Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No time to write, but more bird photos

Pinks with my hand are the Fabulous Four ... promised to a buyer on Jan. 8 ... I'll miss them!

The three birds, two Bourkes and a Splendid, are all bachelors. The Splendid is also called a Scarlet-chested parakeet. The others are a Normal Bourke parakeet and a Rosy Bourke parakeet. Normals exhibit the native Australian color. Notice the rose color on lower chest and blue at shoulders. They've been bred to produce more and more of the rose ... aren't both varieties beautiful? They're sweet natured too!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Egg Results...

It would seem that the little guys in the eggs being incubated weren't strong enough to make it out of their shells. Sad. I heard pipping from an egg at one point, and was optimistic, although it didn't seem very loud. I thought perhaps the bird needed more time to peck its way out.  By next morning the pipping had stopped and pessimism took over. I wondered if I should help it out of the shell, but everything I'd read said to never "help" a bird hatch. If I had helped, and it had died, I would have blamed myself.

These two eggs had a rocky start, perhaps leaving the babies weak and unable to get out of their shells on their own. I'm inexperienced at incubating eggs ... this was the first try. However, the incubator will be kept and used again with any other abandoned eggs that appear to be fertile. Maybe next time... God willing.

It was fascinating to see the baby birds move in their shells. If only ...

Meanwhile, our handfed youngsters, the "fabulous four," are still doing well. They're beautiful, tame and happy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christ's Mass ... the reason for the Season.  God Bless one and all ... especially those too small to care for themselves.  Love and Blessing for a great 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Incubated Eggs...

As an update... The two eggs are still moving inside and alive. Whether they hatch or not will depend upon the strength of the babies. Since the eggs were allowed to cool under three different hens before being moved to an incubator, that could have weakened the babies. By my calculations, one egg should hatch by today and the other next week. However, the cooling off periods may have delayed development. I'm still hopeful!

As promised ... here's the high tech egg candling device that's highly successful at determining the viability of an egg. Smile. A high-powered flashlight and a toilet paper roll insert with duct tape over one end. Cut a hole small enough to lay the egg on without allowing it to fall through. Shine flashlight into the open end of the toilet paper roll insert. Did I really need to tell you that? Hold onto the egg so that it doesn't fall off! Probably didn't need to tell you that either.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade Egg Incubator ...

Problem: An egg-bound hen with two abandoned fertile eggs. She’s fine now, and I’ll review how we helped her lay that egg in another blog.

Solution: Incubate them. Whoops, no incubator. That problem was solved in 15 minutes. Here’s how we made a still-air incubator – one without a ventilation fan.

First we gathered our materials: an unused Cockatiel nest box, a piece of sturdy welded wire, a small thermometer, a glass dish for water, a large washer, nuts, and an electrical light socket with cord.

Next, hubby drilled a hole through the side of the box at the proper height for the light socket’s shaft. After fitting the shaft through, he put on a large washer and tightened it down with a nut. We screwed in a 25 Watt bulb, folded some aluminum foil, and put it under the bulb to reflect the heat into the box. The glass dish holds water. It will evaporate and help keep the air around the eggs moist.

With the basics in place, he cut the welded wire to size and folded it to form a “floor” above the bulb and attached the thermometer to the back wall of the box. Then we added a “nest” — a small cardboard box with tissue padding. And the egg’s new home was ready!

We plugged in the bulb and let the box pre-heat before placing the eggs. We’ve found that the thermometer reads a consist 98 degrees…just about right. We developed several hi-tech solutions to achieve optimal temperature. If the temperature is a little too low, move the box closer to the bulb. If it’s too high move the box away from the bulb. If the incubator overheats, raise the lid slightly and stick a pencil in to hold it up. The more heat you need to dissipate, the further back you put the pencil.

And that’s it. In about 15 minutes we had our handy-dandy still-air incubator. Say a prayer for our eggs. I can see movement when I candle them. (On my next post I’ll show you our hi-tech egg candling device. I’ll also let you know how this grand experiment turns out.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Feeding the Fabulous Four!

