The distance call is emitted when a bird is visually separated from other birds (Zann, 1996). Distance calls are special in Bengalese finches and zebra finches in that the calls are sexually dimporphic (Guettinger and Nicolai, 1973). In Bengalese finches, male calls are narrow banded, pure tonelike vocalization with rising frequency modulation while female calls are wide-banded, pulse trainlike utterances (Okanoya and Kimura, 1993; Yoneda and Okanoya, 1991).
Pet birds normally are extremely healthy. A canary may easily reach the ripe old age of fifteen years. The same may be expected for cockatiels and lovebirds. The life-span of parakeets and finches are shorter — seven years is to be expected. Remember, these are average figures. Your bird may live to be much older.
Unfortunately, many owners, despite the best intentions, fail to properly care for their feathered friends. This leads to illness and to premature death. Here are some aspects of bird care that must not be neglected.
Many assume that all pet birds are tropical creatures. Except for parrots and lovebirds, this generally is not so. Any temperature that is comfortable for you, will be comfortable for your little friend.
Canaries and parakeets can not tolerate quick changes of temperatures. If the heating system breaks down, sending the mercury plummeting in your home, your pet is in grave danger. Before cold sets in, immediately, cover the cage with a towel, leaving only the front exposed. Cover completely at night. Try to use an electric heater to warm up the room as much as possible. If the heating problem will not be quickly remedied, relocate your bird to a warm place.
No bird can tolerate a draft. Most pet owners understand this during the cold weather. A draft is a moving column of air — hot or cold! No matter how warm the day might be, your bird may develop a fatal illness if left in the path of a breeze on a windowsill or to close to a fan or an air conditioner.
Proper rest is extremely important. Your bird’s cage should be covered every night at sunset and left covered until dawn. Too much light, too little light, or an irregular schedule causes a bird never to stop molting. Noise or light during the night also robs the bird of its rest. These conditions drain the birds system, stressing the organism, leading to illness and death.
Care for your bird properly and you can expect to enjoy its company for a long time.
Sketch shows difference in flight of carrier pigeons subjected to short-wave radio.
Popular Mechanics Magazine
Some mysterious power of short waves of radio to interfere with the ability of pigeons to find their way home threatens the usefulness of one of man’s oldest means of communication over long distances.
Still used in naval and military operations, the homing pigeon has a definite place in this age of radio and telegraph. Often, during maneuvers and under conditions of actual warfare, it is impossible to set up radio transmitters, and frequently weather conditions will not permit successful communication by wireless. Then the pigeon is used to carry messages between divisions of the army or between ship and shore. Free balloons, not carrying radio, release pigeons in an emergency, such as landing in wild country.
The business world also finds the pigeon useful for certain work. Newspapers have found the birds an aid to coverage of stories in isolated places, reporters sending their copy and photographers their film to the main office in small capsules attached to pigeons’ legs. One publication recently instituted pigeon communication service for transmission of news from its rural correspondents, finding it faster than the mails and less expensive than wire service.
Scientists long have been baffled by the ability of the pigeon to find its way home under the most adverse conditions of weather and warfare. This ability cannot be attributed entirely to inherited instinct, since a long period of training is necessary, no matter how fine the breeding of a bird. The training is largely a matter of food for the pigeon. While the birds are young, they are taken farther and farther from the home loft, without being permitted to satisfy their hunger, and they return for food.
It has been found that neither fog, storm, smoke nor the noise and fumes of bombardment have any effect on the carrier pigeon’s ability to return home. A pigeon will fly 300 miles a day easily and some are capable of 600 miles. Strangely enough, the average pigeon will not fly at night, but will interrupt its journey to roost, resuming flight again at daybreak. In the World War, there was recorded the feat of a pigeon that flew twenty-five miles in twenty-five minutes, returning with its message even though badly wounded. In floods in the west, it was found that for two days pigeons found their way safely while weather and atmospheric conditions prohibited operation of radio. The birds seem able to find their way home over a radius of as high as 1,000 miles and hitherto nothing seemed to affect their unerring sense of direction, a sense that science has not explained.
