If I buy legal British birds (any variety) and I breed them, what process do I have to follow to prove the birds are legal? I am a private breeder with a couple of aviaries.
W.M., via email.
Bernard Howlett, eminent breeder of British birds, replies: Only specimens of species on the British list whose lineage can be traced back to the enactment of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 are legally held. So, strictly, this means that virtually all native birds in captivity in this country are illegally held! This is because ancestry going back all those years would be impossible to prove. These include hardbills, softbills, mules, hybrids and colour variants. There are exceptions: birds taken on licence and those kinds listed on Schedule 2 Part II such as jays, jackdaws and magpies.Read more...
I am a breeder of foreign finches and in 2010 I purchased a pair of young cockatiels to give some variation in the birdroom. This year I bred the cockatiels and four eggs were laid. Three chicks hatched and the fourth was dead-in-shell. I checked the chicks two or three times per day to ensure everything was in order and found that they were being well looked after, crops always full, and they were feathering up nicely.
After about three and a half weeks, upon checking the nest-box I found one chick dead and the other two chicks were three parts bald, feathers scattered everywhere.
I removed the two chicks and have been hand-feeding for the past four days. My concern is why did this happen? Will their feathers grow back properly and over what time scale? Have I done something wrong and should I just stick to finches?
Les Rance, secretary of the Parrot Society UK, replies: You can rarely know why birds behave badly, it may be because they are young inexperienced parents. If the skin was not damaged when the feathers were plucked by one or both parents, they should grow back successfully within four to eight weeks, depending on the size of feather removed. From what you say, I do not think that you have done anything wrong. Cockatiels breed best in outside aviaries where they can benefit from the sunlight and rain showers.
Next year winter them in your birdroom, but consider placing them in an aviary at the end of April. I am sure breeding results will be superior.
What's your opinion on keeping budgerigars and Chinese painted quail together? I've been told that they will be fine, but I would like advice from an expert.
George Booth, chairman of the Budgerigar Society, replies: I know a number of fanciers who keep a few quail in their aviaries, along with various other species, and have not experienced any problems. I am sure that Chinese painted quail would live quite happily in an aviary containing budgerigars.
One of the main factors to take into consideration is the size of your aviary. Never overcrowd it, as this is a recipe for disaster. I would suggest that either pairs or trios (consisting of one male and two females) of quail would be the ideal to house with your budgies.Read more...
THE first birds I bred 50 years ago were budgerigars. I'd like to know if the modern budgie breeder leaves the cock with the hen throughout the rearing time? Also do they put dummy eggs in the nest-box like the canary breeder, so all the eggs hatch at once? Is the best method to get your birds in to breeding condition to flight them out first?
Dave Herring, former Budgerigar Society president, replies: I've not heard of any fancier taking the cock away from the hen as a regular practice. A few fanciers take specific cocks away once their hens' eggs are full, in order to use him with another hen. This would be done if a cock outcross had been brought in and you wanted to compare his effect upon two different lines within your breeding team. I think most fanciers take the patient view and leave selected pairs together until the chicks are ready to fledge.
The use of dummy eggs can be valuable, and are used on rare occasions to settle and deter a hen that has broken or eaten eggs. The use of dummy eggs to replace the first two eggs until the third egg is laid is still used by some. I think it is better to leave hens to produce and rear their chicks as their nature has intended.Read more...
I have recently lost two nice hens to egg-binding, despite trying to save them. I've now bought a heated cage, which is wooden and has a sensor-controlled light bulb. What temperature do I need to reach to stand some chance of curing this condition, and how slowly?
George Booth, chairman of the Budgerigar Society, replies: This is likeliest to affect the birds that are breeding in the colder months of the year and it is quite often that maiden hens are affected the most.
Immediate treatment is vital, but make sure that the hen is handled very carefully. If the egg that the bird is trying to pass breaks inside her then this is almost certainly fatal. The hen should be placed in a warm area or hospital cage with a temperature of about 25ºC (77ºF). A drop of olive oil or liquid paraffin can also be applied with a small brush to the swollen area around the vent.
Usually warmth will be effective and hopefully within a couple of days the egg will be passed. While the bird is in the hospital cage make sure it has food and water.Read more...