Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Beauty of ORIOLES

Oriole - Photo: Wikimedia
SPRING IS HERE!!! And so are ORIOLES! These wild birds are strikingly beautiful! Because of their beautiful black, orange or yellow color, their distinctive whistle, spring songs, and their amazing suspended nests, which we'll plan to look at further.

ORIOLES are quickly becoming one of America's favorite wild birds. While over eight species of Orioles can regularly be seen in the United States, we want to look at the "Major Three" species - Baltimore, Bullocks, and Orchard.

ALL United States Orioles show variation on the theme of black with yellow or orange color. Except for in the Southeast, all Orioles are tropical migrant wild birds. While migrations vary, Orioles generally arrive in the South in early spring, mid-west in early May, and further North soon afterward. It is very important, for one that is interested in housing and feeding, that Oriole feeders up and ready around May 1st, or often Orioles will pass you by for better feeding grounds. It is also important to have nesting materials out and ready to help attract and encourage Orioles to nest in your yard because by summer's end, migrating Orioles are headed back south to their tropical winter homes in Central and South America. It seems that Baltimore Orioles (Not the Major League Baseball Team) ranges are expanding, while Bullocks and Orchard Orioles are declining.

ALL Orioles need and benefit from our help and we benefit from them also where natural pollination and insect control are concerned. We can help by setting up bird feeders, bird food, bird bath's and birdseed in your neck of the woods and be a part of the bird feed and housing shortages. Where nesting material is available, Orioles will defend an area of several acres and start building a pendulous (hanging loosely) nest.

Here are some interesting facts and ideas to think about, when planning to set out bird food in your yard, near your birdbath and to fill your bird feeders to feed and attract these wild bird orioles. Here are some facts to keep in mind about the Orioles. ORIOLES migrate at night so they are tired, cold and hungry when they arrive in your neck of the woods.

If you wait until you see them, you are "too late" to attract Orioles, in maximum numbers, to your yard. Not so much wild bird seed but bird food like ORANGES is one of the "keys" to attracting Orioles. Cut oranges in half and provide them "juicy side out" for a refreshing snack for these beautiful birds. You can also attract these wild birds up close by offering oriole feeder nectar, jelly and fruit on the feeders by the house and patio.

They love the bright orange feeders and they are inexpensive and slip right on any Smuckers (tm) or other 10-12 ounce jelly jars.

Hanging the nests on a multi-level, wrought iron hanger is another idea, as you are able to tier multiple nests for their room and board enjoyments.

Many people feed jelly year-around, not only Orioles but Woodpeckers, Robins, Warblers and others enjoy it. Many people have said that they keep Orioles longer now that they feed grape jelly!!!! There are a lot of people who claim that their favorite Oriole nectar feeders are Oriole Feeders. Why? Their wide mouths and flat tops, make them easy to fill and clean (base also comes apart easily to clean), and some have bee guards to make sure that Orioles - not bees - enjoy the nectar.

If you're worried about ants bothering your jelly or Oriole Nectar, there are guards to put on and hang oriole feeders with clear nectar protector ant moats above them and fill with water. This acts like a moat, similar to those around the old castles, and has a similar effect. As you are probably well aware, ants can't swim, and for a few extra dollars, you'll never have to mess with cleaning them out of the feeder. These also work well with hummingbird feeders. While it is often advised that it is good to mix their own hummingbird nectar from sugar, some opinion is that commercial Oriole nectar will attract and hold more Orioles and other wild birds at the feeder longer.

Whatever you decide to set up, there are two things to keep in mind. Creativity and fun! You and your family will really enjoy these colors of nature occupying a place in your neck of the woods. Not to mention, you are helping them in their survival and keeping a good, natural source of insect control and pollinators around. Best wishes to you and your endeavors with the Orioles of North America!