But just recently, tests conducted by Lieut. George F. Watson, in charge of the U. S. Navy’s loft at Lakehurst, N.J., indicate that radio’s short waves have a very definite effect on the pigeons’ sense of direction. Ordinarily a carrier pigeon, upon being released, rises in spirals to gain altitude, then takes off in the direction of its home loft. In the presence of radio waves transmitted on six megacycles, however, the pigeons have extreme difficulty in find-in their way and instead of going off in a definite direction after making several spirals, they flutter about, apparently much confused.
During a series of experiments at Ocean Gate, N.J., pigeons released while shortwave radio was being transmitted from a station near by circled in an erratic manner very close to the station and were from forty-two to fifty-two minutes returning to the loft ten miles away. Pigeons released while the station was inactive made the trip in nineteen to twenty-one minutes.
On three different occasions a group of five pigeons was released while the station was operating and within fifteen minutes a second group was released when the station was not transmitting. By this arrangement the two groups were freed under similar conditions of wind and weather and their flying times were comparable. In the first test, the group subjected to the radio waves fluttered in confusion for fifteen to twenty minutes near the station, then made the ten-mile trip in forty-nine minutes, compared to nineteen minutes for the birds flying free from interference, The second test resulted in a forty-two minute flight for the radio-conscious pigeons and eighteen for those released while the station was not operating. In a third experiment, the group subjected to radio required fifty-two minutes to reach home, the other group only twenty-one minutes.
These experiments, while not entirely conclusive, are regarded as extremely important, since they open a new field for investigation in the largely unexplored subject of short-wave radio. It already has been found that these waves have an effect on human beings. With more and more short-wave stations being built and contemplated, the subject takes on additional interest. It also opens a serious field of investigation regarding the use of pigeons in military operations and suggests the possibility that usefulness of the birds may be curtailed sharply.
In this video, Dr. Okanoya’s hypothesis is that Evolution of song complexity in finches might mirror evolution of language in humans.
The origin of the human capacity for Language is a central question and any small step towards an answer would be a towering achievement. Unfortunately, Dr. Okanoya’s work does not accomplish that. As neither a sub-species of White-rumped Munia nor a strain of Bengalese is specified, the experiment can’t be reproduced. Since the White-rumped Munia used didn’t receive appropriate care, the observations very likely only reflect that flawed husbandry. Also, there’s no recording of the White-rumped Munia song in the natural state.
This chapter instructs the reader in the management of breeding pairs of budgerigars in order to maximize yield. We are here concerned only with the production of the greatest possible number of chicks. As soon as the fancier has gained success in the practical aspects it is very important to learn the techniques of stock improvement: inbreeding, line breeding, and heterosis. These methods must be mastered in order to improve a stud. These advanced ideas are beyond the scope of this introductory article.
There are three management schemes used to raise budgerigars: colony breeding, cage breeding, and flight or semi-colony breeding. Only the first two methods are used in the U.S.A.
Colony breeding utilizes pens or flights about three feet wide, eight feet long, and six feet high. Twenty pairs are housed in this pen. Much larger flights can be used. A good rule to follow is to allow one square foot of floor space per pair. Thus a flight twenty-five -feet long by four feet wide could house one hundred pairs. The flights should never —be much taller than the fancier. Extra height does not trouble the birds but makes it more difficult to catch them.
A number of small pens are easier to work than one large flight. With the small units only the individual pen is disturbed during cleaning. It is also easier to stop the spread of disease. About twenty-five percent more nest boxes than breeding pairs must be used per colony. Some hens will try to control more than one nest box. Without an excess of nests, other hens would be unable to breed. All the birds must be added to the colony at the same time. Squabbling severe enough to stop nesting might result if birds are added later. At any rate the new additions would never establish a nest. The same number of cocks as hens should be added, to the flight. Having extra cocks is simply a waste of birds. Extra hens are dangerous. These unpaired hens will fight constantly with the mated birds, raiding nests and killing chicks.
