Monday, January 30, 2012

From My E-Mail Bag Laurie UK

Laurie writes: Hi Linda,

Hope you had a good christmas and new year. I saw your blog about Boost and thought I'd send you an email.

I've been using Boost for 4 years now, I use it at 1ml in 2 litres of water all year round. They get it whenever I'm not giving other in water supplements like KD, vitamin B, calcium etc as their normal water. They seem so used to the taste of it they probably wouldn't drink plain water!

I get Boost from Sunrise Aviculture, they sell most things for canary breeders. Its £6.95 for a 50ml bottle. From the picture it looks like you've got the new style bottle, the old one had a parakeet and pigeon on it and the vitamin composition, if you're interested it contains vit A, vit D3, vit E, vit K, nicotinamide, pantothenic acid, folic acid, Biotin, vits B1, B2, B6 and B12, high concentration and fully water soluble.

You can see some Boost in the small drinker on the back of the show cage in one of the photos I've sent you. That was at East of England border show, the other guy is Belgian champion Joel Geldof, you probably know him. My birds originate from his bloodline, via Alan Harper.

Linda, I bought some antibiotics last week whilst looking for a new tub of Optibreed, from a spanish store called Wilder Store. They sell a large range of supplements and treatments for cage birds and pigeons. We can't buy antibiotics here in England without a vets prescription and you don't get charged import tax from Spain soI bought some Doxibrom doxicilin and some Enrofloxine 10% and some microserine tiny pills for canaries.

Do you know if any of these are suitable as a precautionary pre-breeding treatment? and do they have any fertility issues or side affects?

Also Linda I got 2 of those double ended aluminium hand feeding tools to send you, I got them last year. I think you'll find them very useful, the small ends good for newly hatched chicks and the big end for mixing and feeding big hungry feathered border chicks!

I'll post them if you send me your address and let me know if you want any Boost as well.
Check out the sunrise aviculture site and also a new Border site Mason and O'callaghan borders.

Recently had a border cock in a soft molt, he is responding well to the vitamin B and high carb diet! Thanks for all your advice and good luck for the coming season,
Kind regards - Laurie.

S66 0SE
TEL. 01709 545619
I think they have an online order form on their website.

Have you tried any of the AVIFORM supplements? I've got 2, VITACEL- vitamins, minerals, amino acids and prebiotics, PROLYTE-C probiotic,enzymes and electrolytes.
They're powders with plastic scoop that you can add to any birdy recipe! I'll let you know how they fair.

Congratulations!! I just placed an order with Sunrise and was able to order Boost and Ferti-vit and omni-vit too. Seems no one in the US has any of these products.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Weeks Questions and Tips For Big Bird


1. Your blog has so many ideas that it makes me tired to think about implementing them. If you could add just one food what would it be?

Answer: I would chose Quinoa because it has the most effect on improving the birds health of anything I have fed. For years i have put cooked quinoa in my nestling food but I was totally amazed when I fed just cooked quinoa as the main ingredient with broccoli and bee pollen or poppy seed. Just a few days and the birds condition improves even when you think it is already very good.

Thursday Question:

1. My hens that I just purchased are duds, they are eating their eggs!

Answer: Hens are great recyclers, they often eat thin shelled eggs that break as she sits on them. Make sure to provide Calcium, D3 and Magnesium, a great product is sold by Avitech.

Preparation for egg laying starts several months before breeding season but you can catch up with the Avitech Product. Sometimes they eat eggs because they are infertile and in that case they push them out of the nest and then eat them when they break on the floor.

CSI: Aviary Search

What in the world is Big Bird Testing on her canaries now?

Breaking News: We have a winner, actual two winners Donald of South Africa said it was dried fruit and Ed correctly identified the dried fruit as Strawberries and Raspberries!

I was ask to test a new softbill product on canaries to see if it was marketable to canary people. First I tried it dry, neither the particular Borders males nor the eat almost anything German Roller males would eat it either plain or in a nestling food. Both Borders and Rollers picked it up and threw it away without eating a single bite. Looking at it and feeling it, it is tough.

