Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Abyssinians

By Eduardo Gonzalez
Abyssinians are tiny in the world of birds, but they are among the biggest love birds of all. They weigh 50-56 grams. They are particularly exotic and are sometimes called the Black Winged Love birds.   
Abyssinians inhabit grasslands filled with woody plants and trees, mainly in Ethiopia and Eritrea. They enjoy moderate to somewhat cold temperatures, especially when they breed.  Although they do well in the lowlands they love the highlands.  
Expect a good, long term relationship your Abyssinian--they can live for 10-20 twenty years.  They make exceptional pets because they are very difficult to find in captivity.  Because they are so few, many are entered into breeding programs.  Breeders will sometimes interchange their birds to keep their blood lines healthy.
If raised hand fed and taught to mix with people, Abyssinians will be very loving.  They are also inquisitive and loyal.  The females are very territorial and protective of their turf.
Abyssinians can also be stubborn but if their humans set the rules, they will give in, in due time.  Never encourage your Abyssinians to bite, but don’t shout at them if they do—they stress more easily than most love birds, will get scared and may become hostile.
Strangely for birds who dislike shouting, Abyssinians can be loud with high pitched caws.  Like most love birds they won’t talk, but they are versatile when performing tricks.
Breeding.  The best time to breed your Abyssinians is in the latter part of winter or early spring. They won’t breed successfully when it’s warm—it’s uncomfortable for them, and their birdies can die from the heat.
The females will build their nests with grassy materials that you give them.  In the wild, they place these materials into their feathers and carry them to their nests. The females will—unlike other love birds—take their down feathers and line their nests with them for extra padding and bedding.

After building their nests, the females will lay two to six eggs. The eggs will be laid every day until there is a complete clutch. Incubation will last for at least twenty days.
When the new birdies hatch, their mothers will care for them for nine weeks, feeding and keeping them warm.  Afterwards, both males and females will feed and wean their birdies.
Food and Diet.  Unlike other love birds, Abyssinians are not choosy eaters.  They will gamely eat most foods like fresh fruits, green veggies such as broccoli, carrot tops or spinach.  Humans can add small bits of papaya, pomegranates and figs for extra nutrition.
When feeding Abyssinians, do maintain their diet at equal levels of seeds, pellets, fresh fruits and fresh veggies. Pellets alone will not do--these birds require a higher fat content, so fruits like papayas are important.  Seeds like sunflower and safflower will also give them the fat that their body systems need.

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