Monday, February 28, 2011

Mario and Company

Mario was singing so beautifully this morning, I just laid there for 30 extra minutes and listened to his wonderful song. With all the trouble, if even only Mario makes it, it will be worth all the pain of dealing with sick birds.

Mario loves the baby bok choy! Before the end of the day, he will have eaten it all including the stem!

Mario loves bread. He eats some and shreds the rest. Yesterday I gave him 1/4 slice twice and he torn it all up and ate quite a bit of it. I want him to eat it and gain some weight because the three dead birds were all extremely thin.

Mario's Company. Mario is the Cassonova in the middle!

Top bird, might be a hen but not sure.... She looks like it as her eye is high compared to the center of her beak.

Bottom bird is quite large and is starting to sing. He is very soft and it is a little soon to tell how good he is. Whenever he starts to sing, Mario drowns him out!

This is the hen that was separated in the tray away from the others because she was timid and appeared she would be stressed if placed with other birds. She is doing fine and like myself, she is enjoying hearing Mario sing, could an arranged marriage be in her future?

Tony Schlott in Canada, is fluent in German and is contacting the breeder for me to get pedigrees, so that I can make better pairing decisions.

Mario wants me to thank Tony, who grows many varieties of apples for his observation that in his tests rollers prefer golden delicious apples to any other variety. Mario agrees with Tony's findings!

Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother - BIG BIRD!

A few days ago I noticing some more problems in three of the remaining seven imported birds. One bird was tail bobbing and I noticed the lower abdomen rising and failing with each breath even when the birds were not under stress. These signs point to respiratory disease which maybe caused by a number of infectious agents such as bacteria, fungi, and virus.

Although I rarely treat birds with antibiotics, I keep some on hand in the refrigerator just in case. My stock included tylan, an excellent antibiotic for Mycoplasma but unfortunately it was several years outdated, oops will order more... I had in-dated
Enrofloxyn (baytril) which is effective against Mycoplasma and Salmonella. I wished I had amtyl or amoxitex which are amoxicillin and tylan, the two together give a broader range of organisms that it is effective against. Doyle did not have it either so will order that too..

Remember the cage I called two hens. I later observed the bird in the foreground feeding the capped hen. Even though two hens will feed each other, after watching them more, I believe he is a male.

When I noticed the capped hen deep breathing, I separated the two birds. Too late, the male started the open mouth heavy breathing just a day after the hen. Both were not eating and with both of them sick, I moved them back together and now the capped hen after a couple of days on antibiotic is looking much better. I moved their cage to a night stand on the other side of the room.

A third sick bird is showing feather loss around its eye in addition to abdominal breathing. Feather loss around the eye is another symptom of respiratory problem. Luckily, It has been separated from the others from the start as it was molting very heavily.

A closer look when I was putting some Terramycin ointment on its eye, showed considerable swelling of the sinus under the affected eye. Birds, unlike humans, have separate sinus cavities so it is possible to have infection on one side and not the other.

With the capped hen being definitely better, I am hopeful that my antibiotic is working and in time these birds will become healthy.

No doubt about it, Big Bird is earning her Tiger Mother Badge!! The Fight for Life is On!!

Update following day: Definite improvement black cap hen-no signs of lower abdominal breathing, the male in her cage has its mouth barely open and no gasping-much better, eye problem remains a problem, lots of swelling. Yesterday, I added 1/4 teaspoon to one cup of water of childrens cold and cough medicine to the antibiotic treated water. Either another day on the antibiotic or this addition was very helpful. Today I added 1/2 teaspoon to a cup and we will see if that is even better.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Birds Update - Working Toward Perfect Health

The middle bird of the stack sings frequently and has a beautiful song, not perfect but very very nice! He is quite a Casanova, as he likes to look me in the eye and serenade me, singing and swaying, even when I am as close as two feet from his cage. Usually, my birds are known to me by their band numbers but I confide that Casanova has a nick name, Mario!

Bottom bird has started singing a little but too soon to evaluate. Over all the seven birds are doing very well with no more problems! My daughter, not a bird lover, asked how much longer are the birds going to be in quarantine? Ideally six weeks or longer. The most critical time is the first two weeks. Although treatment for mites kills the living mites it does not kill the eggs so a second treatment at 10 days is necessary and then I will need some more time to make sure that none are sickly.