Next I tried moistening it and even softened the Borders still refused to try it but three out of four German Rollers males at least ate it! I thought they looked like they were dressed up and wearing lipstick and wanted to show you how handsome they look with red lips!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

CSI Avian Mystery

What do you think happened? Send your report and theory to this post. All responses will be posted.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh No, Docile Hens with Developed Vents

This morning I noticed that these two imported German Roller hens had eaten an unusually large amount of mineral grit, so time for an inspection, bottoms up.

Swollen enlarged red vent on one hen.

The other hen is almost as developed as the first one.

That means they are coming into laying condition. So what's the problem?

Laying condition and breeding condition are not necessarily the same thing and with these two docile hens, their lack of movements means laying is far ahead of breeding. Should they be paired now, they would be timid and run from the cock.

Egg fertility has a lot to do with the hen, does she call to him and beg to be fed and assume a mating position? Docile hens because they are not acting according to script, may even be attacked by the anxious cock.

The best thing to do to get the hens active and hopping back and forth and turning flips in the air in anticipation of breeding is to give them a dose of iodine. This could come from a variety of available iodine products such as vanodine, lugol's, or Ioford.

Since the hens also look a little loose feathered compared to my others I decided to give a two consecutive day treatment with Ioford with Dufoplus added in their water. This cocktail should be used at the first sign of lethargy and works remarkable well.

Update Photo Below: 24 hours after treatment, feathering is tightening up, wing carriage is improving and the hens are moving some. This is going to be a tough one, after the second day, I will put the hens one one side of a divided cage and a cock on the other side. The cock is the most important factor for bringing the hen into condition.

Breaking News - Petamine

Just received a heads-up call from Herman Brothers that Kellogg is no longer making Petamine! They only have 10 of the 20 lbs bag left and after that no more! If you use Petamine and want some for this breeding season call Herman Brothers at 1 810 420-5055.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mild Eye Problem - Conjunctivitis

About a week ago, I notice a German roller acting like it could not see well. On close examination, I noticed his right eye was totally sealed shut. Using lukewarm water, I gently poured water over his eye until it unstuck. Click on the photo and noticed the missing feathering around the eye.

Immediately, I moved him to this "transport" cage which I purchased at the National Cage Bird Show from The Finch Connections vendor ( I love this small cage and have already decided I need lots more of them.

With plastic perches, they stay clean much better than roller cages.They are great for isolation of sick birds as the food and water is easily accessible and always close to the bird.

And I also plan to use them for males that are destined to move from hen to hen but need a place for two days off to build their sperm count between hens.

I could use them when I am caging up a number of rollers trying to decide who goes in the show cages and perhaps I can get a cabinet made and use these cages for a song school!

The most common cause of mild eye problem cases is Mycoplasma but it also can be due to a number of infectious agents and even exposure to environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke and chemicals.

Once I was invited to visit an aviary of about a hundred red factors. The first thing I noticed after noting their beautiful color was that nearly everyone of the birds had mild eye problems. The problem was the perches that he cleaned with harsh chemicals and the birds rubbing their heads on the "clean" perches. After seeing this, I just wash my perches in plain water.

The only environmental factor I could find in my case was that he was fairly close to the heat pump and air would blow on off and on. This could cause dry eyes and set the scene for an eye problem.

I concur with veterinarian Dr. Rob Marshall who in his book Canary Health stated "baytril (enrofloxacin) is a first choice medicine when the cause of the illness has not been identified".
Enrofloxacin is available from some pigeon suppliers. I purchased mine from

You can either use one drop in the beak twice a day or administer in the water as directed on the label.

Positive response within 24 hours is typical with this medication but it is continued for several more days as directed on the label to prevent the common recurrence problem associated with eye infections.

Following the antibiotic treatment, the bird should remain on vitamin treated water such as orlux vitamins for five more days.

