Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meet My New Blogger Friend From Singapore

Hello Linda!
I'm Edmund from Singapore. I've been reading your blog with much enjoyment over the past year. Though I mainly keep Asian songbirds like the white rumped shama, the oriental magpie and white eyes, my curiously of canaries have gotten the better of me.

I've with me now, a male and a female green Timbrado. They were not purchased as a pair. The female though, has laid eggs at the store where I bought her from. She's been with me since 2 days back, and he, about a week and a half. These birds are born in 2013 as the ring suggests and the store keeper says so. I've been giving them commercial egg food, garden greens, broccoli heads, cuttlefish bone, and a good seed mix.

An interesting thing has happened. He sings his heart out when he's hung alone at the window. However, when he's in plain sight of her, he stops singing altogether and goes about eating and preening. She doesn't appear excited also. I can tell that she's eating a lot of greens which I suppose they weren't given at the store.

While I'm not in a hurry to breed them, it puzzles me how he'd stop singing when he sees her. All my other male birds in the house goes berserk when they hear a female of their species on YouTube.

While I will carry on pampering them, and I don't think these fellas are ill in any way, I'd like to ask for your advice on why this interesting behavior is observed. She's a good looking lady in terms of plumage and posture. I'd be asking for her number if I was a bird. Hehehe....

Looking forward to some golden words of advice.

And thank you. Your blog has given me so many nights of joyous reading.

Warmest Regards,

Hello Edmund!
 I am so happy to meet you and learn about your birds! Sounds like you have a pair!

Some males will not sing when they see the female unless they are in breeding condition. Mrs. Tim appears to have pin feathers on her head, since the molt finishes on the head, it seems she is still finishing the molt. Once she has finished the molt, hearing him sing will bring her into breeding condition.

It is a good idea to add some vitamins such as poultry vitamins or Boost 250 or Orlux etc. to their water and change it daily.

To get him to sing, place the males cage above the hens cage.  

Normally birds in the Northern Hemisphere breed in Spring but not sure about your area as you are barely Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere is breeding now. 

Canaries are Amazing!

Thanks Linda!
You've set my mind at ease. I'll put him above her cage then. Singapore is a tiny tropical country. Hot year round. Hope I get some action soon! Cheers Linda!


Breeder Tip - Picking the Right Mate:  When I have a cock that is to be bred to several hens, I place the hens in a small flight and then the cock. He will sing and try to court a ready hen but ignore the rest. Of course, if one squats for him, she is the most ready!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

More Greens - Cai Nhung

While shopping at my favorite Asian Market, Kim Son, I noticed this lovely leafy green. Of course, I couldn't resist and the birds love it!

The Border under treatment has to wait till his medication is finished to taste this new green, as I want him to continue to consume the treated water instead of him reducing his dose because he is eating the greens instead of drinking the treated water.

Monday: This morning I picked Swiss chard that was overgrowing my curly leaf parsley patch which I recently replanted in hopes it would generate some more caterpillars.

My husband refuses to cook any Swiss chard with bug holes, but my birds turn a blind eye toward the holes and enjoy eating it bug holes and all!

Fresh Garden Swiss Chard

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eye Problem Part 2 - If At First You Do Not Succeed, Try Try Again

Young Border Before Treatment

Yesterday, I was very disappointed in the first 24 hour treatment of the eye problem with mycoban so I switched to Enrofloxyn (10 % baytril pigeon product from lady gouldian finch).

Same bird after 24 hours on Enrofloxyn! Wow!! That's how it should work!!!

Feathers above the eye are just a little stiff and drooping and I will wash them with water to soften them. It also lost a few feathers which were irritating the eye yesterday.

Tired of my photo shots (actually 28 and this one is the last for this post) but happy and thrilled wanting to tell the world our good results! (Click on each photo and see how the eye and tissue around the eye have improved so much) Treatment will continue for seven days to make sure I get it all and then I will watch closely to make sure he does not take a back set.

Update 48 hour on Enrofloxyn!

