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February starts the 'season'

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February starts the 'season'

Postby Pajarita » Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:54 am

This is an article about wild birds and how they start the breeding season in February but it holds true for all long day breeders (canary pairs are traditionally put together on Feb/14 here in USA). My own parrots are already showing signs, especially the amazons: chewing like crazy, looking for dark places, increased food intake and short-tempers all around! BUT do not start the spring diet yet - wait until March to do it (it shortens the season a bit and we can all use the extra days of peace it gives us)

https://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/environm ... PDdBCwGwN/
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Location: NE New Jersey
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Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
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Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Chai » Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:59 am

Hi Pajarita, I am curious about the spring diet you mention in your post. What do you change in their diet when March comes around? My birds are currently on the diet you helped me with before, produce and gloop in the morning and seeds and nuts in the evening.
Chai
Lovebird
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 29
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Types of Birds Owned: White-fronted Amazon, 2 African Greys
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Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Pajarita » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:44 am

I am glad you asked! As I have often stated, I try my very best to give to my birds a life in captivity that resembles, as much as possible, their life in the wild. I do firmly believe that it is this (plus the fact that I am EXTREMELY consistent in their routines) that makes it so my birds are never sick, never scream, never bite, eat/poop/sleep well, etc.

Now, in the wild, there are three environmental triggers for their seasons: point of refractoriness (length of daylight hours), food availability and weather. Basically, evolution tweaked and tweaked their endocrine system so their circannual cycle (resting, breeding, raising, molting seasons) would perfectly conform to the environmental conditions that make their reproduction the most successful (survival of the species being the most peremptory drive animals have). This is the reason why we have birds that are short day breeders and some that are long day breeders. One would think that it would be better for ALL birds to breed when the days are longer because they can feed the babies more often and for more hours every day BUT what if the food is not available during the long days? Or there are terrible storms that would prevent them from foraging for food? Hence, the short day breeders - birds that breed when the days are getting shorter instead of longer because this is the time when there is richer and more abundant food in their natural habitat and/or the weather is good - for example, IRNs are short day breeders because during the long days, it's monsoon season and with terrible winds, the birds cannot go out and get enough food for themselves and the babies and, even if they could, the plants do not produce (plants cannot flower and give fruit if there are severe winds).

So, because we know (through scientific studies) that ALL birds revert to being photoperiodic (meaning, when all things are equal, they would all go by the length of the day), I try to also give them the other two triggers by making the winter diet less rich and the temperature cooler and, when breeding season starts in earnest, I make their diet richer by upping the protein and fat levels. I do this by adding sprouts I make myself (*) and dehydrated mealworms (**) to their winter gloop (which is made with quinoa instead of millet) and adding hemp seed to their seed mix.\

Birds are all seasonal eaters and, in captivity, this doesn't really happen - mainly because we would never actually deprive a bird of food (birds often go hungry during the resting season) and also because we tend to think that having a perfectly balanced and/or a richer diet every single day is best. But, for some animals, having the same rich food all year round is not only not good, it's actually bad. When I had the bird rescue, I took in a female Northern Cardinal from a lady in Manhattan (mind you, it's illegal to trap, breed, cage, keep, sell, buy, etc any wild bird in USA but there is a very healthy black market for them and people simply do not care). This bird had something that looked like large thin 'wings' of a translucent, brownish looking something that looked and felt almost like plastic growing out of the sides of her legs. I researched and researched and couldn't find anything on this or anything similar so I risked taking her to my avian vet but she had never seen anything like this either so she took pictures and contacted other avian vets, including her University professors in Avian Medicine. They did not know what these things were either. After a month or so, she got an answer from a zoo vet: it was hyperkeratosis but of a degree that the zoo vet had never seen. So I contacted the lady and asked her what kind of diet the bird had been getting and she told me that she had been feeding her insects for years and years! This diet had caused the abnormal growth of the scales on her legs because of the huge amount of protein the bird had been eating. You see, Northern Cardinals switch their diet 180 degrees from season to season. During the breeding season, they are 90% insectivores and only 10% granivores BUT, during resting season (winter), they are 90% granivores and 10% insectivores. The lady figured that more was better so she gave her insects all year round which caused her liver to become damaged and not able to metabolize protein properly. It took me over two years of a low protein diet and herbal supplements to bring her liver back to a semi-normal level (she would never be completely cured but I found a wildlife rehabilitator 2 hours away from me that had a wintering aviary and agreed to keep her in it and continue her diet and supplements).

