Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One day later...

Great news - four baby quails hatched today! I'll try to get some photos in the next few days.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December report.

It has been a busy year in our aviaries - I don't know if the end of the drought has anything to do with it, but we've had many new babies, some of which didn't survive, but there were new ones hatching all the time.

The 12 eggs in the budgies' nest book only yielded three fledglings, of which there are a heap of photos here. I couldn't stop myself with the camera yesterday; we had them out of the aviary and were playing with them for ages (they are too young to fly away).

The two Gouldian juveniles are colouring up beautifully, and there are two more babies in the nest. They probably won't fledge for a few weeks.
Two canaries survived from the second lot to hatch, and they are just about fully grown. There are two more young ones in the nest, and we are crossing our fingers that they will survive, as the mother doesn't seem to be looking after them as well as she did with the previous clutch.

The quails have had several lots of eggs, with only one hatching. It survived for a couple of months, but eventually died. We suspect it was because of the cold at the time. Even though we brought it and the mother inside, it wasn't enough. She is now sitting on yet another clutch of eggs, so we'll just have to wait and see.

The Zebra finches have always got babies, so there's nothing new to report on them!

Oops! Nearly fell off!

That's better.

I love the colours of this blue and grey male, waiting for his mate to come out of the nest box.

You can see why budgies are called Love birds - isn't that sweet!

The bird on the left is a mature male, unrelated to the young ones. His face should be all black, but he has been moulting, and the feathers haven't yet come back completely. The bird in the centre is the juvenile female and the one on the right is the juvenile male. The female is going to have a black face, but we aren't sure about the male - it won't be black; possibly red or yellow, depending on who the parents were.
(Please ignore the date imprint on these photos - they were all taken this weekend, but I hadn't figured out how to change the date on the camera!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Three days later.

Nature really is incredible. Baby birds grow so fast, you could almost set up one of those time lapse cameras in the aviary and watch them grow overnight! The baby zebra finches have nearly doubled in size, and you can see their little beaks gaping open waiting to be fed.

I had to very patient to get these next photos; finches are never still! The finch on the left is one of our immature Gouldians. These birds take about a year to develop their full colours. This one is just starting to show the mauve on his chest. The one in the middle is a Zebra finch, and on the right is a mature Gouldian.

If it is a male, he will look like his Dad in this pic.

This is our Diamond Firetail Finch - so called because of the brilliant red feathers under his tail that can only be seen when he is in flight. One day if I'm patient enough, I may get a pic of him in flight.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the baby canaries this week. From barely feathered little creatures, they were out of the nest and flitting around on the floor of the aviary within a few days! This was taken the day before they fledged.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Early November in the aviaries.

The Zebra Finches seem to breed all year round, but we don't usually see them this small. The mother made a nest in a feeding basket (the white things are cuttlefish), so her babies were hatched out in the open instead of in their usual nestboxes.

The Ménage à trois canary family are busy. We have one male and two females, one of which has just hatched five babies. One baby fell out of the nest and didn't survive, but the other four appear to be doing well.

Ken finally put two nest boxes in the budgies' aviary, and they have been excitedly checking them out ever since. There are nine eggs in one, but we have no idea who the mother is, as several budgies go in and out of there all the time!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September bird news.

Spring is here, and with it comes the urge to mate. Our Silver Quails have laid five eggs, and the female is sitting on them all the time, which is a good sign. Her first clutch wasn't successful, as she laid them too early in the season, and it was too cold. Despite bringing the only surviving baby inside, he eventually died, so we are hoping now that winter is over, she will successfully rear this clutch.

The budgies have been laying eggs all over the floor of their aviary because there are no nest boxes in there. Ken doesn't want them to mate, because they are all brothers and sisters, except for the father of all of them, and two males that he bought a while ago. He intends to put those two unrelated males into a separate aviary with some of the females, but hasn't got around to it.

