Friday, November 30, 2012

Bib Scalloping 2

Here is an rough example of well defined scallop lines that have a white looking edge.

Bib Scalloping

I found this Japanese Bengalese quite interesting.
1) Because the Breast Scalloping is fairly wide and defined and
2) Because the lighter rim is quite white.

Something that is a long term idea of mine is to try and develop Bengalese with a bright white (at least quite light) extremely well defined scallop line. This is something that is not available on the Euro Hybrid because their bib is solid

New Benglalese Colour Chart.

JMC is the Bengalese and Lonchura Society in the Netherlands. The UK book "The Bengalese Finch" originates from this group.


These read from left to right;

- Self Chocolate, Self Chestnut, Self Fawn, Black Grey

- Chestnut Grey, Red Grey, Dilute Self Chestnut, Dilute Self Fawn, Dilute Chestnut Grey

- Dilute Red Grey, Chestnut Clearwing, Fawn Clearwing, Chestnut Grey Clearwing, Red (Fawn[Admin]) Grey Clearwing

- Chocolate Pearl, Grey Pearl, Cremino, Grey Ino, Pink-Eyed White (Albino[Admin])

- Pied, Spotted White Headed, White Headed With Cap, White Headed With Eye Markings, Black-Eyed White

- Crested "Bonten", Frizzled With Breast Frills "Chiyoda", Frizzled With Neck Frills and Crest "Chunagon", Frizzled With Breast Frills Neck Frills and Crest "Dianagon"

For all Frilled Bengalese, the "Quotation" comments are the Japanese names as Japan is the origin of these particular Frills.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dural Aviary

Well, I have finally finished off the security door for the aviary so I have now put birds in, and opened up both sides of the aviary now. I am very happy with some of the stock that I have now and the clock is ticking for when we get into a property next year and properly begin my breeding program. But for now things are going well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Egg Fertility 1

There are a few ways to check if eggs that are laid are fertile one of the easiest methods to use, works best when there are some eggs fertile and some not that can be compared against each other. Once you have more of an eye for it it would be easier again.
Basically as an egg reaches maturity leading up to two weeks old an infertile egg which in Australia is often called a "Clear" egg, looks just like that. It has a kind of yellowy translucent look where the fertile eggs look significantly more solid and have a grey/blue tinge.

Above you can see the Three infertile eggs (clear Yellow) across the top and Two fertile eggs (solid grey/blue) across the bottom.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sexing Bengalese 3

In this clip you can hear the Female Bengalese Finch (in the carry box) has a multi-syllable trill distance call and the male (off screen) has a single syllable call. The other sounds in the background are baby Bengalese. This is a good way to tell the difference between a Male and a Female Bengalese Finch (Society Finch) particularly if you have had a group of birds together for a period and they know each other you can separate one and depending on the type of distance call to its friends you can tell if it is a male or female.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another Step Forward for the Self Bengalese

A few weeks back at a meeting at the Finch society of Australia, we had a guest speaker named Bob Barnes come through to speak about rare or extinct Finch and Softbill species Bob is well known in "Bird Circles" and equally respected. I was quite inspired by his words about Bird Keepers efforts to preserve Finch species (especially foreign) in Australia,  it resonated with me, and the concept properly hit home that when some birds in Australia are gone.....then they are gone. Aside from the various exotic species of finch Bob discussed birds like the African Silverbill, Rufus Backed Mannikin and The Javan Munia all of which are in decline in Australia.
Bob came across as very well spoken and I realized that we shared a few friends and he had actually seen my Self Bengalese at a friends place previously where I had some being held. After the meeting I bailed him up again because I could tell he was someone to talk sense with and I was learning a great deal from all of our conversation. It came up that I have this Blog and also get involved with the Aussie Finch Forum (which he frequents) and I was surprised and quite honestly very pleased that he was familiar with my effort to promote the Self Bengalese in Australia. What was most pleasing was that Bob continued to sincerely encourage me in my efforts since he personally agreed that the Self Bengalese is a poorly represented Finch in Australia.
Since this conversation we have spoken a few times and it was not long later that Bob was displaying interest in getting hold of some Self Chocolate Bengalese when they might come available. After this was raised a few times with me, one thing led to another and the concept of developing a breeding program together started to take shape. I have collected a few pairs of Selfs in the last 18 months and do not really have the facility to breed them all so Bob agreed to help and currently we have paired up some Selfs and also some of the Pied Dilute Bengos that I have so that we can develop the colours further.