If you are outside the US, check with pigeon supply companies and with a veterinarian or perhaps a pharmacy if you can buy antibiotics there. A breeder from Indonesia was able to get a 5% liquid baytril solution from her veterinarian. Since this is a 10% liquid solution, she is able to double it to get the right dose for her sick birds with respiratory problems.

Notice how the head confirmation is good again, Good frontal rise and pretty good roundness all around.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eye Problem - Not Again - Part 1

This morning I spotted a nasal sinus infection causing eye problems in this lovely young Border.  At least it is only on her right side and the left side is normal.

My birds are usually healthy and rarely require medication. My last case, a German roller like all previous cases, was back in early February of this year. This is my first case in a Border.

I have tried a number of treatments over the years from tylosin to baytril to Mycoban. Mycoban, in the limited cases I have seen, has prevented the common recurrence problem and until this morning I thought it had eliminated this problem entirely from my aviary.

So what happened: Well at times, I am trying to get too much done in too little time and since I was on my way out the door when I decided to take a short cut and just this once to take a short cut and move this Border to another cage that was already established with three other young Border hens.

The next day they were getting along so well, I thought well the short cut worked. Normally when I move a bird to a new group, I move them all to a new cage at the same time as it cuts the stress way down.

Now a week later, I have a sick bird! Now she has her own private cage and I have started treatment with Mycoban. (Foy's Pigeon Supply in the US has Mycoban)

The cage she came from has had its perches cleaned and I will give those birds a couple of days on KD Powder (Dr. Rob Marshall Australia) to prevent anymore cases. KD Powder is sold here by lady gouldian finch.

24 hours later:

I expected the eye lid to be round and redness gone... Bird activity level is good. Click on each bird photo and Switch back and forth between the two shots. The eye itself looks better but I am disappointed with the results on this bird with mycoban..Switching to baytril (enrofloxyn).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Raspy Hoarse Singing Voice

American Singer Breeder Roger Stroman Hiland Acres Canaries wrote me this e-mail: Here's the problem: male singer, young or old, develops a very raspy sound when it tries to sing and it sounds like a person with a very hoarse voice.  I've only seen this present itself several times over my past 15 years with this "breed" of canary that I'm passionate about.
A few years back I took the one male thus afflicted and went to an avian vet I turn to when I need answers and/or a treatment.  He was stumped after turning off the room light and looking for air sac mites in the neck area with a special light he used.   There were none.  He remembered that when he joined our All Cage-Bird Club years ago that one old time canary breeder told him sufficient amounts of iodine was the answer. He laughed about that person we both knew but he said there is a scientific basis to support that. I tried iodine on the afflicted singer with no significant change to voice or singing.  Eventually that male did return to singing 
normally but it took a long time (I forget just how long).
Do you have any possible explanation for this as I am at a loss of
what causes it and how to reverse it if at all possible?

Big Bird Writes: Thanks Roger for the e-mail. Several things come to mind: 

1. The most common cause is air sac mites as your vet suspected. Usually you can hear a clicking sound especially at night with the light off. I once got some birds from a special line given to me and that night in the hotel room, I heard the clicking. Was I ever sick about it. Took them home and quarantined them and treated with ivermec in the water and then repeated it a few days later as the clicking came back quickly before the second treatment was due to get any eggs that hatch after the initial treatment. Finally the clicking disappeared and the birds went on to perform normally.

2. Deep respiratory infection often accompanied with tail bobbing. A couple of treatments are effective. Enrofloxyn (pigeon product, 10% baytril) available from lady gouldian finch or mycoban (pigeon product especially good for mycoplasma and eye problems) available from Foy's Pigeon Supply.

3. Birds are sensitive to inhaled toxins such as household chemicals and passive cigarette smoke. Some are fatal such as fumes from overheated teflon coated cookware.

4. Aspergillosis (fungus) may cause respiratory disease and is more likely if birds are compromised by their immune system, stressful over crowding, malnourished or vitamin deficient. Even using a simple poultry vitamin in the water will prevent vitamin deficiency. Treatable with medistatin or nystatin available from lady gouldian finch or amphotericin.

