Tuesday, August 14, 2018

How to Breed FINCHES

Description: Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)...
Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For most people, a finch is a little bird often seen in their gardens, sometimes colourful and sometimes not, sometimes with a pretty song and sometimes not. For the bird keeper, a finch can often be a catchall term for birds that aren't parrot family. But to be accurate, a finch is one of a number of species that are loosely related who look and sound very different. So who are finches and how do you breed them?

Latin names are always hard to pronounce and difficult to remember but due to the varying local names for birds in different countries, they can often be the best way to identify a bird conclusively. For the finches, most of the species encountered in bird keeping come from two main families - the estrildidae finches and the Fringillidae finches.

Fringillidae finches are often referred to as 'true finches' or Old World finches, despite some of them being found in Hawaii and one family in the Arctic fringes. They are most common in Europe and the family name comes from the Latin name for one of their distinctive members, the Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). Familiar faces in this family depend on where you live but birds such as the European greenfinch, goldfinch and the siskins are all members, as well as one of the most commonly kept birds - the canary.

Estrildidae finches are often referred to as New World or Exotic Finches, though again this isn't a totally accurate name as some are found in Old World tropics areas. Most of these species are from warmer climates however so when kept in the Northern Hemisphere, often need heat to survive. Included in the family is another very commonly kept bird, the Zebra Finch, along with waxbills, Firefinches and the mannikins or munias.

Nesting choices
Birds choose their nesting location and type of nest by some internal standard that we humans can only try to anticipate - this means that there is no guarantee that a bird will choose the nest box it is 'meant' to. As a rule, however, estrildid finches tend towards closed nest boxes made from wood or plastic that either has a small hole in the front or an open section. Fringillidae finches will often make use of a nesting pan, a half cup often made from plastic or wicker, which they will add some nesting material too.

If you are breeding finches in a large cage or an aviary, they will often build their nests where they please. You can offer a host of beautiful ready-made nesting facilities and they will build a nest in the corner on a ledge or behind where the boxes stand so don't be surprised if the nest box remains empty and chicks appear from some strange location.

In breeding cages, they have less option and often an external nest is used so that room inside the cage isn't lessened by it. Nesting pans can be attached to cage bars and sometimes fake plants are used to hide it so that the bird has the illusion of being in a tree.

The breeding process
Every species of bird has its own courtship rituals, breeding preparations and specific requirements to start the process. Some, such as the Zebra finch, merely need somewhere to nest, some nesting material and a mate to get started and will breed whenever they feel like it. Others wait for a specific breeding season, which will often fall into line with the breeding season of the wild birds in the country - normally the warmest times of the year. The Canaries are an example of this as are goldfinches and greenfinches.

Eggs are usually white for the estrildid finches and shades of blue-green for the Fringillidae finches, the latter being larger as are most of the birds. Incubation periods also vary as do the number of chicks but around two to three weeks incubation is generally the norm. Once the chicks hatch, some being completely bald while others have small tufts of hair, they are blind for around a week and remain in the nest for three to four weeks. When they leave the nest or fledge, they will be dependent on their parents for a week or two more as they learn to feed themselves.



Problems

This is, of course, a simplification of the process that may not be as easy as this. Birds can abandon nests with eggs and with chicks, other factors can disturb them or the chicks die in the eggs and the birds realise this. Chicks can fall from nests or contract illnesses that mean they die at some point. But saying all of this, there is nothing better than peeking into a nest and seeing a host of new life, even if there have been hurdles along the way.

In my experience, the key to breeding finches is to let them get on with it as much as possible and think of what they would need in the wild. While most birds have never seen their native environment, their instincts are still strong. Plants, either real or fake, are a big factor, as is providing live food such as mealworms to some species. Do plenty of research before buying birds to understand what you need to provide them for them to be happy - if they aren't happy, they will never breed. And even then, things can still go wrong. But when it goes right, it is a wonderful experience and one you will quickly become addicted to.



Sunday, August 12, 2018

ECLECTUS PARROT - General Health

English: Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus). F...
Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus). 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While Eclectus parrots are very hardy birds, there are a number of health-related points you should know about to ensure the best of health and longevity of your bird.

The basic needs of Eclectus parrots apart from daily socialization with other birds and humans consists of three things: Natural foods, pure water, and plenty of exercises and mental stimulation. It has been proven again and again that this combination results in birds with the finest of health.

The best form of nutrition comes from providing a diet rich in variety, and while vitamin and mineral supplements are good to help boost nutrition, they should never be the bird's main source of nutrition. Eclectus parrots love fruits and vegetables, some favorites being mangoes, pomegranates, apples, carrots, bell peppers, lettuces and other green vegetables.

