The Committee of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Incorporated may, from time to time, appoint Sub-Committees or individual members to fulfil the following roles, or any other function as the Committee deems necessary.


 1.         The Programme Sub-Committee is subordinate to and, through the Programme Coordinator, shall be responsible to the Committee of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Incorporated.

2.         The Programme Sub-Committee may comprise the Programme Coordinator and at least two other full members of the Committee.  The Programme Sub-Committee shall have the power to co-opt other persons to serve on the Sub-Committee for specific purposes.  Such co-opted persons are not necessarily required to be members of the Committee.

3.         The Programme Coordinator and Programme Sub-Committee shall be appointed at the February meeting of the Committee, or as soon as possible after that meeting.

4.         The function of the Programme Sub-Committee shall be to organise and plan a suitable programme for the Society’s monthly General Meetings.

5.         As a general guideline, the programme for the General Meeting should include a guest speaker(s) who will present the main address of the evening.

The guest speaker may be drawn (a) from local, country, interstate or overseas members of the Society, or (b) from non-members of the Society (local, country or interstate) with knowledge of a specific topic considered of interest to members.

Due to the potential costs involved, permission to invite interstate speakers should first be sought from the Committee, prior to an invitation being sent.

As an important priority, the Programme Sub-Committee shall endeavour to select a guest speaker of appropriate calibre and standing to present the address at the annual Minchin Memorial Meeting (the timing of which is at the discretion of the Committee).  The Programme Sub-Committee shall also ensure that a short dissertation in honour of the late Ronald Minchin is given at the meeting.

6.         The nature of other programmes, or programmes part thereof, for each General Meeting shall be at the discretion of the Programme Sub-Committee, but may include, for example, features such as Bird of the Month, question box, video/films, quiz nights, hypotheticals or debates, extended supper/social function (in which some liaison with the Social Sub-Committee may be necessary), or any other activity deemed appropriate by the Programme Sub-Committee and which has been approved by the Committee.

7.         At the Minchin Memorial Meeting, or when an interstate guest speaker is invited to address the Society, the Programme Sub-Committee shall ensure that no other item is programmed which will conflict or interfere (time-wise) with the presentation of the main address.

8.         All guest speakers should be invited in writing by the Programme Coordinator (or delegated proxy), and where appropriate, asked to provide a written text of his/her address (to be published later in Bird Keeping In Australia).

9.         The Programme Coordinator (or delegated proxy) shall be responsible for entertaining the guest speaker on the night of the meeting.

10.       At the completion of the address to a General Meeting, the Programme Coordinator (or delegated proxy) shall present the guest speaker with an appropriately inscribed (i.e. typed or calligraphy) Certificate of Appreciation, signed by the President and Programme Coordinator.

11.       Within 14 days of the General Meeting, a letter thanking the guest speaker for his/her contribution to the meeting should be sent by the Programme Coordinator (or delegated proxy).

12.       The Programme Sub-Committee shall meet at least bi-monthly.  All meetings of the Programme Sub-Committee shall be chaired by the Programme Coordinator.  A written report on all meetings held by the Sub-Committee should be presented for approval at the next available meeting of the Committee by the Programme Coordinator (or delegated proxy).

13.       As a matter of priority each year, the Programme Sub-Committee should prepare an intended program for the coming year.  This intended programme should be presented in writing for approval at the April meeting of the Committee.

14.       Each month, the Programme Sub-Committee shall submit to the Editor the next General Meeting notice for inclusion in the magazine, and shall be responsible, when required, for placing an advertisement in the ‘Bird’ column of the Advertiser newspaper on the Saturday prior to the week of the General Meeting, or on the Society website.

  1. The Programme Sub-Committee shall ensure that an up-to-date correspondence list of all matters relating to programme is maintained, and that an inventory of past speakers and their topics is kept for future reference.  A copy of all letter correspondence from the Sub-Committee should be forwarded to the Secretary monthly.  All outward correspondence from the Sub-Committee must be signed for the Secretary.




1.         The Editorial Sub-Committee is subordinate to and, through the Editor(s), shall be responsible to the Committee.

2.         The Editorial Sub-Committee shall comprise the Editor(s) and at least two other full members of the Committee.  The Editorial Sub-Committee shall have the power to co-opt other persons to serve on the Sub-Committee for specific purposes.  Such co-opted persons are not necessarily required to be members of the Committee.

3.         The Editorial Sub-Committee shall be appointed at the February meeting of the Committee, or as soon as possible after that meeting.

4.         The function of the Editorial Sub-Committee shall be to plan, procure and organise suitable material for publication in the Society’s monthly magazine, Bird Keeping In Australia.

5.         Where at all possible, original, unpublished material should be sought for inclusion in the magazine.  Magazine material may be solicited by all members of the Editorial Sub-Committee from (a) local, country, interstate or overseas members of the Society, (b) non-members of the Society (local, country, interstate or overseas) with knowledge of a specific topic considered of interest to members, or (c) from other sources deemed relevant by the Sub-Committee and which have been approved by the Committee (for example, Convention tapes or tapes of Society General Meetings).

Material may be published in a variety of forms, for example general articles, discussion articles, notes, questions and answers, aviary or bird of the month, or any other form considered appropriate by the Sub-Committee.

6.         The use of reprinted articles from the magazines of other Avicultural Societies should be kept to an absolute minimum.

7.         Potential article writers should be invited to contribute to the magazine in writing by the Editor(s) or delegated proxy.

8.         Upon receipt of an article, a letter of acknowledgment should be sent to the author from the Editor(s) or delegated proxy within 14 days.  Following publication of an article in the magazine, a letter thanking the author for his/her contribution to the magazine should be sent by the Editor(s) or delegated proxy within 14 days.

9.         The Editorial Sub-Committee should meet at least bi-monthly.  Meetings of the Sub-Committee should be chaired by the Editor(s).  A written report on all meetings held by the Sub-Committee should be presented for approval at the next available meeting of the Committee by the Editor(s) (or delegated proxy).

10.       The Editorial Sub-Committee shall submit a timetable, by March at the latest, to each Branch Secretary regarding dates by which Branch information (for example next meeting notice and previous meeting minutes) is required for inclusion in the magazine during the coming year.

11.       The Editorial Sub-Committee shall submit a timetable, by March at the latest, to the Society, and each Branch, Wants and Exchange Stewards regarding dates by which Wants and Exchange lists are required for inclusion in the magazine during the coming year.

12.       As a matter of priority each year, the Editorial Sub-Committee should prepare an intended programme of material for use in the magazine during the coming year.

This intended program of material should be presented in writing for approval at the April meeting of the Committee.

13.       The Editorial Sub-Committee shall present a report on the proposed costing and format of the following years magazine at the July meeting of the Committee.  The report should include details of anticipated use of colour plates, intended thematic magazines and a recommendation on the suitability or otherwise of the current printer.

If approved, the Editorial Sub-Committee report should be forwarded to the Revenue Sub-Committee for inclusion in the Society’s budget proposal.

14.       The Editorial Sub-Committee shall make a recommendation to the January meeting of the Committee regarding the recipient of the Claude E. Bennett Memorial Award for the previous year.

15.       The Editorial Sub-Committee should routinely scan magazines from other Avicultural Societies for infringement of copyright of articles originally published in Bird Keeping In Australia, and report such infringements to the Committee.

16.       The Editorial Sub-Committee should strive towards continually improving the originality, content, style and general appeal of the magazine, and to ensure that all material printed in the magazine is of benefit to aviculture and to the well-being of the Society.

17.       The Editorial Sub-Committee should investigate, when appropriate, the feasibility of producing published material other than the Society’s magazine (for example books and special reports).

18.       The Editorial Sub-Committee shall ensure that an up-to-date correspondence list of all editorial matters is maintained, and that an inventory of past article writers and topics is kept for future reference.  A copy of all letter correspondence from the Sub-Committee should be forwarded to the Secretary monthly.  All outward correspondence from the Sub-Committee must be signed for the Secretary.



1.         The Social Sub-Committee is subordinate to and, through the Social Coordinator, shall be responsible to the Committee of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Incorporated.

2.         The Social Sub-Committee shall comprise a Social Coordinator and at least one other full member of the Committee.  The Social Sub-Committee shall have the power to co-opt other persons to serve on the Sub-Committee for specific purposes.  Such op-opted persons are not necessarily required to be members of the Committee.

3.         The Social Coordinator and Social Sub-Committee shall be appointed at the February Meeting of the Committee, or as soon as possible after that meeting.

4.         The function of the Social Sub-Committee shall be to :

(a)        organise and plan annually at least two social functions for members of the Society.

(b)        be responsible for the preparation of supper at the Society’s General Meetings.

(c)        be responsible for the organisation of catering for Joint Branch Committee meetings when held in Adelaide.

5.         The nature of the social functions shall be at the discretion of the Social Sub-Committee, but may include, for example, single day or weekend bus trips, aviary visits to country or interstate branches, picnics or dinners, visits to zoos or other fauna parks, extended suppers at General Meetings (in which some liaison with the Program Sub-Committee will be necessary), or any other activity deemed appropriate by the Sub-Committee and which has been approved by the Committee.

6.         The Social Sub-Committee shall meet at least quarterly.  All meetings of the Social Sub-Committee shall be chaired by the Social Coordinator.  Following selection of a social function, the Social Sub-Committee shall prepare a written report on the feasibility and costing of the event for approval at the next available meeting of the Committee.

7.         As a matter of priority, the Social Sub-Committee shall prepare a program of intended social functions for the coming year.  This intended program should be presented in writing for approval at the April meeting of the Committee.

8.         The Social Subcommittee shall ensure that an up-to-date correspondence list of all matters relating to social activities is maintained.  A copy of all letter correspondence from the Sub-Committee should be forwarded to the Secretary monthly.  All outward correspondence from the Sub-Committee must be signed for the Secretary.




1.         The Revenue Sub-Committee is subordinate to and, through the Treasurer, shall be responsible to the Committee of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Incorporated.

2.         The Revenue Sub-Committee shall comprise the Treasurer, President and Secretary of the Committee.  The Revenue Sub-Committee shall have the power to co-opt other persons to serve on the Sub-Committee for specific purposes.  Such co-opted persons are not necessarily required to be members of the Committee.

3.         The Revenue Sub-Committee shall be appointed at the February Meeting of the Committee, or as soon as possible after that meeting.

4.         The function of the Revenue Sub-Committee shall be to :

(a)        investigate means of increasing revenue resources for the Society ;

(b)        prepare a proposed budget for the Society (with recommendations), for consideration at the August meeting of the Committee ;

(c)        monitor revenue and expenditure against budget ;

(d)        recommend the appointment of an Auditor to the Committee.

