Sunday, February 28, 2010

Questions and Tips for Big Bird!

Use this post for questions and tips unrelated to current posts.


1. How long do you cook whole grain wheat and how do you feed it?


1. Do some canaries pick their bands and never get use to it?


1. Is your book, CANARY TALES, still available?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Making Oklahoma OK

Traveling To Oklahoma!

Would love to see Scotty's expression when he notices that hiding behind the 06 (orange band) Border hen, is an 09 (red band) Border hen!

Wildest Border Dream Comes True, Two Hens!

These Gals Are Sooner Bound Today!

After the National Cage Bird Show in November, Scotty Rattray of Tulsa, Oklahoma called me. He said that he is trying to get back into breeding Borders and was lucky enough to purchase the cock donated by Paul Dee at the North American Border Club Meeting, but alas he had tried and tried and he was unable to find a hen to go with him. The cock is a yellow feather type and he needs a buff feather type to pair with him.

Each time he called, I promised I would look through my Borders and maybe I could spare an older hen but that I only raised one buff feather type young hen, all the others are yellow feather type. So he should keep looking and calling Border breeders.

By mid-January, Scotty had called everyone he could think of and called me again. Normally, most breeders would not consider an old gal that is four years old but Scotty was excited and said he would take anything I could spare old or not!

Checking my breeding records later, I noticed that the older hen was a consistent producer, records show she produced three chicks in 07, four chicks in 08 and three chicks in 09. But still she is four years old.

Wondering about the odds of her breeding this year, I examined her closely, she has a good fat layer and her feet and legs look like a much younger bird, so I think she will do just fine this year and at least produce a nest. Click on each of the pictures and compare the feet and legs of the old bird with the young hen.

The more I thought about Scotty and his strong desire to breed Borders, I thought about the opportunity to bring a little extra sunshine into his life. I decided that when I send the older hen, she would be accompanied by my young buff hen!!

Luckily, I was able to catch a ride for the birds to Tulsa today with my friend Michelle. For the trip, in addition to seed and water, they will get orange and cucumber. I quarter and peeled the cucumber so that if it turns over, they can still eat it easily.

Scotty will meet Michelle in a specific Walgreens parking lot right off the interstate in Tulsa. Only wish I could see his face when he realizes that I sent him two hens!

Transitioning the Hens

1. The hens are accustomed to natural day length. Tomorrow Scotty will put them on 14 hour days plus 30 minute dimming.

2. Tomorrow, Scotty will give them their first weekly dose of ABBA fertility vitamin E.

3. Aviary temperature will remain the same as mine 58 F till pairing which is anticipated to be in three or four weeks and at that time it will be moved up to 68 F.

4. Diet will remain Bird of Paradise vitamin coated seeds but I have changed from their regular vitamin coated seed to my special vitamin coated blend which contains flax instead of millet. If you have the regular just add some flax to it and when you order next time, ask for my special blend of vitamin coated seeds. (To order call Nancy at 1 800 878-2473 or 316 263-0850.)

5. Scotty will continue feeding them as they are accustomed: regular oatmeal free choice and continue feeding soft white bread, 1/4 slice per bird daily, fresh leaf spinach and sprouted rape several times a week. Extra higher protein seeds will be added gradually.

6. No nestling food containing egg till pairing and no extra heavy wheat products till they are ready to lay naturally. Begin offering Breedmax one tablespoon to four cups of ABBA Green 92 two or three days a week.

No Doubt About it, Oklahoma is OK!!

Sorry to delay this post but just in case Scotty would read this blog during the day, I have delayed the posting till he will be on the way to pick up the birds!

UPDATE Scotty called and was overwhelmed he just couldn't believe I sent the young hen too! As Scotty put it, "I was so happy I could dance right there in the Walgreen parking lot!!!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Timing Breeding: Cardinals Signal Spring Is Here

Chickweed in this photo taken 2/23/10 is still very frosted and does not show new growth. Every place I stepped, it mashed flat to the ground.

Although nearly a month earlier, this photo taken 1-17-09, shows new growth and just a hint of frost around some bottom leaves.

This morning as I awoke, for the first time this year, I heard a male cardinal calling. And when I set down to breakfast and gazed out into my back yard, I saw a male cardinal chasing a female cardinal! Her biological clock is ticking but she is waiting for warmer temperatures before she is ready to go to nest! The male cardinal is planting the breeding idea seed and mother nature will add some sunshine and warmer temperature, vegetation, available foodstuff, and some Spring rains! In about a month she will be building a nest and laying eggs!!

