My First Season
by Randie Boardman

First published in the Pacific American Singer newsletter, volume 6, number 3, July 1999.

Wow!! Breeding canaries. Playing God, as Gary puts it, is an incredible experience for me. As most of you know, this is my first year of breeding canaries, or anything else for that matter. I have had more fun breeding these wonderful little birds. It was, and still is, a great learning experience for me that I want to share it with all of you.

In January, right when I was getting my birds conditioned, we moved. Those poor birds, got jostled, jiggled, bumped around, moved from place to place until I could get a makeshift area for them to do their thing. As soon as I got them set up, they went at it like banshees!! Holy mackerel, they were laying eggs like crazy!!! I was sooo excited, I was going to be having baby canaries!!! I could hardly wait the 14 days for the first batch to hatch. Well, the day finally came and I was really hoping to see some chicks actually hatch out of the egg, but that never happened. I was also hoping to see the parents do the "Hokey Pokey" thing too, but that didn't happen either. Oh well, I got babies coming!! As the chicks started to hatch, I was finding that I was getting a lot of clear eggs. Not sure why, and I didn't do any candling (I was afraid to touch the eggs!!! Silly me!). So I didn't get as many birds as I had hoped. I had one hen who laid 7 eggs!!! I was really freaking out over what to do when they all hatched. But only 1 hatched (whew!) and lived to be 7 weeks old before it died. Thankfully, that was my only fatality. It was fine when I checked the birds in the morning, came back an hour later to feed, and it was dead. Oh, I have to tell you, one of the daddy birds was sooo cute. When the hen would get off the nest, he would climb in and sit on the eggs!! I didn't think the males would do that. He looked quite awkward too, but stayed until she came back. What a nice guy!

Another hen really put me through the paces. She was really ready to breed, so I set her up with the male, gave her a nice nest, (the white plastic ones) material, the works, only to watch her build the nest, then tear it up, build the nest, then tear it up. This kept up for 4 days, so I changed the color of the felt pad, no luck, she didn't like it. I gave her a different type of nesting material, she didn't like that either. Change the location of the cage, still no luck. I was at a loss, I didn't now what to do with her. While I was at the pet store, I picked up one of those wicker nests, wondering if this would do the trick. Gave it to her that same day, and BINGO!!! It worked!! She had her nest built in no time and gave me 3 beautiful chicks out of 4 eggs. FINALLY!! But she's still a brat bird. When I put her up for the 2nd batch, after her vacation in the flight cage, I let her keep the wicker nest. This time she made the nest, sat in it, but laid 6 eggs off the perch!!! What's up with that???!!!! What do you want this time, you brat!!!! Well, I give up, and back to the flight cage she goes only to pick a seed cup to nest in!! Okay, Brat Bird, we'll try this again. Back to the breeding cage and the wicker nest. This time she lays 2 eggs, sits on them for about 4 days, and along comes my 4-year-old son. He climbs over the gate, opens up the cage that Brat Bird is in and breaks her eggs (sigh). He brings me these broken eggs and tells me he wanted to show me that the bird had laid eggs. Gee thanks, Chris. What next!!

Well, now we're into June and I have chicks coming out my ears!!! Out of the first batch of chicks, 3 of them are trying to sing and badly I must say!!! I sure hope they learn how to carry a tune!!! So here I sit and watching my babies playing and singing in the flight cage. I had to order another flight cage to house all these birds the other day. These hens are maniacs!!! They won't stop!!! HELP!!! Someone tell me where the "off" switch is!!!!

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