Barry Farber and the case of the missing parrot

This One’s True!

Here’s a bird story from Barry Farber, long-time New York City radio talk show host and language learning expert:
Studying Modern Hebrew, Barry practiced by listening to a tape. One of the exercises asked, in Hebrew, “Where is the bird?” The correct response was, again in Hebrew, “The bird is in the elevator.”
Though continuing to practice conscientiously, he could only wonder about the practicality of this exercise.

The next day Barry Farber happened to be waiting in the lobby of a hotel. The doorman carried in an ornate bird cage, containing a loudly protesting parrot. The cage was handed to a bellhop, who proceeded to carry both cage and bird in the elevator.

Just as the elevator doors closed, a young lady rushed into the lobby and, with great urgency asked in Modern Hebrew, “Where is the bird?”

In a clear case of synchronicity, Barry Farber was able to reply in Hebrew, “The bird is in the elevator!”


Many Biology classes and 4H associations incubate chicken eggs as special projects. This enables young people to see right before their eyes the principles of growth and reproduction actually at work. When the chick hatches, Biology for these students becomes truly a study of life instead of a study of corpses. This healthy fascination can be the first step towards a nature related hobby or career. In addition, an individual who respects life, respects themselves, their neighbors, and the environment. The only problem with our schools undertaking the incubation of chicken eggs, is what to do with the resulting chicken! In most urban and suburban settings it is not practical, perhaps not even legal, to raise poultry. To produce a living chick, only to let it die for want of proper care, is a corruption and desecration of the intent of the enterprise.

The cheerful button quail, Coturnix chinensis, is the answer! This active little bird is very easy and fun to keep. Button quail are happy in both the city and the country. If any of the students have parents that are bird keepers, the button quail can be kept right along with the other birds in the same aviaries or walk in cages as finches or canaries. Button quail can often be housed with parakeets and cockatiels. With these hookbills, some initial supervision is required to make sure that the quail are not bothered. Since lovebirds are very aggressive, don’t place button quail in the same flight.

If the neighborhood has no bird people, a smaller enclosure will be just fine. The miniature button quail can also be kept in fish tanks. (Without the water, of course.) To keep the quail inside, and cats and mice outside, cover the tank with one of the screens sold at every pet shop. A twenty gallon long is just about right for one male and two females. Cover the bottom of the tank with the wood shavings sold as hamster bedding.

No bird is easier to feed. Button Quail eat anything that your local pet shop sells to feed parakeets, canaries, or finches. If you decide to use pellets, no supplements are necessary. If you use a vitamin, mineral, and protein enriched seed, then health grit and nestling food must also be provided. The adult birds need nestling food year round for additional protein. Fresh water is a must.

Button quail can be scrappy among themselves. If there is plenty of room, no harm will come of it. If space is at a premium, don’t put the males together. It is also a good idea to keep several hens with each male. A single hen may be stressed by the male’s constant attention. The male has very distinctive white markings about the head. Button quail are most often seen in the normal brown color. A silver color variety is also raised.

Button quail are very easy to breed. In fact, it is pretty much impossible to stop them from producing eggs. The hen generally lays the eggs anywhere and everywhere, but does not sit on them. I only had one hen that took care of her eggs. Even she would abandon the babies when they hatched.

The best idea is to collect the eggs every day. Put the eggs in a box of dry oatmeal. Note the date on one side of the egg with a marker. Store the eggs at room temperature. Turn the eggs once or twice a day. Every four or five days place the eggs into an incubator. Incubators can be ordered from pet shops. The eggs hatch in about eighteen days.

For the first few weeks, keep the baby button quail in a fish tank with wood shavings on the bottom. Underneath the shavings, at one end of the tank, put a fiberglass reptile heater. By having the heater at one end the chicks can choose the temperature that they need. Change the shavings at least several times each week.

Button quail chicks differ from the babies of most other cage birds. The newly hatched button quail are classified as precocial. This means that they can move around and eat on their own right after they hatch. Baby birds that must be cared for by their parents are called altricial. Though the newly hatched button quail can eat on their own, they do need extra heat. That is the reason for the reptile heater.

The youngsters will quickly grow on any pet bird nestling food. Caution must be taken with the water dish. The little guys are only the size of a bumble bee when they first hatch! They can drown in a water dish that is too deep. As the youngsters start to grow feathers, start to feed them seed and health grit, or pellets, in addition to the nestling food.

As your flock of button quail starts to grow, you may wish to trade them with your friends, or with a pet shop, for other kinds of birds.


The Masked Grassfinch (Poephila personata) is a pleasantly attractive Australian finch. The name derives from the prominent black mask, reminiscent of the bandit mask of the raccoon. The tail and thighs are also black. The rest of the bird is colored in shades of brown and grey. There is a great deal of variation possible with respect to exact hues. Anything from fawn to charcoal is possible. The most attractive birds are almost blue. Juveniles lack the black mask.

