My experience with Canarywings©

by Eric Morfitt. (Jan 1999)

A few years ago a veterinary friend of mine who was taking up a new post in another part of the country rang and asked if I would care to purchase a small aviary, some twelve foot square with a small roosting/feeding shed attached, and also two pair of Canarywing Parrakeets (Brotogeris versicoloris chiriri) we agreed on a price and a couple of days later a friend and myself set off in car (with trailer attached) to dismantle and transport the building.

First things first. Catch the birds.

The four Canarywings were in absolutely tip top condition and looked like two pairs, a brace in one corner of the aviary and the other duo in the opposite corner furthest away from them. I was a little apprehensive at this, as the only available space I had on returning was a 12' x 3' x 7' high flight with 6' at one end covered with perspex sheeting but no roosting shed. Luckily it was a mild time of the year, so I took a chance and in they went. The birds were up and down the flight, Chattering, screeching, and chattering incessantly for probably twenty minutes or so, though it seemed like hours the racket they were kicking up. was this fright, alarm, suspicion, or just plain high spirits at being allowed freedom after being caged for some sixteen hours. (It was almost dark when we arrived home).

I had placed two small 8'' x 8" x 12" and two medium 101' x 10" x 24" nest boxes at either end of the flight and after the initial commotion had subsided, all four decided on a medium size box which was under the covered area to roost in each night.

The next Spring brought about a dilemma. Should I separate them into pairs??? or leave them to go about their business as they had done for the past six months? Flight space was at a premium at this time of the year, so I decided to let sleeping dogs lie, or in this case, friendly Canarywings cohabit in one bedroom, (they all still roosted together in the one box) with no bickering or squabbles, except at tit-bit time when they would all seem to prefer the Same piece of apple, or grape, or the same slice of orange. Even though there was plenty for all, they still wanted the same piece as their friend. All that year 1996, saw no interest in breeding activities.

All the next year 1997, saw the same disinterest!!!

Were they really pairs?? Were they just friendly chums?? Were they all the same sex?? Should I now have them surgically sexed and maybe separated?? These questions were answered for me one August morning when I went out to find only three birds flying around in the flight Was this what I had been waiting for?? A hen on eggs?? I erred on the side of caution and decided against investigation. WRONG!!!

Next morning, not having seen the fourth bird for probably some 38-40 hours I decided to take a peek The bird was in the nest box looking rather sorry for itself i picked him/her out of the box and straight into a hospital cage. Various medications were administered, the bird was in perfect feather with no weight loss but sadly died that night. I kept an eye on the remaining three birds for a couple of weeks, no problems. Not long after our local area P.S. had a Sale/Exhibition Day and I decided to take the Canarywings along, not for sale but to allow others to see something different to the run of the mill type of bird. A good show. A few commented on the condition of the birds and how fit they looked, well groomed (as always) and full of vim. I felt a sense of pride as I drove home with the birds in the back of the car, when there was such a ruckus in the back I had to pull over into a layby to investigate what was going on. Two of the Canarywings had set about the third and given it a severe beating. Luckily I had a spare empty cage so in went the bloody individual. On arriving home the wounds were bathed and treated and the bird given polyaid from Birdcare, to help relieve the stress, before being put in a hospital cage. It survived that night, only to succumb the next evening. Now we're down to two birds!! A pair?? Two vicious hens?? Maybe two pugilistic cocks?? I must have them sexed I thought! Time goes by and things get forgotten, so did my sexing idea.

Spring 1998 Some of my birds were feeling their feet and showing interest in the boxes, which incidentally I leave in all year round (some roost in them, others don't but they know when they are fit enough to breed) that's my personal view of the subject. The Canarywings still roosted in their chosen nest box but didn't look interested in each other at all, but on April 1 I noticed one of them looked a bit heavy in the vent area and the next day the 12th (she) laid an egg, followed by three more on alternate days the 14th-16th-18th. After the fourth egg was laid I saw hardly anything of either bird as both spent most of the day in the box. Had I got two hens?? The question answered itself on the eighth of May, twenty seven days after the first egg when I caught both birds out of the box busy with their morning ablutions. I hurriedly entered the aviary and opened the box and there in the bottom, nestling between two eggs were two bundles of white fluff, one still wet had apparently just hatched. The fruit, soft-food and soaked millet spray consumption rocketed after this and on looking on the thirteenth all four eggs had hatched. I still didn't see much of either parent (yes they were now cock and hen - a true pair) for almost three weeks but the E.M.P. softfood dish was always empty by the time I had finished feeding the rest of my birds, so was topped up a second time I checked the nest box daily and both parents stayed in the box whilst I handled the chicks.

Unfortunately the last chick died at four weeks old, just when all the feathers had broken through. The first chick was seen out of the nest exactly seven weeks (49 days) after hatching but the other two never emerged for another week, the number one chick returning to the nest each night to roost with all the family. Fourteen weeks to the day from hatching chick number three died having got itself wedged behind a nest box, and at the time of writing (mid November) I have just separated the young from the parents. I decided to write this article after reading Colin Scott's© review of Brotogeris Parrakeets and can assure him that there are now TWO BREEDING PAIRS in this country, and after having the youngsters surgically sexed, and possibly getting an exchange for one of them (change of blood) maybe we could manage THREE or even FOUR BREEDING PAIRS.

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