Colony breeding was the original method of breeding budgerigars. It is still used by the majority of commercial breeders of American parakeets. The only advantage of this system is a reduction of labor. Colony breeding is wasteful of space and feed.. Less young are produced per pair in colonies than in cages. No pedigree control is possible. Because of this lack of control, exhibition budgerigars should not be colony bred.
With cage breeding one breeding pair is kept to each cage. Most breeders keep the adults in flights, sometimes but not always segregated according to gender, outside of the breeding season. Cages twelve inches high, by twelve inches wide, by eighteen inches long are sufficient for birds that are kept in flights when not breeding. By using a larger cage, eighteen inches long, by eighteen inches wide, by twenty – four-inches long-an exercise fight is no longer needed. Each pair may be kept in the same cage all year long. Breeding activity is initiated by installing a nest box. Breeding activity is terminated by the removal of the nest box. Birds are stimulated into breeding activity by light.
Of course, the birds must have a year round complete diet, the temperature must be above forty degrees, and the birds must be at least five months old. Five months is a minimum. Twelve months is better.
If natural light is used, the birds will develop the urge to breed in March or April in the continental United States. By using full-spectrum lights and a timer, breeding may take place at any time of year. Gradually increase the light until the birds are awake for sixteen hours per day.
Cocks in breeding condition will have bright purple ceres. They will constantly attempt to feed other birds, cocks and hens. It should not cause undue worry if the cocks seem to spend more time with each other than with the hens in a flight. These birds almost always become perfect fathers. Breeding cocks are active and nervous, constantly rubbing their beaks and ceres along the perches and wire. They also bob their heads up and down. The ceres of hens in breeding condition will most often become dark brown. Some hens have white, grey, and even whitish blue ceres. This does not necessarily mean that such hens will not breed.
Place the hen in the breeding cage first. Leave her alone, for twenty-four hours before adding the cock. Budgerigars very rarely injure each other. A small percentage of hens will not allow a cock to mate. Do not worry if you do not observe copulation or even the cock feeding the hen. After a few days the lien should start to sit
in the nest box. After about a week the first egg should appear.
Budgerigars do not mate for life. Occasionally pairs do prove incompatible. If no nesting activity is observed after a week, shuffle the non-producers about. A small number of exhibition hens, unfortunately very often the best, refuse to mate.
Budgerigars tend to mate one cock to one hen per breeding season. Sometimes extra use can be made of a show winning cock. After the hen lays a full clutch of eggs, the cock is placed with a different hen. The eggs from the first lien must be placed under a foster mother. When the cock is removed the hen will most often abandon the eggs. The new hen that the cock is placed in with must not be sitting on eggs. The first thing that the cock will do is to destroy the eggs. After the second lien lays a full clutch, the whole procedure is repeated. The cock is now placed back with the original hen or with a third hen.
Some cocks do not accept this swinging method of breeding. A large number of foster pairs are needed to support this production scheme. This method is only practical to double or triple the number of chicks sired by a show winning cock.
There are two reasons to use foster parents: emergencies and to increase production. The maximum number of young that any one hen shouldbe allowed to raise is six. If more chicks are in the nest they should be fostered out to other exhibition pairs with one or two young. Rarely, a hen dies while raising. Again the young must be fostered. There are three ways to be certain of the identities of such babies. If the young are mature enough they should be banded. Gentian violet, iodine and other antiseptic stains may be used to mark chicks. Chicks may be fostered to nests certain to contain only young that are differently colored, for example Lutinos.
Some breeders keep American budgerigars to raise the English birds. When the eggs are taken from the hen she will lay another clutch. By handling the eggs in this manner, four to eight clutches can be obtained from each exhibition pair instead of two to four. The eggs of the foster parakeets must be within a few days of the same
age as those of the show birds. The eggs of the inferior stock are discarded. Foster parents are a must if the cock is used with multiple hens, as outlined previously.
Budgerigar eggs must be given the greatest possible care. The eggs should not be moved or touched without good reason. A flair or other broad felt tip pen should be used to mark the day the egg was laid. It is simpler to mark the number of the day rather than the date. An egg laid on December 31 would be marked 365 rather than Dec 31 or 12/31. Mark the egg across the broad surface of the shell, not at either end. A mark over the air sac at the one end could kill the egg. If the egg is to be fostered, the identity of the mother and father must also be noted.