The gender may be determined from the extent of the black on the face and thighs. The black mask of the male goes beyond the eye. The black of the thigh feathers is also more extensive in the male. This is a matter of degree and works best by comparing several birds.

The Masked Grassfinch is very similar to the Shaftail Finch (Poephila acuticauda) in appearance. Curiously enough, while the Shaftail is an easy bird for even the beginner to breed in cage or aviary, the Masked Grassfinch is not quick to go to nest. Experts have thrown up their hands in frustration with this species.

Feeding is no problem at all. As in most Australian finches, any of the many good vitamin, mineral, and protein enriched seed mixes may serve as the backbone of the diet. Spray millet and fresh greens should be offered as often as possible. A nestling food and mealworms are also necessary, especially when (if!) young are in the nest. Health grit and cuttlebone are musts for calcium. Vitamins and minerals may also be supplied in the drinking water.

The Masked Grassfinch does better in flights than in cages. Problems arise in breeding for, though of a highly social nature, they will argue with each other over nest sites. This constant squabbling will limit, or preclude, breeding success. One ingenious breeder worked around this by housing his pairs individually in small flights. Close enough to see the other pairs, the birds social needs were met. Housed one pair to the flight, they could not interfere with each other.

Either the wooden finch nest box or a wicker basket nest will be accepted. Since this finch feed and nest near the ground in the wild, the nest should be placed at a height of about three feet.

As with some other Australian Finches, these birds use charcoal in building the nest. This material may help in putting the birds in the proper mood to start a family. Charcoal should be kept before them in a clean dish. Provide a wide variety of materials for the nest. Moss and small feathers are especially good.

Five eggs is the average for each nest.

Individual pairs may settle on a different food to feed the babies in the nest. For breeding success, it is important to offer as wide a variety of foods as possible. It is also important to be consistent. The failure to offer a single item for one day may mean a nest full of dead youngsters. If all else fails, the always reliable Society Finches may be called upon as foster parents.


The Java Rice bird, also known as the Temple Sparrow or Java Temple bird, is one of the largest finches. The sharp, clear markings of the always impeccable feathers makes this an extremely attractive finch. In addition to the original grey color, pure white and pied (grey birds with random white patches) Java Rice birds are also available.

Java Temple birds are very active. A cage for them must be very roomy. About thirty inches long, by eighteen inches in each of the other two dimensions, would be sufficient for a pair. This may seem like a large cage but Java Rice birds can only exercise by flying. A parakeet or cockatiel can `work out’ climbing on the cage bars.

Java Rice birds really do best in a flight. If the temperature does not go much below fifty degrees, they can be kept in an outdoor aviary. An indoor flight will be very good in any climate. Since Java Rice birds are a very muscular finch, don’t try to keep them in the same enclosure as Zebra finches, Society finches, Waxbills, Lady Gouldians, or any other small finch. The Java Rice birds will either murder the petite birds immediately or, even worse, they will slowly torment the little guys to death. Weavers and Button Quail do well with Java Rice birds. You might also give Whydahs and Green Singing finches a try.

Java Temple Sparrows eat just about anything. Mixing a fortified finch mix and keet mix together, keeps them very happy. Greens and nestling food should be fed daily. Apple, whole corn, and mealworms are all relished. Of course cuttlebone and health grit must always be available. As a change of pace, you can offer them any other healthy bird or human food, with the exceptions of chocolate and avocado. As might be gathered from the birds’ name, rice, especially brown rice, is greedily consumed. When I raised Java Rice birds, they ate anything that I put in the flight with great gusto. It’s a good idea to add vitamins to the drinking water.

Many fine pellets have been formulated that are complete diets. With the processed foods, no other supplements are required. Fresh foods should still be given for the sake of variety and to ensure a balanced diet.

Unfortunately, their bottomless pit of an appetite does not allow for a planted flight. All greenery and flowers will be shredded and consumed in short order. Plain natural twigs make the best perches.

No bird reproduces faster than the Java Rice bird. A regular parakeet nest box should be provided. A very good material for the birds to build a nest out of is the green outside leaves on the corn ear, the husks. If you don’t care for corn?on?the?cob, don’t worry – the Java Rice birds will eat all the corn that you give them! The parent birds require a high protein nestling food or pellets to feed the growing babies.

I have found it impossible to tell the male from the female Java Rice bird. All greys and whites look exactly alike. The pieds’ markings are distinctive, so you might be able to distinguish two individuals, but these markings don’t point to a difference in gender. Many authors note that the beak of the male may be broader and brighter colored than the hen’s. I have not found this to be true.

