Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bird Shows – Also Buying Birds

In my previous Blog I promised Noah to talk a bit about my experience at bird shows. They are exciting and lots of fun. However, it’s a good idea to know how to reach the breeders/sellers after the show. Most have business cards, pamphlets, or something. If not, ask for a contact number and hope it’s real. You should recognize healthy birds and avoid those that seem lethargic. Expect healthy birds to be active, or at least responsive to you when you approach or talk to them, they should have dry vents and clear, alert eyes ...

The best price I’ve ever found on cages was at a bird show. I’ve since ordered more online, but shipping costs made them more expensive than from the bird show, and they were exactly the same. Boxes of California millet at the show were also more reasonable than from our local Grange. And, the quality was better.

When I decided to raise birds again, I investigated varieties that I’d not previously owned. Bourkes were said to be quiet, peaceful parakeets in addition to being beautiful. That won me over. I started looking for breeders, but none were close. However, there was an annual bird show in Hillsboro, Oregon and they listed Bourkes as a variety being offered. It was a 4-hour drive for us, but it turned out to be well worth the trip.

Our first bird show wasn’t as huge as others I saw in Ohio, but there were a lot of bird dealers present with all kinds of birds. The number of finches was particularly impressive. There were also lots of parakeets, and at least three people had Bourkes for sale. The one thing I never saw at any of the Hillsboro shows was a Scarlet-chested, or Splendid, parakeet.

The best-priced Bourkes were offered by an elderly woman from northern Washington near the Canadian border. A friendly male Bourke came right up to the side of the cage when I talked to him, so he was my first pick.

The friendly hen I selected at the show apparently had the same color band as the male indicating she was a close relative. So, she stayed and the woman pointed out another hen she was certain was unrelated. I took her and named the pair Rhett & Scarlett.

Scarlett turned out to be a wonderfully sweet bird, but not very robust. In her too short lifetime, she produced only one baby, Bonnie. However, she fostered another bird’s egg and when a hen rejected a newly hatched chick, I gave it to Scarlett whose infertile eggs were close to a hatch date. She fostered the baby … something that’s not supposed to happen. As I said, she was a very sweet bird. Yet, fostering that baby wore her down and she died before the baby was fully weaned. Rhett finished feeding it. Although elderly, Rhett is still with us and still producing!

A year after buying Rhett & Scarlett, I chanced to see an ad in our local shopper for Exotic birds and called to see if they might have Bourkes. Turned out that she had individual pairs of many kinds of birds, and Bourkes were one of them. I bought the Rosy pair and her only pair of Splendids. Later, I had an opportunity to buy two Normal hens from a bird store that was going out of business.

The Rosy male was quite a singer, so I called him Bing (as in Crosby). His mate became Cherry. They did not reproduce, so he acquired a Normal hen, dubbed Stella (a variety of cherry tree). Bing and Stella became champion producers and very tame, wonderful birds! As we’ve discussed before, all their Normal offspring were males and all their Rosies were hens. The males were the brown wild shade like their mother and the Rosy hens were dark pink like their father.

After Scarlett died, Rhett acquired Willow, the other Normal hen. He fed her and wooed her, but they never reproduced. Eventually, Willow found a mate with Bing, Jr. and they’ve done remarkably well at producing beautiful babies. Although Bing, Jr. is a Normal Bourke, as is Willow, their daughters have all been Rosies, and all the Normals have been males. He has to be heterozygous.

As Willow transitioned to Bing Jr., lonely Cherry went into Rhett’s cage. It was love at first sight, even if Cherry is a bit bossy. They have produced quite a few beautiful Rosies and Rhett’s sweet nature over-shadows Cherry’s pushy personality.

Wanting to add new blood to my lines, a few years later I made another trip to Hillsboro for the annual bird show there. I bought a beautiful Rosy Bourke male to put with Bonnie (actually not the first Bonnie who died young like her mother. This one is out of Rhett & Cherry). He became Clyde, and they’ve done well together.

That same trip, I also bought a white faced pair with pink eyes. They were a mistake. I bought them from the same woman I bought my first young pair from. She said she simply wanted to downsize her flock, but I suspect these were not two-year-old birds like she said. They had not interest in breeding and within the first year, the hen was dead on the floor. The male moved to an aviary elsewhere in trade for a Splendid hen. He did reproduce for that person, however, and I actually have a male Bourke out of that union … another trade.

So, maybe the buy wasn’t too terrible, as I ultimately got a Splendid hen from it. She mated with a son of Merlin & Millet, my first Splendids. That union produced three more sons, however, the hen died of egg binding with her second clutch. So sad. Merlin & Millet’s son, Rainbow, has had two other hens since then, but all eggs have been infertile.

In the past two years, poor economy has caused the Hillsboro bird show to be cancelled. With the price of gasoline so high, fewer people attended and many out-of-area sellers weren’t willing to make the trip to Portland, Oregon any longer.


The single baby photos are of our most recent addition, Band #25 for 2010, out of Chitter and Bella. As an aside, Chitter is the father of three clutches (8 babies) with Brandy, and an earlier clutch of three with Candy. All of Brandy’s babies had to be removed and handfed because of one death and injuries to other babies. He was my first suspect. However, no harm has come to this little one. Is Bella more protective? Or, was it Brandy who was guilty all along? If she has a clutch with her new mate, Rory, we shall see. I’m monitoring Chitter’s offspring, and later will monitor Brandy’s offspring very closely. Don't want to lose any.

Shared the photo of Australian parrots just because they're pretty and added a lot of color. Smile.

Peace & Blessings!

1 comment:

neversink7 said...

love the australian christmas wreath :D