The egg may be candled by holding it up to a bright light. After a few days of incubation, the veins will be visible. Do not be
too quick in throwing an egg out. Some hens do not start to sit until several eggs are produced. Once it is certain that a clutch is infertile, discard it so that the pair can start a new nest. If only a few eggs of a clutch are clear, infertile, do not remove them. The breeder might be wrong. Even if the eggs are clear they tend to act as heat retainers. Such extra eggs also keep the hen from sitting too tight and crushing
the newly hatched chick.
Some British fanciers are experimenting with flight or semi-colony breeding. This is used as a last resort for very high quality birds that refuse to cage breed. The birds are paired up in cages. Two pairs will be released in a flight perhaps four feet by twelve feet. The extra exercise and competition has allowed young to
be extracted from these massive birds that had refused to mate. This technique is used by only a few in Britain. All the top breeders of Budgerigars in the United States use cage breeding exclusively.
In a previous article I outlined some of the unusual foods that have been used with success for five years. Here I will describe more unconventional foods for canaries. These foods are also good for budgerigars, finches and wide variety of other seed-eating birds.
These items are all being used as ingredients in a mash. This mash was used as the nestling food and as the only
addition to the seed for the adults. The most important question is palatability. The most nutritious diet is useless if the birds refuse to eat it. Two things motivate canaries to consume a mash. If the mixture is sweet the birds will most often relish it. Canaries are afraid of new foods. A small amount of thistle and hemp is used in the mixture. At first the birds will scatter the soft food to get at the treat seeds. Once the canary realizes that the rest of the ration is sweet and pleasant to taste, the bird will readily consume his new food.
Adults, when not breeding or moulting, eat mainly for energy. At these times we can use a diet that is lower in protein. The hen requires protein for the production of eggs. The explosive production of the young necessitates protein. Feathers are mostly protein. To replace them during the molt, the fare must be high in protein.
The point of this digression is that a mash does not need the same percentage of ingredients year round. For maintenance we may use mostly cheaper carbohydrates. During times of stress it is imperative to make use of the more expensive proteins. We will see that there is a way to cut costs here also.
Rice is very valuable I use the regular brown rice as sold for human consumption. A broth made from soup greens can used to prepare the rice, In this way the rice becomes nutritionally charged.
The bird breeder who lives near a bakery is very lucky. Day-old or slightly burned bread can often be purchased very cheaply. I must issue a warning. Bakeries grade these seconds. Products that are not visually perfect but that are still wholesome are sold at a large discount. This is what the bird fancier is looking for. Dirty refuse is also sold to pig farms. Do not try to feed garbage to canaries. Only use fresh products intended for human consumption. Food is no bargain if it kills your birds.
Levi states in The Pigeon that bread crumbs are equivalent to corn in feed.
Molasses can used to sweeten the mash
I tried orange juice as a beverage for canaries. After inadvertently drinking some water containing the chemicals for color-feeding Red Factors, I thought that canaries would surely drink anything. Strangely enough, the birds would not drink orange juice. I am certain that some would have died if the water had not been returned. Now frozen orange juice concentrate is added to the mash. In this way the supplement is vitamin enriched.
Wheat germ also was not eaten when offered straight. Deep dishes were filled with wheat germ and placed in the flights. The
birds would not touch it. When mixed in the mash it was quickly consumed.
Beans are a cheap source of protein. Soy beans are soaked overnight and then chopped. Lima and kidney beans are cooked as for the table and then chopped. These chopped beans are mixed into the mash as a protein booster. I started adding beans after reading John Stoodley’s account of feeding Amazon parrots. He raises these birds on a diet that consists of a large percentage of legumes.
Potatoes are among the cheapest vegetables. I boil potatoes in the skin and then mash the whole tuber. When mixed well into the mash, canaries enjoy potatoes.