Friday, February 21, 2020


English: Domesticated Zebra Finch Taeniopygia ...
Domesticated Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are the most common species of Australian finch and comes from the family called Estrildid which features most of the finches kept in aviculture across the world. It lives in the cool south and tropical far north of the country as well as in Indonesia and East Timor.


People have called zebras 'flying mice' due to the ease of which they reproduce. This is great if you are looking to start breeding or add a new species to your aviary as it is very little in the way of specific requirements for them.

Zebra finches are happy to live in colonies with their own kind of birds, as well as a huge range of other species. They will live peacefully with nearly all other species of finch, canaries, British birds, doves and even smaller parakeets.

When breeding, both birds can be a little defensive of their nest and will chase other zebras away from it. This is a natural behaviour and will extend when a chick fledges, or leaves the nest, but is never particularly aggressive or result in harm to the other bird. It is more of a noisy, fast-flying warning to keep away from their house.

Feeding zebras is pretty uncomplicated, as well. Use a good foreign finch mix as the basis of your feeding regime and supplement with egg food and some specialist seeds such as niger or hemp seed. Fresh fruit and vegetables are very important for their health, and they will readily consume foods such as spinach, kale and cabbage and fruits such as apple, pear, grapes, mango and plums. With fruit such as apple and plum, remove any seeds or stones as these contain tiny amounts of toxic substances, so better not to take a chance. Access to grit or cuttlefish is also important, especially around breeding time to replace calcium used in making eggs in the hen.


Zebra finches don't have a particular breeding season in the way many birds do. They are triggered into breeding condition by light and heat levels or sometimes, for no perceivable reason! They like a variety of nesting materials and are surprisingly good little builders. Coconut fibre, jute, sisal, feathers and even dried grass will all be incorporated into the nest which will usually be a domed affair. They will also happily use a half-open finch nest box or one with a single hole in.

Once the nest is finished, take away surplus nesting material; otherwise, they will keep building and even cover their eggs. Anywhere from 2-7 eggs are laid and are incubated by both birds for around two weeks. When the chicks hatch, they are tiny and nearly hairless, blind and helpless. They are fed by the parents in the nest for around three weeks at which time they fledge fully feathered and resembling an adult save for their black beak. A way of knowing that the bird has matured is that the beak will change from black to bright red for a cock bird or a duller red for a hen.

After fledging, the chicks are fed by the parents for at least two weeks, at which time they may be able to fly or may not be proficient. If they aren't the best at flying, they will seek out corners to hide in so always keep an eye open for fledgelings in odd spots and make sure they don't get themselves stuck.

Zebras can breed at crazy ages of around three months, but it is advisable to wait until at least six months of age before allowing this. One way to ensure this is to keep males and females in separate cages until fully matured.

Keeping Zebras

The lifespan of these little birds is surprisingly long. In the wild, they live around five years but in captivity, 5-7 is average, 12 is possible and the oldest zebra was recorded at 14.5 years of age. They are relatively hardy concerning weather conditions, though any bird should be sheltered from the worst of the climate.

They will happily live in a good-sized cage as a pair or colony, or with other birds. They will also thrive in a flight or large aviary cage and in a flight, can become quite friendly towards humans when they can approach on their own terms. Standing very still with food in hand before the first feed is a good way to win them over, and some may happily hop onto your hand to get in at the food first.


No matter what your experience with birds, zebra finches are a great bird to have. They need little specialist care and can breed easily given a few simple supplies. They come in a range of colours as well and different mutations, so you can quickly get involved in the fun side of genetics and learning which pairing might produce which colours. But all in all, they are fantastic little characters who will quickly win your heart.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The AMERICAN BALD EAGLE - Facts Everyone Should Know

English: American Bald Eagle taken at the Hoog...
American Bald Eagle taken at the Hoogle Zoo in UT
(Photo credit: 
Many people don't know that the bald eagle has been the symbol of the United States and the nation's national bird since 1782. Sea Eagles, so common in 18th century Europe, were a common sight to America's early settlers, and it is from mistaking the two birds that the bald eagle got its name. There were no bald eagles in Europe, as the bald eagle is found only in North America. The sea eagle name lingers, and the scientific name, Haliaetus leucocephalus, actually means "sea eagle with a white head" in Greek and Latin.

