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Penny W

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About Penny W

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  1. Hen is a Dean Moores lightback, cock from Jim Whitty in Dorchester Not sure about the show - I have no decent pairs!
  2. 0-170 in less than 2 years!

    If anyone had mentioned bird keeping to me 2 years ago I would have been surprised, it was not something I had ever considered. However, my partner had previously kept budgies and had a hankering to get back into the hobby. He took a sly approach by taking me to Stafford in October 2015 and buying me half a dozen zebra finches for my birthday the following week! - a cunning ploy! Anyway I embraced the hobby but never really thought that I would get too involved. I remember Emmy commenting on one of my earliest blogs that 6 zebras will soon become more! How right she was! Advance the clock 22 months and yesterday I caught up all my birds to list them and count them all. The grand total 169!! (that does not include Steve's 90 budgies and the 8 quail!)10 varieties of finch. Some of which I have had successes with, some of which are proving to be a challenge! I have 80 zebras but my breeding results have not been good at all, lots of normal cocks and one normal hen, good lightback cocks but no matching hens. I have done quite well with penguins but would struggle to find a show pair. Fortunately I will be on holiday for the ZFS show in September so I won't hunt around for a few pairs to show, I will try and support our local CBS show in October though. I have sorted out my potential breeding team for next year so have birds to go - but not matching pairs as I don't have any! I made a decision earlier this year that I was not going to keep CFWs so have been a bit annoyed that my lightback pair have given me 3 CFW hens! They are nice birds though so I should be able to sell them at Stafford this October.
  3. Surprises - nice and not so nice

    Well, I have now actually bred a reasonable number of hen zebras. Unfortunately so far I have no normal hens, so my about 20 normal cocks will have no part in my show team for current year bred birds (if I decide to show at all). I have lots of lightback hens, and one lightback cock, several fawn hens and only one fawn cock. The only variety I have pairs of are penguins - I have lots of them!. My best, most prolific pair from last year have not repeated their success this year. The first round - 2 chicks, both thrown from nest, second round 3 chicks, 2 thrown from nest and 3rd removed and fostered with the lightbacks, 3rd and final round, just 2 chicks again, all was going well for 4 days then today one dead chick - empty crop so I have removed the other chick and put in a box with some similar age normal. My other finches are doing well, I have now bred 11 gouldians, about 15 hecks, and eventually some Timors. This week I had a nest of cherry finches fledge, and yesterday we spotted 2 young chicks that we were not sure of. I wasn't aware of any other nests. After close watching we realised that the star finches were shadowing these young chicks and feeding them, I hadn't realised they even had eggs! Also this week we have had a nest of diamond firetails hatch - not counting my chickens (or firetails) yet, I've never had a firertail fledge before! The chick that was brought up by the silverbills that I mentioned in my last entry has a bib like a hecks but its beak has never gone orange but has stayed grey. Maybe it is a hybrid? One of the silverbills has died (never knew which was the hen and which was the cock).their adoptive chick is devoted to the remaining silverbill and follows it around everywhere, it is very sweet to see!
  4. It's been a while...

    I have been very slow to update this blog - not found time to visit the site for a while. My breeding seems to be improving - I have actually bred some hens now!! (Still have an excess of cocks though). I have rung my first round of Timors too - there were 4 originally but I am left with 2, I have another nest of Timor chicks a few days old and a nest of Timor eggs too. With my zebras I am doing well with Penguins, I have a few fawn penguin hens so I'm tryong to work out how to get a fawn penguin cock. My thought is that if I put a fawn penguin hen with a fawn cock who is split penguin I might get a fawn penguin cock, the other way I thought of would be to put a fawn penguin hen with a pure fawn cock, then at a later date put any cocks from that pairing (should be visual fawn but split penguin) with fawn penguin hens. I think that is right. My other finches are doing quite well, I am breeding hecks grassfinches at a great rate, I also have just had a nest of 5 gouldians fledge, I have 2 other nests of gouldian chicks - one of 3, one of 4. They are only days old so I am well aware that it can all go wrong. I currently have a nest with 3 chicks in it - hatched 2-3 days ago. I have no idea what breed they are I have never seen anyone going in and out of the box - but the chicks are being fed. I shall have to wait and see! I had a pair of silverbills who raised a chick, it is only now, 2 months on, that I realise that the chick is a grassfinch, not a silverbill at all, they were duped!
  5. I have 16 cocks to 2 hens so far!
  6. I have bred some lovely zebras this year, the problem is only 2 of them are hens! The 2 hens are fawns, the cocks are normal and penguin so it looks like I won't have any current year pairs to show. I've just put some more pairs down so fingers crossed ....... I have had a frustrating time with some of my other finches too. I have one pair of Hecks who have had 2 rounds, each round they have fed the babies until they have feathers, then they stop feeding them and the babies die. They currently have 6 eggs so I have taken some of them away and put them under Bengalese. I don't want to foster but I thought I didn't want to watch 6 babies starve to death! I have a pair of diamond firetails, the first round they abandoned the nest a few days before the eggs were due to hatch. The second round I took 2 eggs and put them under a young pair of Bengalese and left 2 eggs with them. They abandoned the nest again so their two eggs didn't hatch, the first one that hatched under the Bengalese seemed to take them by surprise and they didn't feed it, the second one they looked after beautifully - until 2 weeks old when I removed the dummy eggs that were still in the nest which obviously upset them and they abandoned the poor chick. (Lesson learnt - don't change anything in the nest.) My pair of cherry finches hatched 4 and fed none, my timors laid eggs and sat on them for a while, but it obviously got boring so another abandoned nest. I did manage to get a clutch of gouldians to 7 weeks old before one died, and then another died a few weeks later (no idea why). I have another nest with 2 gouldian chicks, now 18 days old but today when I checked the box, one was dead with an empty crop, the other appears to still be being fed. I am also trying to breed some more Bengalese but they don't seem to want to lay eggs - maybe I have sexed them wrong and I have all cocks! My masked grassfinches and owl finches have never laid either. I'm hoping the masked grassfinches might breed in the summer outside in the flight. Here's hoping for a more positive next update to this blog!
  7. Stafford