5.         The Revenue Sub-Committee shall meet at least quarterly.  All meetings of the Revenue Sub-Committee shall be chaired by the Treasurer.  A written report (including a financial statement, when appropriate) on all meetings held by the Revenue Sub-Committee should be presented by the Treasurer (or delegated proxy) for approval at the next available meeting of the Committee.

6.         The Revenue Sub-Committee shall ensure that an up-to-date correspondence list of all matters relating to Society revenue is maintained.  A copy of all letter correspondence from the Sub-Committee should be forwarded to the Secretary monthly.  All outward correspondence from the Sub-Committee must be signed for the Secretary.




1.         The Breeding and Research Sub-Committee is subordinate to and, through the Conservation Officer, shall be responsible to the Committee of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Incorporated.

2.         The Breeding and Research Sub-Committee shall comprise the Conservation Officer and at least one other full member of the Committee.  The Breeding and Research Sub-Committee shall have the power to co-opt other persons to serve on the Sub-Committee for specific purposes.  Such co-opted persons are not necessarily required to be members of the Committee.

3.         The Breeding and Research Sub-Committee shall be appointed at the February meeting of the Committee, or as soon as possible after that meeting.

4.         The function of the Breeding and Research Sub-Committee shall be to :

(a)        Analyse data on the total numbers and breeding results of birds held in South Australian aviaries, and prepare written reports on such data for publication in Bird Keeping In Australia.

Data may be procured from members surveys conducted by the Breeding and Research Sub-Committee, or from other relevant sources such as National Parks and Wildlife Service stock return figures.

(b)        To undertake specific or general research on matters relating to captive populations of aviary birds (for example Bird Register), or the conservation of wild populations of Australian birds.

5.         The Breeding and Research Sub-Committee shall meet at least quarterly.  All meetings of the Breeding and Research Sub-Committee shall be chaired by the Conservation Officer.  A written report on all meetings held by the Breeding and Research Sub-Committee should be presented by the Conservation Officer (or delegated proxy) for approval at the next available meeting of the Committee.

6.         The Breeding and Research Sub-Committee shall ensure that an up-to-date correspondence list of all matters relating to breeding and research is maintained.  A copy of all letter correspondence from the Sub-Committee should be forwarded to the Secretary monthly.  All outward correspondence from the Sub-Committee must be signed for the Secretary.




1.         The Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee is subordinate to and, through the Promotion and Liaison Officer, shall be responsible to the Committee of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Incorporated.

2.         The Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee shall comprise the Promotion and Liaison Officer and at least two other full members of the Committee.  The Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee shall have the power to co-opt other persons to serve on the Sub-Committee for specific purposes.  Such co-opted persons are not necessarily required to be members of the Committee.

3.         The Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee shall be appointed at the February meeting of the Committee, or as soon as possible after that meeting.

4.         The function of the Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee shall be to investigate means by which :

(a)        the aims, objectives and activities of the Society can be promulgated to the wider community ;

(b)        present membership of the Society can be retained ; and

(c)        membership of the Society can be increased.

5.         The means to achieve these aims is at the discretion of the Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee, but may include, for example, publicity campaigns or educational programs to target the general public, advertisement in appropriate magazines or newspapers, displays or exhibitions at relevant venues (e.g. Royal Show and shopping centres), publication of promotional literature, liaison with government authorities or other bird/conservation groups, or is any other activity deemed relevant by the Sub-Committee and which has been approved by the Committee.

6.         The Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee shall meet at least bi-monthly.  All meetings shall be chaired by the Promotion and Liaison Officer.  A written report on all meetings held by the Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee should be presented by the Promotion and Liaison Officer (or delegated proxy) for approval at the next available meeting of the Committee.

7.         The Promotion and Liaison Sub-Committee shall ensure that an up-to-date correspondence list on all matters relating to promotion and liaison is maintained.  A copy of all letter correspondence from the Sub-Committee should be forwarded to the Secretary monthly.  All outward correspondence from the Sub-Committee must be signed for the Secretary.





This document sets out guidelines for the duties of Society Office-Bearers and other Society positions, however the ultimate responsibility for the administration of the Society rests with the Committee.


The role of the President is as follows :

“The President shall be Chairperson and shall oversee the effective coordination and administration of the affairs of the Society.  In the absence of the President, the Committee shall appoint a Chairperson from amongst the Vice-Presidents, or in their absence the Committee shall appoint a Chairperson from amongst their number.  In every duly seconded motion the Chairperson shall have a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote”.

As a general guideline, functions which the President may be required to perform include :

(a)        chair General (including Annual, Special and Extraordinary), Committee, and Joint Branch meetings of the Society.

(b)        sign the minutes of all such meetings, once confirmed as a true and correct record.

(c)        If possible, within a given year, to attend at least one General Meeting of each Society Branch.  If this is not possible, the President may delegate a Vice-President, or other Committee member, to attend in his/her absence.

(d)        serve on the Revenue Sub-Committee of the Society.

The President shall be an ex-officio member of all Society Sub-Committees.


 The role of the Vice-President(s) is as follows :

“In the absence of the President, a Vice-President will assume the President’s role (see President’s role above).”

At the first Committee meeting following the Annual General Meeting of the Society, the Committee shall determine which Vice-President shall be first to act in the President’s absence.


 The role of the Treasurer is as follows :

“The Treasurer shall be responsible for the Society’s financial affairs (excluding the financial affairs of Branches) including collection and receipting of all funds; and shall bank, or invest, as directed by the Committee, all such funds not immediately required, to the credit of the Society.  The Treasurer shall keep a record of all receipts and disbursements made on behalf of the Society and shall submit a financial report for consideration at the monthly Committee meeting.  The Treasurer shall present the Society’s financial statement, subject to audit, for the year ending the 31st December to the following Annual General Meeting”.

As a general guideline, other functions which the Treasurer may be required to perform include :

(a)        maintain the Property Register of depreciable assets of the Society.

(b)        chair meetings of the Revenue Sub-Committee.

(c)        prepare returns to the South Australian Government as required for conduct of Society raffles and lotteries, excluding for the Society Branches.

(d)        Prepare and submit taxation documents, as and when required.


The role of the Secretary is as follows :

“The Secretary shall be the Society’s official Public Officer and as such shall hold the Society’s Common Seal.  The Secretary shall summon all meetings as provided for by these Rules, keep a record of proceedings of the Society and be responsible for all  papers and correspondence except those relating to finance and membership records”.

As a general guideline, functions which the Secretary may be required to perform include :

(a)        be responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of all relevant letter correspondence to and from the Society.

(b)        prepare typed agendas for meetings of the Committee and Joint Branch Committee.  These agendas should be circulated to Committee members, at least 14 days prior to the next scheduled meeting, to Joint Branch and Committee members, at least 28 days prior to the next scheduled meeting.

(c)        take minutes at Committee and Joint Branch meetings.  These minutes should be typed and circulated (with the above agenda) –

to Committee members, at least 14 days prior to the next scheduled meeting.  A typed list of monthly correspondence (in and out) as well as copies of relevant letters should be attached to the agenda and minutes.

to Joint Branch Committee members, at least 28 days prior to the next scheduled meeting.


(d)        prepare an agenda for the President and take minutes at the Society’s General Meeting.  The General Meeting minutes should be presented to the Editor(s) for inclusion in the Society’s magazine, Bird Keeping in Australia.

(e)        prepare an annual Secretary’s Report for presentation at the Annual General Meeting and for printing in an issue of Bird Keeping In Australia.

(f)         arrange appropriate insurance cover for the Society, including Branches.

(g)        serve on the Revenue Sub-Committee of the Society.


 The role of Assistant Secretary is as follows :

“In the absence of the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary will assume the Secretary’s role (see Secretary’s role above).  The Assistant Secretary shall perform any other duties as directed by the Committee.”


The Liaison Officer shall be responsible for liaising, on behalf of the Committee, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service or such other organisations or persons as may be decided by the Committee.


The role of the Auditor is as follows :

“The Auditor’s responsibility shall be for the calendar year in which he/she is appointed.  The Auditor shall not be a member of the Committee of the Society and shall have the power, at any time, to examine the minute books, accounts, vouchers, or other relevant documents of the Society, and report thereon to the Committee.  The Auditor shall audit the annual financial statements and certify them to be correct or otherwise, prior to publication in Bird Keeping in Australia by the Treasurer.”


The Editor(s) shall be appointed at the June meeting of the Committee.

As a general guideline, the functions which the Editor(s) may be required to perform include:

(a)        have overall responsibility for the production of the Society’s magazine Bird Keeping In Australia (from January to December in the year following that appointment).

(b)        liaise with members of the Editorial Sub-Committee as directed under the Terms of Reference for that Sub-Committee.

(c)        liaise with all persons connected with the final production of the magazine.

(d)        provide articles, in appropriate form for publication, to the printer of the Society’s magazine.

(e)        proof read the magazine and ensure that last minute changes to content have been properly corrected, prior to printing.


The Membership Steward shall be responsible for maintaining the records relating to membership of the Society.  He/she shall keep all such records strictly confidential but can, upon receipt of a written directive from the Management Committee, make available any or all relevant records to Society Officer(s) as required for the effective operation of the Society.  He/she shall once per calendar year, or upon request, supply a limited list of membership details to Branch Secretaries relating to that particular Branch. The information provided to Branches shall be limited to Name and City only unless a member waives confidentiality on their renewal application form.


The Services Officer shall be responsible for the purchase and supply, to members, of such items as may be approved by the Committee.  He/she shall supply an accurate accounting of all items held, on order or for which payment has not yet been received, as and when the Committee may require.


The Librarian shall be responsible for providing a library service at General Meetings.  He/she shall maintain records of all books lent and report to the Committee any member holding books in excess of twice the allowed time.  He/she shall ensure that all books are kept in good condition, conduct an annual stocktake and report to the Committee any books in need of repair or not accounted for.


The Exchange Steward shall keep a record of birds available, from members, on a sale or exchange basis and shall record details of birds required by members. He/she shall supply information re birds available, wanted and for exchange for publication each month in the Society’s magazine.


The Book Steward shall be responsible to the Committee for the purchase of, and sale to members of, books on avicultural subjects. He/she shall supply an accurate accounting of all items held, on order or for which payment has not yet been received, as and when the Committee may require.


The Raffle Steward shall be responsible to the Committee for the conduct of all raffles and competitions. He/she shall ensure that all raffles and competitions are conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Lottery and Gaming Act, 1936-1976, or any other relevant Act or amendments thereto.


Subject to direction from the Committee, the WebMaster shall be responsible for maintaining and regularly updating the Society website.  He/she shall liaise with the authorised internet provider as required or when directed by the Committee.  He/she shall provide the Committee with reports as to the effectiveness of the website when requested, and shall make recommendations to Committee for any major updates as and when required.  He/she shall reply to online enquiries, or if unable to do so, redirect enquiries received on the website to any other Society members more capable of providing an appropriate reply.  He/she shall facilitate the transfer any money received via the website to the Society’s Bank Accounts as and when requested by the Treasurer.





