March 31, 2019

March In The Bird Room --- Month by Month Journal

Late March 2019
Breeding has begun!
The bird room is vibrating with male song and hen twittering.
Bits of string, jute and yarn fly in the air.
A page in my notebook is filled with cage numbers and dates of incubation.

Some things are going according to plan, but there have been a few surprises.
Good News first:  Half of the prospective pairs are getting along well, and have nests built.  The other half are getting along well, happy to be in a cage together.  Most are beginning to tear paper and I am putting more nests into cages every day!
My new system of cage numbering and coding with slips of paper with date of expected hatch is working well.  Making plans ahead has kept things going well on on those mornings I have 20 minutes to check the hens!

Now for the Bad News:
I had three hens show symptoms of egg binding.  One was an old 6 year old hen, and unfortunately, she is gone.  The other two survived with the help of calcium in their water.  One was another older hen, and the third was a new bird purchased last fall.  Everyone else seems fine, but the entire bird room is receiving calcium in the water.
I suspect my limited time in the bird room the past two weeks is to blame.
Our ranch work jumped into Spring overnight, it seemed, and my plans for the bird room became less than the most important.  As a result, I did not feed softfood 3 times a week, as planned.  Once a week was the most I did prepare for the canaries.  I also put the F-vite mineral supplement in for the birds only twice, instead of four weeks.

The Best News of All:  I finished my Canary Diet Research!
I had so much fun!
It was a great way to occupy myself while I was impatiently waiting for breeding season.
I spent my spare time reading and making experiments, instead of hovering over the canaries.
I discovered so many tips and little gems of advice.... and there are many web pages by breeders that deserve reading and re-reading!!!
I kept a few notes, and am sharing the research:
Please begin on Page One!

My Canary DIET RESEARCH --- Finished!

I spent the past three months working on serious research into diets for canaries.
I am sharing my notes, and the most interesting portions of my study, as well as what I learned!
Please begin on Page One!
- Page One - I Began With The Basics
- Page Two -  Information I Found Most Interesting
- Page Three - Experiments and Comparisons (with photos)!
- Page Four - I Decide For and Against Some Popular Foods
- Page Five - Specific Brands of Seed/Supplements,  plus my revised Soft Food Recipe  
I encourage everyone to do a little Canary Diet Research of your own!
I have added the best 'diet references' and web articles to the

March 15, 2019

Nests and Nesting Materials

Why is it, we want to try new things, when the old things are working quite well??? 
I am telling myself it is OKAY; as long as I only try one new thing at a time!
So, I am experimenting with a new liner for my nests, and keeping the same nesting materials.
I have been satisfied with squares of paper towel or coffee filters taped into the nests.
This year I tried something new:  disposable nursing pads. 
They seem to be about the right size and have two adhesive strips to keep them in the plastic nests.
(I did search for the largest size available.)
Left: nursing pad
Right: paper towel, folded four times, taped at edge
I have not yet put a nest with the nursing pad in with a hen, so we will see how well it works.  The one disadvantage I can think of is that I may miss the masking tape on the edge of the nest.  It is so easy to simply tear off the tape with the paper towel:  the nest is clean and ready to use again.

I am also filling baggies with homemade nesting material.... a good job to be done while watching television.  Yes, I did buy several bags of jute material specially made for nesting.
I still sit for hours, to cut and unravel cotton yard!
And if I do brag myself up, I can tear strips of just the right size from a sheet of paper towel!

