Monday, May 23, 2005

Converting Birds From A Seed Only Diet

A dry seed-only diet does not provide enough nutrients to allow your bird to live a long, healthy life.

In the wild, our pet birds would be eating both fresh and dried seeds, grasses, leaves, various fruits, vegetables and berries, insects and grubs.

If you have the time and are capable of duplicating the nutrients in this diet at home, your birds will be just fine.

If, however, you do not have the time or are not capable of duplicating the nutrients in this diet at home, you should consider converting your bird to a pellet/vegetable/fruit diet.

Pet birds that have been hand fed by the breeder are fed a pellet based handfeeding formula and are usually weaned onto a pellet diet supplemented by fruits and vegetables. If you obtain your pet bird directly from the breeder and continue this diet, your bird will be eating a healthy diet, although there is certainly more that you can add.

Many of the smaller birds, such as Budgies and Cockatiels are not hand fed and are raised on a seed diet. Unfortunately, these birds seldom have their diet supplemented by fruits or vegetables as they are often obtained from a breeder who produces the birds in huge numbers. These are the birds that you are likely to find in a pet store.

It is important to get fruits, vegetables and pellets part of your bird’s diet as soon as possible, but a bird that has never eaten these foods does not realize that they are food.

There are several mixes you can buy to cook a nutritious meal for your bird as well.

You do not have to remove dry seeds from your bird’s diet completely. The seeds can still be mixed in with the pellets or used as a treat or just kept in a separate dish, but hopefully once he is used to eating more nutritional foods, will not be a major part of his diet.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Counting Swift Parrots & Regent Honeyeaters

A NATIONAL survey over the weekend will be conducted again in August and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is looking for volunteers to help count the highly endangered Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater.

Posted by Hello

The Regent Honeyeater has yellow tail and wing feathers spattered with black and a specvkled black to white yellow breast and some yellow around the eye.

The survey goes along the NSW coast as well as the State's western slopes from Queensland to the Victorian border.

It has been timed to coincide with the autumn migration to the mainland following summer breeding in Tasmania.

National coordinator, Debbie Saunders, said the survey aims to monitor the populations and habitats of the birds.

"Over the past decade the total population of the Swift Parrot has plummeted by some 30% to around 2,500 individual birds," she said.

"This is a frighteningly big drop over such a short period of time. The main reasons for their decline appears to be loss of the bird's breeding habitat in Tasmania and foraging habitat on the mainland.

"The biology and requirements of the Swift Parrot are reasonably well understood for Tasmania, but much less so on the mainland. These surveys will help us to develop a better picture of what kinds of habitat are important for the long-term survival of these species and enable more focused conservation efforts in these areas.

The nationwide survey runs again on the weekend of August 6-7 but any additional records are always welcome.

People who are interested in becoming involved in these bi-annual bird surveys as a volunteer or who have property with suitable habitat containing winter flowering tree species, are invited to contact Debbie Saunders (Swift Parrot recovery coordinator) on 02 6298 9733 or David Geering (Regent Honeyeater recovery coordinator) on 02 6883 5335.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Wild Budgies

Budgies (Budgerigars) are one of the most popular pet birds in the world – and for good reason. Their engaging personality makes them fit into almost any household.

In the United States, these birds are often called Parakeets or keets, but since they are just one of several different Parakeets, they are more properly called Budgies which is short for Budgerigars.

Budgies still live in the wild, in Australia where they originate. There are not as many as there once were, but unfortunately this is true for every wild animal and bird.

In the wild, these birds come in one colour and that is the normal green and yellow, with black markings.

Budgies fly in large flocks and are nomadic (meaning they only stay in one place for a short time before moving to another). Normally, they will move when looking for a new food or water supply.

When conditions are ideal (plenty of food and water), Budgies will look for nesting spots and raise a clutch or two of babies. They do not build nests, preferring a cavity or hollow in a tree. The rest of the flock will also choose their nesting spots in the same area, which means many babies will hatch at approximately the same time.

