Photo: Les Rance. Cock turquoisine. Les will focus on this grass parakeet during this year’s season.

 

In the first of this three-part series on his aims for this year’s breeding season, LES RANCE discusses his different plans for his Pennant’s rosellas, budgerigars and turquoisines

 

IN BIRD-breeding terms it is not that easy to foretell what a new season will bring, so please bear with me a little! Looking back at what happened in 2017 is not much of a guide to what may occur in the future, which, if you had a tough year, is possibly a hopeful statement.

Generally my 2017 results were quite good, though why two breeding pairs of Pennant’s (crimson) rosellas (Platycercus elegans) did not even lay a single egg is a bit hard to fathom. They never looked at their nest-boxes, the cocks never chased the hens, the pairs never looked fit and their plumage was not to its normal standard. The only positive thing I can say is that since their moult they are looking far better and maybe they just had a “rest year”. Time will tell!

In 2018 I am hopeful that my budgerigar breeding results will be as acceptable as they were last year. I have kept back most of the blue series youngsters, which will be given a new outside aviary. Here, about 10 cocks and 10 hens will be allowed to select their chosen mates. These will all be 2017 closed-ringed stock that can be overwintered in an indoor unheated flight. I will not split up the sexes during this time.

When turned out next spring they will have all identical nest-boxes placed at the same height from the floor. The usual grit and cuttlefish will be available and fresh water supplied each morning. A 50/50 quality budgie mixture will be offered together with soaked seeds, which will include wheat, oats, mung beans and small sunflower. Eggfood will also be given.

I have treated them to a commercial eggfood already and they are very fond of this. I buy the dry version in 10kg packs. I was told that the best way to prepare it is to add water two hours before it is fed, and it is truly amazing how much water a cupful will absorb! There is no doubt that to obtain good breeding results from budgerigars breeding in outside aviaries in a colony, you need to feed them well. Do not forget the all-important greenfood. Chickweed and dandelion are two that are very valuable, but there are numerous others that are satisfactory including bunches of seeding grasses.

Turquoisine grass parakeets (Neophema pulchella) will be another major focus this year. My adult breeding pair did well last time out with 10 excellent youngsters. All were well fed by their parents and grew rapidly, leaving the box well feathered. I always closed-ring my turquoisines with size “L” closed aluminium rings. These were coloured orange in 2016, dark blue for 2017 and in 2018 they will be red. This allows me to age the birds without having to catch them up.

As they spend quite a time on the ground it always pays to worm them twice a year. I use 2.5 per cent sheep wormer, diluting it at a ratio of one part wormer to four parts water. I worm into the crop giving ¾cc per bird for a grass parakeet. Once you have completed the worming, do take time to stand and watch the birds just in case they vomit the wormer. If so, re-worm that bird the following week.

Their flight measures 3m (10ft) long. As the parents are extremely calm, the babies copy this behaviour. Many years ago when I first bred turquoisines, the babies were rather “wild” and frequently injured themselves when they crashed into the wire at the end of the flight. I solved this to a degree by hanging hazel twigs at the ends.

  • More from Les in two weeks’ time.

Les Rance is the secretary of the Parrot Society UK. www.theparrotsocietyuk or email: les.rance@theparrotsocietyuk.org

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