Sunday, May 20, 2018

Birds - The American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual
American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The American Bald Eagle was unofficially chosen as a National Symbol in 1872 when the Constitution of the United States was ratified.  It was not officially nominated as such until 1788.  There was a heated debate, led by the great statesman Benjamin Franklin, about this bird becoming the National Bird.  Mr. Franklin wanted the turkey which he thought better symbolized the clean, honest, and more straightforward ideals of the American people.  His bid was lost, however, in 1789 when George Washington became the first President of the USA, and the Bald Eagle was officially adopted as the "First Bird". 

The American Bald Eagle is the only eagle which is native to North America and it's only on its native continent that one may find it.  Alaska, the 49th State admitted to the Union, is home to about 35,000 of the 70,000 total population.  British Columbia boasts about 20,000, and the rest predominantly inhabit the Pacific coastline, with a few scattered throughout the rest of the United States.  The population is heaviest in the Pacific Northwest due, in part, to the large amount of salmon found there.  Eagles depend greatly on fish as the main part of their diets.  They will eat small animals such as mice, rabbits, muskrats, duck and snakes and they will resort to eating carrion (dead animals), if necessary.  However, they prefer that their food is of a fresh source and they are partial to fish.  

While Bald Eagle is capable of carrying their food in flight, they can actually only lift about half of their body weight.  Although they can dive, catch fish in the water, and swim to shore with them, they have also been known to drown if the fish is too big and they don't let go of it.  

The body length, for both males and females, ranges between 29 and 42 inches (73.66 to 106.68 centimeters).  The male is usually between 7 and 9 pounds (.497 to .639 stone) and has a wingspan which can exceed 6 feet (1.83 meters).  The female is larger and can weigh up to 14 pounds (.99 stone).  She can have a wingspan of up to 8 feet (2.44 meters).  

In level flight, the Bald Eagle has been recorded at speeds up to 44 miles per hour (70.1 kmp).  It can dive (and has been clocked) at speeds of 75 to 100 mph (120.68 to 160.39 kmp).  The eagle is capable of riding the thermal air currents in excess of 10000 feet (3048 meters) and can stay aloft doing this for hours at a time.  

This species of bird mates for life, and will only seek another mate if their "spouse" dies.  They build an "eyrie (also spelled aerie)" in which they incubate their eggs and raise their eaglets until those leave the nest at 12 weeks.  An eyrie, or nest, can be built in the tops of giant trees (quite often aspens) or on a ledge of a mountain.  The eagles habitually add to their nests until they reach up to 10 feet (2.54 meters) in diameter.  The eyries are lined with soft materials such as leaves, feathers, and moss to provide a suitable area for incubating the eggs once the female lays them.   

The eggs are usually laid at the end of April, following a fascinating "courtship dance" in early April, which the Eagles perform in midair.  They dive and climb, and look to be attacking (locking talons, or claws with) each other during this flight sequence.  

After the eggs are laid, the male and the female take turns in hunting, incubating the eggs (34 to 35 days, usually hatching in late May or early June), monitoring the nest, and brooding/feeding the eaglets until they are large enough to fly and leave the nest.  This occurs when the eaglets are about 12 weeks old.  They develop special flight feathers, which make them look larger than their parents, that serve as extra balance (sort of like training wheels on a bicycle) while they learn to fly.  

Hatchlings are light grey when born and turn dark brown before leaving the nest.  Young adults have brown and white mottled feathers beneath their wings until they reach 5 years of age.  At 5 years, the head and tail feathers turn white.  The mature bird is not actually bald.  "Bald", at one time, meant "white".  Thus the name, "bald eagle". Between the fourth and fifth years, the beak and eyes take on the distinctive yellow color.  To see a mature Bald Eagle up close is awe-inspiring.  To see one in flight is an experience to cherish for a lifetime.  

Preservation Efforts 

In spite of the "National Symbols Act" and the "Bald and Gold Eagle Preservation Act," which were both passed in 1940, the Bald Eagle population declined rapidly because farmers killed them for fear of the harm that they could do to their livestock.  Hunters and poachers killed them as trophies and for profit, and many were killed accidentally.  This seriously alarmed preservationist.  Therefore the American Bald Eagle has officially declared an "Endangered Species" in 1947, under a law which preceded the "Endangered Species Act" of 1973.  Until 1995, they were listed as endangered in 43 of the 48 contiguous United States.  Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington State listed them as "threatened". In 1995, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) upgraded their status to threatened in the other 43 states.  

In February 2006, an announcement was made that the USFWS had issued guidelines on how the species should be protected by landowners and others, once the bird is no longer listed as a threatened species.  Those guidelines include proposals for laws which prohibit disrupting the bird's breeding, sheltering, or feeding practices or disturbing it in any manner which could cause injury, death, or nest abandonment.  Should those proposals be solidified and approved, it could lead to the removal of the Bald Eagle from the "threatened" list.  

