Monday, October 24, 2016

Colorbred Winners Canary Finch Show Houston Texas Oct 8 2016

Thanks for the opportunity to judge colorbred canaries at your show! Congratulation to the winners and all exhibitors! A very special congratulations to the top 4 as Frances & Reynier Ramos and Chuck Rokchl are Novice Colorbred exhibitors!

Best Colorbred Red Intensive Exhibited by Frances & Reynier Ramos

2nd Best Red Topaz Mosiac Exhibited by Frances & Reynier Ramos

3rd Best Yellow non-intensive Exhibited by Chuck Rokchl

4th Best Recessive White Exhibited by Frances & Reynier Ramos

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Love Those Sprouts

Every few days, I sprout some seeds. My brother Larry grew this lovely wheat and to that I add organic mung bean and green lentils with a few black oil sunflower seeds.

I cover the seeds in a large jar with water and soak them overnight and then put in an open wire basket for sprouting. I rinse a couple times a day and mix.

When feeding, I sprinkle with Avi-Culture 2, an avian specific lactobacillus probiotic, (Nationalbird The probiotic help the bird absorb nutrients, essential amino acids, antioxidants and proteins so that they develop their full genetic potential and live a long, healthy and productive life with a strong immune system. What a benefit it is to combine essential enzymes from the sprouts with the right probiotic.

Warning: Do not use any probiotic containing Enterococcus faecalis!! According to Clinical Avian Medicine, " Enterococcus faecalis is associated with chronic tracheitis, pneumonia and air sacculitis. Affected birds have increased respiratory sounds, voice changes and dyspnea (difficult breathing). Form canaries are especially sensitive. Treatment with antibiotics will improve the clinical signs, but individual birds can seldom be completely healed. Concurrent infections with Sternostoma tracheacolum (tracheal mites) can occur".

Birds love sprouts and they are so good for them!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Irish Fancy Temperament Whoooooo Test

Before Test
Today, I gave my Irish Fancy a  "whoooo"test. Imitating an owl, I stand close to the cage and start the owl sound and watch for those who raise the feathers on the top of their head and stand upright when challenged by the sound.

Same Bird During Test
Upon hearing the sound, note how he stands and raises his feathers improving his confirmation because he is curious and not frighten by the sound.  This is a bird to be worked with as it already hints of an "attitude" and real show potential. Those who act frighten by my test will likely let me down should I show them.

I ran the test on groups of 5 in medium size flight cages and 1 or 2 of each group of 5 passed my temperament test! These will be the ones I concentrate on to train for the upcoming shows!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Recycle Garden Produce

What do you do with overgrown cucumbers, damaged kale, and broccolini leaves, bolting swiss chard heads and marigold flowers? BIRD FOOD I recycle many garden extras and tops from carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips. First birds and than to compost!

According to Clinical Avian Medicine "Plant toxicoses are rare. The majority of ingested plants will merely cause mild gastrointestinal signs. Plants that have proven to result in toxic reactions in canaries include avocado, dieffenbachia, foxglove, lupine, Nerium oleander (evergreen shrub cultivated in the Mediterranean) and yew."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nutritious Weaning Food - Moringa Soft Food Recipe

Cous cous is my canaries favorite soft food ingredient. It is a major ingredient in my regular breeding nestling food. Now that breeding season is over, young birds and weaning ones love this simple nutritious recipe. Cous cous, olive oil, moringa powder, chia seeds, and poppy seeds. I put all ingredients in a large bowl and cover slightly with cool water and stir periodically to prevent lumps for about a half hour. If lumps occur, process in food processor.

Moringa source states "Moringa is known around the world as a rich source of vegetable protein (30%). It contains 18 amino acids including all 8 essential amino acids, 47 active antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories. In addition moringa powder contains 7x the Vitamin C found in oranges, 4x the Vitamin A of carrots, 4x the calcium of milk, 3x potassium of bananas, as well as zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid, kaempferol, silymarin and essential minerals such as zinc and iron. Moringa oleifera is nature’s whole-food complex, which makes it easy for your body to recognize, absorb and assimilate."

What they failed to say was the canaries love it!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Buyer Beware - Avian Probiotics

Does your canaries probiotic contain harmful bacteria that are capable of making your canaries sick?

Many probiotic brands contain live strains of a harmful bacteria called Enterococcus faecalis  that causes upper respiratory infection in canaries.