    Steve and I booked a table for todays Stafford sale, Steve had some budgies to shift, I sorted out some Zebs to go. I put pics of them on one of the Facebook finch sites and sold all but one pair before today! I found another pair of Zebs and decided to shift 3 of my Timor pairs - as my other 2 pairs now have eggs. I also had some spare Bengalese to go. I had also pre-sold 2 hecks grassfinches but the buyer didn't show - isn't that annoying? We travelled up yesterday afternoon and stayed in the Holiday Inn just off the M6. We set up this morning - the table wasn't really big enough for all our cages but we made do! We sold most of what we brought and managed - in a very restrained manner - NOT to buy any new birds!! My Zebra breeding season has been a bit slow, but over the past few days I have had a nest of 7 penguins hatch, also nests of 4 and 5. Previously most of my clutches had only successfully reared 1 or 2! I had one pair of normals who, when the chicks were very young Mum plucked all the feathers off Dad's face! Poor thing looks very odd!. I removed Mum (I thought that if I removed Dad there was a risk of Mum plucking the chicks). Dad has done a fantastic job and this afternoon, when we got back from Stafford I found all his chicks out of the nest looking very good. Here's hoping all goes well - I need Timor chicks, I bought 20 Timor sized rings!
  8. I have acquired some Timors as a bit of a challenge, I have been looking to see if there is a show standard so I know what to aim for with my breeding. I am aware that they will readily hybridize with regular zebs so am keeping them separate. I have searched the internet but cannot find any standard specification
  9. 3 weeks later

    I spoke too soon saying I was having a good run on chicks, I had rung 9 zebra chicks when my ZFS rings arrived, 3 have since died and other nests which have hatched have not been fed, or have been thrown out of the nest, I do have one nest with 2 chicks, one I rung last week as he was plenty big enough, the other obviously is not getting enough food - enough to keep alive but not enough to grow - it is tiny, I'm not sure if it will survive. My other finches are doing slightly better - the 4 gouldian chicks are being brought up well by their parents, I have 3 fledged hecks with nests of both cherries and hecks eggs. I tried fostering some star finch eggs under a pair of Bengalese, I'm not really sure what to expect as the Bengalese started laying on top of the star eggs. I have fertile eggs in there - are they stars or bengies?? I have to wait and see.
  10. Exciting times

    I seem to be having a good run on chicks at the moment, I have a nest of zebras starting to hatch today, I now have 4 Hecks chicks and best of all, my nest of gouldian eggs started hatching today, I know that gouldians are not renowned for being good parents so I hope they will raise their young. I have some Bengalese, but none ready to use as foster parents yet, I spent a long time yesterday trying to sex my Bengalese - but gave up! The star finches have started laying again, I hope they see it through this time rather than abandon the nest. I bought a pair of cherry finches today - we now have 13 types of bird between us, 11 different finches, budgies and quails, to think that I started with 6 zebras! 18 months ago we had no birds at all!
  11. Sadly all the star finch chicks died, not fed by the zebras
  12. New Year, new chicks