Only pure water should be provided for your Eclectus parrot since much of today's tap water has many additives and birds can be much more sensitive to these toxins than humans are. Water bowls should be cleaned and refilled with fresh water each day. Washing bowls and crocks in a mild solution of vinegar water will help eliminate potentially harmful bacteria that could make your bird sick.

Exercise is very important for your parrot to obtain optimum health. Exercise can be provided in a number of ways. Toys that provide interest involving beak, claw, and mental stimulation may be purchased at pet shops and online. A general rule of thumb is 'bigger is better' as long as the toy is safe and size-appropriate for your bird. For a hanging toy (one that clips to the inside top of the cage, or hangs from a toy stand), dimensions not exceeding 10" x 18" should be sufficient.

If you follow this basic information for your Eclectus parrot and keep yourself educated, you can help ensure your bird a long, happy, healthy life. Remember to always consult your veterinarian for any questions you may have concerning your parrot's health.



Saturday, August 11, 2018

The SUN CONURE PARROT - 5 Reasons Why People Love Them

Sun Parakeet (also known as Sun Conure) at Jur...
Sun Parakeet (also known as Sun Conure) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This parrot continues to be one of the most popular choices for pet birds. And while there are many other types of birds competing for adoption, here are 5 reasons it continues to be at the top of the list for adoption.

Colorful---Like their name suggests, they add a vibrant splash of color to a room whether they are sitting still or flying about. They don't start out that way. So if you adopt a young bird, don't be disappointed with the all the green feathers you're likely to see. This is nature's way of helping them survive by allowing them to blend in more easily with the trees.

They eventually turn to a stunning array of vibrant yellows, gold, oranges, and blues. Their mature colors dazzle the eye.

Manageable Size---Most birds at maturity are right around 12 inches long and weigh a whopping 4 ounces.

Easy To Train---Known for their high level of intelligence, they learn quickly and with gentle and consistent training many can be taught to do pretty complex tricks. They love and need the attention, and the ground rules for behavior should be laid from the beginning and enforced gently and consistently adhered to by all family members.

Great Personalities---They are fun-loving and very active. However, "playing dead" has given many an owner near heart failure only to discover they are merely enjoying a snooze. They socialize well with humans, and children who know how to handle them. Interaction with children should always be supervised by a knowledgeable adult.

They can sometimes choose a favorite owner, but as long as all members of the family continue to interact, this should not cause a problem. That being said, each bird has its own personality. And what may be usual for most Conures may or may not be the same for the bird you adopt.

Reasonably Priced---Everything is relative, but as exotic birds go, Conures range in price from $250 to $350 when purchased from a reputable breeder. Pet stores are also an option, but having a veterinarian check them over before finalizing the adoption is recommended.

Adopting a rescue bird is another option, but unfortunately, many of these birds have behavioral problems of their own or some caused by previous owners. Many times they are older birds and have developed habits that are nearly impossible to change. Acquiring a bird in this way is not recommended for the first time bird owner.

More than not, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to this parrot. And making them part of the family typically adds a lot of sunshine to life.

Description This parrot continues to be one of the most popular choices for a pet bird. And while there are many other types of birds competing for adoption, here are 5 reasons it continues to be at the top of the list for adoption.



Friday, August 10, 2018

Fact Sheet: UMBRELLA COCKATOO - Cacatua alba

(Original Title: Umbrella Cockatoo)

English: Umbrella Cockatoo (Cacatua alba) also...
Umbrella Cockatoo (Cacatua alba) also known as the White Cockatoo.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)

General Info:

The Umbrella Cockatoo, native to Indonesia, is a large, gorgeous, white parrot. On this bird, the underside of the wings and the tail have feathers of a delicate yellow color. The tail feathers are short and squared at the end. The beak and feet of this bird are a wonderful contrast to the light coloring of the feathers as they are a grayish-black color. There is a ring around the eyes that contains no feathering.

This ring is often tinged a light blue. The Female of the species often has eyes of a reddish brown color, whereas the male almost always has eyes of a very dark brown. The head holds a crest of feathers that lay flat against the head when calm and stand straight up when excited or frightened. This, in the wild, gives the bird the illusion of being larger than it really is. In this way, the bird may be able to frighten a predator or impress a prospective mate. In captivity, these feathers may play a perfect role in the comical antics shared between the bird and his or her family. It is (I say this from experience) quite amusing to see an Umbrella Cockatoo dance and "sing" with those "umbrella" feathers standing tall!