I was somewhat taken by surprise to hear and see the cardinals, as coming home from the KU game and again Sunday night, I drove home on slick ice, sleet and snow covered roads! Although I have been wondering if we were getting close as last week I notice some early Spring bulbs are coming up and just this week the trees have doubled their bud size and are very close to flowering.

Today is the canary males third treatment with ABBA fertility vitamin E. My normal pattern is to turn the lights up suddenly on the fourth week. Usually by then in addition to cardinals, I have seen a male goldfinch wearing his bright yellow vest and the chickweed showing sufficient growth that seeded heads will be available by the pairing time about three weeks away.

Should I turn the lights up a week earlier than I originally planned? I am tempted especially when my friend Doyle, who also lives in Wichita, reports he has already banded a number of chicks....

But the natural signs, although promising, are not in agreement yet as the chickweed is green but low to the ground and not raising any heads and the goldfinches are not dressed for Spring. So that means, although tempted to start breeding season, I should be patient and not rush.

There is one other consideration, hopefully within the week, my DKB banded German rollers will clear customs and fly to Wichita. On the day they arrive, I will turn the lights up!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stuck Leg Band Problem

While cleaning this young borders feet, I noticed foot swelling around the band. The band should move easily up the leg but this one was stuck!

First, I oiled the foot with some flax seed oil that I happened to have in the aviary. I wanted to get the oil inside the band but it was too tight to even let oil slide in!!

On occasion, older birds sometimes have excessive scales on the entire leg which will obstruct the band. They can be softened with oil and gently removed. Usually these old scales come off in long sheets and eventually the band is free again.

This time the bird is young and does not have excessive leg scaling. So I reasoned the problem was debris build up inside the band and I needed to clean inside the band to free it.

If I use a needle or sharp object, I might accidentally injure the foot and perhaps destroy the blood flow which could cost the bird its foot. This started me thinking, what do we have in the house which is pointed and thin and not sharp???

Quickly, like a flash of brilliance, it came to me, my husband Pat, likes to floss his teeth with these plastic flossers! The pointed "picking"end would make a perfect bird tool to slip inside the canary band and ream it out!!!

Working patiently, I began picking at the inside of the metal band and to my surprise, I was getting huge amount of old scale debris. The amount I removed was shocking! All of this debris came from the inside of this bird's leg band!!!

Eventually, I was able remove all the band debris and free the band. This exposed a very small leg with a sore area where the debris coated band had been constricting the leg. I treated the leg with more oil and then applied some iodine .

Today the band was stuck slightly again but with a little oil, it was freed and the leg is better. It is possible that there is a burr inside the band that is irritating the leg and causing this problem, if it does not heal in a few days, I will remove the band.

This started me checking other birds. I found another bird, an older hen with the same problem and she also has a slight sore area under the band. Her band was stuck but she had not developed the swelling yet.

When you trim nails and beak, be sure a check that the band is not stuck, if it is, oil the leg and if needed use the pointed end of the plastic flosser to carefully debris it!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Questions and Advice for Big Bird?

"SELF" Portrait

Jayhawks first final four, 1940!

Mascot has changed over the years. The screen display showed the birds evolution over the years!

Shoot-around, Hawks on the close end! Buffaloes on the far end. Mascots, mid-court are stretching, mimicking the players!

Cheerleaders warm up the crowd and practice the cheers, simple ones like Go one side and Hawks the opposite side or J one side Hawks the opposite side. Later on they lead a unique cheer when Colorado had a turn over or shot an air ball, they chanted "You Let The WH...OOOL...E Team Down"!!

Big Mascot is 1 and so the small one is 1/2!

Every seat is filled, 16,300!

When Colorado players are introduced, Big and little jay and the student section traditionally read the paper and pay no attention while the opponents are being introduced. When the Hawks are introduced the papers are torn into confetti-like pieces and tossed into the air. Everyone is standing in Allen Fieldhouse, the atmosphere is electric!!

Well-dressed student, won a wing eating contest during half-time! Jayhawks are leading 48 to 34!

My husband Pat, trying to hide while I took this shot of him and our daughter Kellie!

Coach Bill Self and assistants shaking hands with the Colorado coach, staff and players! Hawks really played well! I learned that whenever Xavier Henry does something, all real fans fold their arm across their chest making an X!! What a great new X-ercise!!

Please use this post to post this weeks questions or share advice/tips with Big Bird.



1. Big Bird shares her love of the Jayhawks!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Update Waiting For A Green Card

Problems Are Motivational Challenges!

