Saturday, April 20, 2019

A Favorite BACKYARD BIRD - The CHICKADEE

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Chickadee is a familiar and welcome visitor to most backyards in the United States. Varieties of this bird are found across the entire US. A member of the titmouse family, there are five variations in the US. Mexican, Chestnut Backed, and Mountain Chickadees reside in the western states. The Black Capped and Carolina Chickadees cover most of the US from New Jersey to Kansas and south from Texas to Florida. I mention these two together because they are so similar, even at close range, they are hard to distinguish. It would appear they have a hard time themselves as Black Capped and Carolina Chickadees have been known to breed with each other in areas where they overlap.

This active friendly bird will visit almost any backyard birding area and become a year-round resident. After becoming regulars at your feeders during spring and summer, most will winter in the same area they had their summer nests, provided the weather doesn't turn too harsh. Even then, they will migrate only a short distance and return when it warms. For year-round backyard birding, the chickadee is hard to beat. These birds have a cheerful call and song and provide hours of entertainment checking the trees and shrubs for insects.

Insects are the food of choice for the Chickadee. They eat live insects, eggs, and larvae while hopping or hanging, even upside down, in trees and shrubs. They sometimes make quick short flights and catch insects on the fly. They also enjoy berries, fleshy fruits, suet, acorns, and seeds. This friendly bird is a regular at our tube and platform bird feeders. We see them taking one sunflower seed at a time from our bird feeder and flying a short distance to open it. They enjoy our blueberry bushes, pine cones, and muscadines as well.

Chickadees can be trained to eat from your hand. It will take patience and consistent offerings, but these birds will slowly begin to come to you. This occurs more often in colder weather when the food supply is more scarce. This chickadee enjoys a variety of foods and can be enticed with various offerings until you find the one which works for you. Try various nuts, seeds, or fruits at about the same time each day. The inquisitive chickadee will get closer and closer until you find them eating from your hand!



Chickadees nest naturally in hollow trees or old woodpecker sites. They can be attracted to man-made birdhouses. Obtain a birdhouse made for them and place it in a pine, elm, aspen or birch tree. We have them nesting in houses attached to our wood fence. Just be sure you have a sturdy house, rough sawn for the bird to cling to and protect them with predator guards at the entrance. A chickadee house should come with tree shavings. While not used for the nest, it looks at this as proof this is a proper nesting site.

This bird is easily attracted and a favorite of many backyard bird watchers. Offering several varieties of food will keep these visitors happy. Provide sheltering shrubbery, water, and natural or man-made birdhouse nesting sites and you will have an entertaining songbird dancing, singing, and performing upside down acrobatics for years to come. If you are fortunate enough, the Chickadee will reward you with eating from your hand.




Friday, April 19, 2019

Peach Faced LOVE BIRDS

English: A trio of peach-faced lovebirds. The ...
A trio of peach-faced lovebirds. The left one has a standard "peach-face" crest, the middle one is a peach-face and a fischeri hybrid (as indicated by the two-colored beak and smaller body size) and the right one is a color mutation aptly named as "orange-faced" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My Peach Faced lovebirds are pint-sized bundles of joy. They have the full personality of parrots while being easy to house because of their size. My birds are little clowns, playing for hours at a time. They love to hang from toys, spin them around, and dance on your shoulder. I have had to watch my buttons! They love to pull them off my clothes! Such loving little birds: they love to snuggle and preen.

Many people believe lovebirds must be kept in pairs. This is simply not true. A single lovebird makes a better pet because it bonds to you rather than to another lovebird. While it is easy to keep a pair of lovebirds tame if you plan on spending lots of time with your bird you can keep it alone. However, if you work long hours and don't think you'll have a lot of time for your love bird, I recommend you get him/her a companion. This will keep your lovebirds happy and prevent boredom. It is important to realize that while lovebirds are a small parrot, they have the intelligence and abilities of some of the largest parrots.

They never stop amazing me with their ability to escape their own cages. I have to put copper wire on the cage doors to keep them in, and sometimes they figure out how to untwist the wire and open the door!

Lovebirds will sometimes try to become the little bosses of the household. I recommend using the same type of gentle dominance training that is used for larger parrots.

Are you looking for a bird that you can teach to talk? Lovebirds can learn to mimic sounds and speech on occasion. However, I don't recommend that you buy any species of bird only because of the expectation that it will speak; even the famous African Greys sometimes don't learn to speak. So, if that is your only reason for buying a bird, I'd seriously urge you to reconsider as the bird could end up abandoned because of your own disappointment.

