THE QUAKER NEWS

July 1998

 

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

 

Dear Linda,

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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Dear Linda,

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 personalities?     Wilda

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 listen to.

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AN E MAIL MESSAGE FROM SHARON AND CHRISSIE

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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Dear Linda,

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.

 

Dear Linda,

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:

Dear Linda, 

 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 Vet.

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, Oxon, England

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 pet.

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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!" himself.

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 character.

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 AS VOMITING

From South Jersey Bird Club News

 

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 parrot.

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

Joannie Doss

Courtesy of Bird Clubs of America

 

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 glands.

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 rotten carrion.

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 America

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 problem birds.

The way to collect and grow with birds:

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 closed bands.

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 MILLET

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 to breed.

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 BIRD KILLERS?

From South Jersey Bird Club News

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 birds.

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 Fancy

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.

 

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