According to Clinical Avian Medicine " Enterococcus faecalis is associated with chronic tracheitis, pneumonia and air sacculitis. Affected birds have increased respiratory sounds, voice changes and dyspnea (difficult breathing). Treatment with antibiotics will improve clinical signs, but individual birds can seldom be completely healed. "

It is critical when selecting a highly beneficial probiotic that it contain several strains of AVIAN SPECIFIC lactobacillus and that it does NOT contain fermentation products of Enterococcus faecalis. The product should also contain a specific expiration date as the number of living organisms decreases over time even with refrigerated storage.

Read the product label carefully and select a brand that will benefit your birds and not risk giving them a lifetime of respiratory problems.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Newborn Chick Death -Bad Smell

How frustrating to have newborn and other young chick dying. This year I have had a number of instant messages from breeders in various countries losing 50 of more chicks and puzzled about how to stop it.

A big clue is whether they detect a bad smell in the effected nests.  In breeding birds the most common cause of chick death when there is a bad smell is E. coli infection.  The preferred treatment is trimethoprim sulfa.

Made by Medpet in South Africa it is a common product sold to pigeon breeders all over the world. Since this is a fairly common problem it is a good idea to keep this on hand to use during infectious outbreaks. The source of the infection is contaminated food and or water. Water should not come from any holding tank or hose.  Good hand washing before making eggfood or taking care of birds is also important as E.coli is present in human fecal material.

An alternative treatment is pediatric bactrim 1ml/100ml water which like trimethoprim sulfa treats E.coli and coccidiosis. infections.

The good news is after 7 days treatment on trimethoprim sulfa all were rid of the problem without a negative effect on their breeding and went on to produce high numbers of chicks after treatment.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Identifying Signs Blood-Sucking Mite Infection

This chick has a gray look. Notice the feet are nearly white!

Look under the wings

When chicks are doing poorly, it is important to make sure they are not infected with blood sucking mites.

Blood-sucking mites include red mites which attack birds only at night and hideout during the day elsewhere and northern or fowl mites that spend its entire life on the host.

The whole chick looks gray and the feet look white instead of pink. The red color inside the mouth is light pink instead of the healthy bright red.

Looking under the wing you see raw places. You can also see mites under the tail where the new feathers are growing in.

If you find northern mites on the bird, check on your hands as they are likely crawling on you!

Air Sac Mite Treatment during breeding is best done with Dr. Rob Marshall's S76. This works very well for air sac mites where the sign is clicking or respiratory distress.

But for external mites such as the blood-sucking type, using Vetafarm Avian Liquidator with its long lasting effect is the way to quickly get rid of the problem. One spray is all you need and mites are gone even if any mite eggs hatch.

Note: the case presented is northern mites.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Broccoline Greens

Once the chicks are big enough for banding, I offer broccoline. Its head is loose and easier to eat making it preferred over broccoli. We are raising it in our garden and share with the birds. I process the leaves and add to nestling food.
I like to plant the broccoline heads through the wire on the bottom of the cage.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016 Lovely Cinnamon Border Chick

My favorite border chick this year is this lovely cinnamon. I have high hopes for her!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Remember Me? Hand Feeding Weaning Age Chicks

When my mother introduced me to canaries, she would have me hand feed one. I always like to stuff them and failed to notice it was a different chick each time!  So off and on I top off a few usually around banding age unless their is trouble and continue until they start to refuse and hide.

When I got close to this cage, feeding another cage, this weaning age chick started crying, FEED ME! Very unusual to beg at this stage, so I offered it food. The second chick initially wanted no part of it.

But then the next day it started crying ME TOO!

The disadvantage of hand feeding at weaning age is that it prolongs the time several weeks till they wean. Only chicks that were fed before the fear refusal stage will open wide. To transition to self feeding you will need to teach them to nibble.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Great Expectations - Irish Fancy

This Irish Fancy is just weaning and already has the eye and pose and potential to make a good show bird!!

No Empty Nest For This German Roller Chick - Taking Advantage of Options

Normally, chicks are anxious to leave the nest and start eating on their own on the floor.

But the large German Roller chick on the left, who was raised by his mother in the same cage, took advantage of his options and when he left the nest it was for the other hens nest! He adopted these step siblings and now his mother and adopted mother are feeding all four chicks! What a Big Baby!! No empty nest for him!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day Great Escape - Irish Fancy

This weaning Irish Fancy loves my long tresses Phrag!! Thankfully his escape was too short for him to nibble!

I am on Facebook now!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Anticipation Of Miracle Births - Artificial Insemination

Several months ago I posted a blog about a favorite Border Male who was accidentally trapped in the bottom wire cage grates. I nearly cried as I had plans to breed him to several hens come breeding season. But look at his left foot, permanently damaged even though his wing seemed to recover pretty well. He will never be able to mate a hen again!!!