Of the 'sea eagle' species, the bald eagle is the only one that is native to North America. The bald eagle is immediately obvious by its smooth, white head and white tail, contrasted by the deep brown feathers of its body. Coins, flags, buildings, and seals in the United States have used the image of the bald eagle to symbolize the country.

The bald eagle is a fierce bird of prey, along with other raptors, such as hawks, vultures, owls, and falcons. The bald eagle lives on a diet of live prey, such as waterfowl and fish, as well as rodents, snakes, rabbits, and birds, but they will eat carrion when there is no live prey to be eaten.

Bald eagles are enormous and intimidating birds, with adults growing to 32 inches in length, with wingspans to 7 ½ feet, and weighing up to 16 pounds.

The largest eagles live in Alaska, and the smaller eagles can be found in Florida. Wherever the bald eagle lives, the animals in the region scatter when the bird begins to land.

Each hunting pair of bald eagles requires an area of 2 to 15 square miles in which to hunt. Each pair of bald eagles shares a nest, furiously guarding it against predators. The bald eagle sometimes chases animals that have made a catch of their own, such as the East Central Florida bald eagles that chase Ospreys along the Indian River Lagoon. The eagle will then get to eat the Osprey's catch, as the Osprey drops its squirming prey to escape the eagle.

Although they are birds of prey, the bald eagle shows a tremendous instinct for family loyalty. The bald eagle stays with its mate for life, though few other birds follow this behavior. Though most birds live a much shorter time, the bald eagle can live for as many as 25 years. They live across North America, from the north, including Canada and Alaska, across the middle expanses of the U.S., and south into the northern part of Mexico.

The bald eagle travels frequently, flying to northern climates to escape hot summers, the birds usually return close to the place where they were hatched in order to begin families of their own. Breeding bald eagles lay one to three eggs in the spring, which hatch about 35 days later. After three months in the nest, the baby bald eagles begin to fly, and a month later fly away from their mother for good. The dangers of hunger, disease, harsh weather and toxic chemicals can all make life hard for baby eagles, but almost 70% manage to adapt and survive for at least a year.

Did you know that to save the species in 1940 the United States Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act? This law made it illegal for people to disturb or bother the birds. This also included taking bald eagles for reasons such as selling, trading, or transporting them and also included their eggs and nests. Taking an eagle included shooting at the birds, wounding them, trapping, capturing, disturbing them, or killing them in any manner.

Large numbers of bald eagles died because of DTT, the overuse of pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. The bald eagle was given a chance to be saved by the many reintroduction programs and new laws that were enacted to help them. It seemed nearly impossible to save the species from extinction at the time.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 allowed species that were small in numbers to be classified as threatened, and species with very low populations to be classified as endangered. In the early 1990s, the rapidly increasing numbers of bald eagles made it possible for the species to be taken off the endangered species lists in most states.

The bald eagle has dramatically increased in numbers between 1963 and 1994, rising from about 500 pairs to almost 5,000 pairs and leading Congress to reclassify its status as threatened. With the increasing population of the bald eagle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon take the bird off the endangered species list.

To observe the bald eagle is a pleasurable experience. The long strides of the bald eagle as it launches leads into the soaring, slow-motion movement of the bird in flight. The determined eagle keeps to its determined path, its prize kept in sight. The skies of North America are increasingly filled with the majestic bald eagle. Everyone should make an effort to see this animal.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


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

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.

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.

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.