5. Sudden severe weight loss associated with show caged competition birds. Prevent this by having the show males fattened up before putting in the show cage. Use the smaller number 8 cages as in the smaller cages the hop less and hold their weight better. Offer pieces of soft white bread daily in addition to there seed mix. Remove any bird that loses its volume or voice and fatten. Their voice does come back but not as beautiful as before till next year. 

 "If you mess with the bull, you get the horns!"

Friday, September 19, 2014

Got A Question For Big Bird?

Questions Accepted Like: "What Does It Mean If The Caterpillar Sees His Shadow?"

(Sounds like an AMA!) Ask Me Anything!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kicking It Up A Notch - Gain A Competitive Edge By Feeding Blattner's Sisken & Finch Seed

Wishing you could do something to make your birds more competitive?

After being unavailable in the US for several years,  the popular European Blattner Siskin & Finch Seed is now sold here by Bird Supply of New Hampshire.

Feeding a small amount of this high quality balanced seed mix has made a dramatic effect on my Border Fancy and Columbus Fancy canaries confirmation and tightened up the feathering on colorbred, Stafford and German Rollers. The positive effect is visible in just 24 hours after feeding!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Novice Yorkie Breeder Asks Big Bird

Dear Linda,

I am a novice Yorkshire hobbyist. I've just bought 30 birds 2 months ago. I am actually planning to breed them but i was wrong as i just realized that this particular bird is not easy to breed.
In this 2 months, i just try my best to raise and re-condition all the Yorkshires and 
make all of them healthy. But again it is very very difficult.
I have feed them w/ the best food i can get here is prestige mix seed by versele laga, 
haver seed, eggfood and i gave them apple and different kind of veggie everyday. Also i 
gave them vitamin( soluvite d by vetafarm)in their water everyday. 
They also take bath almost everyday and i put them under sun light twice a week but still 
i have not seen my Yorkshires in a very good shape, sometime they look like very sleepy 
and very quite. 
I am writing this email to you seeking your professional advise how to make all my 
Yorkshires back to normal and healthy condition. 
FYI, i am living in tropical country called Indonesia. I put my birds in semi indoor area 
which is not windy. The temperature is 27celcius in the morning, 31celcius in the 
afternoon and back to 29celcius in the night time. Pls advise if air conditioned room 
I really appreciate if you can give me some advise.

Big Bird: You are right, this is definitely not an easy breed to start with. You are trying hard to do the best for your birds and hopefully together we can get them healthy and breeding.

Be sure you have the males and females in separate cages. Separate timid ones sleepy one from others.
Your high temperatures are about where I start running the air conditioner here. Do the birds sit around with there mouths open? Birds do not have sweat glands so open mouths and spread wings means it is too hot. Otherwise the temperature is OK.

In order to breed them, they must be healthy. Check the weight on the ailing ones. Are they thin? If so add sunflower chips (pieces), cous cous with olive oil (see blog), regular uncooked oatmeal, and white bread.
Listen to the breathing for any sound of clicking. If so, google mites on blog and treat them immediately.

How much daylight per day are they getting?
Breeder: As I put them in semi outdoor room, they can get 10 hours daylight. But that is from indirect sun light as I do not put any light on top of their cage.

Big Bird: When the birds breed best here, they are 14.5 hours day length. When do your natural days get to that length? Are the wild birds breeding now?

I would not expect my smaller varieties to breed till a minimum of 12 hours but they do best at 14 hours. My Borders do best at 14.5 which is typical of larger birds.

At 10 hours, males here would not be singing the breeding song or doing the macho dance. How are they acting? The idea is to get the males ready first.

Birds tend to get up 30 minutes before sunrise and go to bed 30 minutes after so does that mean they are up 12 hours? Do you have a light timer? If so set it 30 minutes before they normal get up. It is critical that the light not be dropped as that precipitates normal molt. If the light per day varies because humans may vary and sleep in one day etc it makes them unhealthy after a time.

Breeder:The cocks are not dropping their wings when singing.

Yes some of them are losing feathers.