Since most of the birds were molting upon arrival, it is important to get the molt finished as quickly as possible and not precipitate another molt. Since a drop in day length will cause birds to molt, it is important to extend their days rather than shorten them. I started them on 7 am to 6 pm but will lengthen probably next week.

Along the same intent of shortening the molt, the birds started on a high carbohydrate diet. The basic seed is L'Avian as it has a higher proportion of canary seed than other mixes. The first day, I also offered canola rape with some canary seed soaked in cod liver oil just to be sure they eat canary seed. Once I had an imported roller who nearly died on me till I figured out that he only ate canola rape and no other seed. I examined all cracked seed and seeing cracked canary seed in a cage, it was stitched to L'Avian.

In addition, they were fed cous cous with poppy seed as mention in the previous post. This is easy to digest and would likely be eaten just because it had poppy seeds in it! Any time I have trouble getting birds to eat something, I put poppy seeds in it... I always start the day with fresh feed and water and then add extras as the day progresses with the most important first thing in the morning.

Next, I offered some fresh soft white bread. One heavily molting bird took to it immediately and I expect in a few days most will eat it. They only have to try it once, just a bite and they will eat it! Bread, being high carb is very fattening and all these birds need to gain weight to come into breeding condition. Males some thin fat layer but not an obstructive "beer belly", hens pleasantly plump.

Since the birds are doing lots of preening, I wanted to give them something high carb to chew on. Steel cut oats is perfect as they love to play with it and shell it. This I give mid afternoon for snack.

I am feeding baby bok choy and they are eating it stem and all. I give them one leaf as I need to make sure they eat a high calorie diet and add some body mass. Along with baby bok choy they are enjoying a slice of golden delicious apple each day.

After the water treatment with ivomec, they received a 24 hour treatment with ABBA high fertility Vitamin E once a week. I have not done this before to stop molting but I decided it was a good addition. It appeared to help as I noted tightening feathers the following day. The daily water is poultry vitamins 1/4 tsp to a gallon of water, 1 tablespoon liquid 23% calcium gluconate (cattle product) and a generous splash of multiple vitamin B.

As it appears molting is under control and finishing, I can add some other snacks including sunflower pieces with brewer's yeast and the dry nestling food containing insects from Linda and Kevin Brown Jeepers Peepers Aviary that was originally posted on October 28, 2009 on this blog, bee pollen and some border veggies. In addition, when I am sure they are not going to come down with something, I will add ABBA mineral grit. Sickly birds should not be fed grit as sickly birds may over eat it, impact and die.

I have window shades up during the day for sunlight and additional table light on a timer so that the room is bright. Yesterday was such a beautiful day, temperature 70 F, that I also opened the windows for fresh air. I enjoyed a nap and occasionally would awake briefly to Mario singing!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Caveat Emptor"

Anytime we purchase birds we are motivated by the desire to fulfill the Impossible Dream but at the same time there are always risks. As I chase my dream to produce German Rollers like I heard in Germany, I was willing to gamble to get more DKB banded birds. One bird, in front ,was dead upon arrival.

One more died within 24 hours of arrival.

One remains ill and is likely going to die. The two sick birds had dyspnea, labored gasping breathing without clicking. Third bird died two days later.

All new birds should be treated for air sac mites upon arrival. In my experience, the most effective treatment is .5 ml of Ivomec in 8 ounces of water. This is the only water for 24 hours and the treatment is repeated in 10 days. Should you have sick birds, consult your vet for assistance.

All birds must be quarantined, even without the obviously sick and dead ones to prevent disease from wiping out your other birds. The good news is that seven, although ragged appear healthy!

My aviary is attached to the house but has separate air and heating etc. My bedroom is my favorite quarantine station as I can lay on my bed and observe them for hours, hopping up frequently to nurse them!

Most of the birds are finishing a molt. Notice the pin feathers on the top of these two hens heads. (hens pictured above)

Stack of healthy birds. Number two in the stack is actually singing! He has good hollow roll and bass and a wonderful lu lu lu hollow bell.

Another showing extensive molting.

This hen is separated as she was a little thinner than the other two hens.

Closer look at the Bird immediately above.

As I want them to finish their molt, I will feed high carbs. This is cous cous with olive oil and poppy seeds. Cous cous and poppy seeds are generously coated with olive oil (calories) and boiling water added and fluffed with a fork.