1.             Formation of a Branch

1. 1       A Branch of the Society shall only be formed in accordance with the requirements of
Rule D.14 of the Society’s constitution which states:

“The Committee may, on the request in writing of three (3) or more members, authorize the formation of a Branch of the Society. Branches shall function in accordance with the Objects and Rules of the Society and within the requirements of the document ‘Guidelines for the Formation and Regulation of Branches’. Any amendments to such document shall be subject to ratification at an Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting of the Society.”

1.2          The Committee, when considering an application for the creation of a new Branch, shall take into consideration the following criteria:

a.      That there shall be a demonstrable need for such a Branch to be formed.

b.         New Branches shall be based on geographical regions within South Australia, or
may include special interest groups catering for particular categories of aviculture.

1.3        The newly created Branch must obtain a financial membership of 10 within one month of
the formation of the Branch.  The Society Committee may then confirm the formation of the


2.             Name of a Branch

2.1          All Branches shall be known by the name of the relevant geographical region or area of special interest, for example, ‘The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc, ……………… Branch’.

2.2          The name of a Branch must be approved by the Society Committee.

2.3          The name of a Branch cannot be altered unless:

a.               a majority of registered Branch members voting at a Branch Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting endorses a proposed new name; and

b.               the Society Committee approves the new name.


3.             Administration of a Branch

3.1          Branches shall be governed by the Objects and Rules of the Society, as listed in the Society’s constitution, and by these ‘Guidelines for the Formation and Regulation of Branches’.

3.2          Each Branch shall, subject to any exceptions set out in the Objects and Rules and the Guidelines referred to in 3.1 above, be autonomous.

3.3          Each Branch shall be administered by a Committee of nine (9) persons maximum, which shall be responsible for the general management of the Branch’s affairs. The Executive positions shall be: President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. Two Branch Executive positions may be held concurrently, except that the positions of President and Vice-President may not be held concurrently.

3.4          All Branch office-bearers and Committee members shall be elected for a term of one year and on expiration of their term of office shall be eligible for re-election.

3.5          Four (4) members shall constitute a quorum at a Branch Committee meeting; except that, where the Branch Committee consists of nine (9) members, five (5) members shall constitute a quorum.

3.6          A Branch President, Vice-President or their proxy shall be entitled to attend meetings of the Society Committee, in relation to matters directly affecting the Branch. However, no voting rights can be exercised by the Branch President, Vice-President or their proxy at a Society Committee meeting.


4.             Election of Branch Committees

4.1          Nominations for Branch office-bearers and Committee members shall be submitted in writing, signed by the nominee, and lodged with the Branch Secretary by December 31st.

4.2          In the event of insufficient nomination(s) being received for a particular Branch Committee position(s), including any executive position, by December 31st, verbal nominations for such position(s) may be accepted at the Branch Annual General Meeting.

4.3          If an election is required, a secret ballot of financial Branch members present at the Branch Annual General Meeting shall be held.

4.4          Where a member nominates for more than one position on the Branch Committee, that member must register his/her preference for those positions.

4.5          An office-bearer or Committee member of a Branch Committee can also be an office-bearer or Committee member of the Society Committee.

4.6          In the case of insufficient nominees for any position on a Branch Committee, or in the case of a vacancy occurring, the Branch Committee shall have the power to fill such vacancy/vacancies until the next Branch Annual General Meeting.


5.             Membership of a Branch

5. 1         No person can be a member of a Branch without being a financial member of the Society.

5.2          The Society Committee shall refund to the Branch a portion of the Society’s membership fee, for each member of the Branch, as determined by that Committee.

5.3          A member of the Society may nominate whether he/she wishes to be registered as a member of a Branch. Whilst that person remains a member of the Society, he/she shall retain membership of that Branch, until such time as he/she advises the Society’s Membership Steward otherwise.

5.4          The Society’s Membership Steward shall provide each Branch with a membership list at least twice yearly, upon request by the Branch Secretary.

5.5          Only registered Branch members, with the exception of Junior and Branch Social members, shall be eligible to hold a Branch Committee position or to vote at a Branch General Meeting.


6.             Financial Responsibilities of a Branch

6.1          Each Branch shall be financially self -supporting.

6.2          Each Branch shall operate an account with a bank or building society. At least two Branch office-bearers must be signatories to the Branch’s account.

6.3          Each Branch shall appoint an Auditor. The Branch Auditor shall have similar powers to those of the Society’s Auditor, but only in relation to the Branch concerned.

“The Branch Auditor shall have the power, at any time, to examine the minute books, bank pass books, record of investments, account books, accounts, vouchers or goods held by the Branch Secretary, Treasurer, Services Officer or Book Steward and report thereon to the Branch Committee. He/she shall audit the annual financial statements and certify them to be correct or otherwise prior to presentation to the Branch Annual General Meeting. The Auditor shall not hold any other Branch office.”

6.4          Branches may raise revenue from the proceeds of raffles, sales of goods and services, and any other fund-raising activity deemed appropriate by the Branch Committee.

6.5          No financial commitment shall be undertaken where expenditure would exceed the total Branch funds available at the time, without prior authorization from the Society Committee. In the event of this rule not being adhered to, the Branch Committee shall be immediately dissolved and the Society Committee will assume control of that Branch’s affairs.

6.6               Each Branch shall submit a typed or legible handwritten Annual Report and Audited Financial Statement for the previous year (ended December 31st) to :


(i)                   the Secretary of the Society no later than March 1st; and


(ii)            members of the Branch concerned at its Branch Annual General Meeting.
7.             Branch Meetings/Activities

7.1          Regular Branch General Meetings and other Branch activities should be arranged for the benefit of members and for the purpose of advancing the hobby of aviculture. Such meetings/activities should be conducted in accordance with the Objects of the Society (see ‘Objects’ in the constitution).

7.2          Notice of forthcoming Branch General Meetings, where possible, and the Branch Annual General Meeting shall be published in the Society’s publication Bird Keeping In Australia.

7.3          Brief details of past Branch General Meetings shall be published in the Society’s publication Bird Keeping In Australia.

7.4          Any member of the Society may attend any Branch General Meeting.

7.5          The Annual General Meeting of each Branch shall be held in the month of February.

7.6          With the exception of attendance at Branch General Meetings, Branches may levy fees or surcharges on non-Branch members who participate in Branch activities.


8.             Branch Awards

8. 1         Branches can create their own awards or certificates (see the document ‘Guidelines for the Presentation of Awards’).

8.2          A Branch may grant its own Life Membership award (see the document ‘Guidelines for the Presentation of Awards’).


9.             Branch Stationery

9.1          Official stationery for each Branch shall be supplied by the Society Committee.

9.2          The stationery shall be headed “The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.”, with the name of the Branch beneath the heading and with a print size no larger than that used for the name of the Society.

9.3          The stationery shall have the Society’s logo in the top left hand corner; however, each Branch may have their individual logo in the top right hand corner.


10.          Public Statements of Policy

10.1       A Branch shall not issue statements relating to matters of Society policy to the general public or the media. Such statements of policy shall only be issued, where necessary, by the Society Committee.


11.          Branch Publications

11.1       Each Branch is able to print and distribute its own newsletter, observing copyright laws.

11.2       A copy of all newsletters published by Branches should be sent to the Society’s Editor(s) within one month of their publication.


12.          Dissolution of a Branch

12. 1    If, on the dissolution of a Branch, there remains any assets or debts whatsoever, the same shall be transferred to the Society Committee to be held in a Trust Fund for up to two years.  Monies from this Trust Fund can be distributed to a new Branch at the absolute discretion of the Society Committee.

12.2     A Branch shall be dissolved if its membership falls below ten.

12.3     A Branch shall be dissolved if a two-thirds majority of financial Branch members, voting at a Branch Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting, support a motion of dissolution.

12.4      In the event of less than five Branch Committee positions, including three Branch
Committee executive positions, being filled at a Branch Annual General Meeting, the
Society Committee shall convene a Special Meeting of the Branch to be Chaired by the
Society President or his/her nominee for the purpose of seeking further appointments to
the Branch Committee.  Should the number of positions filled on the Branch Committee
remain less than five after this Special Meeting then the Branch shall be dissolved and the
Society Committee shall wind up the Branch’s affairs.



Name:                    Eric Ridley Youth Encouragement Award

Year of Inception: 1993


Any outstanding avicultural achievement by a Junior Member or Junior Associate Member.

  • The nominee must be a member of the Society and aged 16 years or under in the year for which they are nominated.
  • Achievement may be literary (e.g. writing articles) or avicultural (success in keeping & breeding difficult species of birds).


Nominations for the preceding year to be forwarded, in writing, to be received by the Society Secretary no later than 30th June each year.


Nominations to be circulated to Branch Secretaries and the award decided at the next Joint Branch Meeting.  The decision of the Joint Branch Meeting will be final.


A Book Prize, with a suitably inscribed bookplate attached to the inside front cover (as for school book prizes).  To be presented by the Society President (or appointed delegate).


Name:                    Society Bronze Medal

                                (known as the R.W. McKechnie Memorial Award from 1979)

Year of Inception: 1928


First breeding in captivity of an eligible species of bird by a member of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc.

Eligible species include all species indigenous to Australia, excluding species officially listed as ineligible.  This award is not restricted to South Australian members.  Recipient must be a member of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc. for the year for which the award is nominated.

The eligibility of sub-species to be decided by the Committee.

Eligible birds must be entirely parent raised to independence.


Nominations shall only be received on the current nomination form, obtained from the Secretary for each nomination.  The nomination form must be completed by the member nominating for the award, as per the conditions on the official form, and forwarded to the Committee for consideration.


To be voted on by the Committee of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc.  The decision of the Committee is final.


Successful nominees will be presented with the R.W. McKechnie Bronze Medal, which is engraved with:

  • the member’s name and the year of presentation.
  • the correct common and scientific name of the species.

Name:                    Society Silver Medal

                                (known as the Simon Harvey Memorial Medal from 1956)

Year of Inception: 1928

The most meritorious first breeding achievement in any year from 1st July to 30th June.  All first breeding achievements awarded during this period shall be eligible for consideration.  The recipient must be a member of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc. for the year for which the award is nominated.

Nomination :

No nomination is required.


At the July Committee meeting of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc., all first breeding reports received prior to the 30th June that year shall be considered and the decision is taken by ballot.  It is not obligatory to award a Simon Harvey Memorial Medal each year.  If only one first breeding award has been granted, the Committee may still award a Simon Harvey Memorial Medal if it is felt that the achievement merits the award.  The decision of the Committee is final.


Successful nominations will be presented with a silver (Simon Harvey Memorial) medal, which is engraved with:

  • the member’s name and the year of presentation.
  • the correct common and scientific name of the species.


