Joining together individuals who share a common interest in breeding Carduelan species in captivity
THE VENEZUELAN BLACK HOODED RED SISKIN
THE SUCCESS STORY OF THE RED SISKIN MAN OF LAS PALMAS, CANARY ISLANDS
All Rights Reserved By: G. A. Abbate, Sr.
P.O. Box 122, Elizabeth, NJ 07207-0122
The Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskin has
been in demand for more than half a century. Perhaps even more so today than when it was
crossed with a canary to produce a red factor canary. Furthermore, every red factor color
breeder throughout the entire world has or would like to have one or more Venezuelan Black
hooded Red Siskin. In fact, the demand for this species is greater than any other species
of birds amongst color breeders.
The Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskin can be bred and produced in captivity very easily. Just as any good bird fancier breeds canaries, so can red siskins be produced. The only thing required is a captive bred breeding pair, a good healthy environment, practical maintenance, and most of all a good balanced diet. In addition, you will need to be dedicated and implement lots of common sense. If there were no government regulations in the U.S. it would of course help the situation as well. For example, if a bird fancier in New Jersey wants to keep a red siskin he must pay $35.00 to the State of New Jersey for a permit, plus is subject to inspection and God knows what else. Also, if a fancier from New Jersey wants to acquire a red siskin from a fancier in the State of New York, both fanciers must have a federal permit as well as a state permit. I dont know what the cost of that would be. So, as a result of this, the law abiding bird fancier doesnt even bother to go through all this nonsense! Thus, fewer siskins are bred in North America! Ironically, no imported birds were allowed to enter Australia for several decades. Yet there are no governing laws regarding breeding, etc., of the species within Australia. Siskins and other rare species of birds have been bred in captivity throughout Australia very effectively, including the Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskin. By talking to several fanciers throughout Australia, as I understand it, there were just a couple of pairs which have been brought in several decades ago. Now there are many many red siskins throughout Australia which have been bred by serious and dedicated fanciers and the same are abundantly propagating. Furthermore, throughout every country in Europe and especially Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, etc., the red siskins are bred by the thousands without any confusing and annoying government regulations whatsoever. In North America if a bird fancier could freely acquire breeding stock of red siskins from other breeders without government interference we could enjoy the same flourishing breeding activity. In fact, there are many many fanciers that breed red siskins in secret, because they dont want to go through government bureaucracy and the requirements mentioned previously.
Approximately seven years ago a fellow fancier
and friend from Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Carlos D. Suarez Rodriguez, went to the
mainland of Europe and bought three pairs of red siskins. In November, 1990, during my
visit he had in his possession approximately 600 healthy, colorful, large size beautiful
Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskins out of those three original pairs. And believe it or
not, out of those 600, roughly 300 youngsters were produced in his birdroom in 1990.
Furthermore, in the same year Carlos produced nearly 600 baby siskins.
Spacious all wire cages were situated in the
center of the room which at that time were holding several hundred red siskins, young and
old. Approximately 90% of the walls housed roughly 100 English type breeding box cages
with professionally made cage fronts. They were stacked five rows high, beginning
approximately 24" from the floor. Each row of cages could be divided into several
double breeding cages approximately 36" x 16" high and 12" deep by either
adding a wire partition or a solid partition. This part of Carloss room resembled
very much my breeding room, as well as our beloved President, Bob Garguillos room,
plus others where the partitions are removed at the end of the breeding season and the row
of cages can be used as large holding cages. To say the least, Carloss birdroom was
practically built by using common sense.
On the bottom of every cage Carlos had several
layers of simple-economical old newspaper that every time he cleaned the cages he removed
the top layer assuring a clean healthy environment for his birds. I asked Carlos,
"Why dont you use sand or cedar shavings or any other product available on the
market to make it easy for you to clean your cages?" He answered, "Nope,
newspapers I dont have to buyI get them for free and I can keep my birds clean
all the time. I dont have to worry about bacteria or parasites that might build upi
and accumulate in sand or cedar shavings, etc. After all, no one changes sand and cedar
shavings everyday; yet, I can clean my cages by using newspapers daily." I agree with
Carlos 100%. Unless anyone is able to clean the sand or cedar shavings every c ouple of
days you are surely asking for trouble. If you allow this covering to stay in the cage for
a long timediseases, bacteria, parasites, you name it, may have the chance to build
At the time of my visit, virtually, every cage in
Carloss room, where the siskins were housed, including a big bunch of seeding head
from grass and other seeding weeds available on the island. I mean a generous bunch of
this seeding head either in a dry state as well as in a milky state was placed in every
cage. (Could the supply of this wild seed be one of the reasons Carlos is so successful in
breeding the siskins? I think so!)
