Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feed me, Feed me ... & More on Breeding

In this first photo, all the birds want out to be fed at once. Sometimes I let them all out together, but it's easier to feed them one at a time (and less messy).

The three babies I'm feeding right now are almost weaned. They're scratching around and appear to be trying to eat seed. Hopefully, they are. Spray millet is the easiest, and I've given them nestling formula, as well as typical adult parakeet seed mix.

Once they are eating on their own, they will still want to be fed occasionally. Maybe it's only comfort food, or maybe it's needed to augment what they are eating on their own. No matter. I don't want them to go without, so I'll feed them until I'm certain they no longer need it or want it.

The three photos above are of three different babies. Although similar, I can easily tell them apart.

The picture in the lower right is of Rosie crowding into the box with the babies. See her long tail sticking out? The babies' tails are shorter. Rosie has been asking her brother, Flame, to breed so maybe she thinks she's ready for a nest box. She's not! Only three months old, she won't be ready until a minimum of 10-12 months of age ... best at two years old.  In a week or less, the tissue box will be history and the babies will be ready to sell.

As beautiful as Flame is (that's why I kept him), I may go ahead and sell him. Rosie needs a mate, and it shouldn't be him. I already have enough pairs, so keeping Flame and getting a mate for him simply adds more birds. I had considered keeping him because of his color and selling Rosie, but have decided I like Rosie too much, even if she's not as dark pink as Flame. 

Although distantly related, one of these babies may stay instead. However, at this point it's a guess which one is male. I hope to choose correctly. One looks just like Rhett, his father, and I think that might be the one to keep. He flies to my finger like Rosie does ... a good quality. The fact that I can call Rosie, hold up my finger and have her fly to it from anywhere in the room, is the main reason she's my favorite. Smile.

More on Breeding:

Three of my hens have had their three clutches in the last few months and deserve a rest to maintain good health. In the past, I've only allowed my hens to breed once a year. I put up nest boxes in Feb. or March and took them down after two or three clutches per hen. All came down in the Fall irregardless. Last year, however - because of noisy disruptions - we didn't have successful clutches in Spring or Summer. When things quieted down, the hens decided to go back to their nests in the Fall before the boxes came off, so I let them. Indoors with lights on in the evening, the day length didn't affect them much. Now, they want to continue to breed since the weather's sunny & warm.  

In discussing this with bird expert, Bob Nelson, he said that a two or three month rest period should be adequate. His recommendation? Close off the boxes until the Fourth of July and reopen them then. Sounds like a plan!

For us, this year has already proven to be a bountiful one for baby Bourkes, and may get better. Two other young hens have laid fertile eggs that didn't hatch. Maybe they will succeed next time, so their boxes will stay up. We have seven pairs of Bourkes altogether (not counting babies or Rosie or Flame).

Splendids, as mentioned in another post, haven't done well for the past two years. All eggs have been infertile. I moved males around recently, and am hopeful a change will create success ... even if only with one of the pairs! I have two extra males and it would be nice to have hens for them.

Peace & Blessings.

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