Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hand Feed Baby Birds? Critical Warning!

Link to 1st Post on Recall

Since posting about a recall of Kaytee Exact a week ago on April 20, we've been contacted by others who hadn't heard of this danger to their baby birds and may lose them.

A young Senegal Parrot
Photo from
Jammie writes: "Unfortunately, we have some babies that were fed this formula. We currently have a 6 week old senegal that we are worried won't make it through the night. And a 4 month old macaw baby who is showing all the signs and symptoms that Kaytee mentions on their web site. We are taking all of our birds who were fed the bad food to the vet on Monday for lab. Praying this little senegal can hold on."

Very sad and we pray for them too. We are grateful to a reader who first shared this sad recall news with us and want to notify as many bird breeders as possible. Everyone, spread the information as widely as you can.

If you've purchased Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula, go to their website Kaytee Exact Recall Site and be certain you have SAFE food for your youngsters. Symptoms from Kaytee's food with too much Vitamin D are: "Baby birds that have consumed formula with high vitamin D levels may become weak and inactive and show a lack of appetite, vomiting, increased thirst, and have increased urine excretion (watery droppings)."

Kaytee's site tells you where to look for the recall dates on their product. They're also given on our first post about this, on the site at the top of this page. What Kaytee doesn't mention, however, is that  if you have an open bag of the 5 lb. Exact Hand Feeding Formula, the date has probably been torn off. That was the circumstance with our bag. By chance, luckily I wrote the expiration date down when I opened it. I remember being annoyed at the time that they'd put the date where it could be ripped through and lost. Even though our bag's date is January 17, 2013 the whole situation with the food makes me uneasy.
My hand written date of expiration shown above.
Top edge of bag is designed to tear right through the expiration date.
Their closure zip strip doesn't close adequately either. Frown.
I fold the bag over several times and use large clips to hold it shut tightly.
In the photo it's not shut or the handwritten date wouldn't show.
If you, too, no longer have a date on your bag, contact the store or online retailer where you bought it. They may be able to tell you what dates they stocked. Certainly, Kaytee should have records of where they sent their product manufactured on a certain date. They will have notified those retailers to remove it, but a lot of it has already gone to consumers like you and me. We can hope the retailers contacted any and all customers they know of, and have placed signs and information up about the recall. The retailer where I bought my product has NO INFORMATION up about this at all!

Hopefully, you have a receipt that shows when and where you bought it. Possibly a canceled check, a credit card statement, an order confirmation email if bought online, or an account order history from an online retailer. This won't tell you what the expiration date was, but might give the retailer some indication of whether he was selling the "bad" dates at that time. If you still can't be certain, contact Kaytee and ask for a replacement. Don't feed your Exact Hand Feeding Formula if you can't be certain it's not among their recall dates.

If you are among those unfortunate to have sick or dead birds as a result of feeding Kaytee's  formula with too much Vitamin D in it, I hope Kaytee makes financial restitution to you...even though that's of little comfort.

Best of luck and God Bless you and your birds.

A baby Rosy Bourke Parakeet

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby Birds, Eyes Open and Beginning to Feather

Our Lady Gouldian finch babies are beginning to get feathers and their eyes are open. Cuter now than a few days ago. Dots around their mouths take some getting used to, however. Smile.

We keep a small space heater near them at night to be sure they don't get cold since the parents don't stay in the nest any longer. I checked them last night after the parents were soundly asleep outside the nest box. Three baby birds were stuffed full and two didn't have much in their crops, so as a precaution I mixed up the hand feeding formula and fed those two. Wouldn't want to lose another one because the parents aren't careful to feed all five. This is their first clutch, although they seem to be doing very well with their new parenthood.

Look closely and you will see tiny, open dark eyes. Yesterday
it seemed like they only had a few pin feathers at the edge
of their wings. Today, they are much longer!

They have egg food and much more available,
however their crops are full of spray millet seed.