Name:                    Claude E. Bennett Memorial Award

Year of inception: 1979


Shall be awarded to the author of the article considered to of the most practical benefit to aviculture (the word “practical” to be broadly applicable). The following restrictions apply:

  • The recipient must be a member of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc. for the year for which the award is nominated.
  • The article must be an original article (i.e. first appearing in “Bird Keeping in Australia” and written specifically for this magazine) and must be published in “Bird Keeping in Australia” during the calendar year January 1st to December 31st for which the award is presented.
  • Avicultural interviews/discussions, aviary visits and transcripts of tapes of meetings shall not be eligible.  Individual articles within a series shall be eligible as single articles or as a series.  Anonymous articles or those written under a pen name shall not be eligible.  As the final decision on the award is made by the Committee, the Editor of “Bird Keeping in Australia” and members of the Editorial Sub-Committee shall be eligible.

Nomination and Voting:

The Editorial Sub-Committee shall select up to three (3) articles that meet the above criteria for consideration by the Committee and shall nominate one article as the most appropriate for the award.

A photocopy of the articles shall be distributed to all Committee members at the January General Meeting, The final decision on the award shall be made at the January Committee meeting, following discussion of the Editorial Sub-Committee’s recommendations.  The decision of the Committee shall be final.


A framed certificate shall be presented to the winner of the award at the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

The recipient’s name and title of the article shall be printed in “Bird Keeping in Australia”.


Name:                    Eric Baxter Award

Year of Inception: 1988


The recipient must be a member of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc. for the year for which the award is nominated.

The Eric Baxter Award is divided into three categories that allows for recognition of outstanding achievement in a wide variety of areas.  The three categories are:

  • Service to the Society:
  • Significant achievements of members related to discrete projects or work undertaken over a relatively short period of time.
  • Avicultural Achievement:
  • For breeding and maintaining a rare species or for outstanding success with a particular species of bird (native, exotic and including mutations).
  • Special Merit:
  • For outstanding achievement in other areas (e.g. ornithological, literacy).


Official nomination forms may be obtained from the Secretary.  To be completed and signed by the nominator and forwarded to the Committee for consideration.  A letter outlining the details of the nomination is also acceptable.


Each nomination received will be voted on by the Committee of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc.  The decision of the Committee is final.


A framed certificate, suitably inscribed shall be presented at a General Meeting of the Society or Branch.

  • Service to the Society: Blue Certificate
  • Avicultural Achievement: Green Certificate
  • Special Merit: Yellow Certificate

A silver (Eric Baxter) medal shall also be presented, which is to be engraved with:

  • the member’s name and date of presentation
  • the category of the award

Name:                    Life Membership

Year of Inception: The first Life Membership was awarded to Claude E. Bennett in 1933.


Recipient must be a member of the Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc.  Life membership may be awarded to a member in recognition of outstanding service to the Society, which may include service to a branch of the Society.

Nomination and Voting:

Nominations must be submitted to the Committee in writing and signed by the nominator.  Such nominations shall be distributed to Committee members at a Committee meeting and shall be decided on at the following monthly Committee meeting.  The Committee may reject the nomination or recommend that the nomination be submitted to a General Meeting of the Society. This must be done within three (3) months of the Committee meeting at which the nomination was determined.

Life Membership may be awarded by a resolution of a General Meeting of the Society.  The resolution shall be decided by a majority show of hands.


A framed Certificate, suitably inscribed shall be presented at a General Meeting of the Society or Branch.  Life members shall also receive a Society Badge inscribed with “Life Member”.


Branches may create their own awards or certificates, provided that they are not known by any names that could be associated with awards presented by the Society Committee.  The award shall be worded to indicate that it is a Branch Award.

Prior to presenting a Branch Award for the first time, the Branch shall inform the Society Committee, in writing, of the Branch’s intention to present such an award.  The Branch shall also inform the Society Committee of subsequent presentations of any major Branch award.


A Branch may grant its own Life Membership award – for services rendered to that Branch by a member of the Society.  The Award shall be known as:

“Life Member, Avicultural Society of S.A. Inc, ………… Branch”

The recipient of a Branch Life Membership shall be entitled to the same benefits as afforded to a Life Member of the Society, except that the Branch awarding the Branch Life Membership shall be financially responsible for subscription fees for that member.

Receipt of Branch Life Membership does not exclude the recipient from Life Membership of the Society.






1.             The study of Australian and foreign birds.

2.             The promotion of hygienic and scientific methods for the keeping, feeding and breeding of aviary birds.

3.             The development of avicultural techniques, which may be used directly or indirectly to assist the conservation of birds in their natural habitat.

4.             The establishment of viable captive breeding populations of all suitable species of aviary birds, especially rare and endangered species, to assist the conservation of birds in their natural habitat.

5.             The dissemination of avicultural information by all methods.

  1. The cultivation of affiliations and friendly relations with societies and clubs with similar objectives, throughout Australia and the rest of the world.
  2. The provision of education regarding birds, conservation and management.



A.         Name of the Society.

  1. The Society shall be an Incorporated Association as per the provisions of the Associations Incorporation Act, 1985, and any amendments thereto.
  2. The name of the Incorporated Association shall be THE AVICULTURAL SOCIETY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA INCORPORATED referred to herein as “the Society”.
  3. The day to day business and promotion of the Society shall be conducted under the name of BIRD KEEPING IN AUSTRALIA.


B.         Definitions.

In these rules, unless the contrary intention appears –

Branch means a Regional or Specialist Group of members, who operate automously unless otherwise stated within these Objects and Rules;

The Committee means the Management Committee of the Society;

General Meeting means a general meeting (Monthly, Annual, Special, Extraordinary) of members of the Society convened in accordance with these Rules;

             Member means a member of the Society;

             Society includes its Branches.


C.         Membership of the Society.

  1. The Society shall consist of Patron(s), Life, Honorary, Full, Associate, Junior, Junior Associate, Branch Social, and On-line members.
  2. Every applicant for new membership (except Lifeor Honorary membership) shall apply in writing and pay the appropriate fees, other than On-line members who may join via the Society website and pay the appropriate fee electronically.
  3. A maximum of three (3) Patrons may be recommended by the Committee each January, for resolution at the Annual General Meeting.  The term of office of such Patrons shall commence from the end of the Annual General Meeting and shall terminate at the end of the Annual General Meeting of the following year.
  4. Full members shall be entitled to all the benefits and privileges of membership.
  5. Associate members shall reside at the same address as a Full member of the Society.  Associate members shall be entitled to all benefits and privileges of membership, with the exception of receipt of the Society’s magazine, Bird Keeping In Australia.
  6. Junior members shall be under the age of 16 years when subscriptions become due and payable.  Junior members shall be entitled to all the benefits and privileges of membership, except the right to vote for Office-bearers or Committee persons, or to serve on the Committee.
  7. Junior Associate members shall be under the age of 16 years when subscriptions become due and payable.  A Junior Associate member shall reside at the same address as a Full member of the Society.  Junior Associate members shall be entitled to all benefits and privileges of membership, with the exception of receipt of the Society’s magazine, Bird Keeping In Australia, and the right to vote for Office-bearers or Committee persons, or to serve on the Committee.
  8. A Branch Social member (hereafter called Social member) may only belong to one Branch and must be nominated by the Committee of the Branch concerned.  Social members shall not be entitled to receipt of the Society’s magazine, Bird Keeping in Australia, nor any supplement thereto; shall not be entitled to vote on any matter what-so-ever, other than matters solely pertaining to the internal affairs of their Branch; and shall not hold any office, either at Society or Branch level.  However, Social members shall be entitled to all other rights and privileges of membership.  Total Social membership of a Branch shall not be greater than 25% (rounded to the nearest higher full number) of the total number of members, other than Social members, of the Branch on the 31st December of the previous calendar year.  The total number of Social members shall not be greater than 30% (rounded to the nearest higher full number) of the total number of members, other than Social members, of the Society in its entirety on the 31st December of the previous calendar year.
  9. On-line members shall be able to access the ‘On-line member only’ section of the Society website, but will not be entitled to receive a hardcopy of the Society’s magazine, Bird Keeping In Australia, nor have  the right to vote for Office-bearers or Committee persons, or to serve on the Committee.  An On-line member may purchase products, at member price, via the Society website.
  10. A Family concession shall be available to family members residing at the same address, and will allow one (1) Full, one (1) Associate, and any number of Junior Associate members.  The cost of this concession shall be equivalent to the combined cost of one (1) Full, one (1) Associate and one (1) Junior Associate membership.
  11. The Committee shall have the power to grant Honorary membership to any person for such period as the Committee deems fit, but not exceeding the life of that Committee.  Honorary members shall be entitled to all benefits and privileges of membership, except the right to vote for Office-bearers or Committee persons, or to serve on the Committee.
  12. Life membership of the Society may be awarded, by resolution of a General Meeting of the Society, to a member in recognition of outstanding service rendered to the Society, which may include service to a Branch.  A nomination for Life membership shall be submitted in writing, signed by the nominator, to the Committee, who may recommend that the nomination be submitted, within three (3) months, to a General Meeting of the Society.  Life members of the Society shall be exempt from payment of annual subscription fees, but shall be entitled to all the benefits and privileges of a Full member.
  13. Cancellation of membership shall be considered if a member is convicted in a court of law of any charge laid under the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1972, or any other relevant Act, or any amendments thereto.  In each instance a decision regarding cancellation of membership shall be in accordance with the nature of the offence.  Such member shall have the right to appear before the Committee within two (2) months or present a written submission to the Committee within the same time frame, prior to a decision being made by the Committee.  The decision of the Committee shall be final.
  14. Any member who acts in a manner detrimental to the interests of the members of the Society may be reprimanded, suspended or expelled from the Society.  However, no such action shall be taken without such member being given the opportunity to appear firstly before the Committee and, if not resolved, before a Special General Meeting of the Society to explain such conduct, and then only by resolution of members carried by two-thirds majority of financial members exercising the right to vote.
  15. The annual subscription fees, which are due and payable on the anniversary of the date of joining, shall be set by the Committee in September of each year.  Notification of these fees, which shall apply from the following November 1st, shall be published in the November issue of Bird Keeping In Australia and on the Society website.
  16. Any person whose subscription is in arrears shall automatically cease to be a member of the Society.  Only members shall be eligible to vote on matters requiring resolution.
  17. Any member resigning from the Society or ceasing to be a member thereof from any cause whatsoever, shall not be entitled to, nor have any claim upon the property of the Society or any part thereof.
  18. All successful applicants for membership shall, upon written request to the Secretary, receive a copy of the Society’s Objects and Rules and/or the Guideline documents mentioned in the Objects and Rules.


D.         Administration of the Society.

1.          The Society shall be governed by these Objects and Rules, and the day-to-day interpretation of these Objects and Rules shall be vested in the Committee.