Some of them has clicking sounds in their breathing and i treat them with Ornicure already,
And some of them is very thin and i don't know how to cure the thin one. 
Big Bird: The clicking means you need to treat for air sac mites. google mites inside my blog. Ornicure I think is antibiotic if so it treats some bacteria not mites. First You Need to treat for mites immediately. and again ten days later. If you do not get rid of the mites, any chicks will be attack by the mites and die.
Losing feathers could be still molting or it might be soft molt. Lets get them on liquid B vitamins in the water.
Breeder: Tdy I have treated all the 30 Yorkshires w/ SCATT to eliminate Air Sac Mites. Can I see some improvement of health directly from this treatment?
Big Bird: Also make sure mosquitoes can't get them as you do not want canary pox. Treating should bring improvement.

 When you get them healthy and ready to breed, it is very important to trim the feathers around the vent and up a bit on the lower abdomen on the males to increase the chance of fertility.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Common Canary Seed Mix - Seed Sources For The Most Important Breeding Amino Acids Methionine and Lysine

Canaries prefer a canary mix that includes a high proportion of plain canary seed (Phalaris canariensis) usually 40 - 75% of their seed mix. Canary seed is usefully for its high energy content, but it is very low in the most important breeding amino acids, methionine and lysine.

Canola Rape seed  is typically 25 - 40% except in some countries where millet is used instead. Rape is an energy seed and lysine rich.

Millet is eaten best from sprays. It is helpful in weight control as canaries will not over eat millet. It is helpful because of its high level of methionine but it is lacking in lysine. In some mixes they may represent a third of the seeds. My birds love millet sprays but refuse to eat millet in mixes.

Oat groats are the richest natural source of lysine and the most important grain for breeding. Typically it represents about 10% of the seeds in a canary mix.

Sunflower (chips/hulled pieces) are very useful as they are rich in both methionine and lysine. Because of there high oil content, they are fattening.

Wheat provides the most balanced ratio of amino acids, especially lysine. It is feed soaked, sprouted or as cous cous.

Flax  (linseed) should be fed as a small percentage (2%) of a seed mix as over consumption like other oily seeds such as thistle may irritate the bowl and cause loose dropping that cling to the vent and may cause potentially fatal plugging.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Most Tempting Foods

A blogger asks "What is the most tempting foods to offer my canaries?"

The most tempting food for canaries are foods that are white.  Even the most finicky eaters will enjoy munching Soft white bread. I have tried whole wheat and mine just look at it. If it is dry, they lose interest in it. Soft white bread right out of the package is promptly eaten.

It is a great way to tame them and make them love their show cage.  I can cut the size down and move it up to top to encourage this Border to stretch.

Regular uncooked oatmeal (people food) is another favorite. This Columbus Fancy likes to nibble on the oatmeal flakes.

The most tempting time to feed a new food is first thing in the morning. Even with seed mix in the cages they wait and wonder "What's For Breakfast?"

My husband says "Hunger is a great sauce!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Come Back To Erin

 My husband Patrick and I will be in Ireland Oct 10 to Oct 22!

I will attend the Swords & Dist. Cage Bird Society Show. Their 2014 Annual show will be held on the 11th/12th of October. They have a change of venue for the show this year, which is, Donabate Community & Leisure Centre, Portrane Road, Donabate, Co. Dublin. This Venue has a large hall, which is double the size of our last two halls. It has excellent natural light and a good car park. Donabate is five Kms north of Swords and is accessed form exit four off the M1 motorway coming from the north or South.

After the Swords show I will travel to Northern Ireland visiting with canary people and clubs, and seeing the country side while staying with Jacqueline and Robert Bennett.

Then I will attend the All-Ireland All-Border Show:Irish Border Fancy Club, St. Colmcille's GAA Club Co. Dublin Saturday Oct 18 & 19th. I will give a talk at 10:30 in the show hall on Sunday.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Top Ten Border Breeding Tips

When the Northern Hemisphere bloggers are preparing for show season, it's breeding time in the Southern Hemisphere.  A Border breeder from South Africa has request that I write my top ten list for breeding borders and post it now for our Southern Hemisphere breeders. (Use search within the blog for articles that cover these points in detail.)