A successful nesting spot will have enough food and water for the whole flock to feed and raise all their babies. This requires a lot of food and water, and sometimes only the earliest pairs to start breeding are the only ones that will be successful.

Budgies will eat grasses and grass seeds (both dry and fresh), some eucalyptus leaves, some insects and larvae, and berries and this is what they feed the babies.

When the babies fledge (leave the nest), they will look very much like their parents, except that they have thin black lines across their heads, right down to the cere and their eyes are a solid black. As they mature, the lines will disappear and they will develop a white circle around the eyes.

Predators of the wild Budgie are snakes and hawks. Extreme drought conditions are also responsible for many deaths.

From Bella Online

Sunday, May 08, 2005

John Bull Zoo

John Bull Zoo Posted by Hello
Visitors to John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids will be able to get up close and personal with some creatures from the "Land Down Under."

The zoo has opened two new exhibits for this summer featuring creatures from Australia.

One is a walk-through exhibit featuring budgies - small colorful birds that will interact with the visitors, who can feed them up close if they purchase a seed stick.

The other new attraction is the Wallaby Yard in which visitors will be able to walk with the creatures and get an up close look at them.

Schools in for Naughty Parrots

Schools in for Naughty Parrots Posted by Hello


WELCOME to Parrot Pre-school – where frustrated "parents" are being taught how to control their flighty birds.

After more than a decade's experience as a pet owner and parrot consultant to various zoos, Verna Shannan, 56, established her Birdbrains service at Hope Island on the Gold Coast.

"Parrots are becoming more and more popular to buy as pets. But we're finding more people are trying to get rid of their birds," said Ms Shannan.

"They can't cope. They're living in apartments, they buy a bird and they think it will be easy.

"Parrots are very complex. They have the intelligence of a three to five-year-old."

Owners of the worst parrots have landed on Ms Shannon's doorstep with horror stories.

"I once did a pre-school for a major mitchell. This bird was eating electrical wire. It got a shock one day and was blown across the room," she said.

"But the worst thing I've seen is when they start destroying themselves. They can eat their own flesh. It's sheer frustration. I had a sulphur-crested that did that."

Ms Shannan trains owners for their biggest test – to ignore their bird calling for them. She advises them to warn the neighbours of a few difficult days ahead and, once the bird is quiet, to reward it with food.

Anne Foster, from Labrador, who has owned 35-year-old corella Barbara for a year, said the classes had helped improve their relationship.

"We think Barbara was previously with an older lady. She sings a long version of Goodnight Sweetheart before we go to bed – I found it's a war song which came out in 1939," Mrs Foster said.

"The classes are teaching us how to feed and handle her."

Trevor Harris, from Hope Island, said Wally, his four-year-old tropical parrot, had been bored and started to pull his feathers out.

"He's changed almost overnight since the classes. We're keeping his food out of his cage, finding him things to do," said Mr Harris.

Ms Shannan urges people to buy cockatiels and budgerigars, which are smaller and easier to handle.

She recalls being called to "board" an imported parrot, worth more than $10,000, which began screaming one hour after it arrived at the owner's luxury Coast home.

"Most parrots are monogamous. Budgies are tarts. They will go with everybody. They don't get hung up on one person," she said.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Wildlife Viewing

Lost and found: The birding world has been abuzz the past week with the discovery -- 60 years after its last confirmed sighting in America -- of an ivory-billed woodpecker in an Arkansas swamp. Gene Sparling reported the first recent sighting of the bird in February 2004 after canoeing through a bald cypress swamp in the Big Woods Preserve, then two top ornithologists, Tim Gallagher of Cornell University and Bobby Harrison of Oakwood College in Alabama, toured with Sparling and saw the assumed-extinct bird. A few months later, a University of Arkansas graduate student videotaped the elusive bird, proving that the sightings were not a hoax. The ivory-billed woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in the country and the second-largest in the world. It once thrived in the swampy bottomland hardwood forests of the Southeastern United States.