Standard parakeet leg bands, either split or seamless, may be used to identify the birds. When the babies first come out of the nest, they have brown feathers. In a couple of weeks the juvenile Temple Sparrows molt out into adult colors. If you don’t mark the young birds, after this first molt, you will not be able to tell the offspring from the parents, or from any other similarly colored Java Rice bird, for that matter.

Java Rice birds are serious pests of food crops in many parts of the world, as you might guess from their ease of reproduction and love of food! Because of this fact, the possession of Java Rice birds is either completely illegal or regulated in many parts of the United States. Be sure to check with your local Fish and Game office before buying or raising the Temple Sparrow.



My first bout of serious bird keeping began with pigeons. These birds were kept in an eight foot square shed. The horrible New Jersey weather, arctic cold half the year and hellishly hot the other half, did not bother the birds, but made it extremely unpleasant to observe them. Also, there was no market for the progeny. Since I was in college, and thus short of funds, my bird hobby had to be self supporting.

The solution was to switch to canaries and budgerigars. These birds could be kept indoors, where the climate might also be domesticated. Pet shops, other breeders, and even the general public kept these birds in demand. From the proceeds of my breeding room, I was able to buy additional stock, feed, and supplies.

All the books and all the local breeders stressed that indoor flights, the bigger the better, were an absolute necessity. The rationale behind this was that the more room that the birds had to exercise, the fitter they would be for the breeding season. I constructed a series of aviaries and flight cages, some up to ten feet long. My birds were going To be ready for the Olympics!

As is usually the case, experience proved folk wisdom to have no basis in fact. The birds in the large flight cages spent most of their time sitting in one spot. A move to another perch required a pitched battle with whoever had staked the original claim. On trying to return to home base, they might have to squabble with a bird that had moved in right behind them. A few feathered racketeers would try to monopolize the food or the water dishes. These sources of stress and other pecking order pressures would become too much for the low men on the totem pole, often The best birds. They would rapidly decline. They had to be placed in individual cages to recover. Occasional losses would still occur.

With The commencement of breeding activity, all birds would be paired up in small cages. Time was spent catching every bird. The whole flock had to adjust to a new environment. This was an additional stress at a time that it was least wanted.

Eventually all birds were kept in individual breeding units. The Birds actually got more exercise flying back and forth in the small cages. Budgies could be kept one pair to a cage. Breeding was regulated by Removing the nest box. Canaries were all kept in individual cages. The cock was placed in with the hen to mate and was moved after twenty-four hours. One male might be used with up to fourteen hens. The entire nest of newly weaned young would be kept together. As they matured, if they were to be retained for my breeding program, they were set up in private cages. The rest were sold.

After several years of raising these birds, I decided to branch out to finches. Lady Gouldians, star finches, zebras, and societies, were set up one pair to a canary double breeding cage. The Lady Gouldians did not breed at all. The stars produced innumerable eggs but failed to incubate any of them. Only the zebras and societies produced a few young. Paradoxically, the smaller, but more active birds, were not able to exercise in a cage. At this point, almost all of my bird collection was lost in a burglary.

Several years later I had the opportunity to visit one of my customers. In a Manhattan apartment (It would be redundant to add small!) she raised Lady Gouldians by the dozens in a planted indoor aviary measuring about six foot square.

I wanted to try a similar set up. The window of my shop was about ten feet long and nearly seven feet tall. This space was partitioned off from the rest of the store. Full-spectrum lights were installed. Large palms and ficus plants took up most of the interior. Thin manzanita branches were placed in a top corner and in one spot on the aviary floor. The window, at night, might get as low as forty degrees. A heat lamp was Focused on the top manzanita branches. The heat lamp was used at night and during the day, if it was very cold. The lights were on sixteen hours a day.

Food, water, and baths were all placed under the heat lamp. Water for drinking was given by means of a gravity bottle. Nests, both woven and wooden boxes, were placed high up, but not under the heat lamp. The nests and the top branches were actually higher than the top glass of the window and thus out of view of the pedestrian traffic.

About a dozen immature Lady Gouldians were added. At first they were extremely frightened and spent all their time hiding in the top perches. As they acclimated they would examine their new home when no one was in front of the window. If someone approached, or if a car rode by, they would return to the haven at the top. At night the interior of my window aviary would be brightly illuminated, but the birds would not be able to see outside, because of the darkness and the glare on the glass. As far as the Lady Gouldians were concerned the threat posed by the outside world simply disappeared at sun down. They would then flit about the entire space, ignoring the small crowds that would gather to observe them. As they came into adult color, the birds made a tremendous display.

A local breeder sold me a number of immature Java rice finches and African weavers. I was advised to not place them in with the Gouldians. I was told that they might possibly kill the smaller birds and that they would certainly destroy the plants. Another aviary was built. This one ran along one wall of the inside of the store and was eight feet long, four feet wide and seven feet tall.