It's a bloody exciting thing because now following a good season of breeding we will hopefully have a few birds to pick from and put on the show bench next year. Being a Canary and Zebra Finch Exhibitor also, I am learning a lot about showing birds through working with Bob on this and at least for now I have found a local Bird Breeder/Exhibitor that is passionate about the Self Bengalese. Regardless, his help is very much appreciated and it can only be good for our Aussie Self Bengo.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bit of a Disaster

The weekend before last here in Sydney was a stormy one and I didn't think much of it until my friends wife where my new holding aviary is being built messaged me and told me that the Aviary had tipped over.........unfortunately, my friend has been on holidays for a bit and the Aviary was not secured well enough to support against the very heavy winds.

I was a bit heart broken when i got over to their place. But after a bit of man handling the poor old girl straightened up ok.

Needless to say the Aviary received a dozen 400mm tent pegs for good measure. Live and learn.
The only thing of consequence really is the tracking on the doors it a bit average now to say the least so that will need some work when my friend gets back and we can get back into it.

The saga continues....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Moving Forward with Breeding

My posts have been a bit "light on" over the last few months so I have to catch you all up on some things that have been happening.
A good friend of mine has agreed to let me keep an Aviary at his property at Dural so that i can continue to breed and purchase stock for the future. So that is very exciting and at this stage the Aviary that I have bought is almost finished and in the mean time I am keeping my birds in one of his holding flights.  This is my aviary partially finished which is two 1.8m X 1.8m aviaries joined together.
So that is super exciting because now I can actually keep more than just a few birds and take the time to develop some good stock for next year when I will hopefully move into a house with my wife. Good Stuff.

So once that was settled I felt confident in approaching some of my Queensland friends about picking up some Bengalese from them. It was then decided that I would meet up with James and Tim at the Grafton Bird Show at the end of March.

This is the Grafton Hall where the Show was held

Numbers were reported to be half that of the previous years at the Show

Here is James keenly watching over his Bengalese being judged by Steve.

So it was excellent to catch up with Tim and also meet James for the first time. Tim had recently picked up some pairs of Dilute Gingers (Pastels) and he brought me down the birds that he did not want. James also brought me through a good number of his Chocolates and Chestnuts.

Out of James Bengos that he gave me, he gave me one of his show birds (above) straight off the bench on the day which was very nice of him.

Through James we visited a local Bengalese breeder in Grafton. It was very nice to meet Arthur and he had a good number of pied and Self Bengalese.

It was really great to discover another keen Bengalese breeder. Above is one of Arthur's holding flights. I picked up a pair of Chocolate Selfs from Arthur but unfortunately his birds were quite stressed from the drive back and one died the next day. It was a real shame because his Bengos are very good.
All in All it was an excellent weekend. 

So here is a picture of my happy family at Dural...

From the pictures above and below you can clearly see the difference in size when comparing a Sydney Show Pied and a Show Self Bengalese. They are not the best pics to describe Type but certainly show the larger size of head and general bulk and size of the Sydney Pied. You can see here how much work needs to be done to bring the Self Bengalese up to the same level.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sprouting Seed

I have been sprouting seed to give to my Bengalese for some time now and I have great success with it. Sprouted seed significantly increases the nutritional value of dry seed and is excellent for rearing young chicks.

