A Tale of Two Birds
When I first joined the ASST I had heard about this addiction, and like many new members I laughed at the idea of becoming addicted to birds... but a year on - I have caught the bug well and truly. How do I know this? Maybe it is because this time last year I had 2 aviaries outside and 2 birds inside... now I have 7 birds inside, 8 aviaries outside and the footings going in place for another 5 aviaries... and I don't regret it for a moment. A second symptom would definitely have to be my new shopping ritual, I wander up and down the fruit and veg aisle for ages with my shopping trolley, which is something I NEVER did before keeping birds... I am a frozen veg kind of girl at dinner time (microwaves rule), and I never eat fruit... fruit is for healthy people... right? Now I find myself perusing shelves *hmmm...I hate celery, but the alexs love it , so I better buy it...ooohh...watermelon tastes disgusting, but the lorikeets go crazy for it...Oh yuck, cucumber gives me heart burn, but my quaker goes nutty over it...Wow, oranges are expensive this time of year...but the macaw chews them up rind and all...carrots, yeah, I do eat carrots...but it is the favourite for my kakarikis, so better buy two bags...hmmm...I wonder if they will like kiwi fruit, only one way to find out... I better get some silver beet, and some lettuce for the canaries. Nope, I don't need apples this week...plenty left from the roadside stall. Oh - definitely some strawberries, if the birds don't eat them I can dip them in chocolate for myself, ummm...yep, some melon will add a nice bit of colour to their fruit salad, a few cobs of corn...and oh look...I can get green grapes AND red grapes...that will give them a bit of variety...at the checkout I can now hold my head high as all of these wonderfully healthy items run over the scanner, I can pretend they are for me...the chips and chocolates are definitely still in my shopping cart... but dominance is diluted by the sheer volume of fruit and veg!!! Maybe I should start a veggie garden this year? Nah, sounds too much like hard work, and besides...Coles and Woolworths would have to go out of business!
Usually when I read the monthly magazine there are lots of articles written by people who have been keeping birds for years, I have been promising Ronda (editor) I would give her a story for the magazine for about 6 months now - but I didn't know what to write about - I have only been keeping birds seriously for a year, this is my first real breeding season - so I thought that is what I should write about! My first experience breeding birds
My absolute first parrot love would have to be kakarikis, the antics of these crazy little clowns just cracks me up every time I see them doing their "corner dancing" or their "round abouts". I purchased my first pair last year in a Launceston pet shop and never really had any intentions of breeding them, I fell in love when I stuck my finger through the wire and they sat on it instead of biting it... I just planned on keeping them inside and laughing at their antics. Within a month however I noticed they were doing more than just dancing around in their average sized inside aviary, and when I commented on this to Roy at one of the Tuesday night meetings, he told me "put a nest box in there...I bet they are in it within 5 minutes". So following this advice, I put a standard shop bought nesting box in the corner of the aviary and watched with great delight as only seconds later the female sat on the little perch at the front of the box and peered in the entrance...but she never went in. For about 3 days she continued this behaviour, sitting on the little perch and looking inside the box. "Go in" I would shout to her with great impatience...but to no avail. Maybe she was claustrophobic? Can birds get that? Maybe she was scared of the dark? Surely it isn't that dark inside...maybe she just didn't want to be a mother? Nope...her continued morning frolics DEFINITELY proved that theory wrong...what could be the problem be? Finally after a week my husband said to me "you know...I think she can't fit into the hole?" I stared at him like he was an idiot...of course she could fit...she was only a little bird, and it was a standard sized hole...kakarikis are famous for getting themselves into tight places...but typical male fashion, he wouldn't listen to me, and he got the nest box out and took to the entrance hole with a large wood file! Most people would have drilled the hole larger, but that would have been too easy! After much grunting and a lot of time Mark held up the nest box with its new rather wiggly shaped hole for my inspection, I shrugged in a very "I still don't agree with you" kind of way and he put the nest box back in place. About 5 seconds later the female was in the box - followed by the male......there was lots of squeaking and scuffling and only a few hours later their first egg was laid!
After a little over a week they had 9 eggs in their nest box, I had no idea one little bird could lay so many! But after much research on the internet (you gotta love google) I discovered this was "normal". A few weeks later I had my very first baby birds! Three of the eggs had hatched in this first lot, which was a bit of a relief to me as I couldn't imagine any mother having to raise 9 babies? She was a VERY protective mother, and seemed to know whenever I paused by their cage, she would start to "scream" at me from within her box! When it came time to put the ring on her babies she did just more than scream at me, my little angel bird turned into a biting screaming raging over protective banshee!!!! How could one little green ball of feathers have so much wrath in her body? My fingers still sting with the memory. They proved to be excellent parent, and before the babies had even left the nest they were on more eggs! It was at this stage that I decided to move them outside into a bigger aviary...while they were obviously happy inside, a bigger cage for their growing family just seemed like the right thing to do! Sooo...Aviary number 3 was born...
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