I mentioned to Carlos that whenever cage birds are housesavian parasites are sure to be present and asked him, "What do you do to prevent the infestation of avian parasites? Carlos lifted a bottle of some kind of insecticide and he showed it to me and said, "I spray with this everytime it is necessary." I asked him, "At least once a week?" He answered, "Yes." Carlos handed me the bottle of spray and I read the ingredients. The effective ingredient was the usual pyrethrin. Similarly composed as the one we have available in the USA.For your information, the Canary Islands have somewhat of a sub tropical climate. Carlos follows the rules of nature. He begins his breeding season in the beginning of spring.
In addition to red siskins I noticed in Carloss room several very small canaries and I asked him, "What kind of canaries are those?" He said, "Oh, they are just small canaries that I use sometimes as foster parents. The small canaries make very good feeders." To conclude, Carlos works very hard in managing his red siskins. He spends many many hours in his birdroom during the breeding season. As he said, "I am in this room from early in the morning until it gets dark. I feed many baby siskins by hand with a little toothpick. I practically raise every baby siskin that hatches, either the siskins feed the babies themselves, the foster parents feed the babies, or I hand feed them myself."
In conclusion, what I have seen in Carloss
room is sincere dedication and good common sense being well implemented. No question about
it, the environment in the room, as well as the climate on the island is the ideal place
to raise Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskins, as well as any other species of birds.
I wish all of you, by reading this successful story of a fellow fancier, Carlos, will be inspired to produce more and better siskins and that one day, I hope soon, they will be plentiful and readily available just as the canaries are today. We cannot be lazywe must devote our time and efforts to achieve such spectacular results.
Keep in mind that the good niger seed and hemp seed which constituted a good portion of the diet of Carloss siskins, unfortunately, are not available in the USA. We must improvise in our own birdrooms by providing a well balanced seed diet and offering a variety of natural foods such as seeding heads and grasses which contrary to common belief we do have available in our areas. You cannot be laxidazy about your birds diets. Just seek and you will find. The imported niger seed and hemp seed we have access to in the U.S. go through a sterilizing processthe seeds are practically roasted like coffee, leaving the same with hardly any nutritional value and in my honest opinion I believe are even detrimental to the health of the birds. In fact, if you place plain niger and plain hemp before any kind of birds they will gorge themselves for hours and yet they obtain little nutritional value from it. The niger and hemp imported from Ethiopia or India, upon entering the U.S., must go through an intense roasting process to eliminate growth of a certain weed available in niger seed which our government is trying to prevent the infestation in our U.S. land. The process is important to the government because the niger seed is used heavily in wild bird mixtures which is fed to the wild birds outdoors. In the winter months, God knows how many wild birds gorge themselves on this seed and practically starve themselves to death. Thus, if you make an excess amount of niger available to the birds before long you will kill all the siskins and perhaps any other birds you feed this seed to. In the last 3-4 years the hemp and niger seed available in the USA will not sprout if you put it in water for 24 hours. It will swell when you squeeze the kernal and will look like a piece of charcoal. No nutritional value left in it whatsoever. The hemp is sterilized through a roasting process so people dont try and grow marijuana plants.
Personally, I substituted the niger for my siskins with kernals of freshly shelled sunflower, also sesame, poppy and flax seed. I caution, however, do not allow the siskins to eat an abundant amount of any seed, such as sunflower, flax, poppy or sesame. The same seeds in large quantity can be detrimental to the health of the birds. Feed your siskins and other birds a variety of seed. They must eat canary seed, some millet, oat groats. In other words, they must eat 100% of a well balanced mixture without any waste. This is the most sensible way to feed your birds. Any straight seed, as previously mentioned, when fed in large quantity will be detrimental. Just as humans feeding and gorging on only one type of foodeventually they cause an imbalance of nutrients in their diet and as a result become ill.
Try to feed wild grass seed and weeds in the milky stage, as well as the mature stage. The North American countrysides , as well as Australia, Europe, etc., are bountiful of all foods from nature. Take advantage, we have access to essential, healthy foods which can make you successful in your birdroom. However, remember to be careful where you gather the wild foods; it should not be contaminated by spray insecticides or contamination from wild birds, such as sparrows, starlings, etc. Make sure you wash everything thoroughly that you gather from the wild state. You may soak the wild foods and wild seed, etc., in water with an additional few drops of iodine. Soak for a couple of hours then wash thoroughly. The iodine will help eliminate any bacteria if there is any present in the food.
BREEDING AND MAINTENANCE OF EUROPEAN FINCHES
All Rights Reserved By: G. A. ABBATE, Sr.
