FROM THE EDITOR
I donít know what is happening to the rest
of you breeders, but my Quakers are just working away to make this a
banner year for production. It is such a delight to watch them - they
make such efficient and devoted parents. Hardly without exception, they
settle in to sitting tightly on their eggs and then work away
industriously to keep the chicksí crops bulging with food. Their
section of the aviary is strangely quiet - just the cheeping of the
chicks to be heard. The parents are too busy for their usual noisy
chattering and whistling.
We pull our chicks for hand feeding when
they are about three weeks old. The blue chicks are born with down more
white in color than the normals. The final decision about their color
cannot be made until pin feathers start to appear. I delight in spotting
the emergence of the little blue tail feathers.
The babies are chunky and hardy little
creatures with lower mandibles that act like little scoops. They are
unique in their begging posture - jumping up and down, flapping their
wings while stretching head and neck up as far as possible. They are
good eaters - always ready for a feeding. Their unfailingly good
appetites make them easy to wean as early as eight weeks. They are
curious and interested in anything new, even at this early age. Quakers
really are a delight to breed.
FROM OUR READERS
Iíve been wanting to write to you
regarding the theory of refrigerating bird seed. I was always told to
put my seed in the fridge to prevent bugs and moths. Last year my two
year old Kimmie became gravely ill. He stopped playing and eating,
became very quiet and just sat. I rushed him to his Vet who immediately
put him in an incubator and told me that he was in very serious
condition. She ran blood tests and found a high level of toxins in his
liver. Kim was in the vet hospital for a week. My Vet was great -
letting me visit him daily. She feels that my refrigerated seed had
grown mold and this caused Kimís problems.
Shirley from NY
Dear Kim: The leftovers from our meals I
dutifully put in the refrigerator to serve their time before being
discarded grow mold eventually - so why not bird seed? I think it is
reasonably safe in the freezer with only a small portion at a time being
kept in the refrigerator section, but this precaution is not practical
for everyone. No matter how it is stored - or whether right from the
store - a careful visual and sniff check before each serving is
certainly a wise precaution.
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Genie is my one year old talking Quaker and
Becky is my two year old talking African Grey. They are in different
rooms in my house. If I were to put Becky in the same room with Genie
would it have any effect on their talking and on their
Dear Wilda: It has been our experience that
our talking birds learn more quickly from each other than they do from
us. Years ago we brought some imported Spanish speaking birds into our
aviary and within a short time we heard "Que pasa?" and
"Como esta?" from all sides. Donít be surprised to hear
Genie say "Oh keep quiet, Becky!" and at an appropriate time.
They do often seem to talk to each other which is endlessly amusing to
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AN E MAIL MESSAGE FROM SHARON
Hi Linda; It has been awhile since I have
written you. We have come a long way in our bird care since we first
became avid readers of your news letter, website and the occasional
articles we catch in Bird Talk. I wanted to just send a note to tell you
how much the articles you share with we "bird people" helps to
encourage and support our efforts. We have always loved birds but it was
the purchase of our first little green Quaker that started us on the
mission to really work at our care of birds . We became devoted and
loyal to the saving of birds over the years and we went from little
Parakeets to the Quaker to where we are today. We house a total of 28
birds that were unwanted and unloved by previous owners. You can take
credit for that accomplishment because you and your efforts to write
informative articles led us down this path. I know that you probably donít
even remember us by now but we wrote to you some time ago about giving
us pointers on how to get started with an Avian 4H Club - and you were
gracious enough to reply and encourage us in our efforts. This note is
to send you a big hug and thank you for all of your efforts. While you
may not physically see the rewards of your efforts, I needed to tell you
that you are making a dent in the care and compassion that birds are
receiving. We built a website called Providence House Avian Rescue and
it is at http://www.3-cities.com/-coughlin.
Providence House Avian Rescue and Support
Services has been established to provide rehabilitation and permanent
loving care of unwanted, abused, or disabled domestic exotic birds (
including Parrots, Canaries, Parakeets, and Finches)
Dear Sharon and Chrissie - Thanks so much -
you made my week! If any of our readers wish to write to Sharon about
her wonderful project, I will be glad to forward your letters to her.
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I love my little guy, but he hates to be
handled. Last trip to the Vetís for a wing trim, they had to stop and
let him rest he was so upset. And why does he say "Love you."