What a perfect use for Artificial Insemination! 

This hen surprised me and built a nest and laid an egg the next day. Usually I would toss the egg and not bother to put a male with her as pairing so late is normally a waste of time as all you will likely get is infertile eggs unless she lays five or six eggs. Having already messed it up, I decided to try artificial insemination with my handicapped male.

I was doubtful I should even try this as after she is laying is a very late start. Fertility is best five days before the first egg in the clutch is laid. With those thoughts that I should just give this round up,  I implanted her only twice, once the day she laid the first infertile egg and the next day,  each time around 8 am in the morning.

Today, exactly one week later and all three of the eggs laid after Artificial Insemination are Fertile!!!! So I can hardly wait for chicks! Of Course, I have heard Don't Count Your Chicks Before They Hatch!

 Also waiting for this long tresses Phrag to bloom in the aviary too! It has four stacks with buds!

A Big Thank You to Andrea Cabibi for bringing Artificial Insemination to Canary and Finch Breeders all over the World!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Removing hair wrapped around toes

A couple of days ago, one of my favorite Border hens pulled the gray felt nest pad out of her nest and shredded it to the point that she had her feet all bound with fibers that were cutting into her feet and threatening the circulation. If these are not removed, she could lose a toe or two or even a foot!

In the past I have used sewing needles to work between the fiber and flesh but this can easily cause damage and bleeding.

What a great discovery I made when I tried using dental picks with soft plastic to get under the fiber without causing bleeding. After removing all fibers, I dip the feet in iodine.

The soft plastic pick is a must for your aviary first aid kit. I got these at Walgreen.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Upgraded Deluxe Nest Pad

Lovely crocheted nest pads fit snug to clay or plastic nests. Hens accept it and build their nest on top of the pad. The pad fits tight, no more pulling out the pad.

Each pad has an open area that allows easy fitting to plastic nests with wire or plastic hanging mechanism or clay pots with no attached hanger.

These fantastic nest pad were purchased from David and Edith Benites at

Friday, March 11, 2016

Canary Cooking? Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potato Salad

My Borders especially have fallen in love with my new brussel sprouts and sweet potato salad!

Big Bird's Brussel Sprout and Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

9 fresh brussel sprouts

1 small raw sweet potato (I like the dark red skin but white inside one but have also used the Jewel which is orange inside.)

1 small raw carrot

24 shelled raw pistachio nuts

Quarter the peeled sweet potato and carrot and place in a food processor with the other ingredients and process fine.

This recipe was put together from ideas shared with me by Joseph (most of the ingredients) in Texas and Shawn (feeding raw sweet potato) from South Africa. Outside of raw carrots I had never fed the other ingredients but they took right to it. Even the Irish Fancy is feeding it to her banded chicks. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Canary Breeding Is Like A Symphony - Factors in Concert Bring Best Results

Several independent factors in concert bring the best breeding results. Unfortunately any one of the three can push the hens into laying infertile eggs.

First: Changes in day length and light intensity. Smaller size varieties will breed on as little as 12 hours but even they do better with 14 hours light plus 30 minute dimmer.

Second: Changes in temperature and increasing humidity. Hens like chickens are reluctant to lay when temperatures are below 65F and when the humidity is very low. As temperature warms breeding activity greatly increases. Spring rains also tell the birds conditions are favorable for breeding. I like to wait a bit till Spring rains start to seriously breed my birds.

Third: Changes in Diet. Feeding more quantity or feeding different foods especially those higher in carbohydrates and proteins is very stimulating. Too much vitamin E to the hen and she will not sit but rather want to recycle laying over and over. Males should get vitamin E for six weeks prior to breeding and can continue getting it till breeding is over. Hens maximum of three weeks prior to laying and then not again unless they fail to lay the second clutch.

If any one of the three factors is dramatically increased the hens start laying! Laying eggs is not the same as laying fertile eggs.

This time of year, I get many e-mails or phone calls about problems that are caused by increases in one of the three factors with very unsatisfactory results. A recent caller couldn't understand that when he returned from a trip, many of his hens were laying even though temperature was low and day length was still 10.5 hours. Questioning revealed his wife took very good care of them in fact she feed them egg food every day! Oops, unintentionally she pushed the hens to lay infertile eggs!

Lucca, my Belgian Malinois, took the top bill off the table from the cleaning ladies money and worked on it a bit!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why Doesn't My Canary Sing - Stimulating Canary Singing

I get quite a few e-mail from people with pet canaries who are concerned and wonder "Why my canary doesn't sing"?

