Friday, February 3, 2012

Multiple Clutches, Musings...

Fuchsia with two babies on Feb. 3, 2012.
I've posted before about Fuchsia laying eggs while babies from her third clutch were still in the nest. I broke my rule to not allow birds to have more than three clutches a year.

If you remember, Fuchsia and Flame (both hand fed birds) had their very first clutch last summer. She laid, hatched and raised all five youngsters. Her next clutch she laid five eggs and hatched and raised three. The third clutch she laid five eggs and hatched and raised four. That's 12 offspring ... enough for any year.

Yet, she laid more eggs before the last two in her third clutch had left the nest. I let her sit on them. She laid six eggs for her fourth clutch. I made sure she had lots of calcium available. All six eggs were fertile. Three hatched, but a pink-eyed baby died almost immediately. She has two babies who are doing well. To avoid any more egg laying, I'm going to take them out of the nest in a few days and hand feed them, removing the nest box until late next summer. 

Banding a 9-day old baby Bourke from Fuchsia & Flame.

Second colored band goes on to identify the parents.
A toothpick helps release the last and smallest toe after
the three longest toes are pushed into the band and held.
Mei-Ling agrees to look, but it's just another one of those birds. Boring.

Musings and observations:  Are first clutches always the strongest? Do subsequent clutches get slightly less vigorous and less likely to survive? Do young parent birds have healthier offspring than their grandparents or great grandparents who are still producing?

Thoughts: Rhett and Cherry are my elderly pair and their offspring seem very healthy and vigorous. I did limit them to two clutches this year because of their age. I don't want to wear them out and cause them to die sooner than they might otherwise. All their "kids" are active and already wanting to breed themselves ... not allowing it yet though!

Does hand feeding Bourkes mean they will later be less able to raise their own clutches? No. Mine have all been excellent parents even if not raised by their own parents. My young, first-time parents, have all done very well, so have their babies, now grown.

If you won't give me a bathtub, I'll use my water cup.

Me first, you're next.
Another observation: Most of the babies who died shortly after hatching, or in the egg, were Opalines with pink eyes. A genetic weakness? Yet, those Opalines who have survived to adulthood seem healthy and strong. Having survived, does that mean they inherited a tendency toward good health whereas those who did not survive missed out on it?

It will be interesting to see if the Opalines with white faces and pink eyes live as long as the Rosies with dark faces and eyes, but it will be over a decade before I know. Also, I'm eager to see how well their offspring do. I will be putting cousins together ... We shall see what transpires next summer.

Peace & Blessings.

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