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: 
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.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Collared ARACARI - Pteroglossus torquatus

Collared Aracari - Pteroglossus torquatus

Friday, January 11, 2019


Original Title: Rainforest Birds - Beryl-Spangled Tanager

Beryl-spangled Tanager (Tangara nigroviridis) ...
Beryl-spangled Tanager (Tangara nigroviridis) from Ecuador (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bird Name:
Beryl-spangled Tanager

Latin Name:
Tangara nigroviridis

Least Concern

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Thraupidae
Genus: Tangara
Species: nigroviridis

General Information:

The Beryl-spangled Tanager is a colorful, tropical bird that inhabits the tropical regions of the north to northeastern South America. Tanagers can often be found in mixed-species flocks. This genus of tanagers is considered canopy dwellers, and will most often be found in the tree canopy. T. nigroviridis has three subspecies.

Physical Description:
Beryl-spangled Tanagers can grow to about 11 inches in length and weigh up to about 40 g. It is mainly black with bright green to bluish green speckles, sometimes appearing like scales, which cover much of its body including the breast and wings.

Tanagers' diet typically consists of fruit. They have also been known to pick insects from leaves and the underside of branches. They forage most often between 2 and 9 m above the ground.

This species of tanager inhabits the Andean moist montane cloud forests. They reside in elevations between 900 and 3000 m, although they are most numerous between 1500 and 2400 m. Their range stretches across Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Brazil.

The Beryl-spangled Tanager builds cup nests constructed of mosses, usually in a tree fork. Eggs will appear in March. The female averages a clutch size of two eggs. The eggs are creamy white and speckled with brown and lilac. The eggs are incubated for a period of 13 to15 days. Both the male and the female will feed the nestlings insects and fruit. The young chicks will fledge the nest 14 to 20 days after hatching.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

BIRD FLU: A Chicken Raiser’s Nightmare

English: Avian Influenza ( Bird Flu ) Sign Avi...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since its outbreak, every poultry owner had become aware of the consequences that can happen if this deadly disease is not prevented. Bird flu or what is also known as avian (meaning bird) influenza (flu), is the number one killer of poultry chickens in Asia and some parts of the world. 

Bird flu started in China and became a widespread disease for their chickens thus wiping out over millions of poultry businesses and dropping the chicken industry to a devastating point. The thing about avian flu is that, not only can it affect birds but also humans which makes the illness more dangerous to various lives. It can be passed from chicken to chicken, chicken to person, person to person, person to chicken, and so on. That is why authorities in the health sectors are taking this serious matter in their hands and are making strict surveillance. 

Avian influenza is not just a disease underlying a typical cold. It is more than that. In fact, it can kill an entire poultry habitation within a week. If passed onto a person, it can be more lethal as a person can interact with hundreds of people in a day without even noticing that they have become the perfect carrier of the disease. Worse, this sickness is not a picky disease. It could affect everyone including children. 

The incubation period, if passed to a human, is not exact but as record shows, it may take about three to five days from the exposure to the disease-causing virus. Till then, the person will experience signs and symptoms that are similar with the common cold like fever, cough, sore throat, and aching of the muscles. Sometimes, the only thing that could indicate if the person has bird flu is if they are having conjunctivitis. 

If the person who was affected and has experienced the signs and symptoms stated above ignored the indications, it may lead to the severity of the disease. The person now will start to experience viral pneumonia and eventually, acute respiratory distress which is the most common cause of deaths among bird-related diseases. 

But this pandemic crisis can be pretty much prevented if certain precautions are practiced if everyone who is involved will cooperate with the measures that were given out by the authorities. 

Through thorough surveillance, WHO (World Health Organization) supports in eliminating the disease. Through this, they can trace the source of infection and track down those who were affected by the flu. They will confirm instances of the disease and how many deaths were known. Once WHO officials find out the extent of the disease’s proximity, they will contain the area under quarantine.

Those who are in the zone will not be allowed to go beyond it and those who wanted to enter will be prohibited. That is why the concerned officials must be responsible enough to bring in reliable data otherwise there would be miscalculations that can result in more chickens and people being affected instead of being saved. 

