Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Questions For Big Bird?

A Place to Post Canary Questions

Got a question that does not fit the posted blogs? Post it to this posting for a quick response!


Unknown said...

Hi Linda

i have problem with some chicks, when i have some chicks just leaving the nets i notice that the birds head is twisted (i.e. looking the wrong way) when the bird leaves the nest, it has no balance,and the ear hole has pushed out? with yellow solid/liquid? the bird always die. its only ever one or two from the nest and its nest mates are perfect condition? i have had this problem for about 5 years (only around 3 birds a year have this problem) please help James

Rich said...

Hi Linda. I have a question as to grizzling. Any idea why it occurs rather than the bird having a solid varigation. I really see a lot of grizzling in Rollers, some of them occuring in birds from heavily vatigated parents. Every year I seem to get a few with a grizzle saddleback, which I really enjoy. I also get several birds with just a cap on the head and dark wings, but I know where they come from. I can trace that marking back to a good male from a couple of years ago. Rich

Linda Hogan said...


I have not seen this problem in my canaries. I know from my own experience that it is always distressing to have birds that are sick and die. The fact that in nature, few survive is hard to deal with as we want every chick in our aviary to healthy. So we do our best and keep it to ocassional with the majority being healthy.

Sometimes you may notice a genetic predisposition to a particular problem, in which case changing the breeding may prevent it. I remember once breeding a nest of six that could not even stand on a perch. How sad I was when I looked at my records and that by misreading a band number, I had accidentally paired a full brother and sister. Rule out that these cases have common ancestry.

It is also possible that this is an infection. The ear canal in a bird is straight and short. Unlike dogs and cats, birds infrequently suffer from otitis externa (ear canal infection). An infected canal is filled with pus and would bulge out and this could account for the balance problems. Pus in ear canals can be removed, cultured for bacteria and fungus and the ear treated with appropriate topical and systemic antibiotics. An examine and treatment even by an avian vet may be so stressful for the canary that the bird may die as a result.

Once I took a group of canaries to my vet for an exam to get a health certificate prior to flying with them. The vet made a through examine, looking in the ear, listening to its heart and lungs etc. When he put the bird back it laid on the bottom of the cage and looked like it was going to die. I told him I hoped he didn't have to give a complete exam to any more of them! This bird laid like that till it was back home in its cage but it did not suffer any long term effects. Yet a sick bird might just die from the stress instead of just scaring me to death. A necropsy may be the best approach with a goal of preventing future cases.

Since Pseudomonas is a common cause of this type of infection, I would be vigilant in making sure that birds water is not contaminated as gram negative bacteria thrives in water. Birds commonly get Pseudomonas from contaminated drinking water, holding tanks, misting bottles, or inappropriate soaked seed.

Vets can be very helpful in getting the right treatment for our birds.

Reference: Avian Medicine: Principles and Applications by Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison

Linda Hogan said...


I too love the grizzled saddle back. Grizzling is inherited and I too see a lot of it in rollers. When a bird is clear it is because genes have blocked the melanin genes, so it seems this is some special kind of blocking.

Rich said...

Hi Linda. During your travels to the show in Germany did you see any Rollers with a topknot (crest)? I haven't seen one in the US now for over thirty years. Since we breed for song only, I know we aren't supposed to be concerned with color or crests, but I do miss seeing those topknots. Rich

Unknown said...

Hi Linda,

I currently have 5 week old chicks. When is a good time to give them away?



Linda Hogan said...


Yes, they had a whole section devoted to crested rollers which they call "German Crest". I visited with Klaus Pohk, who was originally a well known roller breeder, at the show. Visiting is really stretching it, as I do not speak German and he does not speak English but we tried with lots of sign language and a little help from people around us. I think he told me he only bred German Crest now.

On my first trip to the Deutsche Meisterschaft, I spent at least 8 hours visiting with another roller breeder, Hans. In spite of no common language, we both spoke canaries and rollers with a passion! Jeff watched in amazement as we talked to each other non-stop, me in English and he in German. He finally took us to his home to see his birds and meet his wife. Since we were unexpected guests, I graciously declined his dinner offer. This went on three times and finally I caught on that declining was not the right answer it was just prolonging everyone dinner!! So I agreed and everyone was happy!! As we departed, we exchanged warm hugs all around and expressed our appreciation for a fantastic visit!! Canaries unite people all over the world!!

Back to the German Crest, I did manage to listen and they are cute but they were a long ways from the beautiful quality we expected from fine German rollers.

Linda Hogan said...