It should be noted that even if the new guidelines are approved, the American Bald Eagle is still protected under the "Migratory Bird Treaty Act", the "Bald and Gold Eagle Preservation Act", and the "National Symbols Act".  It is illegal to possess, take, barter, trade, sell, transport, import, or export eagles.  And it is illegal to collect eagles or their body parts, nests, or eggs without a special permit.  Possession of a feather, or other body parts, is a felony which can carry a fine up to $10,000 USD and/or imprisonment and this is very strictly enforced.  However, federally recognized Native Americans are still permitted to possess those emblems which are traditional to their culture.  

One can learn more about these magnificent, beautiful, and majestic birds and how to help with the continuing preservation efforts by visiting the many websites devoted to them.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

How To Breed Championship Caliber PIGEONS

Carrier Pigeon
Carrier Pigeon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The first advice I can give you as far as breeding racing pigeons are concerned is that there are no guarantees. You can have two champions produce 5 baby pigeons that won't become champions or won't even be considered competitive. That's why you need to deliberate on many factors in order to become a successful breeder and produce potential champions. 

It's already a given that you need to use quality stock in order to increase the chances of breeding champions. There are three types of breeding: crossbreeding, inbreeding, and line breeding. You can use either of these three depending on the match you think will produce quality stock.

The quality of the breeding bird can be assessed by the racing performance of its offspring. To increase the probability of producing championship caliber chicks, more than one test pairing should be administered. It's also important to keep in mind that a pigeon being a champion doesn't mean that it's a good breeder. There's a probability that a slightly inferior sibling can produce better offspring. Rules are not set in stone so it's important for a fancier to administer more than one test pairing. It's all a matter of achieving the perfect or near-perfect combination of genes.

Here's an important tip. If you are planning on buying pedigreed pigeons, you have to ensure the credibility of the seller. The information tagged to the pigeon must be entirely accurate. A great avenue to verify the accuracy of the information is by looking for race results on the internet. Now that we mention it, using the internet is also an excellent way to look for pedigreed pigeons.

Relying on the quality of the parents alone is not enough to produce championship pigeons. One has to look into three features to ensure a high probability of quality stock. These consist of the physical, physiological, and psychological features. Take account of these three key features in both the male and the female and the probability of producing quality stock should increase.

To help you in the assessment, let's have a breakdown of these three key features:

• The Physical (gait, feather, wing)
• The physiology (fitness parameters).
• Psychology (attitude and competitiveness).

The best fanciers also realize that the race basket is the best determinant of a pigeon's racing qualities. It's more recommended to have pigeons with soft feathers. The pigeons should not be too big as well. You see, big ones are not good on balance. One reliable way to detect a good racing pigeon is when it leans forward while being handled. A strong skeleton is also of great importance. To test the strength of its bones, put some pressure on the breastbone and see if it's going to make a snoring sound. If it does, then that is certainly bad news.

Keep in mind that physical characteristics don't necessarily make a champion. That's why you have to observe on a daily basis the behavioral patterns of your racing pigeons. Recording daily data on each of them will tell you a great deal whether they have the heart of champions.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Advantages and Disadvantages of CONURE Parrots As Pets

Tingo Helps with the Computer
Tingo helps with computer - Photo  by    Makuahine Pa’i Ki’i  (cc)

In general, conure parrots are a group of small to large-sized parrots. They are natives of the Central and South America and sometimes they are called parakeets although they are really two different entities. However, the term Conure has already existed far long before parakeet did. The term really meant cone-tailed. Among all the parrots, they are the ones that adapt to changes in the weather and diet the most.

Before going to the advantages and disadvantages of Conure Parrots as pets, let's look at some useful facts first.

1 - Size
These birds size is determined by measuring the length from the tips of the beak and tail. Usually, their average size is about 11.8 inches (30 cm). On the average, their weight is about 2.2 lbs or equivalent to 1 kg. When you measure their tails' length, they are usually as long as their bodies.

They are active birds and so they will usually need larger cage so that they will be able to exercise even when inside. The necessary spacing for the cages should be 1/2 to 7/8 for them to be able to climb with no worries of escape or caught in between.

2 - Life Span
They usually have a lifespan of around 35 years or more. This depends on how well you take care of them.

Advantages as Pets
One of the advantages of these birds as pets is their majestically colorful plumage, which is really pleasing to the eye. They are full of affection and can really accommodate just about anyone in the family. They breed well and can produce great offspring. They are easy to handle because of their uncomplicated nature especially their diet, which consists mainly of organic pellets, fruits and vegetables, and seeds. They are highly intelligent and are capable of learning tricks.

Disadvantages as Pets
Since they are highly social birds, attention and regular social interaction are needed. They are considered best only for people who have time to spend at home for their supervision, training, and exercise. The latter two are essential so that you can keep your bird from boredom otherwise, the birds will develop bad habits. They need a lot of activities but to counter this, you can give them toys as well as let them out of the cage every once in a while.

As long as you have the patience and persistence to put up with them, they could make excellent pets for you.