My German imported rollers are waiting in Canada for passage to the US. Probably next week, David Bopp from Ohio and his wife Judy will make the drive to Canada and with all the paperwork in hand and a heads-up notification to the border folks to have the vet at the station at a particular time, will bring the birds legally across the border and then to Ohio and from there they will ship my birds to me in Kansas. Just the process is challenging but an even bigger challenges await me when the birds arrive.

So that was the good news, what is the problem? Well most of the birds are dropping long feathers. Of my five males, only one from breeder 3501, my top choice, is not molting and still singing enthusiastically!! Another 3501 molting male seems to be going light and is eating everything in sight. And the five hens are all molting.

Normally, hens lose small breast feathers to develop a brood patch in preparation for incubating their eggs. This is natural and of no concern. But when you see long feathers, it is a signal that the normal molt is coming soon in about one month. So the birds losing long feathers are molting!!!

A normal molt is precipitated by a drop in day length. Whenever birds are moved, it is important to keep the lighting pattern the same or move it in the direction the birds are headed for the particular season. For breeding, that means keeping it the same or lengthening the number of daylight hours. Understanding this, inquiry was made about day length and appropriate action was taken based on that inquiry..

The sickly cock, is unlikely to be well enough to make the trip. I would not want to transport a bird of questionable health from one aviary to the next. If you do that, the vet would rightfully question the whole shipment. All birds were first quarantined appropriately in Canada initially upon arrival there. This bird has been isolated an additional three weeks from the others and I do not want to take the slightest risk with exposing the other birds. On the positive side, he is molting and birds that are seriously ill do not molt so maybe he is OK and just thin. My opinion is that he will stay in Canada...

The others, most are molting, I would rather not move birds in the molt. It is a stressful time and if you are going to lose a bird traveling and adjusting to a new aviary, it can be a risk.. Since staying in Canada till after the molt is not an option, I have elected to move them and ship them to me in Kansas.

Upon arrival, I will be challenged to bring the molt to a quick finish and try to bring them into breeding condition if they are healthy enough... The fact that they have signs of molting on the wing butts in only three weeks is a good sign that they are going through the molt faster than normal and is a sign of good health.

Sounds like an Olympic Level Challenge to me, but hay I am up for it and my mind is turning many wheels preparing and training for the upcoming breeding competition!! I am going for the Gold!!!

First step, a bit of inspiration and relaxation before the breeding game: Tomorrow I will attend the University of Kansas Jayhawk Basketball Game in Lawrence! Go Hawks! Will I be wearing my Vancover Canary Vest pictured above over my KU Game Shirt, You Betcha!! Wonder if I would be a Jayhawk fan if they were called the Wildcats or Buffaloes???

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When Genes Alone Aren't Destiny

Environmental Choices Can Effect Genetic Code

A long-standing biological belief is that whatever choices we make during our life time can hasten our death but those choices would not change our genes, not our actual DNA. It was previously thought that each generation was given a clean fixed genetic slate.

Several independent researchers in the past 20 years have given birth to a new science called epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still are passed on to the next generation.

Epigenetic marks sit atop genes and tell genes to switch on or off and through them environmental factors like diet, stress, and nutrition can make an imprint on genes that are passed from one generation to the next. The environment is not changing the genes or DNA, gene change is a long process, rather it is controlling gene expression.

Epigenetic changes represent a biological response to an environmental stressor. Removing the environmental pressure will eventually cause epigenetic marks to fade and overtime the DNA code will revert to its original programming.

The first time I noticed this in my birds was a fat rose brown colorbred male who was heavy chested and very obese. His offspring, no matter how strictly controlled their diet, were always obese just like him! His chicks, because of some bird's overeating in his family tree, were predisposing future generations to obesity even before they are born.

Six or seven generations later, I finally produced a bird last year from his line that was normal chested. Until this happened, I was thinking that all these rose brown birds were inheriting a fat gene!

The implications that nutritional habits before sexual maturity can result in changes that control gene expressions of their offspring are endless!

For more information read "Why Genes Aren't Destiny" 1/18/10 Time magazine.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Parents Of Sundays Cupid Challenge

Mother 2009 Bachelorette, has are nice red color but her crest is not circular and is flat.

Note the crests sides are parallel!

Father Shocker, winner of the 2009 Canary Matchmaking Contest was a striking fellow!

Excellent discussion by Tom Ressel on this pairing posted February 14th, 2009!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Playing Cupid By The Rule

This Stafford Bachelorette, Looks a lot like her mother!

Although she has a more circular crest than her mother, it continues to be too flat.

Bachelor Number 1 placed second in his class at the National Cage Bird Show!

Bachelor Number 2 is dark and handsome!