In my opinion, love birds and parrots both make great pets even if they never utter a word. We have both in our home. The lovebirds chatter away all day, never making a sound that anyone can understand, except as being simply 'noisy chatter.' However, our Double Yellow Head parrot makes up for it; his vocabulary is very long, extensive and he is constantly talking.

If you decide to breed love birds just remember they are prolific breeders. You may soon, as we did, find our home overrun with lovebirds! And, as a word of caution, "do not" put bark chips in the nest of the baby birds. Though the odor is pleasant to humans and is good for older birds it is too strong for baby lovebirds. I must admit I learned the hard way and had casualties on my hands! Paper is the best thing to put in the nest along with some alfalfa. Do not get powdered alfalfa, rather dried alfalfa blades. If you decide to use paper, do cut the paper (newspaper is best) in long strips and put it beside the nest. Mama will take it into the nest. And, remember if mama snaps at you she is only protecting her nest!

My favorite lovebird is Lucky, so named as it was our first clutch and she was the only one, of six, that survived when I put the bark chips in the nest.



We do not have an aviary breeder, rather, our lovebirds are paired off in separate cages. The best way to tame babies quickly is to remove the babies from the next when they are about two weeks old and hand feeds them. This way, the birds get the best of both worlds: the immunity conferred from their parents and the tameness that comes from being handled by humans.

Our lovebirds are abundance weaned so that they are happy, well-adjusted birds. We feed them pellets, a good seed mix, alfalfa, wheat grass, quinoa, sprouted beans, and other veggies and fruits. And, oh yes! Lovebirds love to not only eat grapes but to toss them around also. In short, lovebirds love playing. They keep us entertained for hours. If you decide to get a lovebird for a pet, you will have made an excellent choice!



Monday, April 1, 2019

Fact Sheet: COLLARED ARACARI - Pteroglossus torquatus

(Original title: Rainforest Birds - Collard Aracari)

Collared Aracari
Photo  by mTuttle 
Bird Name:
Collared Aracari

Latin Name:
Pteroglossus torquatus

Status:
Least Concern

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Ramphastidae
Genus: Pteroglossus
Species: P. torquatus

General Information:
The Collared Aracari is a colorful bird that resides year-round in the jungles of Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. It is a toucan and has a distinctive long bill that is almost a quarter the size of the bird itself. It is a very social creature and usually found in flocks of 6 - 15 birds.

Physical Description:
An adult bird is around 16 inches in length, with its bill accounting for about 4 inches, and weighs approximately 230 g. Male and female are similar in appearance, each with a black head and a colorful chest of red, green, and yellow feathers. Juveniles are much duller in color compared to their adult counterparts, with paler underparts and a less distinct bill pattern.

Diet:
Although the Collard Aracari is primarily an arboreal fruit-eater, it will also feed on bird eggs and small prey like insects, lizards, and fledgling birds.


Habitat:
This near-passerine bird occurs from southern Mexico to Panama, but also extends into Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. The bird makes its home in the tropical rainforests of southern Mexico and throughout Central America. It is also a common resident in lowland forests and will often nest in natural cavities or old woodpecker nests.

Reproduction:
A female usually lays 3 - 4 eggs per clutch in an unlined nest. Both male and female incubate the eggs for a period of about 16 days. The young will leave the nest at 40 - 42 days.



Sunday, March 31, 2019

COCKATOOS Need Love Too!

Citron-crested Cockatoo. Photograph of upper b...
Citron-crested Cockatoo. Photograph of upper body and crest.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
It is true...Cockatoos are gorgeous and popular, but you still need to give them love too...Many are under the endangered species list, and all others are considered vulnerable.

They have beautiful plumage in a rainbow of varieties, and an amazing crest on top of their head, which they can control to fan out or to lay back flat! They have big personalities and are very intelligent.

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Cacatuidae
Subfamilies: Microglossinae, Calyptorhynchinae, Cacatuinae


There are 21 species that belong to the Cacatuidae family. Of these 21, only 11 exist in Australia in the wild, 7 exist in Indonesia, New Guinea and other South Pacific Islands, and 3 exist in both New Guinea and Australia.


Cockatoos are under both the endangered and vulnerable species list, protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This means that it is illegal to import and export these birds, which are caught in the wild.