This bird is incredibly sweet and loving. It usually becomes very close to its family and will usually be especially close to one person in particular (often this person is the main caregiver of the bird).
It is important to give cockatoos a lot of attention and training. They get bored very easily and can feather pick if bored or upset.

Provide lots of toys to chew and destroy Change them often to combat boredom.

Before getting an Umbrella, decide how much attention you will be able to give on a consistent basis. Stick to a routine with the attention you give your cockatoo. Giving young bird tons of attention and then cutting off the amount of attention will cause behavior problems and can cause feather picking.

Size: The average length is somewhere around 18 inches, give or take an inch or two. The average weight is about a pound and a half.

Lifespan:

The Lifespan of the Umbrella Cockatoo is similar to that of many large parrots; about 80 years. This lifespan, as with all birds, can be lengthened or shortened, depending on the quality of care that the bird receives.



Dietary Needs:

A high-quality pellet is a good base to the diet. You may lightly mix this with some assorted parrot seed. Every day, try as hard as you can to give your bird fresh fruits and veggies (stay away from Avocados and chocolate). Great fruits and veggies include apples, cantaloupe, grapes, broccoli, peas, carrots, etc. As is true with humans, the less processing the food goes through, the better. Pellet, though processed, is great as it is nutritious and has vitamins and minerals that may be missing from one or another fruit or vegetable. But there is nothing better than a scrumptious freshly sliced apple or a delectably sweet bite from a crunchy carrot.

Cage size: 36 x 28

Train-ability:

These birds are very easily trained. All that is needed is time and patience. These birds are actually great acrobats, so it's common to teach them tricks, as well as the usual "step-up" (perch on your hand) command. Tricks include flipping the bird upside down or "dancing" to music. Teaching your bird tricks is a fantastic way to get your bird to trust you. It takes a lot of trusts for a bird to allow you to flip them upside down. I remember my family's Umbrella Cockatoo. He absolutely loved to do his tricks. It really helps them to feel like a part of the family.

Health Concerns:

Umbrella Cockatoos may be susceptible to the following:

-Psittacine beak and feather disease
-Fatty liver disease
-Obesity
-Bubblefoot
-Feather-picking
-Sarcocystis
-Cloacal Prolapse
-Poor eating habits (finicky eater)
-Miscellaneous bacterial and fungal infections



Thursday, August 9, 2018

Budgies and Cockatiels as Your Pets: The Top Tips to Know

English: Budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulatus....
Budgerigars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Pet birds are a blessing for many people. They're the ideal pet because they require minimal space, no outdoor access and little work from their owner. They're also cheap to buy, cheap to look after, and an all-around low cost, low maintenance pet. They provide companionship with minimal effort, whether you live on a farm or a flat on the 13th floor of an apartment block.

Some pet birds talk, of course, making them even better company than the average pet: you couldn't teach your Labrador to say hello and ask who the pretty boy is. Teaching pet birds to speak is part of the charm of owning pets- it provides an extra level of companionship as well as a potential additional hobby. If you're looking for a pet that is low maintenance, clean around the house and takes up little space, then it's probable that owning a pet bird will suit you. And if you want your pet bird to have the potential to learn to speak, then you should be looking at budgies or cockatiels for sale in your area or online.

"Budgie" is short for budgerigar, which is also called the common pet parakeet. Native to Australia, the budgerigar, or budgie is closely related to the parrot. Budgies are hugely popular around the world as a pet, particularly in the UK, where their playful disposition, attractive markings, and ability to ape human speech. The chances are that you know somebody who owns a budgerigar, so if you're interested in getting a budgie it would be an idea to investigate further by meeting and handling a friend's pet budgie, or for visiting a pet shop that has budgies for sale in order to handle one of the birds and learn all you can before deciding whether budgies are for you or not.

Cockatiels have a huge popularity across the globe, second only to that of the budgerigar. Cockatiels are part of the cockatoo family, and it's the smallest member. Much like budgerigars, cockatiels are well known for their distinctive and attractive appearance and their ability to "speak" human words.

Similar to budgerigars, cockatiels are hugely popular because of their relatively small size and the commensurately small amount of space needed to cage them. If you're looking for cockatiels for sale then it's possible that you might find the cheapest price for cockatiels on the internet, but before making that purchase you would be well advised to research for these birds for sale elsewhere.

Visit a local pet shop that has cockatiels and speaks to the trained staff there, and learn all you can about the animal. What will they eat? How long can they be left alone? How big will their cage need to be, and what is it likely to cost? Is finding just one cockatiel going to be okay, or do they need to be kept in pairs for company? All these small factors should be considered when you're looking at cockatiels as a pet.