The new pair of Gouldian finches he bought a month ago have bonded, and are sitting on eggs, as are the original pair. So we are hoping for a new little flock in a few weeks. The first pair of babies are still in the adjoining aviary, with an unrelated male Gouldian, which Ken hopes to pair up with one of them, if they are females. Here is one of the males sitting outside his nest box waiting for the female to emerge so he can take his place minding their eggs.

The Zebra Finches as usual have eggs all over the place. Not just in the five nests we supplied them, but they pick up all the grasses and leaves on the floor and make new nests in feeding baskets and wherever else they can find a spot! This one has build hers in a little wire basket meant to hold seeding grasses for them to eat!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gouldians and a baby quail.

I took my camera up to our aviaries today, hoping to get some new photos of our birds. I was in luck with the Gouldian finches. We have the new adult pair in with our original pair, but Ken put the two babies from the first pair into the adjoining aviary. The first pair are sitting on eggs again, and their babies were making a nuisance of themselves, hopping in and out of the nest box. Mum Gouldian was getting quite cross with them, so that is why Ken moved them. It is so cute to see them at night; the young ones sit together on the perch nearest the adjoining aviary, so they can be near their parents, who sit on the other side of the wire when they aren't on their eggs.

These are the two males. One of the babies is on the right.

In this photo, the two females seem to be chatting to both of the young ones through the wire.

The Quail has only hatched one egg out of the five she was sitting on. On the day it hatched, it was freezing cold, and the little one was in danger of dying, as the mother wasn't keeping it under her wings. So Ken brought it inside, warmed it up in his hand, and put it in a little box to keep it warm. When he decided it might survive, he brought the mother quail inside, and put them both in a bird carry cage, with a bit of food and water. They have been there for 3 days now and the chick is more active, and growing more down. I'll try to take another photo of it in a day or so. This one was taken the day it hatched.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Three more new birds.

Today we attended the Avicultural Society birds sale in Warragul, which is about an hour's drive south east of Melbourne. Ken bought a pair of Gouldian Finches for $40, and a male Diamond Firetail Finch, which cost $50. He only bought the Diamond Firetail because it was a very good price (they are usually closer to $100), and we only had enough money between us for one! He has always loved these finches, but they are hard to come by, as they are an endangered species. He may buy a female at one of the bird sales later this year, but he will have to decide what to do with some of the birds he has at the moment, as they are not always compatible with other finches.
Our resident Gouldians seemed happy to have a new pair moving in with them. Ken will put another nest box in the aviary so the new ones will be able to lay eggs without disturbing the old ones nestbox.
I haven't got any photos yet, as it was raining when we got home - too wet and cold to mess about taking photos of excited/stressed little birds flying around like little rockets! Here is a photo of a Diamond Firetail, which I found on the website of the Australian Finch Society.

Recent additions to our Aviaries

Last month we went to the Avicultural Society bird sale in Ararat in country Victoria. We came home with one canary, two Charcoal zebra finches and a blue male budgie. We've also had some babies hatching, and others due to hatch soon. Here are some photos:

At the top, two Charcoal zebra finches. Lower perch, the three canaries. From left: original female, on the right is the new female (darker than the other two) and behind her is the male.

We have 14 budgies now, but it is impossible to get a photo of them all together as they flit around the aviary so fast! This pic shows a good selection of the colours we have.

Like the budgies, the Gouldian finches are very flighty, but I was able to snap our little family on one perch. From left, the baby from the first clutch, the father, the baby from the second clutch, and the mother. Three babies fledged from each clutch, but two out of the three were killed by butcher birds, so Ken has put heavy plastic across the front of the aviaries now, so birds outside can't peck through the wire to get to the finches. We won't know what sex the babies are until they colour up, in about a year's time.

Ken bought a pair of Silver Quail about a month ago, and the female laid eggs within a fortnight!
Mum sitting on her eggs.
Dad watching over her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baby Gouldians have fledged.