With the word spread out all across the globe, the government is also having strict participation for the observance if there are any occurrences of the virus in their community. Residents are the one who has to be more watchful because they will be the one more affected.

Their communication and participation is the most important tool to evaluate the presence of this disease and make raising chickens safer for both chickens and owners.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Endangered Species - DARWIN FINCH

English: A mangrove finch, the rarest of Darwi...
A mangrove finch, the rarest of Darwin's finches.
 (Photo credit: 
Have you ever wondered about how man became the dominant species in the world? We're not the biggest, the fastest, the strongest or the hardest working creature on the planet. What separates us from other creatures is both our intelligence and our ability to use tools. Man's use of tools dates back to prehistoric ages when we used stones and clubs throughout history. Over the years we have developed new tools making our lives easier and making it possible to dominate our environment.

For many years it was thought that man was the only creature that used tools, through research, it was observed that other animals also use tools. Sticks and stones have been observed being used for various purposes. Other than humans, primates are known to make the widest use of tools and the Woodpecker Finch that collects up to 50% of their diet by using a tool to collect their food. These finches are second only to man, in their reliance of tools in order to obtain food. The Woodpecker Finch uses sticks, twigs and cactus spines to make up for its short tongue and gather insects from plants and trees.

The Woodpecker Finch is just one of 14 species known as Darwin Finch named after Charles Darwin. Darwin collected these finches during his visit to the Galapagos. Brownish Grey in color these noisy birds were unimpressive at first - Darwin thought them to be blackbirds or grosbeaks. Upon returning to England, Darwin presented the birds along with other animals he collected during his voyage to the Geological Society of London it was there that an ornithologist, discovered that Darwin had discovered an entirely new group of birds and 12 different species. It was this discovery, which directly led to his theory of evolution and the transmutation of species.

"Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends"

Since the days of Darwin, this group of birds continues to intrigue scientists. The term "Darwin Finch" was coined in the 1900's and made popular by David Lack who spent 3 months in the Galapagos studying the birds and wrote a book about his studies. Yet the real experts on the Darwin Finch are Peter and Rosemary Grant who spent 30 years studying the birds and wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Beak of the Finch. Winners of the prestigious Balzan prize for popular biology their citation reads...

"Peter and Rosemary Grant are distinguished for their remarkable long-term studies demonstrating evolution in action in Galapagos finches. They have demonstrated how very rapid changes in body and beak size in response to changes in the food supply are driven by natural selection. They have also elucidated the mechanisms by which new species arise and how genetic diversity is maintained in natural populations. The work of the Grants has had a seminal influence in the fields of population biology, evolution and ecology."

Through these studies, we have come to learn there are 14 species of Darwin Finch 13 in the Galapagos Islands plus one living at Cocos Island. These birds are members of the tanager family rather than a true finch. Each species is approximately the same size 10 - 20 cm making them difficult to tell apart. The primary difference between the finches is their beak size and shape which mutated to adapt to their diet ranging from seeds, insects, flowers, leaves and the blood of sea birds. For example, finches which eat insects will have a thin extended beak to poke into holes in the ground and extract the grubs. Finches that eat flowers and seeds have a claw like beaks can grind down their food and thus give them a selective advantage in circumstances in parts of the islands where seeds are the only real food available.

Typically the Darwin Finch are divided into (4) groups representing each genus: ground finches (Geospiza) are made up of 4 species seeding eating ground finches each with a crushing bill plus one cactus dwelling finch with a probing bill. There is the insect eating warbler finch (Certhidea) with its probing bill and the Cocos Finch (Pinaroloxias). As well as the more diversified group of tree finches (amarhynchus) consisting of the fruit eating vegetarian tree finch with its parrot like a bill, the small and large tree finch both dine on insects and have a grasping bill. The Woodpecker finch we discussed earlier with its probing bill. Found only on the Island of Cocos along the coast of Costa Rica, the Cocos finch which eats both fruits and insects and is the most plentiful bird on the island this is in direct contrast to the Mangrove Finch which can be found in two mangrove areas on the western coast of Isabela and is critically endangered.

