Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Breeding Cages and Nesting Boxes

By Eduardo Gonzalez

If you plan to breed more than one pair of love birds simultaneously, then breeding cages are a good idea.  That way you can prevent the birds from fighting.  Just move each pair from their flight cage, and put them into the separate, smaller breeding cages during breeding time.

Although the breeding cage is smaller, it shouldn’t be cramped.  Otherwise, you won’t get any eggs.  Love birds will never come into contact if they are discontent, and one of the most important conditions for correct breeding is having enough space in which to breed.  The breeding cage should also be large enough for them to exercise, flap their wings, climb and play around.

You can leave toys in the breeding cages to keep the love birds content, active and entertained.  It won’t inhibit their breeding.  Bored love birds show their disgust by being exceedingly noisy.  
Provide nest boxes that are commonly used by larger parakeets, or even better, English Budgies. These have sliding doors and an elevated opening.  The male can sit beside the female while she is nesting.  Or, he can sit and sleep on the perch.  This will prevent accidents such as eggs cracking because one of the birds stepped on them, which can happen if either bird panics.

The nesting box should allow you to easily view the eggs. If the door too fixed in, sand the edges evenly, put it back in, and test it again.  Actually there is really no need for the curved piece of wood that comes with the usual budgie nesting box.  If you decide not to use it, keep it handy nonetheless, just in case.  
The nest box can hang either inside or outside of the cage.  If you put it outside, use wire clippers to bore holes in the cage wall.  Polish the sharp points of the cut wire for the safety of the love birds. Also, don’t let the nest boxes get wet by water or rain.  Acrylic sheets are provide good covering in rainy weather, and will also safeguard the birds from excessive sunlight.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things Humans Should Know About Their Love Birds

By Eduardo Gonzalez
If you handle your love bird properly, you will have a great home companion.  Love birds are sociable.  They enjoy communicating with people.  They are active, charming and beautiful, too, with their amazing colorful feather coats on their backs and tails.  These tiny birds can sweep you away.
They do well in small homes--condominiums, apartments and small houses because they are so tiny.  But if you want to get the best out of your love birds, you must treat them well from the very beginning.
Here are some pointers for dedicated humans who would like to breed their love birds and start well with the birdies:
1.     Do not allow contact between unlike species.  Love birds are curious and if they hear other bird sounds they will investigate their neighbors.  Don’t presume they’re safe because you have partitioned the species.  Love birds can move partitions that separate them from other birds.  This can spell disaster.  The other birds may get agitated and fight.   If you partition your birds, keep sturdy clips on so the love birds can’t move them. It’s alright for them to hear each other, but they should not see each other to avoid confrontation.  Also, put cloudy coverings between the cages.
2.     Be nutrition conscious for birds and birdies.  If your love birds are well fed with nutritious foods their birdies will be healthy, too.  Always give love birds fresh food.  The best green veggie for them is wheatgrass, which is packed with vitamins and minerals.  Also feed them pellets, but ask other experienced bird owners and breeders, and research on pellets—there are so many in the market.  Include veggies, grains, spouted beans, seeds, brown rice, and corn mixed with grain. Fresh veggies arouse love birds’ enthusiasm to mate. It is their aphrodisiac.  Fresh food and sunlight give them energy.
3.     Use the right perches.  Don’t make them too dense—that will have a major effect on the male’s ability to make contact with his mate.
4.     Unhatched eggs.  The female usually lays six eggs, and if only four hatch, that’s a good batting average.  If no eggs hatch, that could mean the female did not receive the right nutrition beforehand, or she may have acquired a bacterial infection.  Another possible reason is the female doesn’t like to sit on her eggs because they are cold.  
1.     Refrain from having splay legged babies.   This happens when the legs of the newborn birdies are spread straight out from the body and they cannot get a firm hold in order to sit up. To stop splay legs, put two to three inches of nontoxic bedding substrates into the nesting boxes.  This will stop the birdies from winding up at the bottom of the nesting boxes on a slippery wooden flooring where they can’t get a hold of themselves. It also protects them from their overenthusiastic mothers who sit too firmly on them. When the birdies are hitting the wooden floor they must be taken out, and then the nests must be taken out, too. Do this very carefully—don’t destroy the nest.  Just add two to three inches of nontoxic substrate and lay the nests on top of the substrate so the birdies will not be splay legged.
If the birdies are splay legged, double band their legs.  Use dental floss to tie their legs jointly so that they will be in the right position under their bodies. Then put the baby birdies into a cup with soft padding to help them have the right position. To do this, take the baby birdies from their nests and hand feed them away from the other baby birdies.  Do this to prevent incidents such as baby birdies getting strangled because of the strings attached under the bodies of the baby birdies afflicted with splay legs.
 With the right information your love birds and love birdies will truly develop in a way that will delight you.

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.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Preparing Your Home For Your Love Birds’ Arrival

By Eduardo Gonzalez
There used to be a time when we believed getting a pair of love birds was as simple as buying the birds in their cage, and some food supply.  Not anymore.  We now realize that any investment in a pet is something serious.  We are dealing with living things, whose lives we are changing.  We owe it to them to give them our best care, because they will give us their best love.  So if we decide to bring home a pair of love birds, our home should be ready for it.
Here are some things you can do to make your home love bird friendly.
1.      Decide on the type of love birds you want to buy.  Of all the bird pets in the world, the one with the most categories is the love birds.
2.     Do your research.  Once you know what type of love bird you are going to buy, read up on the type of dwelling that will suit them best, the things they will need, and the proper care and feeding.  Here is a short list:
Things Needed:
1.     Bird Cages.   Be sure that your cage is the right size for your love birds.  Do your research and determine what the right measurements should be for your bird cage.  Also, be sure that you have a high place in your home where you can safely put your birds.  Make sure the location is comfortable and airy, and that there is not too much noise in the surrounding area.  Love birds are very sensitive to loud noises and the get stressed easily.
1.     Take note of all your house companions.  Everyone in your home must know how to take care of the love birds, or at least the type of environment needed to keep them safe and what their needs are to be healthy.  Be sure that your home companions will be compatible with your love birds.
2.     Cage Accessories.  Choose the toys that are right for your love birds.  They should be just the right size for them.  They should be safe, sturdy and not break easily.  The beaks of love birds are quite powerful.  Make sure that all the accessories are well placed in your love bird’s cage one day before your birds’ arrival.  Some accessories should be perches that are the right size, water and food in the right areas of their cages, and a liner underneath the cage trays to monitor their droppings.  That way, when your love birds step into their cages, everything will be ready for them.
3.     Food, Special Treats, Vitamins and Supplements.  Ask the breeder of your love birds what their diet and supplements are, and have them ready when your love birds come home.  Sometimes you may have a love bird that is very choosy with its meals.  Ask your breeder if a vet had prescribed vitamins and supplements for them.  All these things should be well stocked before your love birds settle into their new home.
4.     Find a good vet.  Be sure you have a good vet beforehand, and make an appointment with them so that they can examine your love birds and assess their health.  Ask your vet as many questions as you think you need to.  Ask for advice on how to care for your love birds.  Your vet can give you valuable information on their care and maintenance.
5.      Get a First Aid Kit.  Anything can happen to love birds.  These birds are very active and they often get into accidents.  Be prepared.

A pet is a living thing that needs more than what you spend on them.  The pet needs your commitment to stand by them through thick and thin.  They can live for up to 20 years.  They need a human who will take the initiative to anticipate their needs and have them ready as much as possible. 
A happy love bird will one day come to regard its human as a member of its flock.  That is when you will know that you are doing a good job.