 I do have a method behind my madness.  Here is WHY:
  • I like to mix materials.
    WHY?  I think it makes them work a bit harder to weave them altogether well, thus giving them an extra day to build before egg-laying begins.  Just seems to work that way.
  • I start out with larger, bulkier pieces, such as the jute strings and the strips of paper towel.  I've seen hens tearing the paper towel strips into smaller pieces.
  • When the hen has built a little base of the jute/towel, sort of a ring in the nest,
    I will give her the various sizes of cotton yarn;  some pieces left whole, others with the strands partially separated.  I also tear apart cosmetic cotton balls.
    WHY?  This is used as a more dense, also smoother, inner layer.  I've seen hens sitting in the nest, and really arranging this final layer with their feet!  It makes a good tight nest, and no eggs are lost among loose materials.
  • I like to portion them out to the hens once or twice a day.
    WHY?  For me, a hen that has a huge pile of materials available, seems to think she has to use it all quickly before some other hen takes it! 
    Giving unlimited material MAY encourage hasty nest building.
    I don't like huge nests, overflowing the nest.
These are just my observations.  I have not proven them... just my thoughts.  I have only used the jute for the past two years, and my hens are not crazy about it.  I have seen great nests built entirely from the paper towel, or newspaper/paper towel combination.... of course with the cotton as a final layer.
Each hen has a preference:  some hens prefer only the cotton yarn.

LEFT:  I also had great success with circles of fleece sewn into a wire nest.
Maybe, with that extra layer, the hen found it easier to get her pieces tucked in?  Maybe, her pieces stayed in place when she added later pieces?

March In The Bird Room --- Month By Month Journal

Mid March 2019
I jumped into March with a four day cleaning marathon!   We are now at mid month, and the first pair laid an egg this morning!  Nests and nesting material are ready, and I have printed my record-keeping forms.  I am taking many photos, so I hope to keep up with my resolve to include interesting photos with every blog post!

Washing up is not my favorite chore in the bird room.  I have found several things that help get it over and done quickly:
  1. Keep at least two sets of water tubes and feed dishes.
    You can swap out dirty ones one day each week, and wash them the next day. 
    I also keep extra sets of perches.  Time-saving!
  2. Do one extra thing after the daily chores are done.
    Don't leave all 'clean up' to do in one day.
    Don't say:  I'll wait and catch up later.
    I have one little maintenance job to do on each of the 5 weekdays.  Weekends are for 'enjoying' the birds with a latte and the rocking chair!
I rearranged the room, and now have cages for 32 pairs.  Whew.....

I am beginning this year's breeding season with the largest number of adult birds, ever!
I am so excited to see if my plans and expectations will be as wonderful as I hope!!!  Even if only some of the pairs produce what I want, it will be a great year!!!  

Here are a few of my 'rules' when arranging cages: (continued...)

March 5, 2019

The FIVE Things That Guide My Bird Room

There are five things that I think are most important in my canary hobby.
I thought it would be fun to share my priorities;  have you thought about your Canary Goals and Priorities?
  • Keep the JOY in my canary-keeping!
  • Healthy Environment for myself and the birds
  • Keeping the Four Seasons in my bird room.
  • Quality Water
  • Proper Diet
First, I need to ENJOY the time spent in the bird room, and cannot rush through the 'chores'!  I am continually tempted to keep too many birds!  The thrill and pride in a 'Collection' are always sitting on my shoulder, telling me just one more pair won't be too many!  I admit I currently have TOO MANY BIRDS!  Extra time spent in the bird room is time taken from my family and other work.
Secondly, old-timers used to talk about Bird-Keeper's Lung, but most of us don't think of ourselves when we are talking about HEALTH.  I buy this or that vitamin supplement.  I make sure my seed is fresh and grind my own soft food mix.  I buy water that is pure.  All those are for the birds.

➽  I also have several air purifiers!  They are for MY HEALTH!  When they are turned on, there is obviously less white 'feather dander' on the windowsills, blinds, floors, and furniture in the bird room.  I am also breathing in less!  I cannot say enough good things about the air purifiers!  I love them.  I fear developing allergies, and being unable to keep canaries;  wouldn't that be terrible?
Right now, I have one purifier in the bird room.
Below is the pre-filter, which I clean every two weeks.  It is completely covered with the white dust.  I had no idea there was so much until I began running air purifiers!

(Increasing the number of baths for the birds will also decrease the amount of dander.)
Other things to do:  a vacuum stirs up less dust into the air than a broom.  An open window introduces fresh air for me as well as the birds.  Wearing gloves while cleaning cages reduces my exposure to disinfectants/cleansers as well as bird waste.