Monday, May 28, 2012

Wild American Goldfinches

Our backyard feeders. The two at the side hold black oil sunflower seeds which attract a host of different birds. The two long ones hold thistle that attracts a variety of finches.

American Goldfinches at "nyjer" thistle dispensers.
Feeders at outside hold black oil sunflower seed.

The birds shown here are American Goldfinches. They love thistle seeds. Years ago this seed was aptly called niger thistle. In Latin niger means black, but apparently it could be mispronounced like a racial slur. As a result, packages seem to now spell it phonetically as "nyjer" thistle.

Why not just call these seeds black thistle? Better than creating a new spelling for it, but no one asked me. It's very popular with Gold Finches, Siskins, House Finches, and many others.

Male Goldfinches become this beautiful bright yellow in the spring. In the winter they lose the bright yellow and become a tan to olive shade. Females brighten up slightly in the spring, but are never as bright yellow as the males. The amount of black on their heads and outer wings can vary from bird to bird. They are also known as wild canaries because of their color.

American Goldfinches

Happy Spring!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nest Boxes Are Installed for 2012

Rosie is getting ready.
It won't be long now and I'll be posting more about Bourkes than Gouldian finches.

Two of our eight cages. Nest boxes are ready.

All our Bourke couples have nest boxes up as of yesterday and hens are happily rearranging the pine shavings. Our three mature hens eagerly hollowed out an area for their eggs almost immediately. Two hens hatched last year are asking to breed, but haven't entered their boxes yet even though they went up first. Experienced hens are way ahead of the younger ones.

Six babies from last year. Only one of these is still with us.
All were hand fed and I kept a pink-eyed male.

Newly hatched Rosie Bourkes in 2011.

Duke and Duchess, our Lady Gouldian pair, are on their second clutch. Their first five babies were sold to a pet shop last Wednesday, along with two Bourkes I'd held back. I decided to release them to the pet shop too. They were pink-eyed (opaline fallows) and I had hoped one would be a hen, but they were not. I still have one very tame male who needs a mate. Although he is a 2011 bird, his hen will have to be a 2012 hatchling. He is an opaline fallow with pink eyes and I'd like to pair him with a similar female. Wish I could find a lutino Bourke to put with him. In lieu of that, I hope he will raise some lutinos from a light pink hen like himself.

Some of our hand fed Rosy Bourke youngsters from last year. It's
difficult to part with them after the love they received and reciprocated.

Peace & Blessings.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2nd Clutches, Contrasting Gouldians and Parakeets

Others have commented on their Lady Gouldian Finches returning to the nest very quickly, some even before the current clutch has left.

Three Lady Gouldian eggs so far.
We expect six.
Our hen is still faithfully feeding her five babies who recently left their nest box, and at the same time she has started a new clutch. She's laid an egg a day with three so far.

My Bourkes go back for another clutch fairly quickly, (sooner than Splendids) but they wait until after their youngsters have been fully weaned. They get a short respite in between clutches, and I get a chance to clean their nest boxes so they can start out fresh.

This Gouldian pair have moved their clutch site to the back of the box. Their first clutch was at the front, and they have a new spot that they hollowed out for her eggs. I would have liked to clean the box in between clutches, but it was not to be. However, the new babies will be in a clean area until they soil it themselves. Very hygienic of the parents. Smile.

Gouldian hen at far left.

Our Lady Gouldian Finch family.

This dedicated Lady Gouldian hen is getting lots of egg food. While she feeds the babies from her first clutch, the father sits back and watches. The babies don't even ask him to feed them any longer, the lazy fellow. He's young, so I'm hopeful he will give her more help as the pair matures.

Rosy Bourke hen on eggs. They don't "build" a nest like
finches do. This box has an inch of pine shavings in the bottom.

Typically Bourke males make better fathers when they are over two years old, and get better and better each year. That makes me hopeful for the Gouldians too.

Okay, this isn't a bird photo, but I couldn't resist.
Max is a miniature mule who belongs to a neighbor.
We're babysitting him for a few days. Fun!

Peace & Blessings.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Finch Bath Time

Bath time. One in bowl at left, one at water cup at right.

Two of the five baby Lady Gouldian finches tried to bathe in the water cup and one, in fact, jumped right into it. I'd worried they might drown if they fell into a deep water cup, but he had no difficulty flapping around to his heart's content before hopping back out safe and sound. As usual, I worried needlessly.

There were three babies splashing in here, but I wasn't fast
enough with the camera. Dad stands by watching.

To make it easier for the other youngsters, I added a bowl of water. Many of my extra dishes are finds from Goodwill, as was this old Melmac brown bowl. 