  1. The Society shall be administered by a Committee consisting of the following Office-bearers: President, two (2) Vice-Presidents, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer.  The Committee shall also include seven (7) other Committee persons.  If not all positions are filled at election, or a vacancy occurs during the year, the Committee can continue to function until such vacancy, or vacancies, are filled.

The duties of each of the Officer-bearers listed above are further described in ‘Guidelines for Society Office-Bearers and other Positions’.

3.          The President shall be Chairperson.

4.          The Secretary shall be the Society’s official Public Officer and as such shall hold the Society’s Common Seal.  The Common Seal shall not be used without the express authorisation of the Committee, and every use of the Common Seal shall be recorded in the Committee Minutes of the Society.  The affixing of the Common Seal shall be witnessed by the President and the Secretary.

5.          The Treasurer shall be responsible for the Society’s financial affairs, excluding the financial affairs of the Branches.  All cheques are to be signed by any two (2) of the approved Officers whose signatures are registered with a, Committee approved, financial institution.

  1. The Committee may appoint from within the Committee, a Program Coordinator, Social Coordinator, Conservation Officer and Promotion and Liaison Officer.  The duties of these appointees are described in ‘Terms of Reference for Society Sub-Committees’.

7.          The Committee may appoint from within the Society’s membership an Editor(s), Membership Steward, Exchange Steward, Book Steward, Raffle Steward, Service Items Officer(s), Librarian, WebMaster and other officers as may be required.

8.         The Committee may appoint persons to serve on such Sub-Committees as the Committee shall, from time to time, deem necessary to assist in the efficient administration of the Society (refer to ‘Terms of Reference for Society Sub-Committees’).  Such Sub-Committees shall be subordinate and responsible to the Committee.  The term of office for any such Sub-Committee shall not exceed that of the Committee.

9.         The Committee shall be responsible for the general management of the Society’s affairs, excluding the affairs of a Branch operating within the requirements of the document ‘Guidelines for the Formation and Regulation of Branches’, and shall regulate and decide all matters not specifically provided for by these Rules.  Matters requiring immediate attention may be dealt with by the President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer in conjunction.  All such decisions shall be ratified at the following meeting of the Committee.

10.       A meeting of the Committee shall be held monthly, except December, at such time and place as may be arranged by the Secretary.

11.       A Special meeting of the Committee may be convened at any time on the request of any three (3) Committee Office-Bearers and/or Committee persons.

12.       Committee meetings shall only be attended by elected and appointed Committee members.  Other persons may only attend upon invitation of the Committee, but will have no voting rights.

13.       The Committee shall, in November of each year, nominate an Auditor for recommendation to the members at the next Annual General Meeting, for appointment (for Auditor’s duties see ‘Guidelines for Society Office-Bearers and other Positions’).

14.       The Committee may, on the request in writing of three (3) or more members, authorise the formation of a Branch of the Society.  Branches shall function in accordance with the Objects and Rules of the Society and within the requirements of the document ‘Guidelines for the Formation and Regulation of Branches’.  Any amendments to such document shall be subject to ratification at an Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting of the Society.

  1. At Committee meetings every duly seconded motion shall be put to a vote, the result of which shall be determined by a simple majority.  Voting shall be by a show of hands unless a secret ballot is requested by a Committee member and this request is moved, seconded and carried by the majority of the Committee members.
  2. A member of any Committee, or Sub-Committee, who has a direct or indirect pecuniary or personal interest in a matter under consideration by such Committee, must disclose the nature of the interest to that Committee.


E.          Quorums

  1. The quorum for the transaction of business at a meeting of the Committee, or it’s Sub-Committees, shall be determined by dividing the number of actually elected and/or appointed members by two, rounding down to a full number, then adding one.
  2. The quorum for the transaction of business at a General Meeting, Special General Meeting or Annual General Meeting shall be 20 members.


F.          Election of Committee.

1.          All positions (Office-Bearers and Committee persons) shall become vacant at the commencement of each Annual General Meeting and new Office-Bearers and Committee persons elected for the following year.  The outgoing Committee will act in a caretaker role until the end of the Annual General Meeting.

2.          Nominations for Office-Bearers and Committee positions, for the ensuing year, shall be submitted in writing, signed by the nominator and endorsed by the nominee, and lodged with the Secretary by the 15th December.  Only Life, Full and Associate members shall be eligible for election.  Retiring Office-Bearers and Committee persons shall be eligible for nomination.

3.          In the event that nominations are received for less than 5 positions prior to December 15th, those nominations will stand.  The Committee shall convene an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held immediately prior to the Annual General Meeting when nominations will be received from the floor for those positions for which nominations were not received.  If elections are necessary they will be conducted at the Annual General Meeting and voting will be by secret ballot.

4.          In the case of an insufficiency of nominees for any Office or other position on the Committee, or in the case of a vacancy occurring in any office, the Committee shall have the power to fill such vacancy/vacancies for the remainder of the Society’s year.

5.          If only one nomination is received or, alternatively, the required number of nominations are received for each Committee Office or other position, such nomination/s shall be put to the Annual General Meeting for resolution.  Upon such resolution, that person or persons shall be duly elected to such Office or other position and shall take up the Office or other position at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting.

6.          If more than the required number of nominations are received for an Office or other position on the Committee, a secret ballot of members shall determine the person(s) elected.

7.          When an election is required, a Returning Officer shall be appointed and one ballot paper shall be prepared for each Office or other position for which an election is required.  Each ballot paper shall contain:

a.         the name of one Office or other position for which an election is required;

b.         the names in alphabetical order of the candidates for that Office or other position;

c.          a blank square opposite to the name of each candidate;

d.         a clear instruction to the member to place a cross in one square opposite to the name of the candidate(s) for which the member desires to vote; and

e.         a clear instruction to the member to return that copy, duly completed, to reach the Returning Officer not later than the next following Annual General Meeting.

8.         The Committee shall appoint four (4) Life and/or Full members to act as scrutineers.  Such persons shall not hold, nor be seeking election to, any Committee position at the time of their appointment as a scrutineer.

9.         With the January issue of Bird Keeping in Australia, members shall receive candidate profiles and instructions that Life, Full and Associate members may request an absentee ballot paper by contacting the Returning Officer.  On receipt of a request, the Returning Officer shall post a ballot paper and notice of instruction to that member.  Each ballot paper sent out shall be initialled on the reverse by the Returning Officer.

10.       The notice of instructions shall direct the member to complete each enclosed ballot paper copy as instructed therein, place it inside an envelope marked ‘BALLOT PAPERS’ and to post it inside a second envelope, with the member’s name and address on the reverse, to reach the Returning Officer not later than the start of the Annual General Meeting next following.  The Returning Officer shall confirm that member’s eligibility to vote before removing the inner envelope and keep it unopened until the vote is counted in the presence of the scrutineers.

11.       On arrival at the Annual General Meeting members wishing to vote shall receive a ballot paper (initialled on the reverse by the Returning Officer or a scrutineer) providing their name appears on the official list of eligible members.  Any Life, Full or Associate member who has not returned an absentee vote shall be eligible to vote at the Annual General Meeting.

12.       The scrutineers shall disregard any copy of a ballot paper that is not initialled on the reverse side by the Returning Officer or by one of the scrutineers.

13.       Voting shall close at the commencement of the Annual General Meeting and the scrutineers shall, pursuant to the provisions of this clause and clause F.l2, count the valid votes.  If any question arises as to the validity of any vote, it shall be determined by the scrutineers and their decision shall be final.

14.       No election shall be held to be invalid by reason of the non-receipt of any ballot paper by any member.

15.       The candidate with the highest number of valid votes shall be declared the winner.  Should the highest number of valid votes be obtained by two or more candidates, the successful candidate shall be chosen by lot, in a manner determined by the Returning Officer.

16.       The results of the ballot of members shall be announced by the end of the Annual General Meeting and the successful candidate(s) shall take up their Office or other position at the conclusion of that meeting.


G.         Removal of Committee Member(s) and any other Office-bearer(s).

1.         In the event of any member of the Committee being absent for three (3) consecutive meetings of the Committee, without leave of absence being applied for and granted by the Committee, that person shall automatically cease to be a member of the Committee.

2.          Any member of the Committee who acts in a disorderly manner, or acts in any manner detrimental to the interests of the members of the Society, or acts in breach of these Rules, may be suspended from the Committee by a two-thirds majority vote of the Committee, for such a period as may be decided by the Committee.  However, no such action shall be taken without such Committee member being given the opportunity to explain such conduct to the Committee.


H.         Society Meetings/Activities.

1 .         A General Meeting of the Society shall be held monthly at such time and place as may be arranged by the Committee.  Details of the General Meeting shall be advised to members through the Society’s magazine, Bird Keeping In Australia.  If, within thirty (30) minutes of the time appointed for such a meeting, a quorum is not available the meeting shall proceed but no formal business shall be transacted.

2.         A Special General Meeting may be called at any time by the Committee or by requisition in writing stating the object of the proposed meeting and signed by ten (10) or more financial members.  A notice of any Special General Meeting, stating the business to be transacted, and specifying the day, hour and place of meeting as determined by the Committee shall be sent to each member at their last known address at least seven (7) days prior to the proposed time of holding such meeting.  At a Special General Meeting no business shall be transacted other than that of which notice has been given.  If within thirty (30) minutes of the time appointed for such Special General Meeting, a quorum is not available, the meeting, if convened on a requisition of members, shall stand dissolved.  In any other case the meeting shall stand adjourned to a time and place appointed by the Committee.

3.         An Extraordinary General Meeting may be called by the Committee from time to time, for the purpose of members being addressed by visiting aviculturists, ornithologists, naturalists or other persons.  Notification of such meetings shall be published in the Society’s magazine Bird Keeping In Australia, if time permits.  If not, details shall be published in the daily press.

4.         The Annual General Meeting shall be held in the month of February each year.  Notification of the Annual General Meeting shall be published in the January issue of the Society’s magazine Bird Keeping In Australia.  At this meeting all positions shall become vacant (see Rule F.1).  The Secretary shall submit the Annual General Report, covering the Society’s activities during the previous year.  The Treasurer shall present the Society’s financial statement, subject to audit, for the year ended the previous December 31st.

5.          At all General Meetings, every duly seconded motion shall be voted on by the general membership.  Voting shall take place by a show of hands with a simple majority deciding the motion.  In the event of a tied vote, the Chairperson shall have a casting vote.


I.           Awards.

The Committee may from time to time present awards in keeping with guidelines described in the document ‘Guidelines for Presentation of Awards’.


J.          Financial Responsibilities of the Society.

1.          The assets and income of the Society shall be applied solely in furtherance of its Objects, or in accordance of its Rules, and no portion shall be distributed directly or indirectly to its members except as bona fide compensation for services rendered or expenses incurred on behalf of the Society.