The Java rice birds quickly matured and went to nest. Standard wooden budgie nest boxes were used. They produced many healthy babies. The African weavers turned out to be mostly males. Even with the few hens, none paired up or showed any interest in nesting. The Lady Gouldians nested without hesitation in their planted space. The parents fed their nests of shrieking chicks with great zeal. Unfortunately, most of the Lady Gouldian chicks were lost when they left the nest. They were unable to find food or water in the large flight. Because of the dense vegetation, it was very difficult to catch any of the fledglings without disturbing the entire colony.

The Lady Gouldians were fed a vitamin enriched finch mix. The Java Rice birds and the weavers were given both vitamin enriched finch mix and vitamin enriched parakeet mix. Gouldians and Javas were given as much chopped egg, nestling food mix as they would eat. The Javas also took mealworms and fresh corn on the cob. Fresh greens and sprouts were given to all birds daily. Vitamins were used in the water bottles.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Summer is a paradox for the aviculturist. We buy birds and equipment, read innumerable magazines and books, hope and dream, all in anticipation of the breeding season. But, come memorial day, the beach and mountains beckon. Our precious birds become an afterthought, if not a nuisance. breeding birds require more attention. Now, if the birds are to go to nest, diet is of absolute importance. The canary fancier has an added complication. Breeding ends in June-July and is immediately followed by the molt. We must constantly assess exactly how much time and energy we are willing and able to devote to aviculture. A few lucky ones have neighbors who are also afflicted with “birds on the brain”. This makes it possible to vacation. If this is not the case, even well meaning friends and relatives can wipe out a valuable collection.


The crested is one of the most unusual budgerigar mutations. This phenomenon is the only structural trait that is controlled by a few readily identifiable factors. Unfortunately, most fanciers do not understand the genetics of this variety. There is no reason for this lack of knowledge. The genetics of crest breeding are no more mysterious than is that of breeding violets. Again, we are dealing with complimentary genes.

The crested budgerigar is available in three phases:full crest, one-half crest, and tufted. The full crest possesses a daisy crest very similar in appearance to that of the Gloster canary. It will soon be shown that this similarity in appearance implies no similarity in the mechanisms of inheritance. The one-half crest budgerigar has, as the name leads one to believe, half the adornment of the full crest. Here the bird only has the crest forward toward the crown. This leaves the viewer with the impression that the bird has had its feathers done up in bangs! The tufted is the most striking form of the crest. This budgerigar has the reverse of the cockatiel crest. The best examples show a strong “horn” of feathers rising from the crown. Poor specimens show only a few disturbed feathers.

The three crest phenotypes are manifestations of the interactions of two genes:crest-determining, D, and crest-initiating, I. The corresponding wild, normal, gene is designated by the plus symbol, +.

A bird with one crest-determining gene and one crest-initiating gene will be tufted. The notation for the genotype of the tufted is I/+ D/+. A bird that has one crest-initiating factor and two crest-determining factors is a one-half crested. The notation for the genotype of the one-half crested is I/+ D/D. A bird that has two crest-initiating genes andeither one or two crest-determining genes is a full crest. The notation for the full crest is either I/I D/+ or I/I D/D.

Table one gives a full listing of all the possible crest genotypes and the manifested phenotype. If the crest-determining and crest-initiating genes are found to be independent, many of these permutations will be found to be equivalent. If they are linked, the order of the genes is important.

It should be noted that crest-bred birds may posses very different genotypes. This term is meant only as a category of convenience for it does not denote any particular genotype. The exact genotype of these birds of normal appearance may often be ascertained through careful records. Otherwise, test mating is necessary.

The crossing a two factor, full crested bird with a normal will lead to the following result:

                       I D    X    + + 
                       I D         + +


                              I D  TUFTED
                              + +

This formula represents that the two factor full crest produces only the gametes I and D. The normal bird, of course, only produces the gametes + and +. The pairing of a two factor, full crested bird to a one-half crest bird gives the following yield:

                     I D    X   + D
                     I D        I D

      50% I D    FULL-CREST                   50% I D    HALF-CREST
          I D                                     + D

Crossing a one factor full crest with the crest-bred bird from entry number four in table one gives us the following result:

                     I +    X    I +
                     I D         I +
       50% I + ONE FACTOR FULL-CREST         50% + +     CREST-BRED
           I D                                   I +

These results are according to the Initiator theory of crest inheritance as posited by Dr. J.E. Fox. There is strong evidence that the crest-determining and crest initiating gene are linked, located on the same chromosome. Further experiments are in order to validate this hypothesis.