There is such a difference between these finches and the parakeets. I check our birds before going to bed each night and the Bourkes whistle to me. The Gouldian finches don't even take their heads out from under their wings even though I'm right next to their cage and talking. It's as if they are hybernating. It's the same way in the morning when I open the blinds. The Bourkes are up and singing before I get out of bed, but the Gouldians stay asleep until the blinds are open and bright sunlight is coming in. They are both early-to-bed critters and late risers too. Perhaps the babies are tiring them out.

Of course, Bourkes are most active at dawn and dusk, but the contrast between the two species is greater than I imagined. 

Hand feeding two young Bourke parakeets.
Mother Bourkes stay with their youngsters a lot longer too, and newly hatched Bourke babies have fuzz to help keep them warm. Must admit it's easier to hand feed the finches who almost swallow the eye dropper and fill up quickly. There are many differences among different bird species.

Peace & Blessings.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Baby Lady Gouldian Finches

Here they are, stuffed full and all five are doing well!

Have to say though, that a clutch of bald, dark-skinned baby Gouldians with mouths only a mother could love are not as appealing as fuzzy baby Bourkes or Splendids. With apologies to all Gouldian breeders, even bald baby Budgies are cuter, and so are baby Zebra finches. Smile.

However, in another week or two, they will be feathered and adorable. That is if we ignore, or get used to their mouths. The dots (or papillae) around their beaks are intended to reflect incoming light inside a dark nest to show parents where to place the food. Probably very effective.

I'm not sure when these disappear, but will learn as they mature and will share that information with you.

The parents are now spending more time outside the nest box than in it. The weather is warmer and I assume the babies keep each other warm enough that Mom doesn't have to stay with them all the time like she was doing until recently.


Peace & Blessings!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bird Banding Finches

Gouldian babies are much
darker skinned than any
of the small parakeets.
Gouldian finches are sure different than Bourke parakeets. A Lady Gouldian breeder told me she bands her baby Goulds when pinfeathers begin to show. She must use different bands than those I bought.

This morning both parents were out of the nest together. That was a first, so I snatched the largest baby from the nest to see if I could band him. No pinfeathers yet, however. After getting all four toes into the tiny aluminum closed band, it quickly became apparent that it wasn't going to slide over the joint (ankle) above is foot. I'd waited too long and he was too big.

Disappointed, I put him back and didn't attempt to retrieve any of the others. I suppose that letting the parents raise their first clutch without banding their babies means disturbing them less, so maybe it's a good thing.

Perhaps I'll do better on their second clutch. I won't wait until they are 8 days old. Optimal for Bourkes is 7 to 9 days, but not for Lady Gouldians apparently. Maybe 4 to 5 days. We shall see.
He almost looks like a little frog here. Smile

Peace & Blessings.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Recall On Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Baby Bird Formula Due to Excess Vitamin D

In a comment on the previous post, we were warned that some Exact Hand Feeding Formula's have been recalled. We'd not heard about this, and have a 5 lb. bag used without any apparent problems. It expires January 17, 2013, so it's not part of the recall dates shown below.

"The recalled lots are listed below:
Product Code/SKU/ Material #UPC Code;SizeLot/Serial No.Product Name/DescriptionBest Before Code (day/month/yr)
100032326071859475106/7.5 oz.A1Kaytee exact® Hand Feeding Formula Baby Bird21 Mar 2013 and
20 Apr 2013
100032328071859475116/18 oz.A2Kaytee exact® Hand Feeding Formula Baby Bird9 Mar 2013 and
19 Apr 2013
071859475124/5 lb.A3
*includes 10 cases of Petco store product
Kaytee exact® Hand Feeding Formula Baby Bird14 Mar 2013,
30 Mar 2013 and
16 May 2013
*30 March 2013
100032336071859475181/22 lb.A4Kaytee exact® Hand Feeding Formula Baby Bird21 Mar 2013,
13 Apr 2013 and
16 May 2013
100032337071859475154/5 lb.B1Kaytee exact® Hand Feeding Formula Baby Macaw1 Mar 2013,
14 Mar 2013 and
19 Apr 2013

Products and product lots that do not appear on the list are not subject to this recall.