K.         Amendments to the Objects, Rules and Guidelines Documents.

1.          Notice in writing shall be given to the Secretary of any proposed amendment, repeal or addition to these Objects, Rules, and Guidelines.  Members shall be given no less than twenty-eight (28) days notice of the convening of any meeting at which a resolution to alter these Objects, Rules, and Guidelines shall be put.  Such notice shall be placed in the Society’s magazine Bird Keeping In Australia.

  1. These Objects, Rules, and Guidelines shall only be added to, altered or rescinded by resolution of members, passed at a Special or Annual General Meeting and carried by a two-thirds majority of financial members present and exercising their right to vote.


L.          Dissolution of the Society.

1.         A decision to dissolve the Society shall only be taken by a two-thirds majority of members present and exercising their right to vote at a Special General Meeting called for this purpose.  Should the Society be dissolved, the same Special General Meeting shall determine the distribution of the Society’s assets/funds to non-profit organisations.

2.          In the event of the Society being dissolved, the amount which remains after such dissolution, and the satisfaction of all debts and liabilities, shall be paid and applied by the Committee in accordance with their powers to any fund, institution or authority which is a non-profit organisation, in accordance with the resolutions of the Special General Meeting referred to in Rule L.1.

Mixed Aviaries

Definition : more than one species of bird housed in the same aviary. The aim is to keep species which occupy different areas or niches in the aviary. e.g. parrots and quail

(As distinct from a colony : greater than one pair of the same species)
Advantages :

greater variety of birds may be kept

more interesting collections

Disadvantages :


risk of fighting and injury

feeding and housing requirements may be different

may be different in the breeding season

more work !

Compatibility of different groups of birds



pigeons and doves


Examples of compatible collections

Habitat Aviaries : a collection of species found in one area/habitat e.g. the Adelaide Hills. Well represented at the Adelaide Zoo.

Compatibility of Australian Parrots
Docile Neophema – small, docile
Polytelis – docile (except breeding) but large
Pugnacious Red-rumps
Aggressive Blue-bonnets

Compatibility of Australian Finches
Aggressive species : Crimson Finch
Beautiful Firetail – to own kind
Red-eared Firetail – to own kind
Dominating species : Zebra
Diamond Firetail

Different Habitats e.g. Painted Firetail (dry open) and Blue-faced Parrot Finch (wet, planted)

Do not house large parrots, quail or pigeons with finches

Compatibility of Pigeons and Doves

Most are compatible with mixed collection of small parrots, finches and quail

Spinifex and Partridge parrots are aggressive ground dwellers

Closely related species may fight

Arboreal and terrestrial species will mix e.g. fruit-dove and Spinifex

Compatibility of Quail

Bob-white and California Quail fly – upset nesting finches

Black-breasted Button-quail defend their nest/young vigorously

Avicultural Hints

While the ‘experts’ can be wrong occasionally, experienced aviculturists can supply a wealth of information, some of which you will never find in books.

If fostering birds or eggs, e.g. Gouldians under Bengalese, remove the resultant young from contact with the foster species as soon as they are independent, or sexual imprinting may occur.

Tissues torn into strips are readily used for nest lining by some finches.

Use natural wood perches in the aviary – they are better for exercising the feet of your birds than are dowel perches all of the same size.

If a bird looks “off colour”, don’t take a chance – place it in a small cage with warmth and in a quiet place. Medication may be necessary, but if you don’t know what is wrong with the bird you may need to consult a vet. The wrong medication for an illness will not cure the bird.

Aviary doors that are greater than head height allow you to watch the birds when entering the aviary, instead of ducking the head and naturally averting your eyes. You can, by then, see a bird coming for the open door, generally frighten it back and prevent an escape.

To catch a bird with a net against the side of the aviary, allow the bird to fly past your face, between you and the wire, then net it with the hand the bird is flying towards (i.e., the ‘following’ hand).

Nest peeking can be a costly experience; and should be avoided with those species that may resent this practice. Far too often a finger in the nest habit has been responsible for upsetting birds that are nesting, especially if the birds have been flushed out of the nest for the inspection. If it is considered necessary to inspect the nest, try to wait until the birds have vacated the nest naturally and then carry out the inspection as quickly as possible and without visible interference to the nest. A disturbed twig or other nesting material will tell the returning birds that an intruder (and possible predator) has been around the nest, and may be still present (not unlike a broken window or door left ajar are signs of a recent home invasion). The birds may be reluctant to re-enter the nest under these circumstances.

Aviary shelters covered with galvanised iron can be a problem during the winter months, particularly when the nights are cold and frosty. Such conditions tends to cause galvanised iron to sweat which causes a considerable amount of dripping; and this in turn adds another hazard to that of the cold temperature existing. If aviary furnishings are arranged so that the birds are forced to roost close to the damp iron their health will be gradually undermined. To avoid this form of exposure all perches, brush and other roosting or nesting facilities should be at least 30cm from the roof. Several methods can be employed to overcome this problem. One is to line the ceiling with plywood or boards, another method considered beneficial is to paint the under side of the iron and before the paint dries, sprinkle it with sawdust. This is reputed to stop the dripping by absorbing the dampness. If the birds housed are to be kept in good condition it is essential that this problem is overcome.

Seed should be placed in such a position as to be completely protected from the elements and where droppings cannot foul it. It is most important that it cannot be saturated by driving rain as saturated seed will not allow the birds easy access to any dry seed that may still be in the hopper or dish; and this can be disastrous.

Many birds may not readily partake of such seeds as Maw and Niger if they are supplied in containers. If this is the case try a more natural method and throw a little on the floor of the aviary, in a cleared patch, in most cases the birds will favour this method of feeding. Scarlet-chested Parrots are particularly fond of Niger fed in this manner.

The use of seed hoppers overcomes the daily task of supplying seed, but care must be exercised when using these. A small piece of straw or similar material can render a hopper ineffective if it catches in the outlet and stops the flow of seed; if not checked regularly disaster can result. Seed containers should be cleaned regularly, if left for long periods they can accumulate a lot of dirt and dust which may prove harmful to the birds. Blowing the husks off is not enough, the container should be emptied and thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.

The only parrot native to the United States is extinct. The Carolina parrot was considered by farmers to be a pest. Nobody bothered to breed this formerly plentiful bird and the last known specimen died in 1918 at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Live food


1. Live food is essential in the normal diet for many softbills (including frugivorous and nectarivorous birds) and button-quail. A regular supply of live food is essential for breeding these birds and is also an important part of the diet of quail chicks. Increasing the supply of live food at the right time of the year may stimulate breeding.

2. It is important to ensure that the size of the live food is appropriate to the size of the bird/chick, as young birds can choke themselves trying to swallow large worms or insects (or even large numbers of small worms/insects).

3. Fast moving insects may be placed in the freezer for about an hour to slow them down and make it easier for the birds to catch them.

4. A variety of live food should always be offered to birds.

5. Live food should be fed at least once daily but Brown states “the most successful button-quail breeders will have a continuous supply of live food available.” This may involve feeding several times daily or using a method which produces a slow but steady supply e.g. vinegar fly trap (see below), fly trap (see below) or a jar/plastic container with a days supply of mealworms or other live food and with small (5-10mm) holes in the lid. When suspended upside down the insects will slowly crawl out the container throughout the day.

6. Insects have 3 stages in development:

the larvae or worm

the pupae or pre-adult phase

the adult beetle/fly which emerges from the pupae

As the insect matures through these stages, the amount of fat and protein in the insect changes. Larvae have the most fat and least protein; the adult insect has the most protein and least fat.

Live food may be:

Cultivated or collected away from the aviary and introduced when needed

Attracted into the aviary.

Cultivated Live Foods


These may be purchased from bait shops or may be cultivated from flytraps. The latter consist of a piece of meat (e.g. lung heart or liver) hung in a wire basket inside a PVC pipe which is approx. 1metre long with a cap on the bottom end and a removable lid. The cap has several 6mm holes drilled through it. The top of the pipe opposite the wire basket has a number of 2.5cm holes through which the flies can enter and blow the meat. The lower part of the pipe is filled with bran to a depth of 10cm. The trap is hung in the aviary. As the gents hatch, they drop out of the meat onto the bran. As they crawl downwards through the bran, the meat is removed from their gut. The cleansed maggots drop out of the lower cap, perhaps onto a small dish placed below the trap. Whether purchased or cultivated, gents should not be fed to birds while they show a black central strip as this can cause salmonella poisoning in birds The chrysalides may also be fed to birds.


The mealworm is the larvae of the beetle Tenebrio rnolitor.

For cultivation, they need ventilation, darkness, warmth and food. A wooden box, rubbish bin or aquarium which provides 15mm2 surface area per worm is suitable. Therefore a box of 255mm by 200mm (height l80mm) will hold 255 beetles. A tight fitting lid is needed with ventilation holes covered with fly-mesh Basic requirements for breeding are a temperature of 25oC, humidity of 50%, a layer of bran plus pollard to a depth of 50 to 75mm which is then covered with white paper or hessian. These layers are repeated to the top of the container. Vegetable peelings such as carrot or potato will provide moisture and damp paper or bread placed on the top will encourage the worms to collect here allowing easy removal for feeding. Pupae should be removed to a separate container and beetles separated again when they emerge as mealworms are cannibalistic. If the worms are turning into pupae faster than you can use them, the excess can be stored in the ‘fridge with a small amount of bran. They will then remain in a dormant state until warmed. At 27 degrees Celsius, it takes about 10 to 12 weeks for an egg to develop into an adult beetle. The lower the temperature, the longer development takes.

Many breeders recommend feeding mealworms in limited quantities, as they are very high in fat and birds can become “addicted” to them. Brown recommends feeding the mealworms a diet high in calcium (e.g. dog biscuits, Wombaroo Insectivore or calcium powder) for 1-2 days before feeding to birds. Mealworms could also be dipped in vitamin powder or other supplementary foods.

3. EGYPTIAN MOTHS (Flour Moths)

The Egyptian Moth will readily grow in flour, bran or any unprotected food, including birdseed. They can take over mealworm cultures if allowed to grow unchecked but birds appreciate both the moths and their larvae. In aviaries with dirt or grit floors, the larvae can often be found underneath bricks, rocks etc. and turning these over can provide birds with extra tit-bits.


These can be kept in a 10 gallon drum which is greased around the top (to keep black ants out and termites in). Sand is placed in the base of the drum to a depth of l00mm, topped by billets of wood. Sand and wood are then moistened. The whole nest should be dug up and put on this foundation, then sand poured around the perimeter of the nest and moistened. The nest must be kept out of the sun. A colony prepared this way is now self-sufficient and can be maintained for as long as 6 to 12 months.

To extract termites, place moistened pieces of timber on top of the mound and termites will congregate on these billets. The termites should be fed to the birds in a small bowl inside a larger container filled with water so that a shallow moat is formed. This prevents escape by the termites and attack by black ants.