It depends somewhat on who you are placing them with. I have placed chicks after the first day of weaning with Doyle, an experienced master breeder, with no problems but I would only do that with him.

For pet homes, I wait till the chicks are several months old. I like to get them through the baby molt and singing very well and the weather is not too hot. That means they can be placed in new homes as early as in late September or October.

Linda Hogan said...

Sorry but I lost a question posted before noon today 8/19/09. When I hit post question, it is posted somewhere but I can't find which blog posting it was put on....It had two parts: the first was brother/sister pairing and the second part I am not sure.... Please resubmit the second part to this blog posting...

I do not do full brother/sister pairings. I do pair half brother/sisters and make sure that the special bird is on both sides of the pedigree. This seems to work much better for me to bring out the best.

Whether you pair related or unrelated only the most fit should continue in the breeding program. The ultimate success of any breeding program is directly related to ruthless culling...

Unknown said...

Hi Linda,

First off, thank you for answering my previous question from a couple days ago. I find your blog to be extremely useful and just wish that I had found it earlier!

Unfortunately, I have a question about air sac mites. I have a family of canaries (same family with the 5 week old chicks) and I just found out that there is a possibility that the father has air sac mites. I say possibility only because I did research on them and he is displaying some symptoms, plus I did take him to see an avian vet and she did give him medication for it, but didn't really confirm it. All she said was there is a possibility that he does have them, which wasn't too helpful, to me, at least.

Anyway, I understand that the mother has a very good chance of also having air sac mites (and I'm pretty sure she does since I noticed today that she is making that clicking sound) and the babies will most likely receive them too. The mother and the babies have not been treated. And, to make matters worse, she is sitting on 3 more eggs, which are due to hatch in a week. My question is should I treat the mother and the babies now or should I wait? Keep in mind that the babies are not displaying any symptoms yet. I'm sorry for dumping all this information on you but I honestly did not feel that the vet was quite sure what she was talking about. She seemed very uneasy.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much,


Linda Hogan said...


Respiratory acariasis (Air sac mites)is commonly caused by a parasite, Sternostoma tracheacolum. The symptoms include dyspnea (difficult breathing), open-mouth breathing and wheezing respiration and is commonly seen in finches as well as canaries.

The term air sac mite is a misnomer as the parasite is frequently found in the trachea, particularly near the syrinx. Because of this they can be silent singers! At times, however, they maybe present in the lower respiratory tract.

Since open-mouthed breathing and some rales (sounds) are caused by other upper respiratory tract infections caused by bacteria, mycoplasma, inhalant of toxins, and even lymphoproliferative disease, the vet may be reluctant to say it is air sac mites without actually finding them. Her not be definitive just tells me she is likely aware of the broader picture!

Occasionally air sac mites can be seen as pinhead-sized dark moving spots on the neck when it has been wet with alcohol and illuminated with a strong light.

The best way to tell if a bird has air sac mites and not one of the other causes of the open-mouthed breathing is to listening to their breathing at night and if you hear clicking then they have air sac mites.

I would separate the cock from the rest of the birds. He likely will need a second or even third treatment to get the eggs when they hatch at about 7 to 10 days.

Separate the chicks as much as possible from each other and all other birds. Make daily rounds after dark and listen at each cage for clicking.

Right now your top priority is getting rid of air sac mites so any bird with symptoms need to be treated and if that is too much for them, so be it.

If it were my aviary, I would get a pest strip for flying insects and place it in the aviary. I do know of another case where that stopped the problem totally. The avian medicine book also mentions using the pest strips. I commonly used one during the molting season although not every year.

I have not had much experience with air sac mites thank heavens but I know some of you breeders may have some insight for us.

I assume the vet used ivomec and how was it administered? Some breeders prefer Scatt. Continue working with your vet!

Reference: Avian Medicine by Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison

Unknown said...

Hi! My name is Megan and I am thirteen years old. I am trying to start a breeding business. Right now I have two canaries. I just got the male today,but I have had the female for a few weeks. I was told different things about the right time for breeding. One lady told me that all you have to do is stick a nesting bowl their cage and some shredded paper at the bottom and they ill do the rest. Another lady told me that you have to wait till spring. Which is it? I wish I could get them started sooner than spring, but if it is better for the birds I will wait. I am so excited! Thank you so much for all the help Mrs. Hogan!

Linda Hogan said...

Hi Megan:

Spring is breeding time in the Northern Hemisphere! Glad to meet you!

Perhaps I can find a local breeder for you if you tell me the city..