The bird is looking better and acting fine and I do not anticipate any further problems.

Note: can't get over how fast his beak grows, after taking the first picture, I trimmed it but look at today's picture, he needs it again!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Performance Enhancers

Sometimes, the show season seems to come to soon, much before our birds are in peak condition. Whether it is the feathers are not tight or the confirmation such as rounded heads or raised back just isn't there or perhaps they lack stamina after a long day on the show bench or perhaps birds that will not sing in their show cages, all of these problems can be rectified by using vitamin enriched products.

I had this Orlux fertility product on hand and was surprised to read on the product label it that it was for singing & fertility. I started using it daily and the song developed quickly and quickly they no longer sang "baby song." I bought this product from Bird Supply of New Hampshire.

While judging type canaries at the Vancouver Canary Club in Burnaby, BC, Canada, on November 13th, Chirpy Chum Brian Johansen, not only shared with me that some of the top exhibitors in England use Boost to gain a competitive edge but also he gave me a bottle to try.

As soon as I got home, I had about a week to give it to my rollers before the National Cage Bird Show and Borders who needed confirmation and others who had loose feathers especially in the flanks. I was very impressed with the results which corrected all of the above problems and all birds had improved well being.

At the show the rollers who before treatment were not singing to frequently, got remarks on their judging sheet about their great training and performance!

I am going to be ordering boost from England as I do not know of a US source.

Biodecken also has a product to improve singing called "Jingle". Which I did not have the opportunity to try but another breeder did try it and got excellent results too. Hopefully their product line will be available soon from Ricardo Sanchez. As soon as available, I will post it on the blog.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Houdini Brags: "It Doesn't Take Much To Outsmart Big Bird!"

Yesterday, Big Bird was bragging about outsmarting me, she even posted it on the blog, but first thing this morning as she barely started opened the door, out I flew!!

Maybe a sweet song will fool her!

Big Birds problems have just begun!!

Out Smarting Houdini

I make a habit of taming my birds and training them to stay in their cage when the door is open. Everyday when I add the special food in their small dish, I leave the door open while I take the dish out, fill and return and then close the door.

This works well as I only have to open the cage door once instead of twice. I have about 200 plus birds in roughly 70 cages and day after day I leave the door open and none escape. Even if I forget to close the door well and it falls open, everyone stays in their cage till hours later I notice it.

Today, I was smugly congratulating myself on how much easier it makes life to have birds stay in their cages rather than having to chase birds who escape while I am feeding. (As a matter of pride, I catch birds by hand and do not use a net.)

Once last week and again today, Houdini, a German Roller Male, quickly darted out of his cage and flew around the room. Well what a sight, we moving quickly around the room while Houdini does not even let me get close.

Around dusk, I still had not caught Houdini even though I had tried several times during the day. His cage door remained open and he ignored any treats I put inside. So I thought I might be able to outsmart him by placing a perch through the bars to the outside making it real tempting to fly in. Similar to putting an inside perch near an outside bath to encourage a bird to investigate the bath.

After dark, I went in the aviary to find Houdini as once it is dark, I can walk right over and catch him. Houdini took the bait and was sleeping inside his cage!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Handy Dandy Poop Scraper

In spite of a large flight cage all to himself, this Border prefers a high perch in the corner. He flies back and forth but spends the majority of sitting and pooping in the right corner.

Recognize the bird? Yes, it is a current photo of that molting Border pictured with lots of pin feathers on its head a few weeks ago. His head is filling out nicely now!

Under his favorite perch, droppings are building up!

No problem, if you have a dry wall plastic scraper! It is thin and flexible and so easy to use.

This set of three sizes is only $2.27 at Lowe's in the lumber section and is a must have in my aviary!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Heads Up Tips

Heads Up: Slender Hens (Click on each photo and compare)

Hens with a slender underline need to be checked for a yellow fat layer. This slender hen does not have a hint of fat. Unless she fattens up a bit, she will not come into good breeding condition. Give her a private cage or put her with like slender hens and feed fattening extras sunflower chips/pieces and soft bread.

