November 2010 Breeder's Notes
Prince Lionheart Warmies
Occasionally, someone has taken on the task of incubating eggs or hand-feeding baby finches. Our friend, Scott Golden, a teacher by profession, has taken babies to school and fed them during breaks. He also showed some of his students the process. Others find themselves taking the babies to work and have come up with makeshift ways of transporting and warming the babies. The portable Prince Lionheart Warmies, which are wipes warmers for human infants, are very reasonably priced and successful for the task. Babies can be kept protected in small cloth wraps or face cloths.
I was first introduced to Mousebirds by Kateri Davis, a pioneer breeder of softbills here in the U.S. A new arrival to the scene is Susanne Russo, who currently keeps 29 Mousebirds as she builds stock. Susanne has produced the definitive web site for Mousebirds: http://www.mousebirds.com and her details are unbelievable. Check out the hand-feeding page and you’ll see what I mean. I thought I had a demanding feeding schedule for my finches until I saw hers for the Mousebirds. Is there time to breathe, Susanne?
Here are a few tidbits I found on her site which are of interest to me: Live food such as mealworms can bite the inside of the cheek of a bird and infect it. Babies will not survive if they have not received food directly from their parents and received inoculates. The Mousebird keeps its nest immaculately clean by eating the feces. Vitamin E can be a safety valve for too much iron in the system.
I really admire anyone who will put in the effort Susanne has to advance the knowledge and understanding of a species. Aviculture thanks you.
Hemp seed has become a permanent addition to The Green Day Diet here, as it is needed for some of the Africans to successfully breed. All of the other birds seem to benefit from it, while not overloading them with protein or making them fat. The addition is: 1/8 cup per dozen eggs. It is always ground with my coffee grinder for 10 seconds and put in the egg food mix. I keep the whole seed in a container in the freezer and have a smaller container for a few days’ worth of ground seed, which I keep in the refrigerator. I do not have a problem with the seed becoming rancid this way. There are several sources for it, but I have gotten mine from Herman Bros. Seed in Detroit: http://www.hermanbros-seed.com/ Hemp seed has about 33% protein and contains the 22 amino acids. The seed is sterilized and has no psycho-active properties.
D Irony Of It All
I have been preaching for a couple of years now about the need for Vitamin D3. It is the oil that keeps the machine working. For indoor finches, no amount of artificial light is sufficient. That’s why I use Cod Liver Oil, which has the highest concentration of natural Vit. D3. (By the way, it also has a high value of animal Vitamin A, which is also a must.)
As of late, I have been having “old age problems” as my infrastructure starts to crumble. The Neurologist I was referred to decided to start from scratch and ordered extensive blood tests—13 vials of blood. When the results came back, she said I was normal in every category, except I was low in Vitamin D. Well!
Four doctors are taking jabs and stabs at fixing me and steroids seem to be the best patcher-upper, relieving much of the pain and giving me back some mobility. Their modern equipment makes me feel like I am back in the Stone Age when it comes to diagnosing birds, as the most a sick bird usually offers up is being puffy when it is sick.
Last year many of the African finches started breeding in the Fall months and I am seeing some activity in terms of building nests and getting down to business. So far, the Orange Cheeks, Ribbon (nee Cutthroat) and Pytilias are producing. Of course, the non-African Zebras produce every week of the year. They are so reassuring when after a couple of weeks, no other species are doing so.