This recall is being initiated due to an elevated amount of vitamin D that was unintentionally added in an isolated mixing batch during the manufacturing process. No other Kaytee bird foods are involved in this recall."

The above information was taken from the site below:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Raising Lady Gouldian Finches - Exploits

Five baby Lady Gouldian finches. Most hatched five days ago.

Five baby Gouldian finches left. Mother Nature may determine that only the fittest survive, but it's still sad to lose any.

The smallest Gouldian lived about
five days. His parents tossed the
dead chick out of the box.
Woke this morning to find a dead baby on the floor of the cage. As you can see from the photo of him in my hand, it appears his crop is empty. That caused me concern for the other babies. I hope his loss wasn't due to neglect by his parents.

For several days I've been looking into the nest box without incident. Whichever parent (or both) are in the box, they haven't left the nest even once, until today. This time, I wanted to check the other babies to see if their crops were full. I had the "bright" idea of putting a dish towel over the top of the box so that I might reach inside and "chase" the hen off the nest. I thought with a towel covering the top she'd exit through the nest box entrance and not try to fly upward and maybe escape. The box hangs outside the cage.

Well, the lid of the box was barely open when the white dish towel frightened her more than I do. The "white" thing hovering outside the edge of the box lid might have been an owl, or something even worse. Me she knows, but this was something new and scary. Before I knew it, she flew off her babies and toward me. I put my hand up to prevent her flying out, so she flew upward and out the crack next to the cage. She landed against the cage bars outside the cage as my hand flew after her. I grabbed her before she flew any farther, and quickly returned her to her cage.

Well, at least she was off the babies and not flying all over the house!

Upon inspection of the remaining five baby birds, only three appeared to have anything in their crops. The two largest had empty crops. It seemed wise to take those two out and raise them myself by hand feeding them. I retrieved my "baby bird" box where baby Bourkes are raised. Then gave these two a feeding with Exact Handfeeding Formula. They ate with enthusiasm. Next, I went down to the basement to retrieve an oil heater to place near the box to be certain they would be warm.

Male Gouldian finch in bottom cage. Nest box at right.
Hen is inside. She spends the night covering her young.

All of that done, I realized that the hen still had not returned to her nest and her other three babies. So, I took them out and handfed them too. Then decided to put all five back in the nest box and see what she did. She gradually began looking in the box, but it was probably 45 minutes to an hour before she and her mate finally returned to the nest. Since then, the babies have cheaped loudly several times and I assume they're being fed.

I am not eager to hand feed them at this small size, mostly because of how frequent the feedings would need to be. However, I must monitor them closely to be certain they are being fed enough. This is problematic for me since Bourkes stuff their offspring so very, very full that they look like they could pop. Do Gouldians do the same? I suspect they are very different, or else these parents are not feeding their offspring often or thoroughly enough.  

Any Lady Gouldian breeders want to weigh in on this subject? Thanks!

Peace and Blessing Everyone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Birds Going Bald, Possible Causes

Blogger identifies search criteria that lead people to this site. Someone searched out why their Splendid parakeet was going bald, so I thought I'd address that problem.

Young Splendid hen with her two brothers.

None of my Bourkes or Splendids have exhibited this, but I did have a female Budgerigar once who did, and I've read about parrots plucking out all their feathers. In the case of the larger birds, there might be a vitamin deficiency, or just plain boredom. I think it's often depression.
Handfed male named Rainbow.

In the case of Beauty, my budgie, she had been a house pet and very happy that way. However, an ugly green male parakeet arrived on our front lawn and I caught him. They quickly bonded and life in the house with the two of them became very noisy.