    Having paired up in early December we went on our Christmas sunshine holiday leaving the birds in the charge of my stepson. When we left I had 21 fertile zebra eggs, I also had a nest of Hecks eggs and my star finches had just started to lay. I awaited my return from holiday - and my ZFS rings - with anticipation. We got back on Thursday afternoon and, after a much needed cuppa headed out to the bird house to see what was going on. There had been quite a lot of clear eggs and chicks not being fed but I had 9 zebra chicks, one nest of 4, one of 2 and 3 singletons. They were getting quite big so I was glad to see my rings arrive on Friday - 8 chicks were rung then and the 9th was big enough today. As well as zebra chicks I had 1 Hecks chick and 5 good star finch eggs. I spent the weekend doing a good clean up of the flights etc as my stepson does food and water but isn't so hot on the mucking out! I don't clean out breeding cages while birds are sitting so didn't go near my star finches but something appeared to have disturbed them as all the time I was in there they were staying out of the nest box. By the evening the eggs were quite cool so I decided to swap them with a nest of clear zebra eggs. By the next morning the zebra eggs with the star finches were stone cold indicating that the stars were still not sitting, the star eggs were lovely and warm. Yesterday afternoon one of the star finches hatched, the question was, will the zebras feed it?? By this morning it was dead and another had hatched, by tonight another had hatched and the one that hatched overnight was still alive - were they feeding it?? I guess tomorrow morning will tell. I now have some fertile gouldian eggs and 2 more nests of Hecks eggs, my silver bills have also laid but I think their eggs are clear. I'm looking forward to seeing how I do with the other finches, although they seem to give more challenges than zebras. I bred some Bengalese at the end of last year so next winter breading season I will put down some pairs as possible fosters although I would like birds to be parent reared if possible. Time will tell.
  13. Thinking about next year

    Well, I paid my subs for the ZFS again and have ordered my rings ready for January, so now it's time to think about who will produce my youngsters! I spent last week sorting out all my stock, I have a few youngsters that were born in July, August and September so I returned them to their respective flights. I then sorted the cocks and hens into 'mine' and those bought in. This weekend I sorted out all my breeding cages while observing my birds to decide who should pair with who (referencing my book to ensure I didn't go for close relatives - thank goodness for records!) By last night I had 13 pairs of zebras down, also 2 pairs of Hecks and 1 pair of star finches. Up until now the only finch other than zebras that I have successfully managed to breed are Bengalese so I await results - the star finches and one pair of hecks are proven pairs who have bred before (for someone else). I have increased my finch collection with some Timors - so have had to order some smaller rings! We are planning to put one or 2 pairs down but the trouble is we don't know how old they are - we were told they are this years birds so may be too young. We are planning on putting some nest boxes around in the 'foreign' flight to see whether some of them may breed in that environment. We visited an amazing set up on Saturday (featured in an August edition of Cage and Aviary) which has got us wondering if we can enclose and insulate our outside flight so they can have the space all winter. Watch this space!! We have decided to put a conservatory on the back of our house so we can sit and watch the birds in all weathers which will be nice. Its amazing to think that I only got my fist birds just 14 months ago, I now have probably about 130 representing 10 different species! Oops - my hobby is taking over!
  14. Show time

    I decided I ought to take my birds to a show, to see how they compare so entered a few pairs into the ZFS show in Barry last month. I didn't win anything but my normal were placed in a large class which was nice for me. My lightbacks were my best pair in my eyes - but there were only 2 in that class so coming second didn't really tell me whether they are good or not (the pair that came first went on to win one of the top prizes). This weekend it was our local bird club show so Steve and I entered birds, Steve entered 7 budgies, I entered 8 pairs of zebras and 6 Australian finches. A very successful outing, all my birds were placed - except for the lightbacks who were 'wrong classed' as silvers (which they are not!). I admit none of the classes were particularly big - there were 9 entries in the gouldian class so it was very pleasing to come first in that. I came away with prize money, a trophy and 5 rosettes! A good day out. I spent a nice day yesterday cleaning out all my breeding cages as nearly all the birds are in the big flights now getting fit and ready for the breeding season. I just have 1 nest of zebras, 3 nests of Bengalese, one pair of Hecks and 1 pair of firetails with eggs at the moment. The Bengies are just starting to hatch - I wait and see whether the others have good eggs or not. The Hecks have not built their nest in the nest box but under the little table that I put their food on so there is no way of checking them without major disruption! I spotted at least 2 eggs a week ago when they both came out to feed. I will have to listen out for chicks! (not sure if I will be able to get them to ring them).
  15. All change!

    I keep my hen and cock zebras in separate flights. So far it is has been the hens, and the foreigns having access to the outside flight. Today it was time for a swap. the flight cages are designed so this swap can be done without having to catch all the birds so it was just a case of encouraging the hens into one long flight cage and the cocks into another then opening different doors and voila - their accommodation is swapped over. It didn't take the cocks long to realise they could go out into the fresh air which they seemed to really enjoy - and they put themselves to bed when it got dark, I didn't have to chase them back in like I do the hens. The widowed hen has worked out that it is her who needs to feed the chicks so they seem to be doing OK. They won't go into the nest box but as it is not cold I'm not too bothered by that