The continued pairing of crest to crest is not to be suggested. It must be stressed that there are no lethal factors involved in budgerigar crest inheritance. The young from double crest pairings will generally lack type. The crossing of a crest bird to a high quality normal will lead to an initial advance in type. Continued crossings to the normal exhibition bird brings about a degeneration of the crest, possible due to an accumulation of multiple allele inhibitors. The best method is a judicious crest to normal pairing, followed by a series of crest to crest-bred matings.

I hope that this short article will show that crests are produced in exactly the same manner as various colors. All pairings involving crested birds may be analyzed through fairly simple tables.


1) I/I D/D Full Crest 9) +/I D/D One-Half Crest
2) I/I D/+ Full Crest 10) +/I D/+ Tufted
3) I/I +/D Full Crest 11) +/I +/D Tufted
4) I/I +/+ Crest-Bred 12) +/I +/+ Crest-Bred
5) I/+ D/D One-Half Crest 13) +/+ D/D Crest-Bred
6) I/+ D/+ Tufted 14) +/+ D/+ Crest-Bred
7) I/+ +/D Tufted 15) +/+ +/D Crest-Bred
8) I/+ +/+ Crest-Bred 16) +/+ +/+ Normal

The Crested Budgerigar Club Handbook,ed. Fullilove



The very attractive Pied budgerigar has long been a favorite with pet owners and show breeders alike. Pied parakeets have irregular patches of yellow, for Green birds, or white, for Blue birds. No two birds are marked exactly alike. The distinct splashes of bright color give us feathered kaleidoscopes.
Pieds are most often seen in three different varieties: the Australian Pied, the Danish Pied, and the Continental Clearflight.

In the Australian Pied the light patches occur most often about the lower half of the parakeet. Also, all Australian Pieds have a light patch at the nape of the neck. A sub variety of this color mutation is the Banded Pied. Through selective breeding, parakeet fanciers have developed birds that show the mottling in the form of a light ring or `belt’ about the middle. These particularly attractive Banded Pieds are alway in great demand.

Exhibition enthusiasts have crossed the Australian Pieds with the more common colors of the English show budgerigar. These pioneering fanciers have produced big Australian Pieds with broad heads that win prizes at the shows. A particular plus for this variety is that all of the colors are as bright as those of the more regularly marked parakeets.

With the Danish Pied the splashing is concentrated about the head, shoulders, and chest. Though also very attractive, the Danish Pied is not often raised as a show bird. Breeders have not been very succesful in producing competition quality Danish Pieds. These birds tend to be small, on the style of the pet parakeets. This does not stop Danish Pieds from being very good pets.

The Danish Pied mutation has some secondary effects apart from the mottled patches. The depth and brightness of all the colors is somewhat subdued and reduced. To compensate for this breeders often raise the Danish Pieds in the Violet (purple), Cobalt (dark blue), and Olive (very dark green) color varieties. Since Violets, Cobalts, and Olives possess a deeper color to start with, the slight fading effect of the Danish Pied mutation is offset.

There are two other unusual facts about the Danish Pieds. When young, all parakeets have dark eyes. After the bird matures, much of the color in the eye is lost. As an adult, only the pupil will be dark, the iris ring white. This does not happen in the Danish Pieds. Here the eye remains dark through out the life of the bird.

Also, the gender of the Danish Pieds can not be distinguished by the color of the cere. The cere is the fleshy part of the bird around the nostrils, above the beak. With most colors of parakeets, the cere of the male is bright blue, the hen’s may be any other color. For the Danish Pieds, both male and female have pink or tan ceres. An educated guess can be made. In adult parakeets, the cere of the male is smooth while the hen’s tends to become rough.

The Continental Clearflights are not as dramatically marked as the other pied mutations. Here, ideally, the flight feathers and the tail feathers should be clear. Very often some of these feathers will be normally colored. Continental Clearflights also have a patch of light feathers at the nape of the neck. Sometimes a Continental Clearflight will have all of the flight and tail feathers regularly marked. In this case they can only be told from the normal birds by means of the light patch by the base of the skull.

The Continental Clearflight also is not often seen at the shows.

A curious phenomenon occurs when the Continental Clearflight mutation is combined with the Danish Pied. This blend gives rise to Black Eyed Clears. Black Eyed Clears are, as the name suggests, pure white or yellow parakeets with black eyes. Like all Danish Pieds, the entire eye remains black. This dark eye prevents any confusion with Albinos or Lutinos. Albinos are pure white birds with red eyes. Lutinos are pure yellow keets with red eyes. Black eyed clears are in great demand as pets.


The Australian Pied is a dominant mutation. This means simply that a bird must show it; they can’t be `carrying’ this mutation. Australian Pieds, like all dominant mutations, come in two forms:single factor and double factor. If you mate a single factor Australian Pied with any other parakeet, half of the nest will be Australian Pieds. When using a double factor Australian Pied, all the young will be Australian Pieds. Whether an Australian Pieds is a double or single factor can sometimes be determined by visual inspection. The double factor birds are often very light in color. Only by actually breeding the bird in question, is a true identification possible. The Continental Clearflights are also a dominant mutation. The inheritance of this mutation is of the same pattern as the Australian Pied.

