Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day In The Aviary - Probiotic

Periodically, I like to give my birds pro-biotics. This Avi-tech product contains the five types of avian-specific Lactobacillus. The next day the birds look like they have had a face lift!

To celebrate Leap Day, it was pro-biotic all around!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Egg Shell Trick - Did It Work?

First Stafford Hen 2012

Stafford Mate Older Male Not Color Fed

Good Looking Fellow!

After a few days she built her nest.

Oh no!! Bad Egg. Removed the egg and save for photos. Started her on the calcium, D3, and magnesium Avi-tech supplement.

Next day she laid a perfect egg! The first egg will be tossed.

The four good eggs were set under the hen and at last the bad egg is tossed!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Preliminary Results Hen Vent Temperature

My husband is a big fan of his infrared surface temperature thermometer. By pulling the trigger he can instantly know the surface temperature of oil or whatever he is cooking. Watching him, I wondered what this could tell me about hen readiness, which would surely correlate with higher vent temperature.

This hen has been laying and will be set on Tuesday. Her vent temperature was 94.1 F. Checking my skin temperature,it was a degree lower than the expected temperature inside my mouth. I expected the the incubation temperature to be 95 to 99 degrees F.

This hen was paired with a male but was not building her nest, vent temperature 88.4 F.

This hen was busy nestling down in the seed cup making me think she was ready to be set but vent temperature was 86.6 F, she was only fooling me!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Improving Egg Shells At The Last Minute - Egg Shell Trick

The Orlux Ferti-vit is feed in the water to hens until she lays her first egg. On that day switch her to Cal-D-Solve in the water for three days. She will continue to lay but the improvement in the quality of her egg shells will amaze you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's Wrong - Deep Nest

"What's Wrong?" ask this puzzled German Roller hen.

Yes she did most everything right, mating with "handsome dude" at least five days before laying her first egg this morning but when I took her fresh egg out, the nest was far too deep!

Deep nest make egg incubation difficult as it is so deep her abdomen may not even touch the eggs, often resulting in chicks dying in the shell during incubation.

I could either put a bunch more nesting on top or remake it and put enough in the bottom to raise the hole. Either way, I will not put the plastic egg in her nest till she fixes her nest. After laying her first egg, most will not carry nesting material to the nest but most will fix it just a bit! I like her to smooth it out so that eggs will turn easily and not be stuck in nesting material ridges on the bottom.

Tomorrow, I hope she passes inspection, if not I will re-make it for her and hold off on the plastic egg till after she lays her third egg.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Docile Hen Saga - Sweetheart Dance Today

This is the German Roller Hen whose vent was developing rapidly but was setting and setting on her perch and showing no signs of frantic flying and other pre-breeding activity. After a dose of iodine she started moving some but continues to develop anatomically without appropriate breeding behavior.

Beautiful German Roller male, from German Stock, was given to me by David Bopp at the National Cage Bird Show last November. Not only is a good looker but he also scored a 16 in hollow roll under the judge Steve Billmire!

Is he not a handsome dude?

This beautiful German Roller hen, from German Stock, was a gift last year from Almin Omic and has brothers on his winning team last year.

So far, he has fed her in the divided cage but when put together, they both have no interest in the other. I have four breeding ready cocks in a nearby cage singing the breeding song to her and have moved him to a ready hen who he mated with. If she would squat when she he hears them sing, he could do the mating!

Perhaps on Valentine's Day, after a nice nestling food dinner and dance the romance will take off.

Update Feb 15:

The most that happened was she carried some nesting material, that was it! She did not even put it in the nest.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Treat to Encourage Boys to Be Boys

Today I made up a special treat for the guys in the aviary. It is equal parts of wheat germ (had Kershmeier toasted wheat germ on hand) and brewer's yeast (had Lewis Lab brand Brewer's Yeast Flakes).

This will bring the males on a gentle bit but do not feed the hens unless they are already ready, mating and getting ready to lay as it will push them to lay whether they are ready or not.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hitchcock The Birds: What Done It Mystery Contest

OH NO! What is wrong with Mario??

Mario is so special after all I went through last Spring with him and I so want to share him with lots of girls this year, this is terrible!!

Mario Photo about five days ago.

Mario Photo just two days before developing the dark abdomen. He has some improvement in vent development (more red) and appeared to be coming along nicely but not ready for breeding yet. He was singing and to encourage him to get with the program, I put another male of equal development in his large open cage. The second male also came down with the same dark abdomen at the same time, a little less dramatic than Mario. No other birds in the aviary came down with it.

Act fast to save Mario. Send in your analyses and treatment recommendations within the next 24 hours. Results will be posted tomorrow to this post.

Medicine Chest includes: Baytril and couple of other antibiotics, at least one parasitic drug, Ivomec, KD Powder.

More Clues:

1. Both Birds developed dark abdomens at the same time.

2. Neither bird looked sick other than the discolored abdomen. Although Mario acted less active and lost interest in singing to other cages.