Occasionally, fatten up a thin "hen", may surprise you as she is not really a she but rather a he!!

This hen shows a nice yellow abdominal fat layer. She is coming along nicely and will likely be ready to breed in about eight weeks.

Heads Up: Increased Mineral Consumption

When you have a lot of hens, it is helpful to watch hen cages for increased mineral consumption as long before laying, hens will eat a lot of mineral grit (ABBA mineral with oyster shell added).
Watching for mineral consumption is how I know which hens to catch first and give a physical exam to check for breeding readiness.

Increased mineral consumption is also seen before the 2nd clutch. Often I see a hen feeding chicks but eating a lot of minerals, this is a heads up to get the cock back in the cage as she is going to lay her 2nd clutch quicker than expected. Routinely, I put the cock back on the chicks fourteenth day but if I see her chowing down on mineral, he goes in sooner..

Heads Up: Low Priced Convenient Quality Broccoli

While at the National, Chirpy Chum Rich May, told me how he likes to use frozen broccoli in his nestling food.

I found this floret frozen broccoli at Aldi's discount grocer for only $1.09 where at the most popular grocer in Wichita it was $3.21. Fresh is selling regularly for $1.69/lb here.

Isn't this lovely! I move the package from the freezer to refrigerator and let it thaw there overnight for use the next morning.

After all that play while Big Bird writes this blog, its nap time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chirpy Chum Deb Eaton Shares Recipe

Great profile of Debbie!

Debbie writes:

I've been making a cheap food for my birds since I had no eggfood. They eat every tiny bite.

It is cheap wheat bread (1.00 loaf) a couple of mustard green leaves from my flower bed (or rape plant volunteers), a scoop of vitamin mineral powder and a small scoop of their daily pellets. I also buy large bags of organic carrots for my kitchen and sometimes use 1 or 2 carrots. Throw it all in the food processor and process until tiny bite-size pieces. When I use carrots, I process them first, then throw in the bread, etc.

This is something I've noticed on my birds. I bought a couple of Scots here that originally came from Mac. They had been hauled around to several bird marts, etc. and were looking a little rough.

I use pellets for 50% of my birds diet - usually ZuPreem Fruit, sometimes mix with egg food, but no eggfood this fall, just pellets. I bought Mazuri Breeder Pellets, some Pretty Bird Daily Select and mixed all 3 together - mostly because of my softbills, but decided oh well -feed it to all the birds.

With the little bit of wheat bread/greens mix and the pellets and fresh seed mix, within 10 days of buying the Scots - they had slicked down and tightened up considerably. Very noticeable. So much - I even asked Lisa to look at them and tell me what she thought had done it. She thought my box cages, and diet was the key. The poop on my birds has never been tighter and as dry as it is now. Sort of like when you take you dogs off of grocery store dog food and put them on Science Diet, you can just tell the waste is smaller and the food utilized.

We had a vet speak to our club Sunday, and her most important observation regarding illness in cage birds had to do with improper diet. I so agree.

Thanks so much Deb, I value your friendship very much!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Natural Approach To Avian Insect Control

If you have ever experienced an infestation with this weevil, you have my sympathy. This weevil commonly hatches out of household products such as cornmeal and in the house all that is necessary is find the source and get rid of it, not an easy task in the aviary. I have no idea still what it hatched out of.

These little monsters are about the length of thistle seed but wider, shown crawling on a wooden cage perch, they love hot weather and hate cold weather. I thought perhaps that pest strips would get them but even though they can fly, it was not effective.

Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic to animals and humans and environmentally safe and contains no chemical pesticides. The fine silicate particles destroy the insects waxy cuticle resulting in loss of moisture and death. This seems to be working but I look forward to seeing no more weevils ever!

If you use wood shavings it can be added to them. It is also reported that it is effective against mites and lice.