Joys of Winter Breeding

Yes another breeding season is finished for the Gouldian, and now we look forward to what the moult may uncover for us, something special maybe that will make all the hard work and breeding expectations that we carried into the breeding season worthwhile.

In our area of the Northern Rivers of NSW just below the Queensland border we live in a Rainforest Area that does at times get very wet. This year the winter did not treat us kindly at all for Gouldian breeding. The local breeders are of the opinion that the very wet weather combined with extremely cold nights and freezing early mornings took its toll on the birds which caused a very slow, disappointing breeding season. Some nights were as low as four degrees, and no early morning sun showed through til mid morning. So these natural conditions of this area are hardly perfect for Gouldian breeding.

I must admit that I was thinking this rain will never stop. This was somewhat confirmed when told the area has had two metres of rain in just over four months. Down the road at Mullumbimby they recorded three metres. Now that is ridiculous rain.

Yes the winter was a shocker and the breeding results could have been better but I am of the opinion it’s not just this last bad winter that slowed the breeding down but the combination of the last three wet winters combined. Sometimes what has happened in previous years is forgotten, so we should all keep notes of breeding to record past breeding success and the failures. This knowledge can be use for years to come and I guarantee it will always be helpful.

So why should the Gouldian have so many problems with winter breeding after it’s taken out of its natural environment in the tropics. Because Gouldians have an extremely fast metabolism and in ideal conditions, food not only provides the energy for the bird but also has a major role in keeping their body warm. So once the bird chills, the metabolism slows down and of course the food is not processed quickly enough to keep the bird warm – you will see the birds all fluffed up on the perch trying desperately to create their own warmth when in this state the bird will hardly eat and will also stop feeding the young.

The young birds’ metabolism works the same as the parents and to make things even harder for the young, the parents stop sitting on their young at ten days old and at this early stage of their growth they have no feathers not even fluffy down, which they are born without, so once the young chill they no longer call for food – at this stage their metabolism is starting to slow and the body is starting to shut down – even with three or four in the nest there is no warmth transferred amongst the nestlings and the end result could be when you check your nest you may be looking at a nest of very cold young with full crops, if they have in fact got full crops it is obvious that the metabolism has shut down, and you most likely will have lost the full nest.

Watch for future article on how to over come this breeding problem without heating your aviary.

Oct 2013

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