3. Mario Two Days After Treatment

When I saw Mario's black abdomen, I thought of liver disease. But what can cause it. First infectious diseases including bacteria (many different ones, even Mycoplasma tuberculosis), chlamydia, viruses, parasitic infections such as trematodes and protozoa. Also noninfectious disease like metabolic disorders fatty liver, iron storage hemosiderosis, circulatory disorders and hemorrhage, and hepatotoxins often from plants or mycotoxins from molded seed and even traumatic rupture.

The suddenness of black abdomen which literally happened overnight, the lack of typical illness symptoms such as fluffing the feathers due to chilling, normal droppings and overall appearance of good health (had I not been catching Mario daily to check his vent development, it would have been advanced when I discovered it as there was not a hint that he was in trouble till I saw the abdomen). I immediately started eliminating the infectious possible causes and focused on noninfectious causes.

Mycotoxins was a possibility as he had a plain dish of chia seeds. These were nicely packaged in foil package, purchased at the health food store but only when I got to the bottom did I find a big clump which was obviously a clump on moldy chia seeds. No wonder they were marked down... Other birds also ate these same seeds so I was not convinced that was it although it could have been. But other birds ate the same stuff before I discovered the problem...

Next I thought about the herbs in my new Egg - N- Herb. Toxicity can vary by species, rapeseed is can be poisonous but canaries are not effected or Johnson Grass which does not effect canaries but can effect large animals. And again all the birds ate it and maybe it was just a consequence that I had just started it equal parts with cooked quinoa about three days before this started. Again all the birds were fed it so why Mario?

Was it fatty liver? The other bird was not overweight and he had the same black abdomen.

I have been waiting for the orlux vitamins to come in from England and rapidly my supply of both orlux Ferti-vit and omi-vit were running low. I wanted to give all the birds Ferti-vit daily but supply was such that I need to give some omi-vit which is twice a week. So cocks got ferti-vit and hens got omi-vit. The day before this happened, I was first going to give some hens the iodine treatment with vitamins but then changed my mind and went ahead with the omni-vit. I remember thinking how foolish of me to make that up and now it would be wasted. So I instead of wasting it I filled Mario's cage water with the mixture. They were the only birds who got it. This iodine also contains iron and I think that was the problem. Which also explains why they recovered so quickly.

Treatment was KD powder in the water for about a week and then it is back to ferti-vit. I am so glad I did not start them on antibiotics or heavy arsenals as they too could be toxic to an already sensitive liver. The liver has great powder to regenerate and I expect no long term effect.

Mario after a week on KD. He will be ready for breeding soon!

This Weeks Questions and Tips for Big Bird

Great Song Food mix sold by Higgins.

If you happen to have an Aldi's grocery store in your area, they have some items available for only a couple of weeks once a year. One such item is Millville Creamy Wheat. It is a bargain at $1.99 where Cream of Wheat sells for $4.50 a box in our area.

I use Creamy Wheat as one of the equal parts ingredients in the dry nestling food recipe posted on the blog by KJ and Linda Brown. Google search the blog with phrase dry nestling food and you will find the original recipe (Canary/Finch High Protein Nestling Food). I have used there dry nestling food since 2009 and it is always available in the cages feeding chicks. Some hens feed more of it than wet egg food. The Browns use it as the only nestling food and raise many canaries and finches in their large aviary.

Sunday Question:
Is there a substitute for Petamine?
Answer: Yes, Harrison's High Potency Mash is a good substitute but more expensive and it is fattening.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bump In The Road: Experiment Had Bad Results

A few days ago I was experimenting with a potential new nestling food recipe. I simply mixed equal parts or cooked quinoa with Higgin's Proteen dry nestling food. The test was to see if the birds liked it well enough that I could consider trying it with chicks.

Had I just tried it on the cocks, it would have been a total success but in my enthusiasm I mistakenly gave it to the hens too!

Oops, experiment over, two hens laid blue heat eggs!

So where did I go wrong? I have known for a long time to watch out for wheat products until the hens are in full breeding condition or you can over stimulate and cause meaningless eggs to be laid.

Oh no, Should have read the label on the Proteen product.

So what do I do now? Check the hens breeding condition. In this case, they are not ready, so I put the two hens in a lower level less light cage. And count my blessings that out of 75 plus, only two accidents!! All birds are back on cooked quinoa with broccoli.

Should I have had more problems from this bump in the road, I could have dropped there total breeding condition by putting them on KD powder in the water. This was not necessary and would really give my breeding a program a set-back.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To Intervene or Not?

Time to talk about newborn chick intervention.

When do I assist the hen with feeding? When is it best to let her handle it herself? Or when should I foster the chicks?