At my house I have not had much room to store large amounts of sprouted seed in the freezer but I have developed a simple method to keeping a small container of sprouted seed in the freezer at all times. I will try and describe how to use my particular method but honestly once you do it a few times you will find that it is not that hard to make your own variation of things.
With my sprouted seed I use French White Millet because I was advised by a few people that it gives the best results. With a finch mix the different seeds can sprout at different times which makes it harder to get it right and also from what I understand Canary seed that is usually in a standard finch mix can go rancid easily.

What do you need?

- 3 large takeaway containers (identical is best)
- 1 Teaspoon of Avi-clens (or any other avicultural water cleanser/disinfectant like Virkon-S)
- 3/4 of one of the takeaway containers worth of French White Millet
- Plastic shopping bag (optional) 
- Think of a warm (not Hot) place to put the mixture if possible
- Access to water.

The biggest key here is to get hold of seed that will sprout. Generally speaking anything that has been harvested in Australia will be fine but seed that has come from outside of Australia must be radiated to come into the country and this renders the seed sterile and not sprout-able.

To start with I take one of the large takeaway containers and poke heaps of holes in the bottom (you cannot have too many holes here) either with a metal skewer or similar. If you are handy then small holes can be drilled as long as the seed cannot fall through . This will act as like a sieve to drain the water out. This is the only "prep" you really need to do.

Place your sieve container into one of the other containers so you have the sieve on top of the other. Put your seed into the containers. 

Fill the container assembly with water and be sure that this covers all the seed well.
Put in the teaspoon of Avi-clens and mix well. Using this kind of product will kill any bacteria that may be present in the seed and will help to prevent the mix going rancid and making the birds sick.

It is common to find articles and webpages suggesting to use bleach as a means to cleanse the mix however all of my fellow finch friends (and Vets) suggest that this while being "relatively" safe is not the best because it is essentially a poison that can potentially harm the birds and must be carefully cleaned thoroughly for the birds consumption. The other products mentioned like Avi-clens or Virkon-S are designed specifically for birds and can also be introduced into drinking water to kill the bacterial content so it is completely safe.

Let the mix sit for around two to three hours.

Then lift out the sieve container draining out the water and leave to continue draining for a few minutes (you may notice that the seed has swelled a bit). After this tip out the water that was in the bottom container and put the sieve with the seed back into it.

Now you can either put the lid for the container on here or what I do is put the container without the top inside of a plastic shopping bag, it is up to you. I put this in a warm place, my spot is under the kitchen bench cupboard with the water heater and I have heard of others putting it on top of a full size one. This just helps to accelerate the process a bit but is not necessary in getting results. You then leave the seed to sprout for around 24-36 hours depending on the temperature. I check the seed every 6 hours or so to make sure that it is not drying out too much. I give the seed a bit of a mix and look for a moist glistening on the seed. You may need to rinse the seed periodically if it is drying out.
When the seed starts to sprout (roughly after the 24 hour point) you will be able to tell because since the first swelling of the seed when it was soaked it will fill up the container even more when it begins to sprout.
The optimum amount that you should let your seed sprout to is when the sprout that comes off is protruding 1-2 millimeters from the seed after this amount the seed begins to loose the nutritional value. Some of the seed will have longer sprouts but you want to see that generally throughout the seed it is all sprouting at about 1-2 millimeters. Be aware of the smell of the seed throughout the process it usually has a pleasant nutty smell. I am told that you can smell if the seed has gone off or rancid but fortunately I have not had this problem myself.

Then the last thing is that you need to put the seed into the 3rd takeaway container to be put into the freezer. If the seed is fairly dry and not wet you can put the seed straight into the container and into the freezer but if you think it is too wet then you can lay the seed out on some absorbent towel and let dry for a while. Usually you will be fine and I often revisit the seed after it has frozen properly and break it up nicely so that it can be spooned out easily later on.