2014 Top Ten Border Breeding Tips

1. About six weeks before breeding coat the regular seed mix with fortified wheat germ oil. Use 1 cup to 50 lbs of seed.  To facilitate use 5 lbs of the mix with the one cup wheat germ oil and mix for a day or two, then mix into the rest of the 50 lbs seed. Feed this coated seed to all birds until you are ready for the annual molt.

2. Work to bring the cocks into breeding condition before the hens. Beginning giving cocks extra vitamin E six weeks before breeding in addition to the coated seeds. Start the hens on extra vitamin E three weeks before breeding.  Multiple vitamins should be fed at least twice a week. Bee pollen is an excellent conditioner.

Hens need extra calcium/D3 balanced with phosphorus for several months prior to breeding. As they approach laying they ingest more and more calcium. In areas with low iodine levels, adding some occasional to the water is helpful for thyroid function. If birds fail to breed try a little iodine, 6 drops vanodine to gallon of water once a week.

3. Keep a watchful eye on the both cocks and hens weight. Cocks that are too fat or too thin will breed poorly if at all. The fat cocks should exercise more (few perches up and down, window covered free flight, place food and water at different heights so they have to fly) and be fed a lower calorie diet of greens and untreated grass seed or petamine if available. Hens need some fat layer as feeding chicks will take a lot of fat off of them.

4. Thin cocks and thin hens need less exercise so place perches every few inches so they hop but do not fly. Feed them additional higher carbohydrate foods such as uncooked porridge oatmeal, cous cous and white bread. Thin cocks can have grocery store or health food store toasted wheat germ (Kretschmer Brand).

Make sure they are not thin because of mite infestation. Only healthy mite free produce chicks. Hot Shot pest strips are very effective against mites and last about three months. (Use search within the blog for articles that cover these points in detail.)

.5. House cocks in groups as the number one factor bringing the cocks into breeding condition is territorial fighting. Of course, should they get too aggressive and draw blood, separate them. Just a few days and the uninterested cock will start acting macho!

6. Stimulate the cocks with cooked quinoa and non-GMO soybeans (soaked in hot water to soften), processed in the foot processor and then mixed with processed veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower or whole thawed frozen peas. Keep an eye on the vent development.

Borders are very sensitive to high protein so keep them at about 16% protein and avoid using any added pure hard boiled egg to nestling food except to parents feeding chicks. Higher protein levels have a negative effect on their health, their breeding, and their feeding chicks. It can result in neurological problems.

Always add one lb of thawed frozen peas to four cups egg containing nestling food. Adding peas is the important difference that encourages Borders to feed their chicks. Provide extra dishes of dry nestling food with added CeDe Handrearing formula (18% protein - African Grey Parrot picture on the box) to approximate 16% protein levels. 1/2 cup CeDe Handrearing formula to 4 to 6 cups lower protein dry nestling food is good year round. My borders also like to feed chicks limited amounts of oily seeds such as sunflower chips, hemp and song food. Blattner siskin finch mix is excellent.

7. Increase total day length by 30 minutes each week until day length reaches 14.5 hours. Smaller canaries do fine with sudden change in a day but the more difficult ones are easier to work with by smaller increment increasing the day length.

8. Pair birds only when they are ready. Cocks vents pointed forward, red and rounded on the sides (engorged) and behaving like macho cocks. Hens abdomens should be red and hot to touch and swollen vents. A ring around the vent means they will lay very soon.

When possible, introduce the pair with divided wire cages giving the cocks treats and not the hen so she begs him to feed her through the wire. The breeding ready cock is the number one factor for bringing the hens into condition. When behaving appropriately, they are ready for pairing.

The striker method also works well where ready hens are introduced to the cock only for quick mating and not paired.  The advantage is that the same cock can be used with several hens and only reintroduced to the hen when chicks are 14 days old again for mating.

9. During setting do not feed nestling food or greens but offer a dish of hemp with other seeds. This helps keep the hen sitting tight and improves hatching rate.