With only one remaining sick, I will soon be through the rough part and dreaming again......

My granddaughter Mary pictured on the bottom row far right with blue dress, has something unbelievable to share with her ballet class about her grandmother (Big Bird)!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Questions and Tips for Big Bird!

Please post unrelated questions and tips to this blog post.

1. Owain from the UK says "
You talk greatly about vitamin E for bringing birds into condition what foods are vitamin E in"?

Vitamin E is commonly called the fertility vitamin and is an excellent breeding conditioner. Since it is a fat-soluble stored vitamin it is important not to overdose. Care should be taken not to do every method but chose just one.

A number of foods contain some vitamin E. One of the best natural foods sources is Wheat germ and birds will eat it either raw or toasted, just as it is. I feed it often to males but have found that it causes hens to lay eggs prematurely before they are fertilized. Other food which contain much less such as Spinach are a safe level even for hens.

Another successful approach is to treat seed with products that are high in vitamin E, such as Cod Liver Oil. Mix one tablespoon cod liver oil with approximately 2.5 lbs of straight canary seed. Let stand overnight before feeding. Use this cod liver oil coated seed to supplement the males regular diet to help males come into full condition.

Many people like to use wheat germ oil. Mix 1/3 cup wheat germ oil to 25 lbs of canary mix and then add some bird vitamins. This is a light enough coating that it can be used for both males and hens but should not be given to hens after they lay their first egg.

Critical Concept: Conditioning males can continue through the breeding season but hens should not receive concentrated products containing vitamin E after they lay their first egg.

2. Laura writes:
I have recently acquired a new hen about a month ago. Was very excited about the possibility of her improving the quality of my waterslagers. I have about 40 birds who have always been very healthy and problem free. As soon as I got this new hen, I noticed soft down feathers on her cage bottom. I thought it strange but figured she was starting to lose her brooding patch feathers. I've been keeping a close eye on her and have her separated from my others birds. Turns out more by more she is actually pulling out her chest feathers. She seems healthy in every other way, eating and pooping normally, normal activity, no signs of mites, not fluffy, just very bothered by her chest feathers, messing with them constantly. Chews them up and then spits them out, turning her chest into sad looking bald patch. I've giving her some nesting material to see if that will stop the feather plucking, so hoping that will help. Any tips or comments would be greatly appreciated. Love the blog - has helped me and by birds tremendously!

Laura, although self-mutilation is common in some types of birds. In solitary birds such as hook bills, it is often stress-induced and has been called the "new bird syndrome". It is not, however, not common in canaries, this is the first case I have heard of.

As you mentioned, it is normal to find soft short breast feathers on the cage floor when the hen develops her brood patch. It is also common for them to play and even chew on feathers and use loose ones to line their nests. At times, they will pluck feathers from other birds sometimes from their own chicks, but not self plucking.

Being a new bird in the aviary, I assume she is isolated from your other birds as there are a number of things which might cause this problem. Please examine the birds skin, is it glossy or dry and scaly? If it is dry and scaly, I would suspect malnutrition which in general is multiple nutrients as single deficiencies are very rare. I would either get the bird on poultry vitamins (package will say vitamins and electrolytes) or a bird vitamin. Also give the birds lots of greens to chew on and spray millet to nibble on. Provide swings to keep the bird busy.

Other causes include mites and other parasites or even bacterial or mycotic dermatitis. In older birds, it might be hypothyroidism or endocrine imbalances.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In My Aviary - Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Vitamin E
My male birds have been getting ABBA High Fertility Vitamin E once a week treatment for the last two weeks. Usually I give it three weeks to males before starting the hens on the fourth week. That is just right for the Staffords and colorbred in my aviary this year but I think the Borders and roller males would benefit from two more weeks instead of one more week prior to starting the hens getting it too. Males will continue weekly treatment till the breeding season is over, while hens only get the weekly treatment until they lay their first egg.

Tricking the Hen
At times, when a male will not sing to the hen, I have used a another male in a show cage either close or immediately below the hens cage. When he sings, she assumes the mating position and the poor crooner, takes advantage of his opportunity. I have pulled this trick numerous times sometimes with males who are even a different breeds such as roller male get the border hen to invite mating with the border male in her cage. I bring this up now, because I am aware that my roller and border hens may come in quicker than I would like because of hearing the breeding song of Stafford and Colorbred males. To minimize this, I have moved roller and border hens as far away as possible to cut the risk. Sure don't want the trick to be on me!