Danish Pieds are a recessive mutation. With recessive genes, only the double factors will show the mutation. Birds with one factor are called `carriers’ or `splits.’ Carriers (splits) don’t look like recessive pieds, but when mated together will produce Danish Pieds.

Since the Black Eyed Clear is an blend of a dominant mutation, the Continental Clearflight, and a recessive, the Danish Pied, it takes two generations to produce. Mate, a Continental Clearflight with a Danish Pieds. Half of the babies will be Continetal Clearflights and half will appear like reguar birds. None will be Danish Pieds, unless, the Continental Clearflight parent was split for Danish Pied. In any event, pair up the babies that are Continental Clearflights. On the average, three young out of every sixteen produced from these pairings will be Black Eyed Clears.

All of the Pieds are most impressive when brightly colored. When combined with the more delicately colored keet colors, the Pastels and Greywings, for instance, much of the appeal is lost.



At the 1983 All American, the U.S.A. national budgerigar show, Gerald Binks, world-renowned British budgerigar fancier, explained his methods of stock husbandry. Mr. Binks came expecting to participate in a panel discussion. Unfortunately, the rest of the panel failed to arrive. Undeterred, without notes, he lectured for over two hours explaining every aspect of budgerigar culture in down to earth language that enlightened both beginner and expert alike.

Gerald Binks uses a two-tiered system of feeding: breeding and non-breeding. He noted that the grave mistake made by most fanciers is to ease off once breeding activity has been concluded. This should be the time to build up the bird’s stamina. The mistake is compounded by filling the cage with all sort of rich goodies simultaneously with the installation of the nest box. Budgerigars are very suspicious of any new item. Mr. Binks explained that these unsuccessful breeders are “checking” their birds progress exactly at the worst time. The birds go off feed for a few days, losing weight. This gives a bad start to the breeding season.

During the non-breeding season the birds are given a diet of 80% canary, 15% millets, 4% clipped oats and 1% niger. One-half teaspoon of cod liver oil is mixed with twelve pounds of seed. For the breeding season, the same seed mix is used but the oil is increased to two teaspoons to twelve pounds. Since the budgerigars have some cod liver oil in their feed all year round, no extreme change is ever encountered before the breeding season. The seed and oil is mixed daily, but Mr. Binks does not hesitate to use the oil treated seed on the next day. He does advise caution. Oil can become rancid. This would take four or five days in a hot climate.

The bird’s water is supplemented with the human infant vitamin ABIDEC all year round at the rate of one drop of vitamin concentrate to one pint of water. The water is further fortified with a vitamin B12 preparation, daily when breeding, every other day otherwise. Mr. Binks contends that a lack of B-12 is the major cause of dead in shell.

Gerald Binks was questioned concerning the addition of antibiotics to the feed and water on a continuing basis. He explained that even though such practice has given good results in other branches of livestock, it is forbidden to the breeder of exhibition budgerigars. Under the British Budgerigar Society Rules, all “growth promoting substances” are condemned.

Iodized salt is before the birds at all times. Gerald also gives his birds a grit made up of sea sand and shell grit to supply both soluble and insoluble grits.

Mr. Binks suggested that the quality of the bird is dependent upon a good supply of protein. Seed only offers vegetable protein. Animal protein is a must. Cooked chicken carcasses are occasionally placed in the flights. For the breeding season, a mash of whole meal bread, milk, glucose, and Virol, a milk product, is fed. Greenfood is not used, for it is difficult to secure a year round supply. Greens are not needed if the birds are given a vitamin C supplement, according to Gerald Binks. Mr. Binks stressed that poor nutrition, not lack of humidity is the major cause of dead in shell. He stated that lack of moisture is barely 5-10% of the problem.

Gerald Binks also explained his novel construction of nest boxes. These are bolted to the front of the cage, the entrance facing away from the light. This increases privacy and allows the hen to escape when the breeder is checking the eggs. Sawdust is used in the nest.

The talk was concluded with a discussion of unusual breeding strategies.He also explained his use of polygamous pairing schemes. Mr. Binks is experimenting with using one cock with several hens, in a similar manner to the canary breeder.



You are going to get one or two parakeets. Congratulations! Parakeets make great pets. This booklet will help you pick out your birds and the equipment that needed to keep them happy and healthy in your home for a long time.

The Parakeet (more properly called Budgerigar) originally came from Australia. Flocks of thousands of these birds wander across that great land. Nearly all of the parakeets in the wild are green. The native peoples hunted them for food!