(*) The sprouts I use are not the commercial ones for two reasons: 1) there have been incidents of salmonella in the commercial ones and 2) they are too big and the birds pick them out and throw them instead of eating them. I use a soaking and sprouting mix I buy from ABBA - this mix is meant for passerines so the seeds are small and all grass ones so they are not as high in protein as the commercial ones (which are made of beans) and, because they are little, the birds eat them along with the gloop without a problem.

(**) I use dehydrated mealworms because the live ones are too fatty, they often have salmonella and the birds will not eat anything that moves :lol:
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17784
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Chai » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:01 am

Oh, that makes perfect sense, thank you for explaining it to me. I learn so much from you. I will look up the sprouting mix you mentioned. I have tried growing other sprouting seed mixes before and the birds did not like them, but like you said they were larger and just got thrown out of the bowls. I will do what you suggest starting in March. When do you go back to the winter diet?
Chai
Lovebird
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Pajarita » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:32 am

I normally use the equinoxes for both switches because it's easy for me to remember this way. This year, the Vernal (or Spring) equinox will fall on March 19 - and the Autumnal (or Fall) one on September 22 but you can do it at other dates as long as they are close to these ones.

Sprouting this mix is the easiest thing! You need to first soak the seeds by submerging them in water for 24 hours (rinsing after 12 and putting back with fresh water in the jar AFTER you washed the inside of the jar with soap -this prevents fungal infections) in a glass jar (I use an old pickles one) and, after that, all you need to do is keep them wet and rinse every 12 hours. Basically, you dump them into a colander and allow fresh water (room temperature so you will need to open the hot faucet a bit) to flow through them for a minute or so, then drain (so they are not sitting in water because that would first grow fungus and then rot them) and put back into the jar (remember to wash the inside each time). In three days, you should start to see some green (the little white tails they grow first are the baby roots but you want to see the actual green sprouts coming out before you give it to the bird because that's when they are at their most nutritious). Be careful not to start with a lot of seeds because they 'grow' to 3 times the level when they sprout and you cannot use them for more than 2 days in a row (I actually have two jars 'going' at the same time but started on different days so they have fresh sprouts every other day).
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17784
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Chai » Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:48 pm

That does sound way easier than what I was doing before. I found the ABBA soaking seed mix and will start using it in March. Thank you for explaining your routine! I am always looking for ways to improve for them, especially when it comes to their diet. So much to learn.
Chai
Lovebird
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 29
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: White-fronted Amazon, 2 African Greys
Flight: Yes

Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Pajarita » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:02 am

Yes, indeed! I've been doing research/learning/experimenting for over 25 years and I still don't know enough...
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17784
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Chai » Thu May 21, 2020 10:49 am

Hi Pajarita, just wanted to pop in and say that I've been sprouting the ABBA seed mixture since March and mixing it into the gloop and my birds are now eating way more sprouts than they were before. They don't throw them out the way they did with the larger ones. Happy to be providing another healthy component to their diet!
Chai
Lovebird
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 29
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: White-fronted Amazon, 2 African Greys
Flight: Yes

Re: February starts the 'season'

Postby Pajarita » Fri May 22, 2020 8:46 am

Yes, that is also the reason why I use the ABBA sprouting mix - namely, because the sprouts are small enough that they do not pick them up individually and throw them to the side, they have a very nice level of protein (not too high because they are from grass seeds) but also large enough to provide quite a lot of 'green'. The other reason is that there have been recalls of supermarket sprouts due to salmonella so, by doing it myself, I am avoiding a possible source of disease. These sprouts are particularly helpful with species that are VERY difficult to convince to eat leafy greens -like my Sophie Gray who absolutely refuses to eat ANY leafy green (she does eat broccoli and, on very special occasions, a bit of a nicely crunchy stalk but never the leafy part of it).
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17784
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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