My First Season
by Randie Boardman

First published in the Pacific American Singer newsletter, volume 6, number 3, July 1999.

Wow!! Breeding canaries. Playing God, as Gary puts it, is anincredible experience for me. As most of you know, this is my firstyear of breeding canaries, or anything else for that matter. I havehad more fun breeding these wonderful little birds. It was, and stillis, a great learning experience for me that I want to share it withall of you.

In January, right when I was getting my birds conditioned, wemoved. Those poor birds, got jostled, jiggled, bumped around, movedfrom place to place until I could get a makeshift area for them to dotheir thing. As soon as I got them set up, they went at it likebanshees!! Holy mackerel, they were laying eggs like crazy!!! I wassooo excited, I was going to be having baby canaries!!! I couldhardly wait the 14 days for the first batch to hatch. Well, the dayfinally came and I was really hoping to see some chicks actuallyhatch out of the egg, but that never happened. I was also hoping tosee the parents do the "Hokey Pokey" thing too, but that didn'thappen either. Oh well, I got babies coming!! As the chicks startedto hatch, I was finding that I was getting a lot of clear eggs. Notsure why, and I didn't do any candling (I was afraid to touch theeggs!!! Silly me!). So I didn't get as many birds as I had hoped. Ihad one hen who laid 7 eggs!!! I was really freaking out over what todo when they all hatched. But only 1 hatched (whew!) and lived to be7 weeks old before it died. Thankfully, that was my only fatality. Itwas fine when I checked the birds in the morning, came back an hourlater to feed, and it was dead. Oh, I have to tell you, one of thedaddy birds was sooo cute. When the hen would get off the nest, hewould climb in and sit on the eggs!! I didn't think the males woulddo that. He looked quite awkward too, but stayed until she came back.What a nice guy!

Another hen really put me through the paces. She was really readyto breed, so I set her up with the male, gave her a nice nest, (thewhite plastic ones) material, the works, only to watch her build thenest, then tear it up, build the nest, then tear it up. This kept upfor 4 days, so I changed the color of the felt pad, no luck, shedidn't like it. I gave her a different type of nesting material, shedidn't like that either. Change the location of the cage, still noluck. I was at a loss, I didn't now what to do with her. While I wasat the pet store, I picked up one of those wicker nests, wondering ifthis would do the trick. Gave it to her that same day, and BINGO!!!It worked!! She had her nest built in no time and gave me 3 beautifulchicks out of 4 eggs. FINALLY!! But she's still a brat bird. When Iput her up for the 2nd batch, after her vacation in the flight cage,I let her keep the wicker nest. This time she made the nest, sat init, but laid 6 eggs off the perch!!! What's up with that???!!!! Whatdo you want this time, you brat!!!! Well, I give up, and back to theflight cage she goes only to pick a seed cup to nest in!! Okay, BratBird, we'll try this again. Back to the breeding cage and the wickernest. This time she lays 2 eggs, sits on them for about 4 days, andalong comes my 4-year-old son. He climbs over the gate, opens up thecage that Brat Bird is in and breaks her eggs (sigh). He brings methese broken eggs and tells me he wanted to show me that the bird hadlaid eggs. Gee thanks, Chris. What next!!

Well, now we're into June and I have chicks coming out my ears!!!Out of the first batch of chicks, 3 of them are trying to sing andbadly I must say!!! I sure hope they learn how to carry a tune!!! Sohere I sit and watching my babies playing and singing in the flightcage. I had to order another flight cage to house all these birds theother day. These hens are maniacs!!! They won't stop!!! HELP!!!Someone tell me where the "off" switch is!!!!

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