More Small Bird Breeding Tips
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Pet World Visit
Birds Reproduce in the Spring. You can’t stop your feathered friends from trying to reproduce this time of year. No matter what you do, they’ll still try. If you want to help, here’s some tips we picked up from Dr. Wilmer Miller. We did not realize people maintained web sites about him and his wife, Lotus. We just thought they were helpful people.
Special Note. When we first dropped past Dr. Wilmer's house, we realized he knew a great deal about doves and finches. When we saw how he'd set up his homemade rearing cages in a very eye-appealing way in a sun-washed section of his home, we knew he had a good eye for keeping birds. We knew he was retired from heading the genetics department at Iowa State University. And we knew he was the mentor of one of our genetics professors at Drake University. We knew that both professors shared a common interest in pigeon genetics. What we did not realize was that Wilmer (actually Dr. Wilmer Miller) was the world authority on doves. Thanks for giving us all this info, Doc. And thanks for selling us all the finches and doves. LA.
Provide Larger Cages. Wilmer prefers cages at least 24-inches wide. Birds spend more time flying back and forth rather than up and down. Bigger cages also sport larger doors. He uses roosts made of tree limbs. He places his lower roosts near the food and water sources. His cages all feature a three-inch high “lip” to reduce the number of flying seed hulls that the birds flutter onto the floor. You can find commercial versions of this “lip” in plastic bands and see-thru elastic cloth.
Doves Are not Pigeons. Some commercial dove foods contain soy beans and other seeds too big for doves. They won’t eat them. Doves do great on parakeet or finch food. KayTee has a dove food that comes in 5# bags (instead of 50# bags).
Provide the Right Food. Lots of excellent bird foods exist for our small birds. However, Wilmer says birds need additional supplements when they start producing eggs. Citing his work with doves, he notes that females will take calcium from their own bones when producing eggs. This limits their breeding activities to just a few times per year. He reports that his doves (and he has lots) breed year-round because he supplements their food with a very small granulized calcium pellet sprinkled with salt containing trace elements. (He cited one pair of finches that was an ad for calcium supplements -- he pulled 53 eggs from their nest.)
Grit not Needed. Birds seem to enjoy eating grit. Most don’t need it (according to Dr. Miller as well as Dr. Lafeber). Although it probably helps with very hard seeds in the wild. Furnishing calcium granules instead could kill two birds with one stone (bad metaphor) by also furnishing calcium.
Feed Boiled Eggs. He feeds boiled eggs (cut into eighths) to encourage egg laying in finches and while they feed their young. Eggs contain “complete proteins” and beneficial fats. Bird food companies provide “egg biscuits” for this purpose.
Provide Vitamins. Wilmer adds Avitron to their water to make sure they get enough vitamins A and D3. We prefer to give them fresh greens and full-spectrum light. We put the greens on top of their cages to give them extra exercise. Putting vitamins in their water can encourage bacterial growth, because some manufacturers add sugar to make it more palatable. As he says, “lots of right ways.”
Furnish Bathing Facilities. He uses heavy bowls with a half-inch of water. Birds (especially canaries) love these baths, so give them a bath twice a week. We use large mister bottles so we can go through the cages faster. The birds learn to spread their wings after you mist them a few times.
Who’s Dr. Wilmer Miller? This
small intro was written in 2003. Retired
from teaching genetics at
Keep Learning. As
we’ve said elsewhere many times, the more sources you learn from, the
wider your knowledge base. And, thanks for the info, Dr. Miller.
Especially now that we know you’re so famous.
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