To his Kong toy, but not to me? He is something
else. Shirley from NY
Dear Shirley - I am no expert on bird
behavior but read some where the suggestion that a way to handle this
sort of situation was to spend some time each day standing next to the
bird, concentrating on eye contact and one on one attention while
talking to him. They suggested then gradually progressing to a little
petting and scratching only as easily tolerated, going very slowly. I
like to read about your fondness for him in spite of his different ways
- Each Quaker seems to have a very individual personality - they just do
not fit into a mold.
I want to share Petrieís latest antic with
you. When we are home his cage door is almost always open. (You pull out
the wire and the front opens.) We keep his wings clipped so he is either
on his cage or tree stand. I was watching him play on top of his cage
and never noticed before how he would climb down the cage and inside the
door, close the door, and go eat or whatever. He then opens the door to
come out and closes it before going back up top. I watched him do this
time and time again before I told my husband to watch him.. This is now
part of his procedure. When we come in he says "Hi Mommy! Hi,
Daddy!" When I walk over to the cage Iíll ask him if he wants out
and he says "Come out." And Iíll open the door. Out he pops,
we get kisses, and then it is play time. I guess I sound like a
grandmother talking about her grand children!
Debbie from Texas
Dear Debbie; Donít be too surprised if one
of these days while you are gone Petrie figures out how to open up that
cage door and comes out on his own. They are wonderfully clever in
learning how to handle latches and hooks and such.
This is a letter from one of
our readers in England:
This is a story about how I obtained my Quaker called Kiwi. I went
to a bird show last October. Whilst wandering around the stalls I came across
this poor dead looking bird who was lying in the bottom of a cage.
People were walking past this bird and saying things like "Oh no, I
canít look at it!" I asked the stall holder what was the matter
with the bird. He said "Its not mine. It escaped from somewhere and
flew into a window."
I was very concerned about this poor little
bird and said to the stall holder whose cage it had been put in "Is
there a Vet here? You canít leave it like this." The stall holder
said "Yes, there is a Vet downstairs somewhere." He was
clearly embarrassed about people walking past and commenting on this
bird. So he took it out of the cage and handed it to me to take to the
The Vet turned out to be the famous Alan
Jones ( a well known English Avian Vet.) He looked at it and said
"Well, there are no broken bones or anything." I said
"Well, what shall I do with it now?" He said "Take it
home with you."
This little Quaker was still stunned. He had
a damaged claw and a cut above his eye. I found a box on the floor and
put him in it. My boyfriend and I put him in the box on the back eat of
the car. I was expecting this bird to die. Halfway home a little head
came peeping out of a hole in the box and I thought "This little
bird is going to survive!"
On reaching home I put him in a cage - he
kept falling off his perch. It was weeks later that this little parrot
picked up and now he is the love of my life. I am quite amazed by his
speech. Sometimes I only say a word once and he repeats it. I am trying
to teach him the "up command". He repeats after me "Up
Up", but doesnít always get up. Sometimes he thinks up means and
bites your fingers.
I would love to know where this
bird came from originally. Was he hand reared? Was he wild? I guess Iíll
never know. Julie from Banbury,
Dear Julie: I am so glad
your little Quaker found someone caring enough to rescue him . It sounds
as though you are being amply rewarded for your good deed by a wonderful
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Dear Linda: As we renew our
subscription our little Quaker Joshua is presently molting and very
grouchy. He will be six years old on May 1, 1988. He is presently into a
"bite me." Mood. Anyone who passes his cage he goes toward
them yelling "Bite me! Bite me!" Weíve always told him
"Donít bite!" but he comes up with "Bite me!"
He is also into Eurethra
Franklin. Whenever he ears her sing he does his version of her. He can
pick out her singing even in commercials and reflects the same sequence
of musical notes.
He also loves to eat whatever
anyone has. He will follow you and stare you down until you give him
some. He practically hangs off his cage door to get to you. He knows
what "Hold on!" means. When he travels on my husbandís
shoulder he yells "Hold on!" If you bump his cage he yells
"Hold on!" and grabs the cage bars. He is a real little
We are going on vacation soon
and Joshua is coming. He travels quite well in the car as long as he
gets fed on time. We pack his food so that even if we canít pull over
to eat he gets his meals. He loves to watch everything go by from his
travel perch that my husband made him. If heís in the cage too long,
heíll yell "Out! Out! - "I want out!" until we let him
out. He loves to "beep" with the radar detector too.
