My dad kept birds for many years before he passed away, and being out of the fancy for many years myself I am about to start again. I am going to keep canaries and I was looking at roller canaries, but have been unable to find any breeders or any information about the breed (though one breeder has been a little help).
However, after reading about the IOA event in Belgium in Cage and aviary Birds (June 29), it says that vets will be there to issue health certificates for breeders wishing to import birds from the show back home. How many birds can be brought back? DEFRA's website says you are only allowed a maximum of five pets, and from their description cage birds are classed as pets.
If I was to join the group and go to Belgium for the show (and maybe bring some birds of my choice) what happens with the certificate, do the health certificates have to be paid for? I am sure I would find some rollers there or even their close relatives, the Belgian waterslager canaries. If you can assist on this matter I would most appreciate it.
D.O., via email.
As firework season is fast approachig, we asked our expert panel a question: what precautions do you take to protect your birds from firework displays?
Make the most of fireworks
Dave Herring, former Budgerigar Society president, replies: I have just moved into the house (previously owned by my brother/partner) where our birds are kept. My previous home only had a back yard, and my wife and I (as with all British festivals/events) have always "kept the day" with a few fireworks of our own.
We will continue to do so, albeit away from the birds. We never have noisy fireworks, but our various birds have had to put up with such over the past 50-plus years from other houses. The only real addition we have made to the normal aviary routine is to have the radio on for a few days before and a few days after the event. I do not believe either the fireworks, or the precautions, make a great deal of difference. I do have a nightlight in the birdroom throughout the year, so the birds are shielded to some extent from flashes of light, which can be more startling then sudden noises.
I have lost one of my male budgies. The female has four chicks. Will she be able to feed and look after them on her own? Can I put a different male in the cage to help her?
D.P., via Facebook.
Dave Herring, former Budgerigar Society president, replies: On no account should you introduce another cock bird unless you know him to be extremely docile, and an unusually good foster parent. The circumstances that you have described are by no means unique, and in the vast majority of cases the hen will continue to rear her brood with undiminished enthusiasm.
The hen will have no problem in keeping her chicks well fed, as long as you continue to give her the means to do so. Exceptionally, and only if the hen shows signs of distress and inability to cope, you could perhaps consider fostering off one or more of her youngsters. This depends on what other breeding pairs (and the age of their chicks) that you have at the time.
I'm new to birdkeeping and my husband has built an outdoor aviary for lovebirds. Could you give me any hints as to what to plant in the aviary? I've researched on the internet, but I'm getting confused because the information contradicts other information.
L.C.B., via Facebook.
Keith Jones, qualified show judge, replies: I am afraid the short answer to your question is – you can't plant anything in an aviary that houses lovebirds. These birds are one of the smallest of the parrot species, but have very strong beaks. They are natural destroyers of anything wooden. All wood in the aviary should be protected with wire mesh in order to stop them destroying the aviary and escaping.
You could grow climbing plants over the outside of the aviary, but any plant growth occurring inside the wire will be quickly trimmed by your lovebirds. They will also destroy any ground cover plants, including grass on the floor.
What causes "twirling" in Gouldians? Can it be cured or prevented? Also is baldness in Gouldians curable and can they be used to breed? I have tried all the gimmicks suggested by the experts, but the birds still go bald.
Bob Baggs, foreign bird expert, says: "Twirling" (which is similar to vertigo in humans) in Gouldian finches is fairly common, and unfortunately very little is known of its cause or of a cure. Baldness on the other hand has, to my knowledge, been successfully cured. An iodine deficiency was believed to have been the reason for the baldness of the Gouldians belonging to one fancier I know. This was treated with vanodine or V18, and the birds regained their feathering. It is always advisable to ensure external parasites, or plucking is not the problem initially. I would not advise breeding from birds that had either of these complaints as they would not be in perfect health.