Parakeets were sent to Europe over a hundred years ago. Bird lovers quickly discovered that the parakeet was easily kept and bred in captivity. Soon blue and other new and unusual colors were produced, sparking further interest in these fascinating little birds. It was learned that tamed parakeets make great pets and can even be taught to talk.

Hobbyists started to take their parakeets to exhibitions – just as others might show dogs or cats. Now parakeets are the beloved pets of millions of people the world over.

Many beautiful and easy to clean cages are available from your pet dealer. Don’t be tempted to try to build your own. It just is not possible for you to make one that is as sturdy and attractive as a factory produced cage. Cages are really very economical these days. If you start adding up the price of all the paint, wood, and hardware that you would need to construct a cage, you will see that it is much cheaper to buy one.

The cage must be at least long enough for the parakeet to stretch and flap its wings. Parakeets also get a lot of exercise by climbing on the bars. Make sure that the bars of the cage are close enough together, so that the bird can’t fly out or even stick its head out. If your pet sticks its head out through the bars, it might get its neck caught and choke to death. How big should the cage be? It can’t be too big! The bigger the cage, the more birds you can keep and the more fun they – and you! – will have.

Today’s modern cages are made of metal and plastic. Don’t put parakeets in a wicker or bamboo cage. The parakeets will chew holes in the material very quickly!

Cages come in every color of the rainbow. The color is your own personal decision – buy what you like and what matches your home decor. The color of the cage makes no difference to the birds.

Go to a store that is clean and odor free. Be sure that the birds’ water and cage is clean. The birds should be flying and climbing about their cage, making quite a bit of noise. If the birds are very quiet and tend to sit in one spot, then go to another store. Healthy parakeets never sit with their feathers puffed up. Any stains around the vent or nostrils are indications of disease. Don’t buy a sick bird!

If someone is almost always home during the day, you can get one bird. A parakeet kept by itself can become very tame and friendly with people. It can also be taught to talk. You will want to get a young boy, right out of the nest. In general, only the baby boys become tame. Unfortunately, in very young parakeets, it is not easy to tell the boys from the girls! In the green and blue birds, look for a bluish tint to the skin around the nostrils, right over the beak. This is called the cere. In all yellow or all white birds, the cere is always pale in both the males and females.

The color of the bird is up to you. The plain green and blue birds are most often a little cheaper. The pure white and pure yellow birds generally cost the most. They make very good pets and are not blind as some people say. You might see English Parakeets for sale. These are twice the size as the regular parakeet, but are the same sort of animal. The difference is on of breed, like the difference between a Great Dane dog and a Cocker Spaniel dog. English Parakeets also make very good pets.

If someone is not home during the day, it will be cruel to get a single bird. It will get very lonely being by itself all day long. In this case get at least two birds. They will keep each other company. Unfortunately, when parakeets are kept with each other, they can’t be tamed or taught to talk. They prefer their own company to that of people. Having kept thousands of birds, I can hardly blame them, for I generally prefer the company of birds to people also! Parakeets kept in pairs or a group are still lots of fun. It’s a great pleasure to see them playing all day long. Their bright colors and intelligent antics are a constant joy in the home. It is also very educational for youngsters to be able to observe birds.

If you want to breed your birds, you of course must have a true pair. Strangely enough, a single female, or two females by themselves, will sometimes lay eggs, but these eggs will never hatch. In the green and blue birds, the cere of the male is a bright blue. In the hen it might be any other color. As mentioned before, in yellow and white parakeets, the cere is pink in both the males and females. The cere of the male is always smooth. In a hen ready to breed, the cere will become rough, no matter the color of the bird.

If you want to breed your birds, you must buy a BREEDING CAGE. The BREEDING CAGE is larger than the regular pet cage and it has a trap door for the nest box. In the wild parakeets nest in holes in trees. In captivity these birds nest in boxes about eight inches square. Don’t waste your time and the birds by trying to force them to nest in a finch basket. Parakeets have up to eight babies. Remember, parakeet babies will be almost as big as the parents before they come out of the nest! Ma and Pa keet, and all the babies, must be able to fit in the nest. Keep this in mind when looking at a finch nest!

If you are not interested in breeding your birds, the sexes don’t really matter. Parakeets are almost always friendly with each other if all placed in the cage at the same time. Just use common sense and allow the birds some elbow room. Don’t over-crowd your birds.

If you have had a parakeet by itself for some time, you might be thinking of getting a second bird as a mate or friend for the first. This is a good idea, but don’t put the birds together right away. Just imagine if you have your own apartment, and one day you come home to find some stranger watching the TV. You would get very upset, to say the least! Birds are just the same. Put the new bird in a different cage next to the original pet. When you see them playing through the bars, they can be placed together. Just to be on the safe side, do keep an eye on them anyhow for a day or two.