10. Offer a second nest beside the first one on the chicks 14 day.  On the 18th day or when the first chick leaves the nest, provide dishes of CeDe Handrearing formula. Chicks are attracted to its light color and immediately start eating it as their first food.  Once they are eating other foods well, cut the amount of handrearing formula with dry nestling food (15% protein).

2014 Top Treatment Tips

Hanging dropping: Stop all oily seeds. Problem especially caused by flax (linseed) but also other oily seeds such as niger, rape, and maw (poppy). Oily seeds can cause bowl irritation. Borders are very sensitive to oil. They should be feed mostly 90% or more canary seed and supplemented with Blattner’s sisken finch mix and cous cous without extra oil.

Favor a Foot: Most likely protein overdose. Stop all egg containing food.

Sore bottom of foot or cut: Dip foot in Iodine such as vanodine.

Missing feathers around eye: Treat with baytril/enrofloxin (pigeon product from Belgium).

Nestling Diarrhea: Too much protein in egg food, drop amount of egg, add greens such as peas, offer dry nestling food, uncooked porridge oatmeal. Wash chick vent and peel off very light film that is nearly invisible but can seal the vent.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Shifting to Higher Carbohydrate Foods To Encourage Finishing The Molt

 In the Northern Hemisphere folks are anxious to finish the molt and enter the show season. A change in diet will help accomplish a prompt finish.

Except for German Rollers who are kept on high rape diets through the song competition season, Begin feeding more and more carbohydrates working toward straight canary by the time they are ready for the show bench.

It is time to stop any extra protein foods not only any extra egg added to nestling food but also even any high amino acids grains such as quinoa which is 16% protein but not as high in carbohydrates as some other grains. Dry nestling foods without extra amino acids and having a protein content of approximately 15% can be feed. 

Limit adding CeDe handrearing formula (18% protein) 1/2 cup to six cups dry nestling food and limit feeding to a couple times a week at no more than one teaspoon per bird per feeding. Continue feeding limited quantities of Blattner's finch mix a couple times a week for a few more weeks.

Also for a few more weeks, I will continue the cous cous with olive oil and poppy seed but I am cutting down the oil a bit as we go depending on the weight of the birds. If the birds are gaining weight, less olive oil in the cous cous.

Provide dishes with straight canary seed free choice as well as spray millet. Canary seed is approximately 16% protein and high oil and high carbohydrate.

Use extra liquid B vitamins daily in the water and a vitamin such as Boost 250 (best) or a vitamin product that does not have extra amino acids such as diluted poultry vitamins.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Too Much Of A Good Thing - Portion Control

 Today as I was looking over my birds, I noticed this Border with a dropping clinging to its feathers. There are five borders in this cage and three had at least a hint of droppings clinging to the feathers.

Are they suddenly ill or what could be the problem? They look very healthy yesterday and even today with the loose dropping. Then I remember that yesterday I gave them a new dish which I generously filled with Blattner's seeds. The birds love it and immediately started eating their fill.  Oops, it was way too generous! Portion Control needed here!

So they pigged out on their favorites, likely the flax (linseed) and now I need to reverse it a bit with extra greens and carbs but lower fat such as dry nestling food, plain canary seed, and millet sprays.

It is important to catch the problem early as if it continues and vent gets plugged with droppings the bird will die..

Invariably the Border with the dropping clinging to its feathers is one that is too thin or bordering on too thin.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor of Love

Today is Labor Day, a US holiday and a time to reflect on our labors. I have several labors of love which are very important to me but the one where I send my most leisure time is my Canaries! I love trying to breed, raise and show my birds! I love tweaking their diet and environment to see them reach their full potential.

Recently, I selected a special border for the ugliest bird award. What that really meant was that I was accepting the challenge to see if he could become a swan.

He is coming along and pictured on the left giving me the eye.

Typically in confirmation development, his rounded head and neck break are still to come. Just need to finish the molt and come into prime condition. Lower protein and more vitamins will do the trick.

He now has a nice rounded back and full underline.

Just a little more time and the chicks will come flocking! Maybe he will never be a swan but he could be a real looker!