Crickets may be cultivated, or they can be bought from commercial breeders. It is not a good idea to keep them in the house as their loud chirping rapidly becomes annoying.

To raise crickets you will need:

A terrarium at least 30cm high with the top covered by fly wire.

Egg cartons stacked one upon the other to provide hiding places.

Water supplied in dispensers, like those used for cage birds. Do not use dishes as small crickets can drown.

Food dishes. Dry pet food or pellets mixed with fruit and vegetables.

A pot of damp fresh earth, about 10 cm tall, for the crickets to lay eggs in.

Temperature of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.

The crickets will take 2 to 3 weeks to hatch, longer at lower temperatures. At two week intervals take out the breeding pot and replace with a fresh one. The eggs should hatch in a second terrarium and fed to the birds when they have grown to the appropriate size.


American cockroaches, bred in clean conditions, may be purchased from specialised suppliers. They can be kept in similar conditions as described for crickets.

Wild Live Foods

Insects can be attracted to the aviary in a variety of ways :


May be found under rocks and leaf litter in moist areas of the garden or aviary. Slaters are high in calcium and protein but low in fat.


These can be attracted to the aviary by a Vinegar-fly trap, which consists of a container full of vegetable matter and fruit with mesh lid over the top (to prevent the birds eating the rotten fruit). Over-ripe tomato, citrus fruit, damp pea-straw and wet bran seem especially effective. These flies are especially appreciated by the smaller soft-bills and quail/button-quail. For ground swelling species, the trap should be buried so that the wire lid is at ground level. To prevent birds contaminating the culture with their faeces (and any worm eggs contained within), some recommend a solid lid be used with holes drilled into the sides of the bucket to allow the flies to enter and leave.


A compost heap can be easily created inside the aviary using fruit and vegetable scraps, seed, lawn clippings, leaf litter etc. It should be kept well watered and turned over regularly and is a good source of slaters, earthworms and earwigs. However, there is a risk of introducing fungal infections into the aviary through the rotting vegetable matter.


Flowering shrubs and creepers attract a constant supply of insects, especially aphids. Aphid ridden plants can also be put into the aviary, but take care to ensure that the plant is not poisonous.


A 15W globe left on in the shelter of the aviary will attract night insects for the birds to feed on the next day. It also provides additional warmth in winter and a “night-light” for the birds in case of nocturnal disturbances.

Talpacoti Dove

Columba talpacoti

by Josie Pyle
Softbill, Dove and Quail Branch

Other Names: Ruddy Ground Dove

Distribution and Habitat: a native of Central and South America, the Talpacoti Dove exploits a variety of habitats including grasslands, swamps and settled areas. It prefers low-lying areas and forages for the seeds of grasses and weeds in open ground and uses small shrubs for roosting and nesting.

Size: 18 to 20cm in length with an adult weight of 60 to 80 grams.

Description: Certainly not vivid in colour, the Talpacoti Dove exhibits a blend of pastel grey and pink. The sexes are dimorphic. In the cock, the forehead and crown are dull grey with pink to almost purple from the throat down the underparts and on the wings, which also display small black spots. The legs and feet are pale pink to purple, the bill brown and the iris reddish-brown. In the hen the pink areas are replaced by brown to grey-brown and the forehead and crown are pale grey, The iris is also paler.

Juveniles: Hatchlings are covered in cream down. Juveniles resemble pale versions of the adults with scaling through the underparts. The scaling is buff in young hens and more rufous in young cocks.

Housing: A non-aggressive bird, the Talpacoti Dove may be kept in a mixed collection of small parrots such as neophemas, finches, softbills and quail. They may also be kept with larger pigeons or doves but may be antagonistic to dove species of their own size. My pair has only showed aggression towards other birds (Turquoise Parrots) as their chick was about to fledge, but this was not sustained or serious. The Talpacoti Dove prefers larger planted aviaries, in which they may become quite quiet and will show typical ground foraging behaviour. However they will tolerate and may even breed in an open parrot aviary.

Feeding: A basic Finch Mix provides the staple diet for the Talpacoti Dove but this should be supplemented with greenfeed and seeding grasses. Live food may be taken but is not essential.

Breeding: The Talpacoti Dove has been known to breed all year around, given the right circumstances and five or even more clutches per year are not uncommon. In the wild a cup shape nest of fine twigs is constructed in small shrubs. In captivity the birds will utilise artificial structures such as a canary cup nest, but nesting material such as grass and fine twigs should be provided. Some pairs may tolerate nest inspection but some will desert the nest if disturbed, especially in the first week. Two white eggs are laid and incubation occurs for 11 to 14 days. Incubation and brooding duties are shared by both sexes. Infertility has been noted as a problem in this species but may be overcome by swapping pairs around. The chicks fledge after only 10 to 14 days and the parents may have started nesting again even before this happens. Fledglings tend to spend most of their time on the aviary floor or low branches. Although only half the size of their parents at fledging, the young grow rapidly and can rapidly become very similar to their parents, so leg rings on the adults is a prudent step. The young are independent at 4 weeks after fledging and may be removed to a separate aviary. Occasionally cocks may become aggressive to older chicks, especially if the parents are nesting again.

Status: The Talpacoti is secure in aviculture, although not common. It is a worthwhile addition to a planted finch or small parrot aviary and is relatively easy to keep. It is the only South American dove species to be kept in Australia, which should give it some status and an certainly creates an obligation on aviculturists to maintain a viable breeding population.

Reference and further reading:

Brown, Dr. D., A Guide to… Pigeons, Doves and Quail, Australian Birdkeeper, NSW, 1995.

The Husbandry of Fairy-wrens By Bob O’Grady Softbill, Dove & Quail Branch

The pros and cons of keeping Fairy-wren’s


They are active all day – whereas parrots don’t move and finches disappear; wrens are out in open view and are always nosey.

They are easy to feed; at least relative to such birds as lorikeets and fruit pigeons, if you set the aviaries up correctly to start with.

Wrens breed readily given the right conditions and are easily sexed, at least as adults.


Young birds are not easy to sex until they are about three months of age, depending on the species.

You need a special permit and birds are therefore more difficult to buy or sell.

Wren’s must be fed daily-without fail

Generally speaking wrens are a fascinating and attractive challenge to aviculturists of all standards.

So what do you do if you think you want to keep wrens?
Rule No 1: “With wrens preparation is everything – do not buy in haste before you are ready.”

Setting up an aviary to cater for their needs.

1. Size

As large as you can provide with a minimum size of 5′ by 10′ by 7′. The smaller the aviary the less temptation there is add other birds. But if the aviary is too small it is not suitable for wrens either. It is very important to keep only one pair per aviary and to avoid keeping wrens in adjoining aviaries. My Splendid Fairy-wrens are kept in a 12′ by 18′ aviary with Diamond Fire-tails, Cubans, Cordons, Double-bars, Gouldians and quail. All species except the Cordons have bred. However, in a 5′ by 10′ aviary I have had no success breeding wrens when any other birds were in the aviary; but on their own they bred very well.

2. Floor

A mulch of some description is useful to attract insects. I add a catcher full of leafy grass clippings as often as possible and fork it over every month or so.

3. Plants

Plants serve three different purposes in wren aviaries.

(a) Provide cover and nest sites. Plants useful for this purpose include Needle-Brush, Bamboo, Book Pine and etc. – any thing thick but manageable will do but take care that it doesn’t start growing out the top of the aviary and breaking the wire.

(b) Attract insects. I use Hibiscus and Roses for aphids.

(c) Bathing. A fine leafed hanging baskets or two under the mist spray gives great enjoyment to both you and your birds – I use Asparagus Ferns.

4. Mist Sprays

As well as watering the plants in the aviaries mist sprays encourage insects breeding by keeping the mulch moist.

5. Lights

I use 12 volt garden lights on a timer to extend daylight hours. During the night moths are attracted to the light, and disperse into the foliage, to be found the next day by the hunting wrens.

6. Water

Water should be provided in a shallow dish placed in the shade. I find a of water depth of approximately 1″ is suitable. Wrens do not spend much time at the water-bowl because they prefer to drink and bathe in the shrubs.

7. Feed Stations

Feed stations should be placed near the door, whether it is at the front or the back of the aviary. You should try to stay out of their space as much as possible as privacy and secrecy is very important to these birds. The mealworms must be shaded as direct sunlight (or even heat on a warm day) will kill them very quickly and wrens will not eat dead mealworms.

Rule No 2: “Check carefully that there are no holes in the aviary. Wrens cover every inch of the aviary several times in the space of the day and will find even the smallest hole very quickly.”


1. Mealworms.

These form the staple live food for wrens and therefore you need in active colony – I don’t mean just one box, I mean at least six to eight boxes PLUS a reliable source for purchasing in quantity at times when yours are not breeding fast enough. My basic diet is one tea spoon of mealworms per day per bird.

2. Softfood Mix

My recipe is one egg, mixed with one tablespoons of each of the following Insectivore Mix, egg biscuit and grated cheese. This is an easy mix to make and keeps well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for a week or two. I feed this mixture at the rate of one desert spoon per pair per day. The wrens don’t eat a lot of the mix, but it is a reliable back up to mealworms and any quail you have will love the left-overs.

3. Insect Bucket

Citrus fruits, watermelon and tomatoes are some of the best ingredients for the insect bucket. However any compostable material will suffice. This source of live food is very important in a breeding season because newly hatched chicks need to be fed very small live food.

Plus all the wild live food generated by the mulch, plants and lights.

Now you can get your birds!

The Wedding Day

This is when you introduce the birds to the aviary and to each other. This is best done out of the breeding season and when the birds are out of colour. You should observe the birds carefully to detect any bullying or excessive aggression. Fully coloured birds must be watched extremely carefully (even birds bought as a mated pair placed in a new aviary can become aggressive). A friendly game of chase is normal behaviour but the bird being changed, usually the hen, is always in control and when she stops the game should be over and neither bird should look distressed at any time. Make sure both birds are seen at the mealworm dish within the first hour. If you are not happy, catch them up, and keep them separate until the next day. Then you should place than in adjoining budgie cages in the aviary for a few hours before releasing them at the same time – the next morning you will know if this has worked!

The Breeding Season

Rule No 3: “Hen birds must be rung, either above the ankle or above the knee as young birds will rapidly grow up to resemble their mothers.”

Nesting Material


Coconut fibre

Fine grasses

Spider webs on a forked stick – spider webs are an aphrodisiac for wrens

Some pairs will use of variety of material but others are fussier. I have had nests made entirely of under-felt; a ball of fluff 5 inches in diameter with just a few white feathers in the nest chamber.