P.O. Box 122 Elizabeth, NJ 07207-0122
The European Goldfinch is one of my preferred
song birds that I have kept, bred and hybridized for over 50 years. In fact, The European
Goldfinch is the preferred bird of many European bird fanciersnot only for his
melodious song but also for the colorful attractive patterns of his plumage. These
colorful birds make a very attractive and melodious addition to any aviary, especially an
outdoor aviary. Their song can be distinguished from all the other birds present. Their
colorful plumage is the most attractive, especially in a planted outdoor aviary. On a
sunny day it is a pleasure to admire the bright red coloring around their beaks, the
yellow in their wings and the brown and black plumage throughout the rest of their bodies.
It makes a very attractive color combination!!
I can tell you hundreds of stories like this that took place throughout the U.S. and other parts of the world. I have seen European Goldfinches bred in Italy in conditions that reproduction would be considered an impossibility.
Many years ago before the first time I was wiped out with the contagious disease of all of my birds, I used to raise European Goldfinches, plus many other European birds, including black birds, thrushes, bullfinches, in addition to Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskins, etc. I was young, strong, energetic and a dedicated fancier with a lot of enthusiasm for the hobby of reproducing many species of legal wild birds in captivity to assure the conservation of the species forever especially the endangered species, such as Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskin Carduelis Cucullata, etc.
About 25 years ago I had three children who
cooperated and helped me with the birds, and a couple of trusty workers who also helped me
with the birds. I used to raise European Goldfinches as easy as canaries. Many fellow
fanciers who used to visit me in those days were shocked and amazed of the number of
European Goldfinches I used to raise and how easy I used to raise all the finches. In
those days I had the European import breeding stock. The imports from Europe were much
healthier and stronger than the Goldfinches that come from Australia and are presently
available in the USA. Practically all the countries in Europe have banned the capture of
most native birds. Many countries have even banned possession of most of the native wild
birds. However, any fancier who can prove that the wild birds have been bred in captivity
for many years, they will be allowed to keep them. Prior to a couple of years ago when I
again lost all my birds; during my absence, one of my workers being unintentionally
negligent introduced a questionable bird into my birdroom. That was the end of all the
European Goldfinches in my possession, birds that I bred in captivity for over 25 years.
Along with the European Goldfinches all of the birds in my birdroom were dead within a
monthfoul pox was the disease introduced in my birdroom. Remember, never introduce
birds in your birdroom unless they have been quarantined for at least 30 days.
Our COM USA President, Francisco Garguillo, came and visited me just a few days before the epidemic started in my birdroom. His head spun when I showed him the several nests full of baby European finches and other birds. What a shame, I lost everything! A couple of European Goldfinches survived the epidemic, along with a couple of odds and end birds. Luckily I took them to my office to take photos of them for publication. So, I have been working with the same birds to this date to establish what I now have, a good strong, healthy breeding stock. NO MORE INTRODUCTION OF ANY BIRDS IN MY BIRDROOM!
With the exception of my large planted aviary in Florida where I keep a large variety of birds, including the European Goldfinches, all my breeding here in New Jersey is done in double breeding cages. My European Goldfinches, for instance, are bred in the same double breeding cages that I breed my canaries, 36" wide 12" deep and about 16" high. These are all metal built English style box cages made out of sheet metal and wire, all white polyurethane finish. Several years ago I used all metal double breeding cages, but that was a lot of work to take care of the birds. With the previously mentioned type of cages my production of youngsters has tripled and the lost of youngsters almost zero. All my present cages are equipped with removable bottom grills which are kept scrupously clean at all times. Young Goldfinches as well as young Greenfinches and many other finches have a tendency to pick in their own excretion. Years ago I experienced loss of lots of young finches. I knocked my brain to find a solution for that disgusting problem which was eventually solved by introducing the grills on the bottom of all my cages.
The two pairs of European Goldfinches that I have at this time are kept together in pairs in a double breeding cage all year round. I feed all my European Goldfinches, plus other European finches, such as Greenfinches, Linnets, Siskins, as well as Venezuelan Black Hooded Red Siskins, etc., in the same manner I feed my Canariesa seed mixture containing basically canary grass seed, rape seed, oat groats, a small amount of flax seed and sesame seed. The mixture also contains processed fish, poultry meat, other meats, such as beef, etc., processed eggs, a variety of greens, plus fruits and vegetables, vitamins and minerals, all combined to constitute a well balanced diet with practically every nutrient mother nature supplies them in their wild state. All the birds are fed 1 level teaspoon each of the mixture. The mixture is supplied in a deep dish. In other words, I make sure that the European Goldfinches, etc., which are very much like childrenwho love candy more than good nutritious food, eat the seed 100%. European Goldfinches love to eat oily seed, such as flax, sesame, niger, etc. Be careful, any species of birds who are allowed to eat excess amounts of oily seeds will surely become sick. They will not be in good breeding condition because of the imbalance in their diet and eventually they will become so sick that death will surely result.
