Mandarin and Wood Ducks – Spectacular Waterfowl for the Outdoor Aviary – Part 2

Mandarin Duck PairDucks are certainly not the easiest of birds to establish in one’s collection.  However, some species are, in my opinion, so flamboyantly-colored and interesting that the effort involved in their care is easily over-looked.  Consider, for example, East Asia’s Mandarin Duck (Aix graiculata) or the Wood Duck (Aix sponosa) of Canada and the USA.  Small, hardy, and readily available, they are among the most beautiful of the world’s waterfowl.  Please see Part 1 of this article for information on their natural histories and long associations with people. Read More »

Help…My Macaw Trashes any and all Bird Toys in Minutes!

We all know that highly social, intelligent birds such as parrots do not fare well when bored.  Excessive screaming, feather-plucking, pacing and other harmful behaviors quickly take hold when parrots are kept alone and left without stimulation.  Macaws are especially hard to accommodate – their incredible strength and boundless energy present a real challenge to owners seeking to keep them busy.  A spate of questions on this topic, posed recently by macaw owners, has prompted me to write this article. Read More »

Mandarin and Wood Ducks – Spectacular Waterfowl for the Outdoor Aviary – Part 1

Aviculturists desiring to keep ducks are fortunate in that two of the world’s most brilliantly-colored species, the Mandarin Duck (Aix graiculata) and the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), are small, hardy and have long been bred in captivity.  Despite occupying opposite ends of the globe, their natural histories and captive care are very similar.  While the decision to keep aquatic birds should not be made lightly, either of these little beauties makes an excellent “first duck” for those with the means to provide for them. Read More »

The Red-Billed or African Firefinch – Captive Care and Breeding

Red-billed Fire-FinchAlso known as the Senegal Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala), this spectacular African import is one of the few entirely red-colored birds available to aviculturists.  Northern Cardinals, one of my favorites, are not legal to keep here in the USA…the Red-Billed Firefinch is the only species I’ve found that comes close to matching it’s brilliant plumage.  They are not rare in the wild or captivity, but never lose their appeal – even to lifelong bird keepers, Firefinches always seem “special”.

Range and Habitat

Ranging throughout much of Africa south of the Sahara, Firefinches have adapted well to people…in many developed areas their chirping is among the most familiar of the day’s sounds.  The typical natural habitat is savanna, overgrown scrub and the edges of lightly-wooded areas.

Several related species, some of which are equally as gorgeous as the Red-Billed Firefinch, also occur in Africa, but none are well-established in captivity. Read More »

Bird Extinction Announced – the Alaotra Grebe is Gone Forever – Part 2

Northern Spotted Owl” width=In Part 1 of this article I relayed the sad news that the Alaotra Grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus), a small, fish-eating waterbird once endemic to Madagascar, has joined the ranks of the 130+ birds that have been declared extinct since the year 1500.  Some of the factors that caused its demise, explained in that article, also endanger the other 190 species of birds considered to be threatened with imminent extinction.  Today I’d like to review the status of rare and endangered birds in the USA.   Read More »

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