Bird breeder's thoughts on whatever…

07-25-16: Monday, Monday — July 25, 2016

07-25-16: Monday, Monday

With the Mamas and the Papas ringing in my ears, where shall I start?  I got the birds all cleaned, fed, and watered, the house vacuumed, checks made out, chickens have been checked on, hot tub parameters have been checked and doctored, and the first of two loads of laundry is in the washer.  And there are twenty-two minutes till the next handfeeding!  So it’s blog time.

I guess you really know you’re getting older when you can stand up and your ankle goes out.  This happened a couple of years ago to me and I ended up using a cane for a while, it was so bad.  Then it went away, nearly as quickly as it had come.  Yesterday the same thing happened again.  Minding my own business, I stood up and felt that sharp pain in my right ankle.  Not so bad that I couldn’t just limp around, being careful to favor it.

When I got up this morning, it was still there.  I almost put an ankle brace on, but figured some sturdy, supportive sneakers – that’s “athletic shoes” to you younguns out there – would do just as well.  I hobbled around doing my chores.  When I went out to check on the chickens the pain disappeared.  I mean it was there one second, and gone the next.  I’m not complaining, but how weird is that?  Hopefully it will stay gone.  If not, I happen to know where there is a cane with my name on it.  Literally.  Yeah, I’m the person that puts their name on a cane.

I guess it’s going to be another hot day, and looks to be that way most of the week.  The dog days of summer are truly meant for MY dog.  Spotticus loves the heat!  He will stay out in the sun and relax until he begins to melt, then finally seems to realize he’d better come in before he goes the way of the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz.  Me?  I’m happy in front of a fan, and really looking forward to fall.  The only thing wrong with fall is that it’s the precursor to winter.

The two parrotlet kids I’d been handfeeding went to their new homes on Saturday.  They are doing well and settling in nicely.  I moved the five budgies I’m handfeeding to the cage they were in, so they have more floor space now.  Immediately, all five – even the youngest – begin pigging out on millet and also on pellets!  Like a switch had been turned on!   They are now getting only three handfeedings a day and it’s still a bit of a circus.  Spot loves it, because somebody always ends up on the floor.  Spot’s tail is like a metronome and I can easily find the bird by looking in the direction of his nose.  I still give him a loud and stern NO when a bird flies down, but I really don’t think he’d ever grab one.  It wasn’t always that way, and when he was younger I always crated him when doing anything with the birds.  If you give Spot a furry toy he will hold it down with his paws while ripping every bit of fuzz out of it.  I have visions of him doing the same to a bird that I will make sure never come true!

The four little – and I do mean little! – parrotlet kids are doing well and seem to be doing well  on five feedings a day.  I will try to band the next-to-the-youngest one later today.  They’ve grown a lot in just a few days and are looking good.

I opened up the nestboxes for the greys this weekend, and it was less than five seconds before both hens dove into their respective boxes!  Wow!  Ziggy and Ruby both had been doing a lot of banging on the sheet metal that was covering the entrance holes.  It reminds us of the old movies where the prisoners in jail would bang their metal water cups on the bars.  Except the birds don’t want OUT, they want IN.   Despite that super-fast entry into the boxes, it will probably be at least a month before any eggs are laid.  My fingers are crossed for success.  I would love to see the congos have a fertile egg or two, but I’m sure not holding my breath.

I see my time is up.  Time to feed babies again.  One last bit before I go, though.  The Aquarid meteor shower peaks mid-week.  This is a great time of year for meteors.  From now through mid-August there should be some meteors every night if you are lucky enough to have a clear sky and not too much light.  The full moon is behind us now, so viewing conditions should be getting better and better.  OK, babies need feeding!

Till next time,


7-13-16: Babies Babies Babies — July 19, 2016

7-13-16: Babies Babies Babies

There are lots of babies in the house right now!  There are parrotlets in the nest, as well as eggs in another nest, canaries in the nest, budgies being handfed, and angelfish fry!

The two parrotlet kids I’ve been handfeeding are due to go home this weekend.  This is one of those matches made in heaven where I am thrilled with where they are going.  The lady is married to a vet and used to have a parrotlet so understands the care they need.  Plus they are taking both girls, which is super.  The two girls are going to do great with them.  I’ve been sending her pix almost every day and it’s so nice to have someone that is excited about their kids and has everything ready.  071716PletKids01The kids are just gorgeous and so sweet, too!

The parents of these two are on another clutch right now.  I know they have at least four eggs, but suspect there are more.  Looks like I’ll be handfeeding for a while to come.

The five budgies I’m feeding are still little lunatics.  They sure do get excited at feeding time!  They squawk and make a ton of noise and are so excited they usually grab onto me like little vultures.  They are down to four feedings a day, and I have seen a couple of the older ones picking at millet.  Looking forward to them being weaned.

I was given another budgie this past weekend.  A lovely green hen (I think – the jury is still out on that one) named Sprite, who appears to be a dominant pied, and is really very pretty.  I’d like to pair Sprite with one of the kids I’m handfeeding, but until I know for sure what the sex is that could be a bit risky.

The parrotlet pair with babies (four that I know of) is the pair I had made up from two of my pairs’ kids last year.  I had tried to sell the pair at the last BOAF (Birds of a Feather) show but had no takers.  Too bad, they could have doubled their money on just one clutch.  I knew they would be a good pair because they had been handfed and raised together so were extremely bonded.  As soon as I gave them a box they went to nest, laid 7 eggs, and have hatched four babies.  So far I’ve only really gotten one quick look (and a picture) but all seems to be going well.071716ParrotletKidsHow cute are they!?