Here are some images to help describe my sprouted mix for my Bengalese. As I have mentioned before I have not had much luck in getting my finches to take some of the softfoods on the market so to introduce some protein for them I have used lentils. Lentils generally have around 25-28% protein which is good when compared to some of the soft foods on the market that can be around the 30-35% mark. I will either sprout the lentils to develop more nutrients in the bean or simply soak it for a few hours so that it can be used easily by the birds. I will keep a container of this mix in the freezer at all times. Care must be taken in drying out the seed and particularly the chopped lentils before freezing so that the mix does not become an unusable BLOCK once it is frozen. The mix of French White Millet and Lentils is the base of what I usually give my birds and often I will also mix in some tonic seeds or greens and grains or chopped Broccoli into the mix once defrosted.
Please take this method with your discretion, everyone has different ideas about feeding birds and people are free to make up their own mind and apply the things that relate most to them.

The optimum point for sprouted millet where the nutritional value is at its highest is when the sprout is only one millimeter long.

I use a similar perspective for the lentils

You can Chop the lentils by hand or put them in a blender depending on how much you are doing. After this it is good to let the chopped lentils stand in a warm area for a while to help dry it out a bit. I actually put it on a tray and into the oven on the lowest setting and mix the lentils around every 5-10 minutes. This helps the mix to separate once frozen.

This is the mix at a 50:50 ratio.

The mix in a container.

I find my birds love this, but aside from my kookie lentils idea, it is very commonly accepted that using sprouted French White Millet is an excellent alternative to harvested green seed or milk seed for Finches. They Will Love It!



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sexing Bengalese 2

People employ some different methods for sexing Bengalese.  I believe the only way to be sure you have a Cockbird is to see it crow and through a process of elimination you will be hopefully be left with your Hens. This takes time and I know that when people must try and sex Bengalese immediately, like at a bird dealer they often use the method where the underside of the lower mandible is sharp and pointed like an upside down v for a hen and in comparison to the cock that presents more of a rounded point like an upside down u. See picture below

This is the best example that I could find from a half dozen of my Self Bengalese at the time and I have to say that the others were not so obvious. So again the most reliable method to sex your Bengalese, ecpecially at home is to watch for the crowing cockbird.

Another method used by Breeders in Australia and Overseas is shown bellow. Hold gently and let your  Bengalese dangle by its neck (best try indoors first) between your fingers, this does not hurt the bird as long as you are not squeezing it. With this method the male's tail will point straight down and the female's will be kicked back slightly. From what I have been told this is a less reliable method with younger birds especially under 9 months to a year old.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Australian Bengalese Breeders Society

Well I am extremely happy to announce that a small group of ex members of the Bengalese Breeders Society (BBS) have bended together to start an Australian Bengalese Fanciers Club again. It is going to be primarily an online Club or Community to begin with so that we can formally gather our Australian Bengalese Finch fanciers together in a formal way and hopefully in time we can have a physical group also. To follow on from the origional club, the group is named The Australian Bengalese Breeders Society.

Please help support the club and join. You will find a few interactive elements including a forum where you can share ideas and learn from fellow bengalese breeders.

Here is the Link to the Page

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sexing Bengalese

Well the time has come, I have held off for long enough!

I thought that I would discuss one of the more fundamental topics in breeding and keeping Bengalese and that is the Sexing of them. Bengalese Finches as with all of the Lonchura family of Nuns and Munias are  Monomorphic which means that there are no obvious distinguishing physical features between the male and female.

As mentioned, there are little differences between male and female Bengalese and some breeders use different methods to sex their finches. I will post some of the methods over the time but for now I will discuss the best and most trustworthy methods that I believe there are for sexing Bengos.

First and foremost, a Cockbird Sings (or Crows).
It is believed that when the Bengalese are newly fledged, then both Cockbird and Henbird (Male and Female) can make a song of sorts but as adult birds it is almost unheard-of  to have anything other than a Cock Sing (Singing Male to the right).