Though these remarkable birds have adapted to life in the Galapagos Islands for thousands of years, it is the introduction of new species by a man that has devastated the Mangrove Finch. The mangrove finch closely resembles the Woodpecker Finch only these birds do not use tools. Historically the Mangrove Finch could be found in the mangrove areas on the east of Ferndandina and on the west, south and north of Isabela. However, recent surveys have determined the bird is now extinct on Fernandina and there is thought to be approximately 70 remaining on Isabela.

The plight of the Mangrove Finch is due to a blood sucking parasite known as the Philornis downsi. Accidently introduced to the Galapagos thought by imported fruits, the larvae of the fly emerge at night to feed both internally and externally on the blood and flesh of developing nestlings. The presence of this parasite is causing significant (16 - 95%) mortality rate in Darwin Finch and devastating both the Medium Tree Finch and Mangrove Finch both of which are now considered critically endangered.

The national park has made great strides in the conservation and preservation of endemic species from their tortoise rearing and breeding program for giant tortoises, the restoration of land iguanas to the eradication of goats and other introduced species on many of the islands.

However, P. downsi creates a whole new issue. When eradicating goats on Isabela, Pinta and Santiago the national park used radio collars to track the goats leading them to other goats in the heard. Yet using a radio collars to track flies is an impossibility. Whereas goats produce on average 2 - 3 kids after a 150 day gestational period. The P. downsi produces hundreds of off springs in a matter of days - the ramifications of which are staggering.

Since its introduction, the parasite has spread to 12 of the 13 islands and can be found in 64-100% of the nests. The Darwin Station is searching for a solution to this problem that affects all of the Darwin Finch as well as the other land birds in Galapagos.

In order to protect the Mangrove Finch from extinction, the national park has been working on a captive breeding program both for the finch as well as for the P. downsi. Their hopes are to breed the finch in a safe environment. While in studying the P. downsi it is in hopes to create a sterile version of the parasite which can be introduced into the population to eradicate it. Additionally, the park is working to eradicate of rats (another predator) in the habitat of the Mangrove Finch. They have established a monitoring program and through these resources and education, the park and scientists are hopeful they can save the Mangrove Finch from extinction and continue to preserve the endemic species of the Galapagos Islands.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Fact Sheet: TURQUOISE TANAGER - Tangara mexicana

(Original Title: Rainforest Birds - Turquoise Tanager)

Turquoise Tanager - Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Turquoise Tanager - Jurong Bird Park, Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bird Name:
Turquoise Tanager

Latin Name:
Tangara Mexicana

Least Concern

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Thraupidae
Genus: Tangara
Species: T. Mexicana

General Information:
The Turquoise Tanager is a medium-sized passerine bird that occurs in northern and northeastern South America. It is a resident of the Amazon Basin as well as adjacent rivers. It is a social bird and is often found in small flocks.

Physical Description:
The adult birds are around 5.5 inches long and weigh approximately 20 grams. They have long tails and dark stout bills. When fully grown, these tanagers are dark blue in color with yellow underparts. The Trinidadian form, T. m. vieiloti has a darker blue hue and brighter yellow belly than their mainland counterparts. The east Brazilian subspecies, T. m. brasiliensis is pale, silvery-blue with dark spots on its throat and chest and white on its belly.

The Turquoise Tanager feeds primarily on fruit but will also eat insects, flowers, leaves, and seeds.

Its range stretches within the Amazon Basin to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Brazil, Bolivia. It is also common on the island of Trinidad, where it is a resident breeder. It inhabits forests, semi-open areas, and cultivated lands. This bird typically builds a bulky cup nest in a tree or shrub. In eastern Brazil, there is a disjunct population living from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro.

