Hideaway Farms ~ North Augusta, SC ~ (803) 593-9500 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Diet (Maintenance vs. Breeding)
All of the Conures and large hookbills at Hideaway Farms are fed the same diet. A maintenance diet consists of Sunshine Bird Seed, Parrot Delite, Safflower Gold Small Hookbill, Econo Parrot, Zupreem maintenance pellets, corn on the cob, apples, cranberries, grapes, carrots, fresh cooked scrambled eggs, green beans, spray millet and cuttle bone. Parents raising babies have increased supplies of corn, apples, millet and cuttle bone.
Water is supplied in Lixit bottles. Bath water is provided daily in large stainless steel bowls and removed when the baths are done. We also use a misting system similar to that found in the produce departments of food chain stores.
Cage size ( Pet vs Breeder)
Conure breeding cages are 2' x 2' x 5' long. Some have a 3' x 3' x 6' all made of galvanized after welding, wire. Some cages are smaller containing pairs of Sun Conures where the males sometimes get overly zealous with their mates at breeding time. Reducing the size of the cage has prevented the death of those female Sun Conures that are harassed by their mates. Those birds are kept in a different building so no one else gets the idea to fight. I firmly believe they can learn bad habits as well as good by observation of their peers.
Cages are hung from the ceiling on medium weight chains which are attached to the four corners of the cage. The bottom of the cage is 42" from the floor of the aviary, and the top is 3' from the ceiling. The nest box is attached on the 2' end of the cage in the upper left hand side. There are two large stainless steel bowls used for feeding. They are in a feeder station at the end of the cage along with the water bottle. The feeder station is placed on the same end as the nest box. One half of the sides of the cage is blocked from view by a metal barrier also at the nest box end to prevent the birds from being disturbed while nesting and eating.
The nest box opening faces away from the aisle that is used to access cages for maintenance and replenishing food and water supplies. All cages are hung inside a protected area that can be enclosed and heated in the winter. Wire, Zoomesh and screening are used around the outside of the aviary buildings to prevent escape and to keep intruding life forms from the cages. Lighting is on a timer and used when needed. We use standard fluorescent and incandescent lighting. The temperature in the winter is not permitted to go below 45 degrees within the aviary.
All cages are equipped with Manzanita perches or California Ribbon wood. One cement perch is placed by the water bottle. Toys are hung to occupy the birds when they are not caring for young chicks.
When selling pets, I recommend the Neon utility cage or the Preview Hendryx #125 cage. The majority of my birds are sold as breeders. I will sell pets only after they are weaned. Any birds not sold by their first molt are kept for breeding and for sale as breeders only. I also sell proven breeding pairs.
Nest box ( Types, Sizes, Bedding and Maintainance)
I use a 12" x 12" x 18" deep 1/2" plywood nest box for Finsch's Conures and White Eye Conures and a 10" x 10" x 18" deep for Sun, Jenday and Dusky Conures.
These vertical boxes are filled at the bottom with Aspen or Pine bedding. The Sun Conures hate bedding. They will empty their boxes as quickly as I fill them. They prefer to make their own shavings by scraping the sides of their nest box with their beaks. That was one reason I started to use Aspen bedding. They throw that out less frequently.
Nest boxes are changed each season while bedding is changed with each clutch. I will use any size box the pair can fit into and spread out comfortably in the nesting chamber and seem secure. It has been my experience that if the pair will sleep in their box at night they will use it for breeding. I am sure there will be exceptions to this rule, but I have not experienced it yet.
The Amazons and Mini Macaws use a large 18" x 18" x 24" deep 3/4 " pine box while the Cockatoos have a metal box. I am trying the new ABS plastic nest boxes this season for the first time. If I feel the birds are not happy with the nest box, I change it until I find one that they will use. I have one pair of Finsch's Conures that prefer a 12" cube box. I have tried on numerous occasions to give them the deeper box and each time they would not use it. I feel that you have to have kind of a sixth sense of what the bird wants and provide it. I never reuse or try to clean and reuse a box with the exception of the metal or plastic boxes.
Breeding ( Age and Seasons)
Most of my Conures reach breeding age between three and five years. The Suns are the most prolific whereas Jendays are the least prolific. Suns tend to lay clutch after clutch regardless of the season. The other conures in my collection usually lay once, sometimes twice, in a season. My conures' season begins in March and runs until it gets extremely hot. That can occur from May to September depending on Mother Nature's schedule for any given year.