Two babies have fledged out of five eggs laid by the mother hen. We are satisfied with this result, as it isn't uncommon for new bird parents to only hatch a few of their first clutch of eggs. The photo shows one of the babies inbetween its parents. They take about a year to develop their full colours.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Ken checked the Gouldians' nest box on Sunday and was delighted to discover that two eggs have hatched! The little parents have been very good, taking turns to sit on their eggs, so we are crossing our fingers that a few babies survive into adults and we can have a a little colony of Gouldians. I finally managed to get a decent photo of the female (below). As you can see, her colours are muted compared to the male, but she is still very pretty.

Classic Aviaries in Eltham is where Ken has been buying and selling his budgies and finches, and last week they had some Charcoal Zebra finches, which we hadn't seen before. As Ken had a dozen Cinnamon Zebras, he asked Kathy if she would swap four Charcoals for six Cinnamons, and she was happy to do so.
In this picture you can clearly see the difference between the three Cinnamon and four Charcoal finches. The yellow bird is a canary which insisted on getting in on the act every time I tried to photograph the finches!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Good day for the birds.

Today (Saturday) was a perfect Autumn day - such a contrast to one week ago when Melbourne was being pelted with hail and rain. I took my camera up to the Gouldian Finches' aviary to try for a clearer photo than my first effort. The first pic was taken outside the wire, but I stepped inside the enclosure for the second one. Next time I'll try for a pic of the female. She is busy in their nest box most of the time now, but she does come out for a breather, while the male bird takes her place.

A flock of Galahs (I counted 14) came to visit.

It didn't take long before some passing Corellas heard the fuss and came to investigate the possibility of a feed. There wasn't much left, so I put some more seed out, despite objections from Ken. "The Galahs are bad enough, but the Corellas are chewing the house to bits, and I wish you wouldn't encourage them!" he said.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Great news!

Our pair of Gouldians are obviously head over heels in love.
Within days of Ken installing a nest box in their aviary, they were investigating it, and carrying tiny twigs and bits of grass inside to build a nest. They now have 8 eggs! Our Zebra Finches breed like little rabbits - always in their nests laying eggs, and hatching babies within weeks, but we didn't think the Gouldians would be so quick. Well, they are all finches, so I guess that's the way they breed.

This time last year, we were overrun with Kookaburras, Corellas, Galahs, and many other species of birds after the Victorian bushfires. It would seem that they have all gone back to where they came from, if regeneration is happening, or have found other areas to nest and feed. We get an occasional kookaburra returning to sit on the clothesline and wait until I come out with a piece of steak. The Corellas land in force for a week or so, then disappear to other places. They eat all the wild bird seed I put out, leaving nothing for other birds, then they start on window frames, stair rails, or anything else made of timber that they can chew on.
The galahs come regularly, but not daily, and also eat all the seed out unless the Corellas have got there first. The galahs are not quite as destructive; just as well, otherwise there would not be much left of our house!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gouldian Finches

Gouldian Finches are only found in the wild in the north of Australia, in specific regions, and they are classed as endangered. But in captivity, their population is increasing, as many bird breeders have success in breeding them in aviaries all over the country, as well as overseas. Our local grain store sells a variety of birds, and today they had a dozen Gouldian Finches there, for $40 each, so we bought a pair. Now $80 might sound like a lot of money, but only a few years ago, it would be more like $180 for a pair of these birds! Ken wasn't going to buy them but I begged him to, as I've always loved the beautiful Gouldian best of all the Finch family. They are so tiny, and their brilliant colours look like they have been painted with a fine paintbrush.

This is the male bird in our aviary. Unfortunately that is the best photo I could get, as these tiny birds are very fast on the wing, and as they had only been in the aviary for an hour or so, they were still very nervous, and wouldn't rest on the perch for more than a few seconds. I hope to get better snaps when the birds have settled down and are used to us.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Questions about kookaburras.

Cathy posted a comment on the previous post, and asked if the birds in the photos were babies, and if they are native to Australia. Kookaburras are members of the Kingfisher family, and there are a few varieties of Kingfishers which are native to Australia, including the two types of Kookaburra.
I don't know enough about their growing stages to tell you whether or not these ones are young birds. I've never seen baby kookaburras in the nest, or fledglings, so I don't know how they mature.