Nesting or not? Barry Hobbs is keeping a close eye on some birds that have been visiting his property. He photographed the birds and wrote a week ago, "We spotted a pair of these white-throated sparrows in our back yard in South Salem, and it appears that they are nesting in the yard next door. Our bird books all agree that they are out of their range and shouldn't be in this area." John Lundsten of the Salem Audubon Society confirmed that the birds are white-throated sparrows but is curious about the nesting behavior. "As far as I know, nesting has never been confirmed in Oregon," he said. Hobbs replied: "We will keep an eye on them and see if we can spot a nest or maybe wait for fledglings."

Willamette Valley: A red-naped sapsucker is being seen in Corvallis. A cattle egret is at a large pond near Alvadore, where a brant was seen in a flock of geese. Six black-necked stilts were at Fern Ridge Reservoir. A calliope hummingbird was at a feeder in Brownsville.

Olympic Peninsula: The hunt is on for 20 or more monk parrots, a non-native bird that has created a flutter in Kitsap County, on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The Port Orchard City Council has ruled that a company can upgrade a cell phone tower only on the condition that the lime-green monk parrots that are nesting on it are safely captured. That was the recommendation of Jeff Davis, a state wildlife biologist who advised the council that the neotropical birds, native to South America, can mean trouble. "Parrots have been known to spread diseases and can have a long-term ecological impact to native wildlife," he told the council. They can, however, be confined and make fine pets.

Whale watch: Gray whales are being seen in Hood Canal in the south end of Puget Sound, but biologists say the best place on the Washington Coast to see them is at La Push, where calves and their mothers often swim close to the shoreline. La Push is near the northwest corner of Washington. A pod of a half-dozen transient killer whales is attracting attention in Hood Canal, where they've been dubbed "The Slippery Six" by locals. The orcas have been seen around the canal since Jan. 24. Gov. Christine Gregoire has approved legislation designating the orca Washington's official marine mammal.

Oregon Coast: A horned puffin and a Manx-type shearwater were seen flying past Boiler Bay. A bird believed to be a black tern was at Lincoln City. A common redpoll visited a feeder at Bay City. Two scrub jays were at Nehalem. A flock of 20 marbled godwits were at the south jetty of the Columbia River.

Columbia corridor: A black-necked stilt was seen at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Two red-breasted mergansers were near the mouth of the Sandy River. Two redheads and four white-throated sparrows were at the Vanport Wetlands in North Portland. A calliope hummingbird was at a Southeast Portland feeder.

Southern Oregon: A Sabine's gull stopped at the Kirtland Road sewage ponds in White City, near Medford.

Central Oregon: A black phoebe is being seen in Bend.

Southeast Oregon: A black phoebe was at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge all last week.

Central Washington: Spring maintenance on the Tieton River Nature Trail, at Oak Creek Wildlife Area near Yakima, Wash., is complete after fallen trees and rock slides were removed. "This trail provides plenty of opportunities for viewing deer, elk, birds, even lizards and rattlesnakes," said Bruce Berry, assistant manager of the wildlife area. The trail can be accessed by crossing the walk bridge adjacent the Oak Creek headquarters off Highway 12, then the trail winds upstream following the Tieton River for nearly five miles. Oak Creek headquarters requires a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife day-use vehicle permit. "You may even be lucky enough to spot our resident golden eagle pair, which are incubating eggs in their nest now," Berry said. Hikers share the trail with mountain bikers and rock climbers, and pets must be kept on leash. It is a favorite trail of Yakima-area birders.

Old ways meet new in national park ecosystem plan

A combination of modern science and traditional techniques could be the key to preserving the ecosystems on Cape York Peninsula.

Environmental scientist Peta Standley is working with traditional land owners who are being allowed to use burning regimes on the Cape, in far north Queensland, for the first time in decades.

The Kuku Thaypan Knowledge Project allows burning in Lakefield National Park.

Ms Standley says the project could help with weed control and biodiversity and bird population declines.

