I try and write a review after every season, this process does remind me to look back over the previous breeding season – Celebrate my successes and seriously look at any failures. This holds me accountable as a breeder. We have also found it very useful for the coming season, instead of blindly stumbling along year after year with no purpose.
This season was the most exciting and fun-filled season we have had for many years. Fertility was very high with hardly a loss in any nest, so the parenting skill was also great with a majority of young per nest quite large, holding six and seven young that all fledged with no problems.
This all sounds great but there is a downside to the very large nests, being the amount of extra stress and work on the parents. If you continue to tax the breeding pairs it will definitely show in the quality of the young that you produced. Realising this problem we stopped the breeding of the pairs with the large nests at two nests only, as 12 to 14 young per pair is a very satisfying and successful season for any breeding pair of Gouldians. We also believed that four young per nest is the perfect amount spread over three nests for the season.
Another interesting happening with the good breeding pairs this season was that one hen laid eleven eggs – all eggs slightly larger in size than what I consider normal, all fertile and all hatched within a twenty four hour period. My original thinking was two hens have laid in the nest but that was not so, as there were only two pair in that particular cage – the other hen was sitting on six fertile eggs herself. We also thought of farming out some eggs to other pairs but all other breeding pairs were either on lots of eggs or feeding babies. We then noticed another unusual thing this pair was doing; closer inspection revealed that both parents were sitting on the eggs most of the time together, confirming that this amount of eggs could never totally be sat on by the hen or cock separately to create the warmth for fertility to happen. This amount of fertile eggs I have never had in one nest before, as most larger nests have a percentage of infertile eggs. We also believe there is no point to such a large nest, as it is not possible for any pair to nurture and feed that amount of young, plus keep them warm if left to the parents’ natural abilities.
We have had a lot of interesting emails over the breeding season relating to different coloured young birds being bred from normal birds. These birds had been acquired the previous season as pure normals,. Disappointingly, most of these coloured morphs turned out to be already existing mutations, genetically carried by the normal looking birds.
One email with a phone number provided, that stirred my interest was from the son of an elderly breeder who was past looking after and breeding Gouldians. Why did this stir my interest as it was only a breeder selling his birds? Well when we were told that no “New Blood” had been introduced into the flock for twenty odd years, “Why not!” was my obvious response. “Because our birds are acclimatised to the cold winters, new birds don’t last long at all. We still lose some birds every year ourselves, so it is the survival of the fittest!” Boy did this interest me!
I was also informed that over that time, numerous different coloured birds had been bred. They either died during the minus degree winter months or were taken by the dealer who came and picked up surplus birds every November at six dollars a head, including the coloured birds. Not every year coloured birds turned up, this year there is a couple. What colour are the birds this year? The short answer was light Grey with darker striped backs.
Yes! I did go and have a look for myself and was surprised at how good they looked. Even though they were smaller than expected, they were very active and looked strong when flying. Their aviary was a converted fowl run. Now this could well have been a contributing factor to the high loss of birds in the early days, as fowl runs are known to naturally carry a very high souce of pathogens. The new introduced Gouldians would have struggled with their poorer immune systems so I am not surprised at the early high losses that occurred.
Normally I would not get involved in this type of deal as none of the young birds had started to moult, including the grey ones. Actually the normal uncoloured young also were more greyish than the greenish grey of my young uncoloured as well. So why did I get involved when there is a risk-factor also involved. Well, if the grey birds moult out blue, no matter what colour blue, they maybe the last true blue to turn up in my life time. It is quite simple to run these birds on for another season and then decide if it is worth the effort or not. Then I can retire from birds being a very happy and contented bird breeder that has had a lot of fun on the way!
PS.- While writing this article, we have received another email relating to another new colour happening this season. This Gouldian is a Black Headed Cock Bird – additionally the black appears to have continued from the head into the chest, making it a Black Headed, Black Chested Gouldian – These birds that carry black normally moult out in the following moult. We intend to have a look at this unusual bird, take some photos and show it on the website. And yes! I did ask the question! Was it bred in a darker bird room? No, it is in an outside flighted aviary.