Bachelor Number 3 looks like he just flew in with the snow!

Golden Cupid Pairing Rule: Birds of a Feather Should Not Be Paired Together.

Could that mean opposites attract?

All I want for Valentine's Day is to hear from you! Which of the lucky bachelors would you chose?

Thanks Richard and Rich for your reply, now I feel loved!! Can't be puppy love, Must be bird love!!

New Information Added 2/17/10:
The challenge of pairing is having a clear vision of what you want to produce and an honest assessment of your birds strength and weakness. Pairing is about complimenting a weakness with another birds strength. Two with the same weakness should not be paired as this sets the problem tighter in the line. We all dream of breeding the perfect bird, its part of the fun and challenge. Overtime, our birds just get better and better if we apply the Golden Cupid Pairing Rule! Bachelor #3 is one lucky fellow!!

This Weeks Sharing Tips or Questions For Big Bird

Use this post to share your tips or ask additional questions unrelated to current blog posts.



Please don't use the words cocks in the description of pictures? Our firewall blocks the pictures - blaming it on Adult content - lol,



1. Shawn writes what do you ascribe the lovely border color to?


1. Shawn writes how long do you cook the whole wheat? Commented that citric acid shortened the molt again this year.


1. Peter writes "some time ago you mentioned feeding chicken to the canary males. Is that raw or cooked?"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Right Now Its A Guy Thing

Now that I have started the cocks serious preparation for breeding, they receive some special foods, one of these is a weekly treat of Brewer's Yeast Flakes. The product comes as powder, buds, or flakes. The birds will eat either the buds or flakes free choice without any additive. Sometimes I mix this half and half with toasted wheat germ especially if I happen to have the finer grade.

This brand is made from yeast grown on sugar beets which results in a product exceptionally rich in minerals and trace elements such as selenium, chromium, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, in addition to an extensive compliment of multiple amino acids. Click on the amino acid list for an amino acid breakdown.

The girls will get this too but not until they are in their last month of conditioning before they lay eggs. At first, when they get it weekly it will be straight Brewer's yeast. I am careful not to cut it with wheat germ for the girls, as wheat products seem to be a strong signal to lay and I do not want that till the timing is just right and they are inviting mating.

Eggs I want, but only when they are fertile!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just Like Her Granny!

Forefront Border Hen From My 2007 Breeding Season, Pictured With Her Nest Sister's Silhouette.

Granny, Like All Good Grannies, Love Oatmeal!

TIP: Oatmeal either regular or steel cut oats offered free choice are excellent foods especially for Borders to help put weight on the hen prior to breeding season or to fatten thin cocks a bit, oatmeal should also be in the breeding cage to feed their chicks!

2009 Granddaughter!

Granddaughter Pictured With Her Good Looking First Cousin!

Wonder What Prompted This Post? Yesterday afternoon as I watched Mary, my ten year old granddaughter, dance with her ballet class, I was impressed by her grace and movements. I am sure you are not surprised that I and all the other parents and grandparents thought our child was exceptionally talented and couldn't help being proud of our genes!

This morning I was still somewhat puffed up when I started rounds in the aviary and again experienced the same familial pride when I watched my Borders! It really is All In The Family!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Celebrating E Day

E Day Window of Opportunity

Dissolving Vitamin E Tip: When mixing up ABBA fertility vitamin E, I use a clean recycled gallon jug and first add about an inch of warm (not hot) water, then I add the 1/2 teaspoon vitamin E and shake vigorously, and then fill the rest of the way up with water and shake again.

Two Young Border Males

Note how the one on the left is starting to elongate as he is coming into breeding condition ahead of the young male on the right.

The same elongating male on the right compared to one perched above on the clothes pin. Until the last couple of weeks, they had identical shapes!

Note the green male's vent needs attention.

Could not resist picking up a snack for the guys to help them celebrate E Day!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Phil Warne Web Site

Great Border Videos!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Stafford Hens Patiently Waiting For Spring

Could the Ground Hog be right, only six more weeks of winter? Only six more weeks is certainly hard for me to believe when we are still getting a snow day every week!!

Predicting when the winter weather will break is especially important to me because I start seriously conditioning my birds six weeks before the end of winter. My usual guess, on an average year, is that winter here will break around March 8th.

Based on all the snow days this year, I have deliberately delayed serious conditioning a little but finally it just seems right to start my cocks on the ABBA water soluble vitamin E on Wednesday! Checking the calendar, if I start the cocks on Wednesday, six weeks would be March 17th!!

Being a wee bit Irish, it certainly feels right to me!!