I basically believe the hen who feeds her chicks herself is the very best option! But how do we know she is doing a good job? Some breeders look for food in the crop but unless they are stuffed it does not mean they are not being fed well. Instead look at the baby fuzz, if it is plentiful and sticking straight out making the chicks look like a fuzzy ball, they are in good shape. Any skin you see is rosy-pink.

If the chick has fuzz stuck to its skin, leaving it mostly bare looking or if its color is yellow or gray and you see it shrinking, you must intervene. I have good luck with Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula and Scenic Hand Feeding Formula. Be sure to make it very thin for new chicks.

Should you happen to have another hen feeding her own chicks and only one or two of her own and the same size, move the chick to the foster mother. Most foster mothers will feed if the chick hatches under her or if she is already feeding her own chicks. Just moving a chick to a setting hen without chicks is very high risk.

I like to set five or six hens or more to hatch on the same day to increase my options. That means I will hold some eggs a few extra days so they can all be set to hatch on the same day.

In the photo above, the largest chick is doing fine but notice the back on the smaller one, it needs help.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Contest: What Kind Of Canaries Do I Have?




Dear Linda,

My name is Bogdan and I live in Austin TX. I have been breeding Gouldian finches for years and last year I bought some canaries from "second hand " if I may say that. I know that these birds come from a canary breeder from San Antonio. I tried to contact him but he didn't respond. So I have these nice birds but I don't know what kind of canaries they are.

I have read your blog from first to last post and I found it fascinating. I noticed that you often post pictures of canaries and ask the readers to tell what kind of canaries are they. I would very much appreciate if you could take a look at the pics I attached and tell me what kind of canaries I have. Maybe you can use them for a next contest on your blog. Please help.

Bogdan Wlodarczyk

Can You Help Him?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

This Weeks Questions and Tips for Big Bird

This is an excellent product as it has calcium, D3, and magnesium.

Dewitt Natural Burlap is easy to shred for nesting material and available at garden shops and also Lowe's.

My husband Pat making bread for the oyster PO-boy sandwiches he is serving for lunch. (Being diabetic, I'm having mine on salad.)

Sunday Tip

Chirpy Chum Anna Sinclair told me about a pigeon product from Africa sold by Foy's. It is for respiratory problems and is called Mycoban. Anyone have experience using this?

Sunday Question:

My bird has respiratory problems, green diarrhea, and is blowing bubbles.

Answer: Birds with respiratory problems sometimes start out with air sac mites and then have secondary infections with a number of infectious agents. The green diarrhea means it is starving. Blowing bubbles is a sign of trichomoniasis (parasite).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pasted Vent

Usually a pasted vent is obvious but on occasion it can be subtle. This bird was on the bottom of the cage with its wings dropped and straining. On careful examination, I saw the vent was sealed shut even though not much fecal material was clinging to the vent.

Causes for pasted vent include a variety of infectious agents from bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viruses to systemic disease and even toxins.

Cause separation, to some degree, can be made based on smell. Normal fecal material should be odorless while many bacterial such as E. coli and some fungal causes such as Candida produce odor.

In this case, the color was creamy and no odor was detected. I cleaned the vent and checked again in a couple hours and found it pasted again. This repeated most of the day.

Since I had Ronex in my bird medicine chest, I decided to try it and within a couple more hours the problem was gone. Ronex is effective against many parasitic causes for wet vent. Treatment is seven days in the water. (

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hens Control The Breeding Cycle

I am often ask, "Are your birds breeding yet or When are going to breed your birds?" My standard answer has always been, I watch my birds and when they are ready, I am ready.

But a better answer would be that I watch my birds and when the hen is ready, the breeding cycle begins! It truly is the hen who determines the start of the breeding cycle, not the bird breeder, and not the male! When the breeder takes control without working with the hens natural breeding condition signs, disaster often results such as infertile eggs, hens that do not sit on the eggs, eggs that do not hatch and chicks that die of starvation.

As the hen comes into breeding condition, she has endless energy, fly back and forth frantically and turning flips in mid air and becoming increasingly interested cocks, even calling to them. She may pluck feathers or tear up paper and try to build a nest in a food cup or on the floor. Should she squat and lift her tail while calling to the cock, waste no time the breeding cycle has just begun!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Houdini Saga Continues

Houdini out foxed Big Bird today! For several days now, she has been trying to teach Houdini that when she opens the cage door, it is to put delicious food in for him.

At first, she just slid it in with the tray without opening the door, today he seemed to finally get it so she tried opening the door, walking away with his door open and returning with a dish of quinoa/broccoli/poppy seed.

He was perfect just watched her and once the food was in his cage, he promptly went down and started eating it! Wow Big Bird proudly thought, maybe she could have another career training circus animals!

So Big Bird gets the camera and opens the door again to take a picture of Houdini setting in his cage with the door opened. And to her surprise, out he flew with poppy seeds sticking on his beak!

What Big Bird doesn't get is that a guy has to see his gal regularly and court her or lose out.

Bird Bird has a soft spot for a sweet song, even on the perch outside the cage!