The angelfish pair laid eggs on July 13th.  They had originally surprised me by spawning when they were in the 29 gallon community tank.  I was totally unprepared and the fry didn’t make it.  So I moved the pair to my 20 gallon tank, got them a piece of slate to lay the eggs on, and waited.  Finally, eggs were laid and at this point there must be a hundred tiny little fry swimming around.  The only wrinkle is that the baby brine shrimp the fry should be eating are not hatching out as expected in the little hatchery.  My eggs are over ten years old, but have been kept in the freezer.  When I hatched some before, I had been pleased that they did hatch.  I figured I was all set for when the angels spawned again.  So why are the eggs now hatching so poorly?  Murphy’s Law?

Luckily I have some dry fry food that I am giving to the kids, but it is not ideal and I have ordered more brine shrimp eggs in the meantime.  I’m guessing the fry must be eating some of the dry fry food or surely they’d have all died already.  But really, this is such a learning experience.

I’ve been very fortunate to have some expert advice from a guy named Paul.  I watched one of his videos on You Tube and emailed him.  He’s been super about answering my many questions and giving me advice.  Nice to know I’m not the only one that answers questions when newbies ask – in my case about birds and in Paul’s case about fish fry.  I see so many people online be rude when people ask questions.  Yes, it takes time to answer.  And yes, sometimes it’s tedious to answer the same questions a million times.  But if people didn’t want to learn, they wouldn’t be asking.  Anyway, off my soapbox now, but I feel very fortunate to have found someone willing to share their knowledge.  071916AngelFry03.jpgAll those dark things to the right of the fish?  Babies!  LOL.  So cute!  I got nervous yesterday when I saw one of the parents seeming to be a bit over-zealous in gathering the wandering fry (in their mouth) and they didn’t seem to always be spitting them back out!  So I distracted the parents with some food and nabbed a net full of kids to transfer to a five gallon tank.  Hedging my bets.  There may be a hundred or more kids, but honestly I’ll be happy if half a dozen make it to the point where they resemble angelfish!

It’s already mid-July so the summer is going by quickly, as all time seems to do.  The garden got a very late start but is finally looking a bit more promising.  The flowers in the yard are all looking really nice, too.

Scott got me a piece of wood and I made a sign for the small chicken coop, designed to give them a bit of shade.  Along with moving our big metal rooster on the same side of their yard as the sign, they now have a bit of shade on those super hot days. I like it!071516BantyShanty.jpg


If you have birds and you haven’t checked out my Etsy shop, please do.  There is a coupon code that will save you a few bucks and maybe you can check out a few toys for your “fids”. There  are also some goodies there for bird-loving humans as well.



07-07-16: Walkabout — July 7, 2016

07-07-16: Walkabout

When handfeeding my birds, there comes a point where we begin to focus on having the babies well-adjusted and easy-going.  As part of that process, we take the kids on what we call Walkabouts.  This usually happens once the baby can perch on our hand.  So we have the bird perched and take a walk, talking to the baby the whole time and explaining what we are seeing, much as you would for a human baby or toddler.  Generally the first Walkabout consists of going from kitchen to dining room, with stops at the aquarium and at the finch flight on the wall.  A loop or two around the dining room table usually completes these first Walkabouts, and then we head back to the kitchen.  When all goes well, the baby will remain perched for the duration.  If they fly off, we go after them and have them step up again and proceed.

The two blue parrotlets I’ve been handfeeding are at this Walkabout stage.  One is now 5 weeks old and her sister is a day shy of this.  They are fully feathered and gorgeous, and although they are at 3 feedings per day I am basically having to force a tiny amount of formula on them – more for my benefit than theirs.  They are eating spray millet, pellets, and a seed mix on their own, and in sufficient quantities that I’d call them self-sustaining at this time.  They are all over their cage; hopping from perch to perch and up to the swing and showing interest in their toys as well.  They also “step up” pretty quickly when asked, though with parrotlets it really comes naturally to them once they gain control over their bodies’ movements.

Today they had their first Walkabout.  I had them both perched on my left hand, with my trusty camera in my right.  We walked to the dining room, with me giving a running commentary on what we were doing and seeing.  Much of it – most of it, really – is talk about nothing, designed mainly to get them used to a human holding them and talking to them where, not only does no harm come to them but, they also get to see new and interesting things.

We stop first at the finch flight.  There are 10 finches in the flight.  It is 9′ long and the finches enjoy flying from one end to the other.  It’s like Must-See-TV for the bird on the Walkabout!   I bring them up close to the glass front and tell them “these are the finches.  Aren’t they cute and tiny?   They aren’t much smaller than you are.”   And blah blah blah, LOL.  Yes, I am able to talk for minutes about nothing, while I have their captive attention.070716PletWalkabout01

Next we head to the 29 gallon aquarium, and again I give a commentary on the “fishies” and point out various individuals. 070716PletWalkabout03

At this point, if the birds are still on my hand I’m doing well, as are they.  It’s not uncommon to have the bird fly off  – whereupon I will go fetch them and resume where I left off.  Today the parrotlet kids stayed put for the duration.  After we admired the fish we took a loop around the table and headed back to their cage.  They stepped up onto their swing, marking the end of the first very successful Walkabout.


Nita’s Nest

My Etsy Shop, featuring safe bird toys made from a variety of interesting textures for your bird’s entertainment, as well as unique, handcrafted, hand-painted items such as Key Racks and Clocks.  Recently added: Cribbage Boards!