Lights come on at 7 am to 6 pm which is the same as sunrise and sunset. I will turn up the lights suddenly to 14.5 hours when the males of all breeds are ready. The sudden change will stimulate them even more and the hens will start coming in after as little as one week to three weeks on the ABBA vitamin E.

All birds are getting L'Avian Plus Canary mix and assortment of greens daily. Fat males are getting petamine instead of canary mix. Males are also getting bee pollen twice a week and border veggies and petamine breeding formula daily. I also will give the hens petamine breeding formula every other day when I have enough males in breeding condition. Since that is the case, all hens got their first dish of petamine today. No nestling food is given to either males or females until pairing and then only till the hen completes her clutch of eggs. Just got my Miracle Supplement in, so I am starting first the cocks but in a couple weeks the hens on dry ABBA green 92 with Miracle added (4 cups ABBA green 92 or other dry nestling food to 1 tablespoon Miracle).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tom Ressel - Matchmaker Extraordinaire

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Stafford Bachelor (click on line above to see bird)

Tom writes: While this bachelor probably would never get to go to a bird show, he never the less is a very important bird to have in my aviary because of the intensity of his color. He is a very smooth feathered bird and when placed by the ruler, he measures almost a perfect 5 inches. In that same picture, notice also that his tail is short and closely packed and he stands on the perch at a 45 degree angle which is desirable. I have chosen to breed this cock with two hens this year. Since I have only one crested hen, I will also breed him to a non-crested hen as well.

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 1 (click on line of each contestant to see bird again)

I am tempted to keep this little hen despite the fact that she has not been color fed. She has a broad, well rounded head. The forehead has a good rise above the beak. Sometimes it is a little more difficult to see all the small details in the bird but while she appears to have heavy feathering above the eye, in the 4th picture of this hen, it appears that the head is pinched (or too narrow) at the beak area of the head. I think for that reason I will pass on contestant number 1.

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 2

When I saw the third picture of this little cinnamon mosaic hen it was love at first sight. The head has a well rounded appearance at whatever angle it is viewed. The forehead has a good rise above the beak and the forehead is as broad as the head is behind the eyes. This desired roundness of the back skull carries down through the neck and shoulder area which will insure that her crested offspring will have a crest that blends in without any breaks in the back of the neck. By breeding this hen with the bachelor I will be producing some great non-crested birds that stand a good chance of winning the non-crested rosette this next fall and at the same time be producing stock birds that more than likely produce progeny with prize winning crests in future years.

Without a question Contestant Number 2 will receive a Rose this year.

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 3

Contestant Number 3 is a pretty little hen but does not have the roundness of the head I would like to see. Nor does she have the rise above the beak that I would prefer. If she was in a bird show, I would ask the steward to take her off the show bench. She does not hold a candle to contestant Number 2. Sorry, no rose for contestant Number 3.

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 5

This brings us down to two crested hens for this year’s bachelor to choose from. Sometimes it’s easier to pick out the looser so that is what I will attempt to do. There will be no rose for hen Number 5. The first reason is obvious. Her crest does not lay flat in the back of the neck. All of her offspring would probably also have horns (feathers that stuck out at the back of the head). If I needed another reason, she appears to be more than 5 inches long. NO ROSE FOR YOU LITTLE HEN.

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 4

Contestant Number 4’s frosting level is acceptable but she definitely needs help from the Bachelor in the area of her intensity of color. Her crest feathers radiate from the center of the top of her head and finishes at the top of her eye as the standard requires. The crest lies beautifully at the back of the head where the crest meets the neck. One picture shows her chest feathers roughed up but quite likely the photographer is responsible for that.

Contestant Number 4 is definitely a keeper. Bachelor bird will have to make another trip to the flower shop for a second rose.

Congratulations Tom what a fantastic discussion!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Stafford Bachelor

The Stafford Bachelor would like your help in finding to whom to give his rose!! Please send your critique of each of the five contestant and the rational for your selection in before February 16, 2011.

The winner will be awarded the coveted Matchmaker
Extraordinaire 2011 Award Certificate!

The best complete critiques will be posted. Comments on individual birds may be posted.

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 1

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 2

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 3

To Whom Shall I Give My Rose - Contestant Number 4