They were transferred to our outside aviary with the finches. She quickly made use of a finch nest box and hatched an egg. The baby was green and his wings were deformed. He couldn't fly. Because of this, my parents insisted we remove any and all eggs she laid from then on. This upset her immensely, and she started pulling out her feathers, leaving her front entirely bald. That winter she died.

We don't know any of the circumstances of the searcher's Splendid, but would guess it might be lonely and depressed. Another bird, and/or more attention could help. My own bachelor Splendids were provided with lots of stimulating toys and a bigger cage than the other birds. I think this helped keep them satisfied. Splendids are very active birds and enjoy swings and toys.

This bird really used the rings,
climbing in and out of them.
All the birds love their swings.
Another recommendation would be to be sure they have adequate nutrition. They love fresh vegetables, and you should always have cuddle bone and/or other calcium sources available. My birds have all benefited greatly from bird breeder extraordinaire Bob Nelson's advice. He recommended I add small salt blocks intended for rabbits. In doing that, all my birds' health and productivity has increased immensely. Not only did the Bourkes have bigger clutches and hatch ALL their eggs last year (I'd had losses before this), but the size of the new Lady Gouldian finches' first clutch amazes me. I noticed the hen pecking at the salt block just this morning. Is that the reason for their success? I believe so.

To avoid feather plucking, be sure every possible nutritional requirement is met. Give them lots of stimulation with toys and/or other birds. Also, if another bird is present, watch to be sure it isn't plucking the feathers of its companion. If so, you may need to separate them.

Peace & Blessings!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lady Gouldian Finch Babies

Snapped a hurried photo of the new Lady Gouldian babies. There are five baby birds showing here. It's possible one or two might be under dad, as there were seven eggs. I'm reluctant to disturb them, so only took one quick picture.

If you double click this photo, it should enlarge. When the picture is
bigger you can see the spots around the baby birds' mouths.
The parent birds shouldn't be able to miss them!

A Gouldian breeder suggested that perhaps the move from a breeder to our house stopped their molt and that their colors may come in with the "next" molt. I hope so. Neither parent has the typical cheek patches normally seen on adult Gouldian finches. They do have black spots which indicates they will be black, not red as on some Gouldians.

Notice the bright red at the end of the male's beak. I've read that "his" beak turns red when ready to breed. A hen's turns black and hers is.

It's fun to be raising something new and different than I've ever had before. Exciting really.

The Bourkes are eager to begin breeding too, but they raised so many youngsters last year that I'm making them wait a while.

Peace & Blessings!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Candling Eggs To Verify Fertility - A Better Way

Lady Gouldian hen on seven eggs due to hatch.

I have found a better way to candle eggs.

It's rare that my pair of Lady Gouldian finches are ever both out of the nest at the same time. However, when the sound of the vacuum cleaner made the hen leave her nest for a few moments, it was long enough for me to snatch a peek at her eggs. I used my new method of candling for the first time and found it worked wonderfully and I didn't even have to touch an egg.

In the past, I've shown eggs being candled using the center of a toilet paper roll, duct tape and a flashlight. This works, but you have to pick up the egg, place it over the hole in the duct tape, view it with the light shining through the tube, then put the egg back in the nest. The procedure is repeated for multiple eggs, and there is a certain degree of risk to each egg.

The light attached to my Kindle above is
bright and works perfectly for egg candling.
The flexible  neck can snake around to any
side of a clutch without moving the eggs.
As a new Kindle owner, I bought a light for my Kindle in case our electricity goes out. It's something to do in the dark. When the "Mighty Bright" light arrived, with its flexible neck, it occurred to me that it should work well for candling eggs. I used it in the finch nest and it was wonderful. I didn't have to touch or disturb the eggs and could immediately see that, YES, they are fertile!  Hurray!

I bought this light from and it was relatively inexpensive. I'm very pleased with it.