Importance of lighting and total hours of light exposure each day

It is critical that when someone gets a canary that they understand that the birds health is dependent on getting regular hours and that the number of hours of light changes with the season and triggers the seasonal changes in the bird from breeding to molting (many do not sing during the annual molt).

Using a simple wall timer with a table lamp can be used and set to get them up and put them to bed and changed to current sunrise and sunset monthly or the bird can be moved to a dark room at sunset and not covered so that light coming through the window will get it up and put it to bed at the right time or the bird can be covered at sunset with a very heavy cloth so that any light after dark will not keep the bird up and then uncovered when they go to bed so that the morning sun will get it up at the right time.

Unfortunately, many cover the bird at night but uncover at different times depending on their work schedule or decision to sleep in on a day off. A few months of this and the bird first stops singing and if continued eventually leads to illness and an early death.

Once a bird is on longer hours than sunrise and sunset, it is important not to decrease the day length as this will precipitate a molt. Advancing the number of daylight hours will encourage coming into breeding song for smaller varieties that can be as little as 12 hours.

Is the bird healthy?

It is important to observe a bird from a distance so that they don't fool you into thinking they are well when they are just trying to look healthy to protect themselves from predators. Are the feathers tight or puffed out. Puffing out the feathers helps keep the bird warm. They open their beaks when they are too hot. Is there any clicking sounds at night, like air sac mites? Are they too thin?

Stimulating singing with sound and foods

Do not feed the bird immediately upon rising or when you are wanting to hear him sing. Singing varieties are either singing or eating most of the day. So I like to wait until after I have finished listening and then feed them. Of course basic food and water is always available but any new food or topping off seed will be stimulating encouraging them to eat instead of sing.

Sound is stimulating even a sweeper. I like to keep classical music playing all day for the bird. Mine especially love cello music. I have not found recorder bird song to be helpful.

Is this the only canary? A hen in the cage or even seeing one can cause some to sing the breeding song and others not to sing at all. The hen should be in a different cage that is below the male cage so he can not see her.

Some foods stimulate singing. It is good to add toasted wheat germ fortified with extra vitamin E like is available at the grocer or health food store and bee pollen pebbles to the regular diet to improve singing frequency.

My first canary did not sing and I did everything I have mentioned and still no song. Then one day it laid an egg! LOL

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sexual Dimorphism in Lizard Canaries

Don't miss checking out

A blog by Huw Evans promoting the Lizard Canary. I especially liked tips on sexing lizard canaries in the post titled "Sexual dimorphism: theory into practice" posted on 1/2/16. It includes helpful tips on how to sex lizard canaries visually and included a practice test. Answers for the practice test and discussion of the answers were published on that blog 4/2/16. Also has many fantastic lizard photos.

I have really enjoyed this informative blog very much and will continue to visit it over and over!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Breeding Better Looking Birds Part 5 - White Colored Birds

White canaries are either genetically dominant white, carrying a dominant white gene which is expressed and on the other chromosome a recessive yellow color gene, or recessive white which is white colored because it carries two recessive white genes. The dominant white can be differentiated from the recessive white because a dominant white has noticeable yellow coloring on the side of its wing. On some it is a very small area but it is visible to the naked eye. The presence of the yellow coloring on the wing of a dominant white bird is genetically independent from the feather characteristics. The yellow coloring on the side of the wing is only used to determine whether a white bird is a dominant white or a recessive white but not its feather type.

Note the yellow coloring on the side of the wing of this dominant white border
 A dominant white,  yellow feathered bird has yellow coloring bleeding through the white color on the body feathers, especially noticeable around the face and head when you hold it up close.

From a distance looks like variegated white Border. But is it Buff or Yellow Feathering?

Note the Yellow color bleeding through the White color which is typical of Yellow Feathering.
White colored Irish Fancy. But is it Buff or Yellow Feathering?

Looking only at the feathers in the face, it is clear that in the cheek area, yellow color is bleeding through and that makes the bird Yellow Feathered.

Variegated Columbus Fancy, Is it Yellow or Buff Feathering? Note how white colored its white feathers looks even up close and how the dark colored feathers are lighter?

No yellow color bleeding through, it is very white even up close so it is Buff feathering in this Columbus Fancy.

Recessive White Lipochrome  is strikingly white colored. Recessive white canaries do not produce yellow coloring in the wings or body, instead the white color is snow white in the buff feathering but has a gray look in the yellow feathered recessive white. Since the buff is much whiter, it scores higher on the show bench. Buff feathered Recessive White shown.

A darling Columbus Fancy newly feathered chick! Is it Buff or Yellow Feathered? First right answer will be posted.