My pairs usually show slight behavior changes at breeding time which consists of excessive bathing, increased food consumption and, of course, spending daytime hours in the nest box. My breeders are normally very friendly and like to come for a touch each day except when breeding. At that time some can get possessive of their cage and nest box and warn me away. However, the Finsch's Conures will accept my intrusions any time, breeding or not.
I have no problems with egg-destroying or chick-destroying parents. They all allow me to inspect the nest and handle the chicks. All of my Conures are given the opportunity to parent-raise one clutch from time to time and none have failed at that task.
My Amazons are new to my collection and too young to breed yet so I can offer no information on them at this time.
The Cockatoos choose December to lay their one clutch a year. Their eggs have to be incubated and raised from day one. They will destroy their eggs due to trying to get out of the nest box when I enter the aviary.
The Severe Macaws lay in April or May and do not seem to be affected by the heat. They lay two to three clutches a year and are very, very aggressive towards me during breeding time. I have to take precautions in nest inspections and feeding the parents in order to not be severely bitten. As aggressive as they are, they are careful not to disturb their eggs or hatchlings. During non-breeding season they are sweet and talkative clowns.
Clutch (Size and Frequency)
Most of my Conures will lay at least one clutch per season. The Sun Conures lay three and four clutches a year. The Finsch's normally lay one or two clutches, but I do have one import pair that has laid off and on for an entire year without letting up. This pair even laid during molting, and that is an exception. They are robust and healthy as are their babies. My average clutch is two to four eggs each time for Conures. There have been exceptions when occasionally I would get up to five chicks at one sitting. Three eggs per clutch is average for my Severe Macaws and two eggs for the Cockatoos. Most of my eggs are fertile and all fertile eggs normally hatch on time. Some birds having their first clutch have been infertile but they usually produce with the second clutch.
Handfeeding formula is a matter of choice, my choice being Kaytee Exact - the 8% fat, 22% protein mixture. I have used Kaytee for many years with no problems. I follow the storage requirements provided with the product and I purchase it from a dealer who does not allow it to sit around and go rancid. It is important to have a good relationship with an individual who makes it their business to buy quality products and store them properly and deliver them to you in a timely matter. Buying from your local chain type pet store can be a mistake, as their stock is not always fresh and a poorly kept product can result in dead chicks. It is extremely important to do business with a reputable dealer. This is something each of us has to search for and find on our own as geographical area will determine who and where you are going to be able to buy your needed supplies from. I would suggest talking to other breeders and getting their opinions on dealers in your area. This is one of the things that joining a local bird club can help you with. Or there are many places on the web where you can find expert opinions on anything to do with birds.
After you have secured the formula you need syringes to feed with, feeding tubes, and disinfectant - my choice being Vanodine V18, a good gram scale, a reliable alarm clock, a reliable brooder, and a clean quiet place to keep all of this together so you have everything at your fingertips.
Handfeeding of baby birds is a labor of love. You must be ready to suffer sleep deprivation and have a keen instinct in case something goes wrong. The brooder is set up prior to removing the chicks from the nest. It is set to 94 degrees and gradually reduced week by week. I take my babies from the parents twelve days after the first chick hatches. That equates to the possibility of the graduated ages of the clutch. If there are four chicks and I take the entire clutch - the oldest being twelve days and the youngest being eight days since hatching - then I have chicks that are four days difference in age. The younger the chick the more attention is required to handfeed. I always feed the clutch by the needs of the youngest chick. If I have any chicks in the clutch under a week of age, I feed every three or four hours to begin with. I observe the crop, and if it empties sooner, I will feed each time the crop empties. Once the time factor is set and the clutch is hydrated properly, I set my alarm clock at the designated time intervals and I am on my way to raising a clutch of birds. I measure each feeding by cc's and weigh each chick daily. Let me say here that when weighing a chick, do it at the same time every day before feeding so as to get best true weight. In the beginning I use a feeding tube so that I can make absolutely sure that each chick receives the amount that is required to maintain it's weight. I gradually increase the amount of formula to meet the chicks' growing requirements and increase the time between feedings. Usually after having fed a clutch for a week, I can progress to six-hour feedings - then in another week, to eight-hour feedings. They stay on the eight-hour schedule for about three more weeks. Then I progress to twelve-hour feedings.