Like most canary breeders I often gave my birds apples. Unfortunately they seemed to waste more than they ate. I now chop up cored apples. In a food processor, apples render down almost to a liquid. This pulp and juice is also blended into the mash. This way, the amount of fruit that actually gets into the bird is maximized.
Some maintain that canaries will overeat soft food and die. That a bird will die from a nutritious meal is not true. Birds can be killed not by over eating but by over feeding. Fresh foods are perishable. The birds should only be offered what they can consume in one hour. If a surplus is given and allowed to spoil, fatalities can result. This mash could possibly constitute a complete diet but would have to be replaced many times a day. Though not a replacement for seed, mashes are great as a supplement and as a rearing food.
BEING THE JOURNAL OF THE AVICULTURAL SOCIETY FOR THE STUDY OF BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIRDS IN FREEDOM AND CAPTIVITY.
. . .
The Bengalese. — Mr. Taka-Tsukasa’s article which is com-
menced in the present number reminds us that Japanese and Chinese
birds have practically disappeared from the European bird market
since the war. The little Bengalese in its three varieties has not been seen for years. It is an extraordinary little bird which is happier in a small cage than anywhere else. It nests freely in any cage, and if you keep a number together the hens will all lay in the same nest and rear their young indiscriminately, and if you like to change their eggs for those of any other small ornamental Finch they do not mind, but will carefully hatch them and foster the chicks as if they were their own.
Japanese Aviculture. — The Japanese appear to be getting very
keen on aviculture, according to Mr. Taka-Tsukasa, and we think our
members will be interested in his article, which will be continued in
the next number. We much hope that British aviculturists are not
becoming less keen, but we fear their numbers are considerably less
than they were before the war. An exchange of experiences between
the Japanese and ourselves will be very useful, and we hope will
. . .
AVICULTURE IN JAPAN
By N. Taka-Tsukasa
Thinking that some readers of this Magazine are interested in the
cage-birds of Japan, and also in the manner the Japanese keep these
birds, I am writing an article on the aviculture of Japan. For a
considerable time the Japanese have kept both native and foreign
birds in cages. Japanese history tells us that for the last 1,700 years the Japanese Bush Warbler was kept for the sake of its beautiful song, and that the Parrots, Peacocks, and Magpies have been imported from Corea for over 1,000 years.
During this period many times we have had both progress and
retrogression of this art, and about 100 years ago it was at its highest point, when we arrived at the present method of keeping birds.
During this epoch we have had many books on the subject of bird-
keeping, and many foreign birds were bred and reared in cages and
aviaries, such as the Mannikins, Pheasants, Peafowl, Ducks, and some
species of Soft-bills and Parrots, especially the Temmink’s Robin,
the White-headed Black Bulbul, the Hill Mynah, and the Purple-
capped Lory, which were bred in outdoor aviaries, and it is said that
the Crested Sheldrake was profusely imported from either Corea or
China during this time.
The Crested Sheldrake is now so scarce that there are only two
specimens in existence in the world, and even these are only stuffed
16 N. Taka-Tsukasa — Aviculture in Japan
At present the aviculture of Japan is progressing rapidly, and many
bird-lovers are eagerly studying it. In the Meiji years this was much
neglected, and I think that the aviculturist of Japan will soon arrive at the same level on this subject as the Europeans. Last year an avicultural society began to hold its meetings in Tokyo. These are
held every other month.
The Japanese aviculturists separate the cage birds, as Europeans
do, into two groups, namely, the seed-eaters or hard-bills and the
insect-eaters or soft-bills.
(a) Seed-eaters or Hard-bills
The Japanese bird-lovers give this group of birds chiefly various
kinds of millet (the Japanese name is Awa), Panicum miliaceum (Kibi)
and Panicum frumentaceum (Hiye), in the same manner as the canary
seed and millet are used by the Europeans, and also, in like manner as the Europeans, the Japanese mix any two kinds of Panicum, which
I mentioned above, in the same quantity for their food, and often add
the seed of Pellira ocimoides, hemp and rape, in such proportion as
one-sixth of the whole part of millets. This seed diet can be got from either the bird fanciers’ or cereal shops.
