly toward me in their aviary and they loved it, - I wonder if my canaries would like peanut butter on their daily bread??
In addition I have also now added lots and lots of rolled oats to the seed mix, you should see them pick that out!

Hey Darren I feel like I already know you well from the letters in Linda's England Mail Bag... Welcom back once bitten never healed! lol


Linda Hogan said...

How about a recipe for Madeira cake?

Any bloggers feed peanut butter?

Anonymous said...

Hi Shawn,Linda
It is good to be back !! i took a 2 year break from keeping border canaries but have just got myself 2 pairs and am again looking forward to the breeding season. It is good to see not much has changed within the hobby with the same few top guys still sweaping the board around the shows. It is an amazing feat for them to continuely breed and maintain studs of consistant winners.
Myself iam looking forwad to rebuilding a stud from scratch, my budget does not stretch far nowadays so it is going to be a much longer road for me than it would be for someone with an endless pocket who can skip many years of breeding by purchasing expensive but quality birds to start their stud with. Oh well a challenge is part of what makes bird keeping so enjoyable.


Linda Hogan said...


Just googled Madeira cake and there are some recipes. Perhaps you could locate a good recipe for us.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who breeds parrots as well as canaries and finches, makes a tiny Peanut Butter and Jam sandwich as part of her birds daily diet. I think she must also 'sneak' in some vitamins and minerals in the mix. I am thinking, canaries would probably love a P B & J sandwich too, but mine are too fat as they are now !

Anonymous said...

Speaking of cleaning I have a question about birds that seem to have a drinking problem....I have an older hen that drinks and drinks and drinks...which also means she makes a lake in the bottom of her cage, looks like some ones spitting tobacco in there, if her bottle gets empty (like it does daily) she is clinging in the corner as soon as she sees me, she is 8yrs old was a wonderful breeder/mother in her day, she is a good eater pretty active for her age, I don't know what to do to clear this up. I had a male that did this when I first got him, vet thought he might be diabetic but had no other symptoms. he just cleared up after a time of being in my care with no treatment, what causes this and is there anything I can do ? years ago my vet told me with a varied diet fresh foods, eggfood,pellets, seed. that I pry didnt need to use any kind of vitamin, I have always used prime, love the powder for the eggfood, hate water soluble, am I overdoing vitamins ??

Thanx Linda


Linda Hogan said...


Eight years is a "ripe old age" for a hen and from your description she appears pretty normal for her age except for the yellow excessive liquid urine and water consumption.

Polyuria is defined as an abnormal increase in production of the liquid urine. When the condition persists it leads to dehydration.

Dehydration can be spotted by watching the fullness of the eyes. When the eyes squint, it is a sign of dehydration and quickly returns to normal full eyes when given water. I would give this bird all the water she needs so that she never runs out.

The cause of polyuria varies depending on the age of the bird and whether or not other symptoms accompany the polyuria. Endocrine gland problems such as diabetes is one cause. Other times the cause is tuberculosis and accompanies other chronic wasting symptoms such as diarrhea and dull plumage.

A big clue in your hen is the "tobacco" colored liquid urine. The presence of yellow, green or brown color liquid urine is the most reliable indicator of liver problems. Liver problems are common in old birds.

There is also a possibility that the color is cause by supplemental vitamins, especially carotenes, and that this is causing the colored urates. If you want to determine if this is normal to diet or liver problems, try taking away the supplemental vitamins and see if the color changes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

I would not know about a recipe for the Madeira cake unfortunately as I buy mine from the bakery every now and then. If you look at the picture on the Orlux dry nestling food box, I think there is a picture of a Madeira loaf on it. Mainly I think they add eggs and flour duh... Shows you what I know... But like I said they love it! Last night we had Chicken a la king and Basmati rice, I see there is still some rice left so guess whose getting Basmati rice for lunch. I dont know if you know it, it is a white colour and the grains are finer than the regular rices. I think it also cooks like in 10mins... For anyone interested in feeding rice, just make sure that you give only enough for them to consume in an hour, it is prone to spoiling rather quickly.

Darren, I am glad to hear that you're back into Borders, they remain my favourite species and I am fortunate in SA to have the PW line in my room as there have only been one or two people whom have imported from him. My previous line was a Scottish one from Alex Mallis, sadly, I only have one pair left of that. I also have a few from Don Harrison's line which I got from one of my mates who imported from Don in 2004 I think. What lines do you have? ps: Mrs Hogan, still wanting to know where yours are from, love that roundness on the heads!

Oh well, nearly back to work, still on leave till Monday. Everything seems to be back to normal here, schools re-opened on Wednesday. Cant believe Josh is in gr 4 already, must be getting old lol!

Shawn from Sunny SA

Linda Hogan said...

Howzit Good Buddy Shawn?

The Madeira cake looks similar to a pound cake. Perhaps next week I will have enough time to make one and try it on my birds. The thin ones and hard to fatten ones will get a bit!!

I have on occasion feed plain boiled white rice when a bird has digestive problems. I guess I did this because it is part of the famous BRAT diet used for diarrhea in humans. (BRAT is banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. Now that I know they also like banana would add that too!)

Basmati is the the best tasting rice and I see no reason the birds would not like it it too!

I have worked very hard on my borders heads and backs and my results are showing well.. Next it is to get the thigh to show and a better underline...My first Border pair was lst generation English birds. They were given to me to see what I could find out about breeding them when everyone was having trouble. Perhaps it was beginners luck but they bred like rabbits for me with the one pair producing about a dozen chicks. Unfortunately my problems was not breeding them but rather their life spans because the original cock and his son died before the second year and hens died between second and third years. This was a number of years ago now.

So I set out to learn how to improve Border longevity and am happy to report that most live considerably longer with only an occasionally showing neurological problems like the first ones I raise. Because of this, I did not sell any of them but rather studied them all...

A number of breeders here started focusing on the longevity problem and I was fortunate to get birds from Paul Dee in Chicago, Bill Hearn from Texas, and most recently Don Platz from California. Undoubtedly these have British ancestry!

This year, I am placing a couple of buff hens with an experienced breeder in Oklahoma who is getting back into borders and has only a couple of cocks.. Finally, I believe with proper nutrition they are strong enough genetically to have normal longevity.

What is this Ms Hogan stuff, good buddy? Sorry if I embarrassed you. Even though we have never met, you are a very special friend!!