As you can tell from the photos I've given the babies lots of choices to eat. They always have finch seed, parakeet seed, nestling food, egg food, spray millet and occasionally fresh assorted vegetables.

Babies are beginning to eat a little bit on their own.
Still begging from their parents, however.

Bourkes and Splendids like to bathe too, but I think these finches are even more eager to bathe and do it with extreme gusto! They are so cute to watch. We're really enjoying them.

Tomorrow Bourke nest boxes go up.

Could not resist adding a photo of my Mother's Day gift.
Along with the nearby feeder, Fuchsia Basket with
three varieties of flowers welcomes hummingbirds.

Peace & Blessings.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Finch and Parakeet Differences

This is a rather vast title for such a short post, but I've made several recent observations that are interesting to me.

Four of our five new baby Lady Gouldian finches
Our first ever clutch of Lady Gouldian finches seem to go back and forth into and out of their nest box. Last night all five were snuggled back in the box and this morning all five were back outside again. During the day some venture "home" again. They put their heads outside the nest box entrance and beg to be fed. Mom will fly over, but not feed them. She hops back and entices them to come back outside to be fed. "Grow up," she seems to be saying.

Young Rosy Bourkes who were hand fed.
I've yet to see a Bourke, Splendid or Budgerigar parakeet ever return to their nest box once they've left it. Occasionally, I've returned a baby Bourke to their box overnight if I thought it was still pretty young and might get cold outside the nest box. They always came out the next morning and never went back on their own.

Young Rosies taken out for a hand feeding. Adult is
checking them out. Actually an older sibling of those in
the cup. They don't stay there, it's just for transport.
I'm surprised by all the differences I see between these two species. Bourke fathers take over the lion's share of feeding babies once they leave their nest. I notice the my Gouldian hen is doing all of the feeding of her five offspring while dad just sits and watches. I don't know if this is typical of Gouldians or not. I've raised Bourke parakeets for many years, but this is my first and only pair of Lady Gouldians. Is he just a lazy guy? Or, is this the usual response for male Lady Gouldian finches?

The whole family. The babies love the swing and play on it
even though their parents have always ignored it.

I also wonder if this "young" pair of Gouldians I recently obtained, and who insisted on breeding and raising a family before expected, will ever fully color up. Notice the hen at far left in the photo and her mate in front do not have full black cheek patches, and his purple doesn't extend fully across his chest. They look young, and maybe their molt was arrested so it will happen later...?

It will be interesting to wait and see. Meanwhile, my husband and I both think the babies' soft colors are lovely. He likes them better than the adults' bright plumage.
Your comments are welcomed.

Peace and Blessings.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gouldian Finches Leaving the Nest

Mom at left, baby in center, Dad at right.

This blog is primarily about Bourke and Splendid Parakeets, yet lately I've posted mainly about my new pair of Lady Gouldian finches and their offspring. I promise to return to the Grass 'Keets when they begin reproducing. Right now, however, it's the Lady Gouldians that have captured my interest.

First baby out of the nest is in center. A second youngster
has his head out of the box thinking about coming out.

At three weeks and four days of age, they are beginning to emerge from the nest box. It surprised me to learn that Gouldian eggs all hatch on the same day. That's not how it is with parakeets. Typically, Bourkes lay their eggs and hatch them every other day and Splendids one a day. There can be exceptions to this, of course, but that's what is usual.

A close-up of the family. Baby at right and another halfway out
of the nest box. When all five youngsters finally fly out,
there will be seven birds in this cage.

Since all the Gouldians hatched on Saturday, April 14, they are 25 days old today and the first left the box this morning. The other four won't be far behind. The parents have been trying to coax them out of the nest since Monday.

The parent Gouldians have never used their swing and I considered
 removing it. Glad I didn't as this young Gouldian finch seems to
really like it. When the others emerge from their nest box,
 all extra perches, including the swing, will be helpful.

They are no longer ugly ducklings, now they're cute chicks. Smile.

Peace and Blessings.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Three-Week-Old Lady Gouldian Finches

These five Lady Gouldian finch babies hatched three weeks ago today. Their feathers are almost completely in, but bright adult colors are about six months away. They get cuter every day.

They are very mellow and not afraid of me. Sometimes even ask
to be fed. Two of them were hand fed a couple of times, so maybe
they remember it? Sweet little ones. They have good first-time parents.
All our other birds are still resting from last year. They'd like to get busy and raise more youngsters of their own, but I want the hens to be strong and well-recovered before letting them go back to rearing again. Maybe in another month or so their nest boxes will go back up.

Peace & Blessings.