We have no canary seed in Japan now, but about 100 years ago,
when the first pair of Canary birds were introduced into Japan, the
canary seed was also brought into Japan and was sown as the food for
the Canary birds, but some time after the Japanese found that the
above-mentioned kinds of millets could be substituted for the canary
seed, and they stopped the cultivation of the canary seed, so it has
With respect to the caging of birds, we use the box-cage generally
now, though sometimes a rectangular bar-cage is used for that purpose.
The Japanese box-cage is the same as the European one in its principle, but in dimension the height of the cage is greater than the length or width, and the box has in addition to the front door an entrance near the top of the side or at the back of the cage, and the door slides in sideways, while the door at the front slides up and down. This side entrance is used for taking the artificial nest in or out from the cage.
The box-cage generally has a paper screen on the front for the purpose
N. Taka-Tsukasa — Aviculture in Japan 17
of protecting the bird from cold at night in the winter, and damp and
chilly air in damp weather, and against the mosquitoes in the summer.
In the latter case we place a mosquito net on the slide in place of
The artificial nest is made of straw, a saucer-shaped one being
used for the Canary birds and a jar-shaped one for the Mannikins
and Waxbill, but I personally found, for the Canary birds, an unglazed pottery saucer, called ” Kawarake ” by the Japanese, is more useful than straw ones, and the jar-shaped one is unfit for breeding, though it is quite enough to sleep in at night, for it is too small for the nest.
I use a small box for the nest of the Mannikins and Waxbills, and I get good results.
For the material of nest-building we use generally a kind of rootlet
called ” Karukaya ” by the Japanese aviculturists, and it is sold at
the bird fanciers, but a waste swab can be used successfully, and it is less expensive than using ” Karukaya “‘. The Japanese call the swab ” Pawashi “, and this is made of the same rootlets as “Karukaya.”
The Japanese bird fanciers’ shops sell branches of Niwatoko (elder)
for perches. The branch of this tree is soft and very handy for making a percli. The old Japanese bird-lovers think that this tree is beneficial for the birds’ legs, and often used the extracts of the branches and leaves of it for a lotion, which is used for broken wings or legs, the injured part being wrapped in a cloth which has been dipped in this extract.
We strew the floor of the cage with sand, and do not use other
materials for that purpose excepting old newspapers.
The cage, food, and water receptacles and other things which are
used in bird-keeping are obtained from the bird fanciers’ shops, but
food or water receptacles are also sold in china shops, and the parrot cage can also be purchased from the ironmongers’ shops and the sand from the builders.
The most popular and commonest Hard-bill which is kept in a cage
in Japan is the Canary bird. The Canary bird is bred in great numbers
by peasants and old men of the towns who have spare time, and, of
course, by bird-lovers. The most noted localities where the people
breed the Canaries are the outskirts of the city of Nagoya and the coasts of the inland sea.
l8 N. Taka-Ts2tkasa — Aviculture in Japan
The Canary birds of Japan are chiefly the offspring of the German
Rollers and the curled-feathered race, though the latter are less in
number than the former. The breed has now become inferior in all
respects to the original stock, for new blood has not been imported
during the Great War, and therefore inter-breeding in small circles
has been the result. But fortunately we have new stock now, though
the numbers are small from the native land, so they will be soon
improved, and the Green Canaries has been imported too.
Before the Great War we had often very good specimens of Lanca-
shire Coj)py, Yorkshire Coppy, and Belgian Fancy Canaries, but they
have all nearly vanished from the cage-birds of Japan.
The Japanese did not try cayenne feeding till last year, when Mr. T.
Takano, of Yokohama, tried this experiment, and has succeeded in
getting some colour-fed birds from the Japanese stock.
We get generally two or three broods a year, but if the birds are
in good condition we have one more brood in the autumn.
Just before the breeding season comes we give the seed of Pellira
ocimoides or rape, and in the breeding season we add a little quantity of the yolk of an egg boiled and chopped fine to the above mentioned seed.
