Monday, May 9, 2011

Questions and Tips From or For Big Bird!

Please use this post for current questions and tips.


Re-Cycle Healthy Hens Who Failed To Produce Chicks This Season

Do you have some canaries who have not produced this season but seem healthy? Get some orlux fertility vitamins (I ordered mine from Bird Supply of New Hampshire) and give as directed daily to unproductive hen and chosen cock until the hen lays her first egg. This product contains a full range of vitamins including higher doses of vitamin E and amino acids, perfectly dosed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mario Remembers Big Bird On Mothers Day!

This is one of the best Mothers Day ever for me!! Remember how much I loved Mario, the sweet singing hollow roll German Roller import, who stole my heart while quarantined in my bedroom this Spring? As soon as the light came on at 6:30 AM, I would start counting and many mornings I only counted to three before Mario started his beautiful serenade!

I was really heart broken when he came down with the terrible sickness that killed five of the ten imported birds in the shipment.

As previously posted, I cured five, including Mario, by treatment with Doxycycline 20%, Tylan, and Megamix in sugared (one teaspoon sugar to a liter) drinking water. This went on about three weeks and then I treated five more days with KD Powder. I quarantined an additional week but with the season getting away from me and wanting some chicks from these new imports, I paired Mario with two pure DKB German Roller Hens.

Normally, birds treated with Doxycycline are not bred for six weeks after treatment as one side effect of the drug is temporary infertility. With all the Baytril and Doxycycline and Tylan,, going on for several months, I was worried that it might be June before I got any chicks this season and perhaps I would just have to be patient and wait till next year and be happy five are OK.

The nest pictured hatched four of the five eggs today just in time for Mothers Day. Mario has beaten the odds again and all of the first hens five eggs were fertile and maybe the last egg will hatch tomorrow!

Two plastic eggs which I will move to the middle to help support the newborn chicks.

One fertile egg remains pictured in the middle here.

16:00 Breaking News: 5th egg hatches!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Weak Border Chick

Usually when I hand feed, I leave the chick in the nest and giggle the nest or gently touch the top of the chick's head or under the chin and like magic the chick will open up for easy feeding.

This Border chick , however, was so weak that no matter what it would not beg me or mom to feed it. I expect the chick to start begging by the time it is 4 hours old. So in this case where the chick will not willfully open up, I had to place it on its back in my hand and pry the mouth open to get the feeding started. Chicks will still swallow even when they will not open up. Usually a couple of the forced feedings and it will be strong enough to open up to mom or me in the nest.

Note its bad yellowish skin color.

After being full, I wash the vent with warm water to encourage it to expel fecal material and then place it back in the nest.

So why was this chick that weak? Well, I normally candled eggs but this nest was due on Monday and two eggs were obviously infertile so I broke them, the next egg was partially developed dead chick and instead of candling and water testing the last egg, I broke the shell and oh no a live chick and blood...Seeing blood, I expected to find a dead chick when I check the nest 4 hours later but it had finished hatching but a little premature. Luckily the yolk was absorbed...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Near Fatality - Listless Chick

This Stafford mosaic chick with a dark crest is especially promising.

But the smaller chick on the right is listless!! Neither one open their mouths to beg me to feed them.

Note the red color apparent between its wings. It also felt cold and very lethargic. These chicks seem to be doing well the day before when I banded them.

Turning the chick over, an abnormal yellow/green color was seen especially toward the vent. I washed the abdomen and found that a thin yellow green film was covering the abdomen. Carefully, I peeled it off. This film can seal the vent and result in death.

When chicks are just banded, there is a danger of diarrhea which may be associated with too high protein diet or infection of either parasites or bacteria.

Looking around the cage, I saw pure hard boiled egg which normally I stop once chicks are banded. I also noted just a couple of hours earlier that the other hen sitting on eggs in the same cage, had gotten off the nest temporarily and feed the chicks, so three adult birds where overfeeding them.

E. coli smells and not smelling any odor. I decided to correct the diet and add KD powder to the water. I reduced the concentration of the egg food by adding an equal part of ABBA green 92, added more greens, oatmeal, and dish of straight ABBA green and took away the pure hard boiled egg.

Today the chicks are fine!! I will keep them on KD powder in the water and keep checking the vent and washing it, massaging it to assure it is indeed open. After washing the vent and making sure it is open, I encourage the chicks to walk in my hand, this movement encourages a full chick to expel its fecal material.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Got a Question or Tip To Share with Big Bird?

Please post your current questions or tips here!

I like to use muffin tins with nesting material to store eggs at room temperature till I set the hen. I have so many eggs now I am using a piece of paper to divide each hole. On one side of the paper is one cage number and on the other side the other cage number.

Normally, I set eggs on the fourth or fifth day. In the bottom left, each have six eggs, the reason being that the chicks needed to be moved and I was called in and worked an 11 hour shift at the hospital and just could not get to it before I had to leave...

Do you recognize this plant? Thanks for the fantastic responses! Yes it is canola rape. This is in my front "flower" bed and actually lived through an unusually cold winter.



1. Mary is concerned that her chicks may be starving:

Hello again:

These seems like strange questions for me to ask, after raising canaries for 45 years successfully. My brand new parent birds now have 3 of their 5 eggs hatched – two yesterday and overnight.

They are both gathering food, and the cock feeds the hen diligently when she is on the nest -- and the hen appears to be feeding her young while sitting on them to keep them warm…but I have not seen her stand on the edge of the nest to feed them. Also, I am not HEARING the peeping of the youngsters, nor do I see much egg food in their crops when the hen is off the nest. They do raise their heads…but I am worried that they are starving.

I am contemplating supplemental hand feeding. I purchase a 1 ml. syringe with which to feed and made some eggfood up with boiled water mixed in it…but I find that I cannot load this tiny syringe with the food. The water seems to separate from the eggfood and run out, and the food itself is just not going into the syringe. It is extremely frustrating.

The questions that I have are: why am I not hearing the peeping of the chicks? And What is the best way to put food into a syringe? The little beaks are so small that this is really the only thing that I can find that would go into their mouths. I have had absolutely NO luck trying to find a glass medicine dropper!! I have tried practicing with the two flat toothpicks that you mentioned using, but I am just not adept in holding the food with them.

Again, thanks for your help –

Mary Roberts


One of our blogger's gave me a small aluminum tool that is used
for putting split bands on canary legs. It is a small light
weight scoop and is easier to handle than my toothpicks.I think
they got it from Red Bird. Help blogger's?

Check comments for a tip on improvising a small spoon from a straw from Debbie!

I doubt if you can get an egg food to go through the syringe even
if you cut off the tip a bit. Get either sonic or exact hand
feeding formula. If that is not possible use some powdered
vegetable protein powder from the health food store. Not as good
but will work.

I would not worry about a hen feeding on the nest or off nor
whether she feeds less in volume and more often or is a stuffer.
Both ways work..I go by seeing a fluffy chick and pink not yellow
skin tone. When the chick is not fluffy or has a yellow skin tone,
I hand feed.