Endangered Cockatoo Species:


* Goffin's cockatoo, Cacatua goffini

* Red-vented Cockatoo, Cacatua haematuropygia
* Moluccan Cockatoo, Cacatua moluccensis
* Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea
- includes the subspecies, Citron-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata
* Palm Cockatoo, Probosciger aterrimus

If you are interested in adopting a cockatoo for a pet, make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer that has not partaken in the illegal trade of wild cockatoos.

My Story:
When I moved to Perth, Western Australia, about 13 yrs ago, the 1st day I woke up, I went for a jog. I was flabbergasted at the teeming wildlife just in my neighborhood. I made a few turns and ended up jogging through a park, where I found the most amazing site.

The trees were all pink! (Photo: This is what I saw! I wish I could find my photos to show you!) What I mean is, that they were absolutely full of pink cockatoos! Absolutely one of the most amazing things ever! Literally, there was no branch left open. What a treat to get up in the morning for your dull jog, and be graced with this beauty on a regular basis. So special!

It was so normal for the locals, they didn't really see what the big deal was, and certainly did not want to go jogging with me...LOL Coming from Canada, this was a real eye-opening experience.

How beautiful, I thought. How terrible that they are all either endangered or vulnerable now, 13 yrs later.





* Tip: If you have any respiratory diseases, problems or sensitivities, a bird for a pet is not a great idea, as it can irritate and aggravate your respiratory problems further. (When we owned 2 budgies, when I was young, they lived to be about 10 yrs old. My mother seemed to have chronic bronchitis throughout the year, and it would be aggravated to pneumonia come winter time. When our Misty and Sky passed away, within 2 wks of each other, Misty's heart was broken, my mother's respiratory problems cleared up spontaneously. She has never had these problems since. She had a serious sensitivity to the birds plumage and dust that resulted from them living in the house. On the other hand, me, my sister and my father did not have such a sensitivity to our budgies.)

If you are blessed enough to have a cockatoo as a pet, it is important to make sure they are being fed properly so they will live to be your companion for many years to come.

I love all of these beautiful species of Cockatoo. How gorgeous! How amazing would it be to have these beautiful birds all over the place in Canada?


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Training RACING PIGEONS To Become Better, Faster

Carrier Pigeon
Carrier Pigeon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For the first-time owner of racing pigeons, breeding and racing these pigeons can be a tough challenge. There are some certain pigeon needs that should be considered, and its breeding and training are like Science. There is no room for lots of errors and untested training and breeding actions. That is because for it to become a successful breeding and racing program of racing pigeons, you need tested set of suggestions and verified rules coming from the ground.  And it all starts with breeding up until racing. 


If you are starting with newly-hatched pigeons, you are expected to note about the commonalities between these young pigeons.  Remember that these pigeons can be weaned at equal ages. These birds can be vaccinated at the same age and these birds can be ranged and routed as well at the same age. These birds at their tender age are often grouped together in a specialized housing called the loft, and this will serve as their home up until their racing days.

What to expect in the first 28 days

Once these young birds have stayed for around 28 days on their nest, they are supposed to be transferred to a much larger loft. The first few days in their loft are often spent learning where they can source their food and how to eat. This is also the right time for these birds to be allowed outside and to wander so that they will be familiar with their surroundings. Expect these birds to start flying at 6 weeks, and they will start in small circles. The moment these birds start to gain confidence, these birds will fly for hours before returning to their lofts. Now, remember that this is the perfect time for training the birds. They are best trained and guided if the birds have been ranged or routed for at least two (2) weeks. The maximum time that the birds will be out is for 2 hours, and this is a great sight as you watch batches of pigeons pass you by. But the best thing about this activity is that these pigeons get the exercise that they need and they become more accustomed to their lofts.

Training tosses tips

There are some factors too that needs to be practiced when doing the first few training tosses.

• The racing pigeons should be in perfect health during training.

• Consider as well the number of days spent in routing and ranging

• If you can, you also need to consider the quality of pigeons migrating

• The best time to train these pigeons is during a clear day. This means that you need to avoid rain, fog, and strong winds. And speaking of time;

• Did you know that there is a perfect time to do the practice? According to some racing enthusiasts, the perfect time is early morning or before 9:00 in the morning/

More than these, there are certain techniques and strategies that are employed in relation to breeding and training of racing pigeons. And these are varied depending on who you ask. Of the many techniques and strategies, some of those that stand out include the use of widowhood and the adoption of proper conditioning.