Diana - Dave - and Joshua from Connecticut
REGURGITATION IS NOT THE SAME
From South Jersey Bird Club
Regurgitation is the process by
which a bird voluntarily brings up food material from the crop in order
to feed another bird. The regurgitated substance consists of seeds and
other foods which have been eaten along with a little mucus to bind
everything together. A budgie will often regurgitate in front of a shiny
surface where it sees the image of its own face. It is making believe
that it is feeding another budgie out of loneliness. It would normally
make this offering to another bird in the same cage. This is normal bird
behavior and should not have cause for concern. If the bird regurgitates
excessively it can often lose weight and begin to decline in health
because it is not retaining enough food to maintain its health.
A larger parrot may regurgitate
as a form of affection for its owner. In the birdís eyes, you are one
of its flock members. This process is associated with feeding of its
mate or young and is brought on by a combination of psychological,
hormonal, and visual stimuli. The bird will extend its neck forward a
few times and will present the owner with a nice gift of regurgitated
food. Reacting with disgust or violently indicating repugnance will
insult and confuse the bird. Gently returning the bird to its cage or
perch will discourage this behavior. Distracting the bird with its
favorite toy may help, but it is advisable not to encourage sexual
behavior from you bird. It may seem cute or flattering to you that your
bird loves you, but it teaches improper socialization skills to your
Vomiting is quite a different
matter. This is an involuntary process in which the bird brings up mucus
and some food. It happens because the bird is sick. The bird will often
be fluffed up. Listless, and droopy. Mucus will be stuck to the feathers
of the head because of the tendency of the bird to shake its head as it
vomits, trying to get rid of the mucus A bird behaving in this manner
should be taken to an Avian Veterinarian immediately. Be calm and
remember to take a fresh stool sample. Keep the bird as warm and still
as possible (80 - 85 degrees F) until it is in the care of the Vet.
SUNLIGHT STIRS BIRDS TO DO
WHAT COMES NATURALLY
Courtesy of Bird Clubs of
Birds, more than almost any
other animal, are governed by light because of the sensory input from
their eyes. The pineal gland, located near the top, back part of the
brain, depends partially on the light it receives. It releases a
hormone, melatonin, that influences ovarian and testicular development
and function. This gland also maintains body temperature, can affect the
way medicines are metabolized, and affects the thymus and adrenals
Sunlight plays a big part in
producing Vitamin D, important for calcium absorption. Results of a
deficiency in this vitamin brings on metabolic bone disease,
reproduction problems, and feather problems. It is the ultra violet part
of the sunlight that is needed to produce Vitamin D3. Ultraviolet light
is invisible. Without Vit. D, the bird is unable to utilize calcium,
magnesium, and phosphorous needed for development of healthy bones,
beaks, nails, feathers and egg shells. Calcium is needed for all birds,
but especially for baby birds which can experience broken bones, leaving
them crippled for life. Calcium cannot be absorbed by the intestines.
Birds get Vit D from the food they eat and through synthesis in their
skin of Vit D3 from UV light. It stimulates the oils secreted by a small
gland near the base of the tail. When a bird preens, it then ingests
some of this Vitamin D3.
Too much light will cause the
bird to continuously molt. Without enough light feathers will not have
brilliance and strength Miscolored feathers may result.
Sunlight works miracles in
killing some forms of bacteria and fungus. Mildew can be almost
impossible to remove from clothing, yet exposure to the sun will produce
an almost miraculous cure. Vultures have featherless heads so that
sunlight kills any harmful bacteria they may encounter while eating
Lack of light will affect the
amount of food your bird will eat. During a power outage in the winter
it is important that the birds have enough light to stimulate them to
eat. I generally give them safflower and sunflower seeds until the power
is back. It is something they will readily eat and it has a high fat
content which will be converted to heat. I also use flashlights and
candles to increase their light - no permanent substitute for real
sunshine. ( Editorís note - until she recently moved to Oregon, Joanie
raised her birds in Anchorage, Alaska.)