All of the above mentioned birds must eat the canary seed, oat groats, millet seed, as well as a small amount of oily seed. So, supplying 1 level teaspoon of a good well balanced mixture for 24 hours they will be forced to eat 100% of the mixture. All the finches love to eat soak seed, wild seed in the milky stage, plus a variety of greens and some fruits. I supply all my birds with a soak seed mixture composed of canary seed, millet seed, rape seed, safflower seed, niger seed, etc. I dont like to sprout the seed, I only soak it 24-48 hours, then I thoroughly wash it under cold running water, then I feed it to the European Goldfinches, plus all the other birds in my birdroom, more so and more often when they feed their youngsters. During the nonbreeding season I feed soak seed about 2-3 times a week. In addition, all my birds have before them, all the time, cuttlebone and a good, well composed mineral grit mixture which contains sterilized egg shells, oyster shells, plus other mollusk shells, with many sources of minerals which are essential for good health and for good reproduction. During spring, summer and fall European Goldfinches and all the other birds, as a matter of fact, receive seeding grasses from chicory, dandelions, Shepherds purse, chickweed, plus any other wild seed that the wild birds eat in their wild state.
During my many trips to Australia, when I visited bird fanciers and breeders, practically every cage contained a bountiful supply of what they call milk thistle, plus other seeding weeds and grasses which all the birds devoured with gusto, including the largest of the hookbills. Again, many years ago when I was young and entergetic, during the very early spring while in New Jersey everything would still be covered with frost, I would travel from New Jersey to southern Virginia, close to North Carolina, to gather chickweed, dandelions, and other seeding grasses for all my birds. The chickweed used to be loaded with seeds in the milky stage which my canaries, finches and all my other birds relished. Also, this extra treat stimulated them for breeding. Yes, indeed, when I was young I used to do lots of work to produce strong healthy birds. I used to gather insects, such as small caterpillars and other bugs. I would supply these to my chaffinches and bullfinches.
Success with cagebird breeding is achieved only if the fancier is dedicated!! If you provide what mother nature offers them in their wild state or as close as possible to what they have access to in the wild stateyou can be a success! No one can breed European Goldfinches or many other species of birds with just a mixture of dry seed and water and a piece of green occasionally. One time during my travels I met a gentleman who primarily was a budgie breeder. In addlition to budgies he had a couple pairs of European Goldfinches. He fed the European Goldfinches millet seed plus some other dry seed. Believe me, those European Goldfinches never reproduced themselves, they looked like hell and I dont think they lived very long.
In captivity European Goldfinches must receive a well balanced diet, as mentioned above. Again, I repeat, a variety of uncontaminated wild seed which is available in the wild state must be provided. It must be fresh and clean. If anyone has a true pair of European Goldfinches and if the same are freshly imported they must keep them in captivity a couple of years before any breeding results can be achieved.
Today, the Goldfinches which are available on the U.S. market are, as I said before, originated from Australia. They were introduced in Australia either by accident or intentionally. These Goldfinches, as I understand, are so plentiful that the Australian Government doesnt mind exporting them. They are plentiful like the English Sparrows are in the USA. Practically all the European Goldfinches coming in from Australia, within a short period of time, develop some kind of scales on their feet which is caused by an internal parasite. I have seen European Goldfinches with the size of their feet as big as my thumb loaded with scales. Before Ivermectin was discovered there was no hope for survival. Many of these beautiful birds simply became crippled and subsequently death would followtheir feet were really a big mess. When we discovered Ivermectin it was practically a miracle for the European Goldfinches, as well as any other birds. Many times in the past I have written about the best way to administer Ivermectin to the birds. However, let me repeat it in case any of you missed the past information on Ivermectin.
Despite many other authors suggestions to put 1 drop of Ivermectin directly on the skin of the birds back, I believe this procedure is not only stressful to the bird but also a lot of work for the fancier. Can you imagine putting a drop of medication on several hundred birds?
For several years I, plus many others, used the following method with excellent results: remove all the water the night before from all the cages. In other words, make the birds very thirsty. First thing in the morning mix 1cc of 1% Ivermectin in 16ozs. Of drinking water, shake vigorously and place this mixture before the thirsty birds. One good drink will eliminate all internal parasites, subsequently clearing up the scales on their feet, beak, etc. Repeat treatment in 2 weeks.
Any further questions on the above subjects I will be glad to answer by E-Mail or any other method of your choice. E-Mail all the questions and comments to: ABBA2222@AOL.COM. Also visit our Web Page at: WWW.ABBASEED.COM.
Good Luck to everyone!
A well known German breeder who is specialising in larger finches is travelling to the USA would like to study some of the species native to the Lakes regions ( Superior,Michigan,Huron,Ontario etc), if anyone can help with information where these large finches ( Grosbeaks,Crossbills etc.) are common and can easily be seen please contact me and I'll pass the message to him. Should anyone like to join him on the expedition or if anyone has any suggestion please let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org