Mama hatched all four of her Rosy Bourke eggs! Babies are doing fabulously ... each with a different personality, and all sweet and adorable.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I grew up with birds and dogs. It never occurred to me that birds, especially small ones, would be safe around cats. In fact, I was stunned when I visited someone with two cockatiels sitting on an end table with a cat sleeping on a couch nearby. When I asked, they said the cat had never threatened them.

A few years later, my young son wanted a pet parakeet, or to be more exact, a budgerigar parakeet. We had two cats, and he promised to keep the bird behind his closed bedroom door. Skybird became very tame, but the inevitable happened. One day when my son was away, I heard a loud crash and rushed into his room. The door had been left open and the cage was on the floor, popped apart. The bird was sitting on a curtain rod, unhurt. Realizing what must have happened, I looked under the bed and pulled out a very frightened cat. I was about to scold him when I noticed a bloody divot in the tip of his nose … the cause of the crashed cage. He was one cat who never investigated the cage or the bird again.

Years later we added two cockatiels and another budgie to our household. The cats ignored them as if they were part of the furniture. When I put up two cages of zebra finches in our bedroom, our Birman cat would lie on the window sill and watch them. Over time I came to trust him and didn’t worry as he watched generation after generation of zebra finches grow and fledge close enough that he could have jumped onto the cage if he chose to, but he never did. It was entertainment enough just to watch.

Today, decades later, our three cats live in close proximity with over 20 Bourke and Splendid parakeets, as did others before them. They’ve never bothered any of our cages. They recognize the birds as part of the family. Recently, tending the feet of a young Bourke that had never flown before, it unexpectedly flew from my hand. On its first solo flight, the little thing landed on a couch directly in front of our black cat, close enough that she could have extended her foot only slightly and squashed it flat.

“No Mei-Ling!” I yelled at her, but I needn’t have bothered. Mei-Ling simply looked at the baby bird and did not move toward it or away from it. I quickly crossed the room and retrieved the bird, telling Mei-Ling what a good girl she was. It never hurts to reinforce good behavior.

When outside, Mei-Ling is quite a huntress. I scold if I see her stalking birds, so she doesn’t seem to do that anymore. Her main prey are mice and voles.

Our other cat, Patches, was already old when we took her in as a sick stray three years ago. She’s now beautiful and quickly learned that indoor birds are to be ignored. Since she survived on her own outside for several winter months, I’m sure she ate mice and wild birds, but she knows I don’t want her to bothering birds of any kind. Recently, she had a chipmunk and released it when I insisted she do so. It escaped, apparently unhurt. Either she will leave them alone in the future, or she won’t let me see her with one…

Every cat is different, so never immediately trust any cat to leave your birds alone. Spend time with them, scolding if they look eagerly toward the birds. Most are quick to learn that your indoor birds are off limits. However, at night our cats are not allowed access to any rooms with birds in them. I’ve become lax about going outside and leaving the cats indoors and don’t worry, but for prolonged periods, I don’t leave them alone with the birds. That said, we did take a trip last summer and were gone 6 or 7 hours and thought Me-Too, our male cat, was outside. He wasn’t. When we got home, we discovered him asleep in a window seat with access to all the bird cages. Nothing was disturbed and all was quiet. He probably slept the entire time.

Years ago, our old cat, Paws, was indoors when the cockatiels came out to play. Our male cockatiel dive bombed Paws in the same way mockingbirds will dive bomb cats. I’ve seen cats catch mockingbirds who did that to them and Paws certainly could have quickly dispatched the cockatiel rather quickly. However, Paws hunkered down and waited for us to remove the bird from the room. He knew he shouldn’t harm it, even though it was harassing him.

Each cat is different and some couldn’t avoid that sort of temptation. Whenever a bird is out of the cage, remember that it is more vulnerable to predation by a cat or dog. Keep that in mind and be careful. Our pet birds usually don’t come out of their cage(s) when the cats are present. Each cat and each bird has a unique personality. You’ll need to decide what’s safe and what isn’t for your pets.

If you want cats and birds … go ahead, but take the time to train your cats and never leave them alone with the birds until you are certain it’s safe. Best scenario is stay in the same room with them, or separate them when you’re not present.
Enjoy your birds and all other pets!