Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday's Tipster - Doyle Johnson

Congratulation Doyle on Being Selected as Tuesday's Tipster!

Doyle's Timely Tip: What Kills Weeds, Kills Birds!

At this time of year when the weeds start growing and the insects start to come out, a lot of people will be thinking about spraying around their yards and their houses. You must be careful not to spray around the aviary! Many of the herbicides and insect sprays are also harmful to cage birds.

Last Spring, I lost 278 of my nearly 400 canaries overnight because a lawn man sprayed around my aviary! The fumes came up around the walls and through the air conditioner and overcame the birds overnight. The next morning the loss was very difficult to deal with. Dead was every one of my original winning German roller line, gone were all of my show-stopping bronze, gone were all but one of my outstanding show winning red lipochrome, gone were all my new lines of topaz and onyx, gone were most of my borders with only three border cocks surviving. The sight of our precious canaries, breed to be winning lines over many, many years, dead in cage after cage, was devastating!

In shock, we watch an additional 14 canaries die within the next few hours. In hopes of stopping the slaughter, Cheryl and I moved the remaining approximately 60 birds into our house. Once in the house, only three more birds, which had appeared sickly, died. At last the dying, had stopped. But what had caused this, we wondered?

Our first fears were of some weird virus or bacteria but since there had been no prior warning signs, no birds were puffed up or appeared ill the day before the sudden deaths, and finding so many dying so suddenly, we knew it must be an environmental killer.

So we started our investigation with the grounds keeper, who stated with pride that he had a great new chemical that could really kill weeds! We informed him that his chemical was so good that it had killed nearly a whole aviary of birds!

Earlier we had warned the complex manager that we had an aviary full of birds and we did not want any spraying in our lawn. Whether the word didn't get passed on to the grounds keeper or what, we will never know. Remember that although some herbicide/insecticide labels do not mention anything about being harmful to birds, keep in mind that they all contain enough chemicals to kill plants and insects.

Thanks so much Doyle for sharing your painful experience with us! It is an unfortunate experience but we will all be more vigilant in protecting our birds!

Be sure and read Shawn's excellent comments on this posting!!

Tuesday's Tipster is a regular feature of this blog. This is a great opportunity for you to share your valuable experience and tips! Just send your article to me at canarytales@juno.com and put blog tip in the comment line. I can't hardly wait to hear from you, come on and share with us!


Anonymous said...

Hi Doyle,

Sorry to hear of your misfortune. One of my bird buddies has also had similar experiences and yesterday he had the worst of it all. Last Spring/ September, he decided to clean up all the cages in anticipation of the breeding season. He used something called Blue death under the shavings/ cat litter in his cages to deter the dreaded red and northern mite that has plagued his breeding seasons so many a time. Any how somehow the birds got into the powder and many died with blue beaks (indicative of poisoning.) Other times he used insecticides also to deter mite and misted/ sprayed the cages and birds, only to find them dead a bit later. Another guy used Doom (fly spray) directly on a bird to kill mite and needless to say the bird was dead in minutes!
But to get back to yesterdays misfortune, my friend has been battling with mice in the aviary and in an attempt to erradicate them he put out sheets of cardboard with a special glue on it. Now on Monday he came over and fetched some extra hens I had which he wanted to breed with. He was distracted and neglected to shut the cage doors. Went to work as per usual only to get home and find birds flying all over the aviary. Unfortunately some settled on the gluey cardboard and were stuck so badly that he could not get them loose, and they eventually died after he tried to pry them off the adhesive with liquid parafin. The best birds were caught in the glue and two of the beautiful young hens he got from me the other day, a mosaic and a heavy blue fife hen! He was almost at the point of tears this morning. So moral of the story is that these things can and do happen, the important thing is that we learn from these lessons and NEVER make the same mistakes!

Cheer up mate,
Shawn - South Africa

Linda Hogan said...

I use Avian Insect Liquidator by Vetafarm for mites and it works well to get rid of mites. It can be sprayed directly on the birds in their cage so you do not have a problem using it. I have seem this item on ebay. I got mine in Vancover Ca. It is for canaries and finches and is mixed one part liquidator to 20 parts water then sprayed on cages and nests. I have had no problem spraying on the birds.

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda, what a lovely informative Website. It has that "welcome Home" feel. so please we found you. These unfortunate things do happen when using chemicals, and ones emotions go way down! can only but sympathize..
by the way what would one use to wash the floors and walls of the bird room? I use,sunlight dish washing liquid,Detol disinfectant, and a drop of Turpentine in a bucket of hot water for all home floor cleaning including the bird room which is built in a fashion where we can sit in our family and and Sitting room and look out into this room and so see them all day. wonder if this mixture of chemicals can effect them.?
I also use Avian Insect Liquidator and works fine for me. however I got a little concerned this year when i saw our young ones with little irritation and redness on the wings. (they are at the end of molting) my original old male born 2004 seem to have gone into a sever molt from Nov and has not recovered. Some say it is called French molt. I had wondered if the spray irritated their feathers. his head and under the body is featherless. I did see now there seem to be little feathers growing on his head again. I have isolated him. He is my best singer and enjoys "talking" to me. I was going to use him as a tutor.. but will have to make another plan now as he is not singing.
Can you tell me more about these lengthy molting, and what diet to give him please?
I also get conflicting information with regards roller canary seed mixtures. the one I was originally given is 50% PCanary seed 25% Black rape, 12% Niger,7% Linseed 6% Hemp... I recently heard that black and red rape in South Africa, has been know to be toxic on the long run and we need to substitute it with Canola Rape. however would this not be too rich during molting, and inactivity?

We live in Gauteng South Africa. we are novices at breeding German Rollers. Yesterday someone recomended your book "complete Canary handbook" which we would like to obtain.
Best regards Gwen... Gauteng South Africa.

Linda Hogan said...

Hi Gwen:

I prefer soap and water for cleaning but if an infectious agent were present, I would use a 10% clorox solutions but luckily I have not had to do that!!

The French molt is probably what I call a soft molt, meaning an inappropriate molting of short feathers that just goes on and on. Reverse this by a high carb diet with no high protein oily seeds and multiple vitamin B in the water.

Rape seed should not taste bitter. The safe rape is canola rape. It has a plus of being a strong yellow coloring agent for yellow birds but it should not be feed to red colored birds for the same reason. Like other oily seeds, it is fattening but the extra calories is usually needed in young birds.