Yellow Chopper In Song


Canaries are not social by nature. Outside of the breeding season, canaries should always be kept apart. Male canaries fight with each other, sometimes with fatal results. He might also kill the female, if she is not ready to breed. Several canaries may be kept, in separate cages, in the same room. This sort of arrangement will encourage the males to sing, but is not necessary for the bird’s health or well being.

When not breeding, it is not always easy to tell the male canary from the female. Only the male sings and only the female will build a nest. During the Summer and early Fall, it takes a well informed canary fancier to detect the gender of a bird hatched that year. When shopping for a hen, go to a store that will guarantee the bird – allow a replacement if the wrong gender is supplied.

Canary hens are generally in good supply from mid-summer until early autumn. With nesting finished for the year, fanciers sell off their excess birds. They are not easy to obtain at other times of the year. Plan to purchase the female at the earliest opportunity. This will give the bird a chance to adjust to her new home. Very rarely are productive hens sold during the breeding season. Female canaries that are put up for sale then are most often either past their prime or are poor mothers.

The canary breeding season is controlled by the number of daylight hours that the birds experience. Throughout most of the United States, if the birds’ cages are kept covered from dusk to dawn, your canaries will most likely wish to breed sometime around Valentine’s Day. The hen will let you know her intentions by furiously shredding any available paper, feathers, or plant material. She should now be provided with a plastic or wire canary nest that is available from your local pet shop. Be sure to ask for the special nest liners, in case your hen does not weave a proper nest. The liner may be sewn into the nest or glued. Check to see that the glue is completely dry before putting the nest in with the bird. Do not try to use a wicker finch nest. Your canary will probably ignore the finch nest. If, in desperation, she does use the basket sort of nest, you will be unable to inspect the eggs or babies. A plastic or metal nest can be cleaned and sterilized, wicker can not.

A regular canary breeding cage comes equipped with two dividers:one solid, one wire. Keep both in place, until you see the hen canary start to build her nest. Then, remove the solid partition, but leave the wire one in place. Now wait until you see the birds kissing through the bars. At this point they should be united. Remove the wire partition. Watch for any lover’s quarrels. Don’t let any wife beating take place! If this happens, immediately separate the birds. Remember, it most often only will get worse.

If your birds are in pet style cages, just keep the cages alongside each other. The rest is the same as above.

The hen lays up to eight small blue eggs. Five is the average number. She will very often not sit on them until the last one is produced. Two or three days after she starts to sit, the eggs may be carefully removed and held up to a light. You will make out the outline of the embryo and the network of veins nourishing it. If you can see right through every egg, put them back in the nest and wait five days before checking them again with the light. If the eggs are still clear, showing no sign of an embryo, discard them. This gives the birds a chance to go to nest for a second try. Wash your hands before handling the eggs, for germs, oils, and chemicals on your hands can pass through the egg shell. This might kill the developing chick.

Canary eggs hatch in 14 days. This is counted from the day that the hen starts to sit on the eggs, not from the day that the egg was laid. The canary chick hatches without any assistance from you or the parents. The little chick enters the world blind and naked, adorned by only a few wisps of down. The parents provide all care for the young.

Canaries that are starting a family must have perfect diets. They need a vitamin enriched seed in front of them at all times. Every day, every bird should get a small dish of nestling food. This provides extra protein. Also, on a daily basis, the birds must get a small piece of fruit or vegetable, any healthy item you eat yourself. In addition they need grit and cuttlebone as sources of calcium for the eggs. Many good vitamin preparations are sold to completely ensure a balanced diet. Pellet and other processed feed preparations have been formulated as complete diets. These may also be used, but I do suggest to also provide small amounts of fruits and vegetables, just to be on the safe side.

If nutrition is adequate, the hen most often lays the eggs with no problems. Sometimes, particularly if not supplied with all the vitamins and minerals that they require, the hen will have trouble laying an egg. If the hen seems unable to move, quickly consult your avian veterinarian Without immediate help, the hen will die.

When the eggs hatch, place an unlimited supply of dry nestling food in the cage. The young require large amounts of this to fuel their rapid growth. You may also mix grated egg and carrot with the nestling food. This mix must be changed every two hours, for it rapidly spoils. If you are using pellets, no supplements are required, but will be enjoyed by your pets..

When you are certain that the young are eating on their own, give them a separate cage. Watch the young birds very carefully the first day away from ma and pa. Some babies might be eating but still require food from the parents.

After the young have been removed, the original pair will frequently go to nest again. Two nests are safe. Three are possible. After the third set of young, remove the nest. Now, put the birds in different cages. For the regular canary breeding cage, the dividers should be put back in. After breeding is finished expect your birds to begin to molt. Continue with the high protein food, so that they may regrow beautiful new feathers. Allow the birds to rest until next spring’s breeding season.