FOR WHOM THE BIRDS TOLL
Its toll isnít free!
By Dick Ivy of Bird Clubs of
Some novice bird owners donít
know when to quit. A poor neglected bird in a store. A "good
deal" from a friend. A bird must be sold because the owner is
"sick." Heís moving but canít take this bird,( but he is
taking three others, the nicer ones.) More unruly, noisy birds end up in
new pet homes.
The more the merrier is not
always true, especially if gotten at the same time. Birds from various
places and with uncertain histories can introduce diseases that can wipe
out the collection, or even die themselves. New birds must be
quarantined away from the established birds for at least thirty days.
Space may be a problem and the
lack of care knowledge. Spending money on more birds cuts into the care
cost checkups by your vet. More birds means getting care ( that you
might give) if you go to the hospital, or are in an accident, or
traveling. A variety of bird species may require different care, such as
Macaws vs Finches vs. Lories. People who collect birds in a hurry tend
to want them out of their cages, ranging free, producing damage to
furniture, walls. And may also damage to themselves. People who care for
more birds are often targets for those who want to get rid of their
The way to collect and grow
Learn all you can about a
species. Perhaps you would rather stay with that species than get others
just to tickle your fancy. Donít try to keep up with the Joneses. You
impart confidence in other bird owners not by the number or varieties
you have but by your knowledge and care you have demonstrated for those
you have. Join a bird club, get its news letter, attend meetings.
Subscribe to appropriate bird magazines to learn about other species or
genera you might like in the future. Some magazines also list helpful
and inexpensive books.
Donít shop stores or breeder
aviaries, looking for different , interesting birds you may acquire. Donít
play with store or breeder birds and go home and handle yours without
first washing, even changing clothes. Overcome your desire to buy by
getting things for the birds you already have: toys, better cages,
better food, accommodations, vet checks and service.
If you want birds to be
companions for you, one or two may be the answer. More birds will begin
jockeying for your attention, and begin fighting or screaming at one
another. Some birds from other continents may not like those other. When
some reach adulthood they may become nippy, even bite hard. If you live
in an apartment, the landlord may ask you to move because of your noisy
bird. If you live in a subdivision with pet restrictions in your
contract, or the home owner association decides against your birds, you
may find it difficult to cope. If not kept clean enough to some oneís
taste, the Health Department may have to give you an ultimatum. These
are not "what ifs." They have happened.
Growing in your hobby of owning
pet birds, getting used to a few each year, and learning what it takes
to have them, is wise, and helps you to evaluate your ability to live
with them in your home and neighborhood. Youíll soon find out.
Birds act like little kids. Howíd
you like to have 24 little kids camped, playing and eating on your
doorstep? Yet, so many persons get the pet bird fever, and the doll,
plate, stamp or other collecting syndrome takes over. Know more about
the birds you plan on buying and about their sellers. Buyers may not be
acquainted with all the signs if sick or undernourished birds, throwing
trust on the sellers.
UPDATES ON STATE REGULATIONS
Although I have about given up
on trying to keep current on these laws and regulations which are ever
changing, this is the latest information I have - through informal
sources only. Apparently it is now legal to own Quakers in Missouri but
it seems Connecticut has been added to the prohibited with no exceptions
list, although I havenít checked this out officially. New Jersey,
Maine, and Kansas require special permits which are apparently difficult
to obtain. Georgiaís regulations seem more complex and confusing than
ever and should be individually investigated by those with a personal
interest. New York, Virginia, and Vermont require only that they have
Forbidden with no exceptions
and still holding this line are Wyoming, Tennessee, Rhode Island,
Pennsylvania, California, and Hawaii
If any of our readers have
information to add , or news on what is being done to try to change
these unjust regulations, please share with us.
GROWING AND SPROUTING SPRAY
By Rose Gianferrara, courtesy
of Flights of Fancy
My birds just love spray
millet! Especially fresh from our garden or sprouted on the stem. I do
restrict them somewhat, as they will neglect their balanced diet for the
millet. Like children, only wanting candy and not their broccoli.
Here in Florida we have a
garden going from late September until early June. The rest of the year
it is too hot to grow anything much. In many instances spray millet is
essential for breeding success. Most breeders do realize this, but few
realize how easy it is to grow their own home grown millet.