The photos below are actually of infertile Bourke eggs from last year that I kept in the refrigerator. I like to share them with children who visit. Since my Bourkes are not being allowed to reproduce yet this year, I did a mock-up to show the "Mighty Bright" light to you and how well it works. I'd like to have a photo of it candling the finch eggs, but who knows when an opportunity will arise without having to chase the finch parents off their nest. I'm being more careful with them than I need to be with the other birds. My parakeets are used to me being nosy. Smile. 

Peace & Blessings!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

There's still time for a free eBook novel. has my husband's book PROMISES by E.G. Lewis available for FREE download until midnight tonight, PST, April 12, 2012. If you don't have a Kindle, they have apps for PC, The Nook, iPad and iPhone also available for free that you can use. All his novels are exceptional. Smile.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Compliment For The Splendid Bourke Bird Blog, Smile.

We love compliments and wanted to share one. Susan wrote:

"I am writing to thank you for your Splendid Bourke Bird Blog. I found it very enjoyable and helpful. I purchased a pair of Rosy Bourkes last week. They are my first birds. …

I came across your blog while searching for information on the care of these birds. Your site answered all of my questions (at least the ones I have so far). The many photos are wonderful! I also enjoyed reading about your husband's books and just purchased "The Witness" for my Kindle.

Thank you very much and keep up the good work."


We're thrilled that Susan purchased "Witness" by E.G. Lewis. It's available in hard copy and as an eBook on

As a promotion, on
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 and Thursday, April 12, 201

PROMISES by E.G. Lewis is offered
FREE to Kindle Readers.

PROMISES is a commercial novel. Although the main character is moral, her "ex" is not. Expect suspense, humor and sex in this novel. Get it tomorrow for free at for two days only!

You, too, may contact us through email at: 

Peace & Blessings

Monday, April 2, 2012

Historic 1960's Bird Photos - A younger me with birds.

I wish I had pictures of the aviaries I kept as a child and later as a teenager. My dad, it seems, liked taking photos at the San Diego Zoo in California, where most of these were taken.

Ring necked Turtle Doves at San Diego Zoo.
I'm probably age 16, about 1962.
S.D. Zoo, summer, 1964.
Right after H.S. graduation at 18.

Such joy. I dreamed of having an
aviary like those at the San Diego Zoo.

Feeding meal worms to the finches at San Diego Zoo in 1964.
If you recognize their varieties, please let us know. Thanks!
Blue & Gold Macaw and a Scarlet Macaw.

As you can see, I always loved birds. In my youth, if visitors to the San Diego Zoo in Southern California wanted to feed the birds, they were encouraged to do so, and most in the aviaries seemed to trust me. 
San Diego Zoo walk-thru aviary. Me with
a Mynah bird on my arm.

I'm feeding a Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock

Male Cordon Bleu and male Strawberry finch. From my
aviary when I was a teenager.

A budgie with Zebra finches and what we called a
Coral beak, although I've seen them named something else.
This photo is from my aviary in the 60's when I was a teenager.

Me, my sister, Nancy and Mom, Ellen. San Diego Zoo.
Feeding Ring neck turtle doves.

Perhaps my first bird, Beauty, a blue budgie.
I'm 12 or 13 in this photo.
San Diego Zoo walk-thru aviary. Me as a teen with a Mynah bird.

1967, my beautiful "Captain" budgerigar parakeet.

My high school senior sweater, so 1964. Feeding a male

My sister and I feeding the wild variety of Banty chickens
at the San Diego Zoo. They were everywhere and often
ended up feeding some of the wild animals in captivity.

My Lhasa Apso puppy, Eechee, in 1969. Bird in cage is
a male singing canary. He sang so loudly that he woke
us every morning and getting a hen for him didn't help.
I traded them both for a young budgie parakeet.

Some of my Zebra finches in a California outdoor aviary.
I raised many varieties of finches when a teenager.

If I were going to go back and live my life over, I'd choose to be an Avian Veterinarian and try to find employment in a zoo. Smile.

Peace & Blessings to you and your birds, domestic or wild.