    By Gary Caine
    For the most part, conures share similar personalities and it's more the color and size of the different species that is the deciding factor on which parrot to buy.
    See pictures and learn more about the unique characteristics of these conures.
    Green Conure - Green Cheek ConureJenday Conure
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Parrotlet As Pet Bird - 5 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About PARROTLETS

2/365 - Little Ball of Sunshine
Little Ball of Sunshine - Photo   by       BLW Photography  (cc)
The Parrotlet is a big personality in a little Parrot body. They are quite small measuring between 5 and 6 inches long and weighing between 18 and 28 grams. Rapidly becoming one of the most popular species for pet bird owners, here are 5 answers to frequently asked questions about these little Parrots.

What Colors Are Available? 
These birds are available in a variety of colors. Many of the species names are color specific and are a wonderful way to give you some idea of the colors that are available-Green Rump, Pacific (as in blue), Spectacle, Blue Wing, and Yellow Face. Pacific, Green Rump, and Spectacles are readily available while the Blue Wing and Yellow Face are much harder to find here in the United States.

What Kind of Diet is Best? 
This small bird has a big appetite that helps fuel its constant antics and playful nature. Seeds are a must because not only do they nourish, but provide interest and exercise as it breaks them open. Supplement this with a high-quality pellet as well as fresh fruits, vegetable, millet spray, cuttlebone, and a constant supply of fresh water.  Avoid avocado, rhubarb, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and foods with high salt and sugar content.

How Much Attention Do They Need? 
Every bird needs its owner to attend to its physical and emotional/social needs. However, the Parrotlet is more content to play and amuse itself without the constant interaction that some of the larger parrots need. They are perfectly content to play in a spacious cage that is properly stocked with toys, treats, perches, and swings that will keep them entertained during the day if you work away from home. Once you are home they will expect a fair amount of attention from you, and scheduling 10 minutes or so of training daily helps keep your bird tame and well mannered. They don't really need the company of another bird and don't seem to bond to each other, so if you decide to get two be aware that you may need to house them separately because of territorial issues.

How Are they with Children and Other Pets? 
Even though they are small, they are fearless and can often be aggressive towards other pets that they may interpret as invading their space. It's best to keep your bird away from other pets and close the door when your bird is out of the cage to avoid confrontations. As for children, they can be very gentle; especially those that have been hand fed from an early age and are used to regular training and human interaction. Parrotlets have large beaks for their size and can sometimes be nippy. So your child needs to be very closely supervised by you when handling the bird, and an older child who understands how to handle the bird stands the best chance of success.

What is Their Life Span? 
With proper care, many Parrotlets can live between 15 and 20 years.  This requires quite a commitment, so make sure you're up for it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

CHICKEN BREEDS - The Araucana Chicken

Aracuana Hahn cropped.jpg
Aracuana Rooster (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The Araucana was initially developed in South America, specifically in Chile in the early 1900s by a professor of animal science. The Breed was developed from birds kept by a native Chilean tribe, the Mapuche. Later in the 1930s, the Araucana was introduced to the United Kingdom. The unique traits of the Araucana chicken come from cross breeding of the Collonca, a small single comb bird which lacks a tail and lays blue eggs, and a Quetero, which has a flowering tail, a pea comb and lays brown eggs.

When crossed with other breeds the Araucana offspring will lay blue eggs, this is where the development or the Ameraucana came from as the Araucana have a genetically lethal allele combination that results in the death of some chicks. The aim of developing the Ameraucana was to standardise the laying of a blue egg laying breed and to remove the genetic flaw.

Araucana Chicken Breed Facts

Standard, All Other Standard Breeds.

Bantam, All Other Combs, Clean Legged.

Standard Cock: 5 lb. (2.25 kg)

Standard Hen: 4 lb. (1.8 kg)

Bantam Cock: 26 oz. (740 g)

Bantam Hen: 24 oz. (680 g)

Comb, Wattles & Earlobes
Small pea comb; wattles are very small or absent; earlobes are very small and smooth and covered by an ear tuft. All are bright red.

Entirely absent; saddle feathers flow over the rump.

Black. Black beak, shanks, and toes; brown eyes; standard black plumage.
Black-Breast Red. Hornbeak; reddish bay eyes; greyish yellow shanks and toes. Male: Head, hackle, and saddle are reddish chestnut changing to gold at lower extremities. Front of neck and breast are lustrous black. Tail and wings are black with reddish bay highlights. Under colour is slate. Female: Head and hackle are reddish chestnuts against a cinnamon brown body. Tails and wings have some black. Under colour is slate to light cinnamon.
Blue. Standard blue plumage

Buff. Standard buff plumage.

Golden Duckwing. Hornbeak; red eyes; willow shanks and toes. Standard golden duckwing plumage.

Silver. Standard silver plumage.

Silver Duckwing. Hornbeak; red eyes; willow shanks and toes. Standard silver duckwing plumage.

White. Yellow beak, shanks, and toes; red eyes. Standard white plumage.

Place of Origin

Conservation Status

Special Qualities
Lays blue to bluish green eggs. Has a lethal allele combination; some chicks die during incubation.
The Araucana was first admitted to the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1976.