The history of the importation of Canary birds in Japan, according
to a ” cage-bird ” book which was published about 100 years ago,
is as follows : The Canary birds were imported many years ago, before
this book was published, but the birds were all males, consequently
the Japanese could not get any fledglings ; but about forty years ago an European (probably Dutch) brought a pair of Canary birds to Nagasaki, from which he got many broods. The governor of Nagasaki received a present of the parent birds from the European, and brought them back to Yedo (now Tokyo), and he gave them to a Shogun knight. This knight attempted to get young birds from this jDair, but he failed the first year. However, the next year he succeeded, and had many birds in a few years. These birds he sold and gave away, and so the Canaries were soon distributed in all parts of Japan .
I have little information on the subject of mule birds, but it is said that the Canaries are crossed Avith the Siskins and Japanese Green- finches ; so far I have not yet met with such birds. I have heard
recently Mr. Takano has succeeded in getting such mule birds.
N. Taka-Tsuhasa — Aviculture in Japan 19
Bengalee or Pied Manuikin. This bird is also very popular in
Japan, and is divided into three varieties by the bird-lovers according to coloration : firstly, the albino, in which the plumage is all white, and it has flesh-coloured bill and legs, but the eyes are not red ; secondly, the cinnamon and white bird ; and thirdly, the dark-brown and white bird. The markings of these varieties are bold and irregular, and the bill is black on the upper mandible and flesh-coloured on the lower, and the legs of these two varieties are equally flesh-coloured.
The box-cage suits this bird the best, because it has been hatched
and lived all its life for over 100 years in such a box-cage, so the constitution of this bird has become quite adapted to a box-cage, and
generally it is too delicate to live in an aviary or a large cage.
This bird can also stand very simple diet, which consists of any one
kind of millet, and this is the only bird which accepts the artificial nest sold at the bird fanciers’ shops without any alterations having to be made to it. The artificial nest for this bird is jar-shaped, and if we give it some materials for nest-building it instantly makes a nest and hatches its eggs, and as soon as its young leave the nest it lays another clutch ‘^f eggs ; thus it gives us many broods through a year, but generally Ave have two broods in the spring and the same in the autumn.
The number of a clutch of eggs is either three or four, and the
fledglings can easily be reared, as they are generally very strong and the parents take great care of their young. As this bird has generally a very good nature it is often (nearly in all cases) used as a foster- mother for the Zebra Finches, Grouldian Finches, and other rare species of the ornamental Finches.
An old Japanese book on the cage-birds tells us that this bird
comes from China, and in the original species the upper parts are dark brown and the breast and abdomen are white with pale dusky streaks. Its bill is black and the legs are pale bluish-grey, and its tail is long and pointed. According to this description I think that the Bengalee
comes from the Sharp-tail Finch (Uroloncha acuticauda), which is
a common bird in the southern parts of China, Formosa, and other
tropical parts of Asia.
This bird was imported into Japan about 200 years ago, and during
20 N. Taka-Tsiikasa — Aviculture in Japan
fifty years it was distributed in all parts of Japan, but still during this
time it seems that the White and Cinnamon varieties did not appear.
The Bengalee can be easily crossed with any of the other varieties
of its kind, or such Mannikins as the Sharp-tail Finch and ‘Spice
bird. The mules between this bird and Sharp-tail Finch, which were
hatched in my aviary, are similar to the Sharp-tail Finch, but the skin of the mule-birds is always white.
The Java Sparrow is also one of the most familiar birds of Japan.
It is a favourite with the Japanese artists, and it is often painted in
pictures. There are three varieties. The first is the common grey
bird, which is the most numerous of the three, and every year great
numbers are imported into Japan, besides those that are bred in this
country. The second one is the White Java Sparrow, which is chiefly
bred in Japan, and the third is a brown one, whose upper parts are
dark brown, with white cheeks, the head is the darkest. The under-
parts are yellowish brown, except the breast, which is the same colour as the upj)er parts, and a dark-brown band runs across the lower breast, which is separated by this band from the abdomen. Some
persons think this variety is a hybrid between the Java Sparrow
and the Zebra Finch. The third variety is the rarest.