Millet does best in well
drained soil with organic matter. Fertilize with 6-6-6 fertilizer. Water
in the mornings and from the bottom if possible. Too much water on the
seeding heads and they will tend to rot. To plant, I take a nice, plump
spray of millet and push the seeds out as I am walking down the rows. I
donít worry about proper spacing. I make about four rows as I find
that the plants help support one another. I also use stakes where needed
as some will get real tall.
Millet can be ready in about
eight weeks, depending on the heat and watering. I start picking when
the seed heads start turning a golden brown. I taste some seeds to check
and see if they are filled. If they are picked too soon, they will dry
up to nothing, leaving only empty hulls.
It is a beautiful sight to see
a group of my birds hanging from a big, fresh clump of millet. I feel
that it is not only healthy for the birds, but that it can induce them
Sprouting The Millet
Soak a whole millet spray in
water for 24 hours. Change water at least twice during that time. Spread
on a paper towel for another day. By day three you should see green tops
and white roots showing all over. Rinse well and hang in your cages and
aviaries. Your birds will love it and you for taking this extra time for
them. If you do not have a lot of birds, only do a small piece, as you
do not want it to sour.
Editorís note: One of our
subscribers writes that she grows millet for her two pet Quakers in a
window box on the patio of her apartment in the summer and in a pot on a
sunny window sill in her kitchen in the winter.
HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THESE
From South Jersey Bird Club
1. Many new space heaters have Teflon
in them - they kill birds
2. Glade scented candles have killed
birds (Beware of Plug Ins and other brands)
3. Wal Mart brand scented candles were
also involved in #2 above
4. Carpet Fresh and Love My Carpet
sprinkled on carpets have been known to kill birds.
5. Leather Protectant spray has killed
6. Pine scented impregnated paper air
fresheners have killed birds.
7. Any volatile oil or fragrance has
the potential for causing illness and possible death in birds.
8. Teflon (PFTE) is found in more and
more appliances in the home. In addition to skillets and electric
haters, it is also found in irons, hair dryers, and approximately
20 other devices.
9. Pine Sol was used to disinfect some
baby cages. The person thought it was well rinsed off. The next
morning there were 37 dead babies - only 11 were still alive.
10. Scented toilet paper rolls given
to birds to lay with have killed birds. (Ed: Note - scented
tissues and paper towels used as bedding for baby birds are
included in this one.)
11. Grill on down draft stove - killed
two Cockatoos and a Lovebird.
12. 3M Window Insulator Kit (double
sided tape and shrink type film to keep drafts out of your home)
applied by taping it to the woodwork and then using a hot blow
dryer on it to get out the wrinkles has killed birds.
Is there a pattern here? Do you notice
that things that have a strong scent are implicated in these
instances? How about silver and jewelry polish? Furniture polish
sprays - not only the scent can do them in but also the propellant
which holds true for any propellants. Ever been in the bathroom when
your significant other sprays deodorant? If you can smell it, try to
keep it away from your birds. . be safe, not sorry.
FROM A BIRDS EYE VIEW
by Janet Golden From Flights of
The other day Mom took me into
this big box thing that had warm water falling down like rain. That part
was really fun. I could have squawked, fluffed, drank, and splashed all
morning. Now, hereís the weird part - Mom lost all of her color!
Really - honest! Mom lost all her pretty blues and greens and yellows.
No more hard, shiny button thing to chew on - no more metal zipper
things. Nothing, just pale, slippery skin stuff all over. It was hard to
hang on to her so I really had to grip hard which made Mom let out one
of her unhappy squawks. ( I am beginning to learn what Momís sounds
mean.) Then she starts putting this white, foamy stuff all over from her
head to her toe! She wouldnít let me taste any of it, but do you think
it was to help her grow her colors back?
Anyway, it must have worked
cause later she had all of her pinks and blues back on. If you guys have
figured this one out let me know. OOPS, I think I hear her coming back
from the kitchen. Boy, I hope she has one of those peanut butter and
jelly things that I love so much.
Have you guys ever noticed how
ugly humans are when they are wet????Ugh!!
Tena Marangi promises us
another article about Guido, her pet Quaker who is getting to be so
famous. Or maybe it is Tenaís breezy, highly individual style of
writing that is attracting so much attention! See our next issue.