Here is a video of a Male Euro Black/Brown Self Bengalese singing or what I call "Doing the Duckie Dance", I say that affectionately because they extend there neck and puff up their bodies like a duck! :-)  ( you can also hear Zebra Finches in the background)

Unfortunately there is no easy way to sex them this way and generally involves a degree of patience and observation.
If doing things casually then any time you are viewing your Bengalese, keep an eye out for one of your birds Singing. If a Bengo is never seen to sing then it may be a Hen but be aware that Cockbirds can be intimidated by dominant males in the Aviary and not freely sing because of that. If you find one that sings then it is best to mark the bird with a split leg ring so that you can distinguish it. In a group of birds one of my friends uses a water pistol to "Mark" a bird so that it can be caught up and rung. Some breeders use just an "any coloured ring" for a Male and the Female has no ring. The only problem with not ringing a Female is that when there is a mixed group of Bengaese in a Aviary, the Hens will not be distinguishable from the young finches that are there and get mixed up. Considering that you can not be 100% sure about a Hen until it actually lays some eggs or vibrates its tail, then it is some times best to wait for them to do this before ringing. If you ring both Males and Females then you can decide on your own colour standard, something like Blue for Males and Pink for Females.
In the case of smaller groups of birds such as a few pairs, then quite often since there are subtle differences in our Bengalese we may be familiar enough with our particular birds to recognize the bird again after seeing it sing but another way to help to do this is by ringing every finch a different colour. Then in a note book, recording your findings as you see one crow (Male) and/or you have a clutch of eggs and young (Female).

To try and purposely get the males to sing then a few things can be done;

- Stand well back when observing
- Place the birds in cages singularly (one to a cage) and keep swapping the cages around
- Cocks housed together causes others to sing
- Put a/some Hens in a cage and introduce a the bird that is unknown sex, this should stimulate a Cock to display.

Hens do display a courtship dance by quickly flickering their tail up and down in a vibrating way. This is a reliable way of sexing a Hen but from what I have experienced She does not perform this display indiscriminately (and not often) to any Cock that is interested (like the singing Cockbird towards Hens) but will only do this with a Cock that she sees as an actual Mate (paired with) and this display is an actual invitation for the paired Cockbird to mate with her. To put a rough number to it I think that every time I saw a Hen of mine flicker her tail it was only to the same Cockbird and this Male would "always" try and mate with her. Hens will vibrate their tails after 4 months.

Here is a video below of an example of a female vibrating her tail before mating (the birds singing in this video are not Bengalese song).

I will post some more sexing methods in the future but I thought it important to start here. Unfortunately with Bengalese they are a bit more tricky to sex than Finches like the Zebra Finch but I believe they are well worth the effort!!


Grey Self Bengalese 3

I still come across some nice photos of the Grey Mutation.
Grey is not a colour in itself but a colour modifier like the Dilute factor in Bengalese is a modifier, meaning that the Grey factor modifies existing colours such as Chocolate, Chestnut and Ginger by removing all of the Red/Brown pigment from the plumage, leaving only the Black/Grey elements.

Also in overseas Bengos like the Black/Brown Euro when affected by the Grey Factor becomes Black/Grey (right).

Just like the Dilute factor is available to us here in Australia, I also believe that the Grey Factor is available here in Australia, it simply has not been consciously developed.

I have Chocolates in my collection that display varying degrees of Red/Brown in there plumage and one in particular appears to me to look a bit washed out.

I would hope that through some selective breeding to remove the Red/Brown in a Bengalese we can achive this Grey Mutation here in Australia.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chocolate Self Bengo 2

I have come across one of the best photos that I have seen so far that depicts what an ideal Australian Self Chocolate would look like. These Bengalese in the picture are not Euros but the "Pure" type Bengo like we have in Oz. The bird on the left shows good bib scolloping on the chest and in particular excellent underbelly markings and this is the kind of thing that we should be striving for as a minimum in my opinion. If we the breeders of Benglaese in Australia can take the time to pair up our birds purposefully then we can hopefully raise the general standard of markings in our Bengos through selective breeding over time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pastel Discovered

I have been sent through some images from a member of the Aussie Finch Forum of a Pastel (or Dilute Ginger). Jason says that he bred this bird from a pair of Ginger Bengalese, which adds to the theory that the Pastel is recessive to all colours. The Gingers that reared this bird must have been split for Pastel to produce this one. I guess since these guys have been around in the past so the colour can still be present in birds split for it and show up randomly.
This Bengo from what my friend Tim tells me presents as a pied bird because of the white at the top of the bib (under the beak) and on the top of the head.