The female Turquoise Tanager lays 2 to 3 brown-blotched, gray-green eggs per clutch. The female incubates the eggs for about 12 - 14 days. Pairs break off from the flock to reproduce. After hatching, pairs rejoin the flock but return to feed the young.

    By Tony Mandarich
    Author Tony Mandarich has written many articles about one of his passions, rainforest birds. Article Source: EzineArticles

Monday, January 7, 2019

Fact Sheet: EASTERN ROSELLA - Platycercus eximius

(Original Article: Rainforest Birds - Eastern Rosella)

Colorful bird
Photo  by Tambako the Jaguar 

Bird Name:
Eastern Rosella

Latin Name:
Platycercus eximius

Least concern

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Platycercus
Species: P. eximius

General Information:
The many common names of the Eastern Rosella include Rosella, Rosella Parrot or Parakeet, Red Rosella, Common Rosella, White-cheeked Rosella and Red-headed Rosella. The Eastern Rosella has three subspecies P.e. eximius (Eastern Rosella), P.e. cecilae (Gold-mantled Rosella), and P.e. diemenensis (Tasmania Rosella). These birds are common in the pet trade because of their bright colors and their softer call. There has been much debate about the classification of Rosellas.

Physical Description:
Eastern Rosellas are about 30 cm in length and weigh 90 to 120 gm. The head, throat, and upper breast are bright red and they exhibit white cheek patches. The lower breast is yellow and green. Wings are mixed in color of black, blue, and green. The green extends down to the blue tail. Bill and feet are gray. Sexes are similar with the female smaller in size and paler in color and exhibiting more of green shading. The female generally has an underwing stripe.

The Rosellas feed on grass and shrub seeds, fruits, berries, blossoms, nuts, nectar, and insects. They have been known to cause a great deal of damage to crops and orchards.

Rosellas are distributed throughout southeastern Australia. They inhabit lightly timbered woodlands in humid and semi-humid regions from the seaboard to the fringes of the inland plains. Each subspecies has its own range. The Eastern Rosella subspecies occurs within Victoria and southern New South Wales. The Gold-mantled Rosella occurs in northern New South Wales. The Tasmania Rosella is found in eastern Tasmania.

Breeding season for the Eastern Rosellas occurs between August and February. Nest are built primarily in fallen logs or stumps. The clutch size is 4 to 9 eggs. Incubation takes approximately 19 days and the female does this solely. She will leave the nest 2 to 3 times a day to feed or be fed by the male. Females feeds the chicks exclusively for the first 10 days, after which the male may enter the nest and both parents will feed the young.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Hey Parrots Train Your Parents To Start Training You

Photo: Pixabay
Happy parrots enjoy training every day. Parrot potty training is one of the easiest things that we can learn.

If you want to be a happy bird like me you have to train your parents to spend time and invest in training you.  Let's face it we don’t like to be stuck in a cage or on our stands all day screaming our heads off.  We are going to live a long time so we might as well be happy.   Read on to learn how I was parrot potty trained.

If you’re not a happy bird like a lot of us are or were at one time, tell your parents to just start spending time with you.  One of my favorite things to do is to sing with my parents.  They’re not that talented so I enjoy training them how to sing.

For you parrots out there who like to come out once and while but you get put right back because of you poop on the floor or the furniture, tell your parents to start parrot potty training you.  It’s very easy to learn.  Here is how my Papa taught me.  He waits for me to poop in my cage while saying to me "sit" because sit sounds nicer than go poop.  Then when I do he takes me out and plays and cuddles with me for a short time.  Then he puts me back in my cage and tells me to "sit again" and when I do (so to speak) he takes me out and plays and cuddles with me again.  After a short time the only place that I want to "sit" is in my cage or on my play stand.  Tell your parents potty training parrots is much easier than potty training dogs, cats or even children.