We keep the Java Sparrow in a box-cage as we keep the Canaries
which I have already mentioned in this article, but we use a small
box for its nest instead of the saucer-shaped artificial nest. The box is similar to those which are used by the Europeans for an artificial nest for the Mannikin or Waxbill. This artificial box-nest can be obtained from the bird fanciers’ shops. We have generally two broods in a season.
In Nagoya, where this bird is chiefly bred, the bird fanciers rear the young birds in the following manner : They separate the young birds from their parents (either natural or foster) when they are about a week old and rear them by the hand.
At first the fanciers divide the fledglings into two or three groups,
according to the strength of the birds, their diet consisting of a paste made of crushed millet, dried river fish, and greens.
The fancier attaches this paste to a bamboo spatula, with which he
pushes the food into the birds’ mouths. The young birds soon learn
N. Taka-Tsukasa — Aviculture in Japan 21
tliis method of feeding, and as soon as a man comes to the cage they
open their mouths and take the paste from the spatula skilfully.
While the fancier feeds the fledglings in this manner, he sorts out the groups again and again as soon as he finds some weaker birds in a group.
This method of rearing gives the fancier less loss than he would
have if he left them to their parents until they were old enough to leave them naturally, and by this method he often obtains one more brood than is usual.
The fancier needs the assistance of two or three men’s hands,
including his own, to rear about 500 to 7,000 fledglings to maturity.
The White Java Sparrow, I have heard, was produced at ISTagoya,
and obtained from some common grey birds which had some
white plumes in the wing, but I think this refers to the origin of the white bird in Japan. The white birds were probably produced in
China earlier than the Japanese birds, and it seems that there is no
relationship between the stock of Nagoya and that of China.
The Zebra Finches are also bred numerously in Japan, but this
bird is n’:t allowed generally to hatch its eggs itself, for what reason I do not know, but the fanciers use the Bengalee hen as a foster-mother to hatch its eggs and rear its young. But personally I have reared many fledglings without using the Bengalee. The Zebra Finch breeds freely in an aviary if it has been accustomed to the aviary life, as this bird is chiefly reared by Nagoya fanciers who keep the birds always in box- cages, so its wings generally are not strong enough when it is put into an aviary to fly about at once and freely. This bird thrives well on the diet which I have mentioned before, and also endures an outdoor life in the winter.
Recently the Gouldian Finch has been bred in Japan in fairly
large numbers. But the young birds are very delicate until they finish their first moult. The hatching of the Gouldian Finch is done either by using the Bengalee as a foster-mother or by the parents themselves.
The newly imported birds are also very delicate, and the hen is apt
to suffer from egg-binding when she first lays.
The following foreign Finches are commonly seen in the cages of
the bird fanciers’ shops in great numbers : the Amanduvade, Spice
Bird, Sharp-tailed Finch and Black-headed Nun. The Diamond Finch,
22 AUe7i Silver — Foreign Birds at Olympia
Indian Silver Bill, Three-coloured Nun, Chestnut-breasted Finch,
Sydney Waxbill, Cherry Finch, Ribbon Finch, and Pin-tailed Nonpareil
are often imported, but not so numerous as the former mentioned birds.
Generally the African Finches are imported less than those of
Tropical Asia and Australia. All these birds and Weavers and
Whydahs are quite hardy in the Japanese winter, especially after their first winter. I- have had some Weavers and Whydahs in my outdoor aviary without any heat in winter for ten years, and they are now in quite the same condition as they were when imported. Of course, this aviary has glass screens for protection against the bad weather.
The Japanese generally keep the newly imported birds in box-
cages during the first winter and the rainy season, which is as bad as the cold winter for the delicate and weak birds in Japan, as well as newly imported birds.
We put the cage in a sunny place in the daytime and a warm room
at night or on chilly days, and from my personal experience it is not
necessary to heat this room unless the weather is damp. Generally
the front of the box-cage is covered with a paper screen.
Personally I advise that it is better to remove the nest-boxes from
the aviaries in which birds are kept that have come from the southern
hemisphere, because they are apt to breed in winter, and they will
often get egg-bound.
(To be continued.)