The image bellow confirms why the Pastel has been compared with the clearwing because the white on the body (wings and belly) is not showing pied but is normal for this dilution. I have read that this particular Pastel dilute factor can be selectively bred to develop a more solid coloured areas but preserve the white body like the Clearwings overseas.

A very nice Bengalese in my opinion and looks significantly different to the standard appearance of our Bengo in Australia which is something to preserve I think.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Silver (Dilute Chestnut) Self Bengalese

One of the more elusive colours today is the Silver or the Dilute Chestnut. As with the Pastel even 10 years ago it was a much less common Bengalese Finch in Australia and due to the decline in interest in the Selfs over the years since I am yet to see one or hear of anyone keeping them.
As the name suggests the colour is a Chestnut with a dilute factor but in particular the Bengalese that goes by the name Silver has a distinctive look of a smokey cream looking colour with a darkening to tan at the face.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dark Eyed White Self

I've been meaning to write about the White Self for a while now and have finally gotten around to it. My attached pictures are of Australian Bengalese and were supplied by my friend James in Queensland.

I will begin with the dark eyed White which can be described as a pied Bengalese with one big white patch that covers the whole body. These White Selfs have their natural non pied colour still present in their DNA and is simply concealed by the pied marking that covers it. This kind of White has dark eyes which helps you to think of it as a fully pied bird,  the colour of the eye will help to show what the natural colour of the bird is underneath. The White Bengalese has both dominant and recessive pied factors present and it is best practice to breed a white to a light pied (lightly variegated) for best results. It has been said that breeding a full white to another full white can increase the likeliness of blindness in the future. When showing these finches, other than size and type that are a standard consideration, the White Self birds can sometimes have poor feather coverage at the bend of the wing and at the ear. One or both points are noticeable on the pictures in this post. This feature also gets worse as fully white birds are mated together, so to overcome this feature then they should be paired with lightly variegated birds that have good feather coverage in these areas.
The Dark Eyed White Self Bengalese is probably the most known Self in Australia and through my inquiries unfortunately tends to have more value to some bird dealers that I have spoken with when compared to a Self Coloured Bengalese such as the Chocolate or Chestnut. In truth, it is probably just as hard if not harder to produce a Coloured Self Bengalese than the Dark Eyed White due to the dominant nature of the white or pied factor, and in coloured birds this white factor is very difficult to remove.

Other Australian Bengalese that can be called White Selfs are the Albino and also the Cremino, both have red eyes.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Selfs

A few weekends ago I picked up some new Selfs from my friend Bruce and they are very nice. Bruces bloodline of Selfs dates back to the 60's when they were more common. Thankfully he still has an attraction to breeding and showing these lovely birds and is one of the few that do. I have had my Queensland Selfs since September and have been patiently waiting to pick up some of Bruce's excess finches since then. Bruce has Gingers and Chocolates and does not have any Chestnut Mutation in his finches bloodline to my knowledge.

These Selfs are very nice and have quite stocky bodies and good head size.

I'm happy to have some more Selfs now. 
In my small aviary it is starting to get a bit cramped. I am going to move into a house in the next year and I am looking forward to having some decent sized aviaries and even a bird room, so looking forward I am going to try and develop some more stock and I am going to move my current collection of Aussie Bengos to my families aviary. That way I can still pick up a few more Selfs as I find them and will have a decent starting point of stock numbers when I move into more space.