There is no substitute for experience. You should observe and be guided through the process by someone who has handfed chicks successfully for at least a few years. There are many things that can go wrong during the chick's development. Sometimes the signs that a chick is in trouble are very subtle. By the time it is obvious to a novice it could be too late to save the chick. A person you can rely on for information at any time (such as when the Veterinarian is not available) will come in handy. There are many different methods of handfeeding and hand raising of chicks. This is my method and it has been successful for me. I have a very high incidence of live chicks and of raising those chicks to adult reproducing birds. On my links page you will find an abundance of places to get different opinions.
First and foremost, no bird is sold from our aviary that is not fully weaned. I feel strongly about this point and will never sell babies out of the nest for any reason. Birds can still be kept tame after weaning. It just takes a bit more time.
When I am down to one feeding a day, that feeding is never given at the same time so as to encourage the chicks to find their food elsewhere - in this case the fruits and vegetables that I have given them in the morning. However, I always give a few cc's of warm formula before lights go out at night. Not unlike children, some chicks want to hang on to being fed. Those chicks need special treatment. If not coaxed to eat, they can lose weight very fast. Therefore, I continue to weigh them daily. I will use warm soaked biscuit or pellets and let them eat that from between my fingers. I will hand them their corn or carrots. I will make them warm bread and soak it in formula and have them eat that.
What ever it takes to help the baby become independent I will do. Some chicks will eat better if given a small amount of formula to stimulate the feeding response. I am not going to go into techniques of handfeeding as there are many excellent publications on this subject that are tried and proven methods.
Occasionally I will allow a pair to parent raise their clutch. I do this for two reasons;
All birds bred here are closed banded at the time they are taken from the nest. That is usually ten to twelve days. If younger chicks are in the clutch, they will be banded at the ten to twelve day time frame. Since different clutches are never in the same brooder, I know who belongs to who until all are banded. I personally use L& M Bands. All birds prior to '97 are banded with their aluminum bands. Since then, I have switched to the stainless steel bands. With the introduction of the cement perches to the aviary, the aluminum band coding can be distorted by the bird rubbing the band on the cement perch when landing. The stainless steel band does not seem to be as easily damaged. I use a size # 10 (5/16" id or 7. 94mm). This works for most. The Dusky, being the smallest species in my group, gets a # 9.5 (9/32" id or 7.16mm). I have also in '97 gone to the Avid chip for permanent identification. I use an avian vet for the implantation of the chip.
Sexing of Conures is to be left to DNA or Surgical sexing. Either is a reliable method. The DNA sexing is less invasive and can be done by those with experience in collecting blood from a clipped toe nail. The surgical sexing has to be done by , in my opinion, by an avian veterinarian. With the birds that are being Avid chipped, the two procedures are done at the same time. All birds from our aviary are sexed in one manner or another before being sold.
Of all the Conures that I have raised, my concern for the Finsch's is the strongest. In my opinion, the Finsch's have not appealed to the pet market due to lack of bright, contrasting coloration. Yet, their gentle, clown- like personalities and lack of the need to chew wood make them very pleasant to be around. They have the ability to talk, but they can be noisy when on alert. Unlike most of my other Conures, the adult pairs will interact with me gently, even during breeding season.
Unfortunately, I know very few aviculturists in the USA that keep the Finsch's Conure. Although Conures are my favorite bird, I have recently discontinued breeding some species to provide the time and space for the Finsch's. Of the aviculturists that I know that breed the Finsch's, I have the largest collection. I am willing to trade breeding stock with other Finsch's breeders in order to keep the gene pool diverse, and I am always looking for the sincere aviculturist that is willing to share in the conservation of this species. I am very passionate about this species and will be on a continuing quest to collect and save these wonderful birds.
I have serious concerns for the future of the Finsch's Conure in that they can be confused with some of the other redheaded conure species. They could easily be hybridized by the inexperienced person who cannot properly identify them. In an effort to educate those who do not know the difference but would like to learn, you will find comparison photos "Compare" of a variety of redheaded conure species on this site. Please take the time to study them and should you become interested in this species and have any questions please e-mail me.
©All content on this website is copyright of Hideaway Farms