"So the whole idea is we're hoping that once these regimes start to be re-implemented that we will start to see changes in bringing back species that are sort of in decline like cockatoo grass and golden shoulder parrots and other fauna," she said.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Choosing Feathered Friends

Prospective owners should know what their committment is with fearthered freinds Posted by Hello
Pet birds can enrich their owner's lives in a variety of ways but, as with any potential pet purchase, it is not something that should be done on an impulse or a whim.

It is important to do some research and make careful considerations to ensure that the bird you choose will best suit your lifestyle and pocketbook.

# COST

Determining how much you can afford is a logical first step toward the purchase of a pet bird. Monthly expenses of owning a feathered friend can range anywhere from $40 to $90 per month. This does not include the initial cage purchase or the yearly veterinary, emergency care or boarding costs while you're on vacation.

There also is the purchase price of the bird. Birds can range anywhere from just under $20 for a small finch to several thousand dollars for a large parrot.

Typically, the more exotic and the larger the bird, the more it will cost to purchase, cage, feed and care for.

Potential pet owners shouldn't be tempted to take advantage of bargain-priced birds from unreputable pet dealers, though.

These birds frequently come with baggage — such as health problems and mental disorders — that can be difficult, long-term problems to correct, if they're correctable at all.

Healthy, hand-raised birds are well worth the initial price in the long run.

# COMMITMENT

Another important consideration is to determine if there is enough time in your daily schedule to give a pet bird the care and attention it will need.

Some birds are very social creatures, requiring lots of daily contact and interaction when their owners are home and lots of toys and cage furniture to keep their minds occupied when their owners are away.

Not committing daily time to fulfill the interaction needs of the more social species can result in a variety of neurotic behaviors.

Also, unlike dogs and cats that are considered long lived if they make it to the high teens, birds — particularly parrots — can live more than 30 years, some even making it to well over 50 years of age.

Some of these birds bond closely with only one person or one family. If given up or sold, the transition to a new home can be a difficult, stressful adaptation for them, to say the least.

# SPACE

Pet birds can require a lot of space. Small species like canaries and finches need lots of room because they get most of their exercise within the cage, while larger birds require even more space.

Parrots, cockatoos and other large species may spend lots of time outside their enclosure, yet they still need room to move, play and exercise within their cage when their owner is not at home. For these big guys, an area of 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep by 3 feet tall, should be the minimum cage size used.

# NOISE

Birds can be noisy. The volume and frequency of noise can vary from species to species, so it is important to learn about the behavioral characteristics of different species before making a purchase.

Finches, doves and canaries, although not completely silent, tend to softly chirp and chatter, compared to budgies, cockatiels and many of the parrot species, which are known to screech, click and whistle loudly.

Some species also are accomplished noise makers and talkers. African grays can commonly recite multiple lines to songs, plays and prayers.

Other birds, like mynas, can mimic an impressive array of environmental sounds — including a car starting, a squeaky drawer opening, a microwave running, a phone ringing and even the sounds of other birds.

# MESS

Some species of birds can be little mess makers. Most of the mess comes from their eating habits, since they scatter debris outside the cage in their seed- and nut-shelling pursuits.

To maintain a hygienic atmosphere birds should have their cage's paper changed daily and their entire cage scrubbed and disinfected weekly.

Pigeons, doves and a few other species also produce lots of feather dust — a fine white powder produced by special feathers — that can be very noticeable on dark furniture or clothing.

Parrots typically enjoy being destructive. They like to rip and shred phone books, paper towel rolls and anything else they can get their beaks on while in the cage.

Outside the cage they are equally fond of chewing. Electrical cords and furniture are not off their menu, so precautions should be taken to parrot-proof the home environment.

Birds are very popular pets, and for good reason. They have many positive attributes. However, the decision to add a pet bird to the home is not one that should be taken lightly.

Purchasing a pet bird, like purchasing any pet, should be done with the commitment of caring for that animal, daily and for the duration of its life.