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I had a dominant pair, the cock being slightly larger than the hen. The two of them would bow and scrape to each other making little squeaks and for the most part being very friendly, although on occasions even these two would squabble.


I was fairly confident I had a breeding


pair, so gave them an aviary to themselves approximately 16ft x 5ft covered except for the end which is open to the elements and faces east. Two nest boxes were provided one open fronted and the other a Parakeet type with bob hole – this one was put in at a slight angle and was the one they chose to lay their first clutch of three eggs in, in late May. Dried grasses, evergreen leaves, moss and feathers were used to build the nest.


I feed them on standard softbill food, pellets of various types and flavours, chopped fruit, sweetcorn, wax moth larvae and mealworms. For some reason they do not appear to be very interested in crickets which surprised me. All three eggs hatched, but how long incubation had taken I could not be certain since the young were very quiet in the nest, but you knew something was happening by the constant coming and going of the parents.


Upon inspection I found three very small chicks so increased the feed to three or four hour intervals for the first week using mini mealworms to start


40 BIRD SCENE


with and later added wax moth larvae. After about ten days the parents were observed picking up nesting material, particularly feathers and from previous experience this was an ominous sign of something going wrong, the parents wanting to nest again!! I checked the box and could find only one healthy youngster, about ten days old, the others had just disappeared. They may have been covered by the fresh nesting material or just thrown out of the nest box. At this time we were experiencing an unusually prolonged spell of really hot weather and this, together with a plentiful supply of live food may have been the spur to produce again, before finishing the first clutch. I decided to be positive and took the remaining youngster away for hand rearing which we successfully achieved using a hospital cage with low heat, the youngster being placed in a plastic tub with paper towels on the bottom to give grip and part cloth covering to replicate the darkness of nest box conditions. Feeding by syringe and tweezers every 3-4 hours with the last feed about 10.00pm and starting again at 6.00am – not a particularly good regime for those who still have to work I might add. All went well, the youngster got used to the routine after the first 2 or 3 reluctant efforts and was always very excited at the sight of a wax worm. In addition mini mealworms and Orlux hand mix


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