Photo: Dave Brown. So far this year, Dave has more than 60 chicks in the birdroom with a good few normals scattered about

 

Things are going well in the birdroom for Dave Brown and he is making progress with his breeding pairs and youngsters, but will moving them to a new set-up cause problems?

 

RESULTS in the finch room continue to go well and to date there are more than 60 chicks wearing this year’s closed rings. With some pairs – feeders included – having now been together for a couple of rounds, many of these have been broken up to allow them to rest and regain some condition. Most of the hens are housed in long flight cages, while the cocks have the run of one of my two flights in an effort to keep the weight off them. I still need to get the two best normal cocks to fill an egg.

Proven feeder pairs have been marked up for future pairing by placing a split ring of the same colour on each partner’s leg. After a month or two of rest these birds will be introduced to each other to hopefully rear a third round of exhibition zebra chicks.

There are still some pairs of zebra finches together and these are mainly exhibition birds that will now be left to hopefully rear their own young. Pressure on space, thanks to the healthy number of youngsters, means there are less cages available for further feeder pairs. If chicks are not fed, I may intervene by topping chicks up with the help of a syringe and hand-rearing food for a day or two. Most pairs will feed as soon as the chicks are strong enough to produce an audible call. The reduction in the number of pairs in breeding cages will also reduce the workload for my neighbour, who will kindly be tending to my birds while we are away at Easter.

Young birds that have already been weaned have been moved from flight cages to the other flight. They will spend a couple of months here to develop before any real judgements on their quality starts to be made. Young birds receive a diet of foreign finch mix, separate dishes of plain canary seed and Japanese millet, plus millet spray and an evening feed of softfood. Grit and grated cuttlefish-bone are always on offer, too. Baths are available all day, which ensures not only good feather condition, but that all birds find a source of drinking water easily as they work out independence.

When all the adult birds look rested, I will re-pair and, with any luck, produce a second batch of youngsters in similar numbers. Of course, things may not work out as simply as this. Hopefully, by the time a second batch of youngsters is weaned, they will have a new brand birdroom to live in.

An extension is being built on my house and having builders on site has led me to the logic that there is no better time to get a shed base put down, erect a new shed and get the electrics fitted. Planning is still in the early stages, but the new shed will potentially be 7.6m (25ft) long and tall enough to accommodate an extra row of cages. The existing birdroom will be retained, but the birdkeeping area reduced to allow some space for my canaries and perhaps a quarantine area. The rest of the old birdroom will revert to a workshop, where I hope that show cages can not only be stored, but prepped and painted without having to wait for a fine day in the garden.

Whether things will run as smoothly as I see them in my head is another matter. There will be times during the rest of the breeding season when the electricity supply will have to be switched off, which could cause problems. I also have to deal with the wrath of my wife as I continually return conversations to the matter of birdroom rather than kitchen design.

Dave Brown is a Zebra Finch Society panel judge.

 

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