As much variety as possible. Mealworms of all sizes must be provided (not just the big ones) plus fly pupae, vinegar flies and moths if available. The mealworm dish must never be empty, especially at daybreak. Remember that hot weather will kill mealworms very quickly so worms must be fed as a constant supply throughout the day. Warning: mealworm consumption can increase from a teaspoon per day to a teaspoon per hour if the nest contains multiple chicks!

If everything is to their satisfaction wrens can breed continuously from November to April – laying a new clutch of eggs as the previous young leave the nest. If conditions are not right, wrens will often try hard to breed but will continue to fail. My Superb Fairy-wrens have bred from July 95 to February 98. In their best year (1996) they had 13 young. The Splendid Fairy-wrens started breeding in April 96; their best year was 1999 when they had 4 chicks.

When to separate the young? The answer is “not too soon but not too late” and varies with each pair. Birds should be watched carefully for any aggression developing towards the young birds and also to ensure that they are no longer reliant on their parents for food when they are removed.


Wrens are very active and attractive birds with a lot of personality. They are easy to keep if you take the time to set up both the aviary and your food supply correctly, but you must be willing to feed them at least once a day, every day. With the investment of a bit more time and trouble to provide a more varied supply of live food, wrens can be bred quite readily and often very successfully. Research into the birds you are interested in is very important and, as there is very little written material available, you should talk to as many people that keep wrens as possible. A good source of talkative wren keepers is the Softbill, Dove & Quail Branch of the Society, so I invite you to come along to a meeting (for further information please check out the Branch section).

Shell Parrot (Budgerigar) Melopsittacus undulatus

In 1938 Neville Cayley wrote “The Budgerigar, quite apart from its beauty and attractive mannerisms, possesses every attribute necessary to make it an ideal subject for breeding experiments. As an aviary bird it has no rival, its adaptability, hardiness and free-mating propensities, place it in a class quite apart from any other species.” Since then the humble Budgie has spread all over the globe and has been developed into numerous colour and feather mutations, to the extent that these domesticated birds now have little in common with their wild cousins. In more recent years, many aviculturists have endeavoured to breed wild-type budgies and, to differentiate them from the domestic variety, these budgies tend to be referred to as “Shell Parrots”.
Distribution and Habitat

The Budgerigar is distributed throughout most of Australia, with the exception of the northern and eastern coastlines, the far south-west of WA and Tasmania. They tend to prefer arid to semi-arid grasslands and woodlands but never move far from surface water. Budgies are a highly nomadic species following the rains and subsequent seeding grasses; a plentiful supply of the latter will stimulate the birds to breed. At times of drought, flocks of 1000 or more birds may be seen, circling and wheeling over any remaining surface water.

While there are multiple colour variations available today, I would agree with Mark Shephard’s comment “I think the natural green of the wild Budgerigar is still the most beautiful colour of this bird”.

Averaging17 to 20cm in length, the male Shell Parrot is a bright green bird with black barring across the wings and upper-parts, a yellow throat & forehead and a blue cere above the beak. The hen is similar in colour but a breeding female has a brown cere (a non-breeding female can have a violet cere). Immature birds are duller in colour, have a barred forehead and a pinkish-violet cere. Adult plumage is obtained by 4 months but birds can be sexed earlier than this by the colour of the cere.

I remember standing near a tree outside Alice Springs and watching a flock of 50 or more budgies fly in. Try as I might, I could only see one male bird sitting out on a branch, chattering away – the rest had vanished into the foliage! Aside from it’s camouflage colouration, the configuration of the wild budgie is well adapted to survival, being a lithe bullet shaped bird capable of flying and wheeling rapidly in large flocks. In aviary situations, even 4 to 6 birds will usually stay together in a flock, and will fly from one end of the aviary to the other in a group. In addition, they tend to sit leaning forward on the branch ready for flight, rather than the more upright stance of the domestic budgie.

Obtaining Stock

Unfortunately some bird dealers do not differentiate between green domesticated budgies and Shell Parrots so birds should only be obtained from a reputable source, either bird dealer or private aviculturist.


A good quality budgie seed mix forms the staple part of the Shell Parrot’s diet. In addition grit mix, seeding grasses (especially appreciated), green food, apple and soaked seed should be offered. Gum branches provide both food and entertainment, as do large seed bells or rings. Of course, fresh water should be available at all times.


Shell Parrots are said to breed best in a small flock of 3 or more pairs, but one of my pairs ONLY bred when housed as a single pair. As a general rule it is dicey to keep budgies with finches and other small birds, but my Shell Parrots happily coexist with both Emblemas and Chestnut-breasted Manikins. Competition for nesting sites can be a problem, even when an abundant choice is offered, and this can extend to small parrots such as Neophemas. They are active birds so should not be kept with anything that is easily intimidated. If they are to be kept in a mixed collection, careful observation is essential to stop problems developing.


My Shell Parrots tend to breed mainly in autumn and spring, avoiding the hotter drier months of summer but in some situations birds have been known to breed all year around. My birds use a variety of nesting boxes from traditional budgie boxes, small parrot boxes and hollow logs with a small side entrance. Some aviculturists fix a wooden spout over the entrance hole of a budgie nesting box, to make it more attractive to the birds. The general rule for budgies should be followed – at least 3 boxes for every 2 pairs of birds. Even then frequently 2 hens will become obsessed with one box and the subsequent fighting can be quite vicious. Nesting material is not required and not appreciated, as the hen will try to remove it from the box before nesting. Budgie boxes are made with a shallow depression in the nesting chamber but other boxes can be modified in this way. Up to 5 or 6 eggs may be laid which the hen alone incubates for about 18 days. Chicks will fledge after 30 to 35 days and often become independent within 1 week.


Shell Parrots offer something a little bit different that is within the price range and expertise of the average aviculturist. Give them a try – you’ll never look at budgies in quite the same way again!


Lendon A. H. “Australian Parrots in Field and Aviary”. Angus and Robertson Publishers, Australia. 1979.

Shephard M. “Aviculture in Australia”. Black Cockatoo Press, Victoria. 1989

Hand-raising Pigeons and Doves By Josie Pyle Softbill Dove and Quail Branch

Hand-raising pigeon and dove chicks (squabs) requires:

warmth and humidity

appropriate food

Warmth and Humidity

Squabs are altricial, i.e. blind, and helpless when hatched and, although covered in a fine down, are totally dependant on their parents for temperature and hydration maintenance. Brooders must therefore provide both warmth and humidity, the latter provided by placing water close to the heat source. Suitable brooders for rearing a chick from day 1 include

box/aquarium with light globe (or ceramic globe) and a bowl of water

pet heater pad with water source

commercial brooder or converted incubator

Temperature control is most important for very young chicks as they digest and absorb food better at a slightly higher temperature (35 to 36 C) than older chicks. If the chick chills, the crop may empty slowly and the food in the crop become spoiled, leading to fungal or bacterial infections.

To encourage feather growth, the temperature of the brooder should be reduced as the chick grows; from the 35 to 36 C mentioned above to 25 to 28 C by 3 weeks of age. The temperature of the box/aquarium brooder can be reduced by moving the chick further from the light source. whatever the brooder, a thermometer should be used to check the temperature frequently. As the chick becomes mobile, it will find it’s own comfortable temperature.


Artificial Pigeon Beak

A squab will feed by putting its beak into the beak/mouth of its parent and drinking food regurgitated from the adults crop. This situation can be reproduced easily through the use of a modified syringe. The end of the syringe is cut off at the junction with the barrel, leaving a small rim. The hole and barrel should be large enough for the chick’s beak to fit inside and open thus allowing the chick to drink. If the hole is too small, the chick may develop a sore on the top of its beak. The size of the syringe used will therefore depend on the species and age of the chick. Eye droppers and pipette bulbs are suitable alternatives to a syringe.

Growth Stages

These depends a lot on the species involved but can generally be divided into 4 stages. The number of days given for each stage applies to a chick from a species which takes 30 days to fledge. The percentage figure given can be used to work out the duration of each stage for species with longer (or shorter) fledging times.
Stage 1 Newly hatched From hatching until 4 days of age. This equates to approximately 14% of the time from hatching to fledging.
Stage 2 Early Growth From day 5 to 7. (11%)
Stage 3 Late Growth From day 8 to 14. (20%)
Stage 4 Fledging From day 15 until weaned. (55%)

Feeding Regimes

Depends on the species, formulas available and amount of time you are prepared to spend on preparing food. For the first 3 growth stages described above, the formula must mimic “pigeons milk” which is a specialized product of the thickened crop lining of the parent. Compared with the chicks later food it is higher in protein, fat and water but carbohydrates are almost absent. The formula should become progressively thicker towards the end of stage 3.

Danny Brown’s book “A Guide to Pigeons, Doves & Quail” provides a range of recipes for different species for aviculturists who like to make their own formula but I find that using a pre-prepared formula powder is easier. The following information is for Rowdybush™ Squab Hand-feeding Formula.

Growth Stage


% Water

% Formula

Feedings per day





5 – 6












Formula 3




You will notice that in Stage 4 the formula used is “Formula 3” which is the formula for raising graniverous species such as parrots, fiches etc. This should be fed 3 to 4 times daily initially, reducing to once daily as the chick approaches weaning age. Adult food should be offered early to encourage acceptance.

Important Points

Mix formula with warm water and feed as soon as possible (at about 40 C)

Never feed leftovers, mix fresh formula each feed.

Spread feeds evenly over the day and fill crop at each feeding.

Measure formula and water accurately – by weight and not volume. e.g. 86g water 14g formula. Inaccurate measurement can lead to uneven growth.

Store formula in a cool dry place. Freezing the dry powder maximizes shelf life (to approx. 12 months).

Fruit Eating Doves

Can be raised with the above regime with the following modifications:

during Stage 4 stewed or pureed apple/pear is used instead of water.

during weaning the fruit is mixed with the formula to a putty like consistency, rolled into balls and fed. Later, fruit pieces can replace the fruit/formula mix.


Brown D., A Guide to Pigeons, Doves & Quail. Australian BirdKeeper, South Tweed Heads. 1995.

Roudybush Australia. PO Box 831, Newcastle, NSW 2300.

First Breeding of the Little Lorikeet By Russ ROWLANDS

The Little Lorikeet is a completely green-bodied bird and features a red face, and the only difference in the sexes is that the male features a more bright red on the face, is usually slightly larger than the female and carries a much more pronounced golden brown colouring on the back of the neck.

I had my birds four years before any attempt at nesting was made and although this first attempt was unsuccessful a lot was learnt in relation to their feeding during the time they nested. They were fed fruit cake, bread and milk and on this diet they remained in excellent condition, but it was not enough for them to rear their young. After the first disappointment, plans were started to prepare for the next breeding season and this meant quitting some of the larger birds which also ate the same food as the Lorikeets. In place of these I added a pair of Bleeding Heart Pigeons, Greenwing Pigeons and a pair of Ground Doves – this meant that the Little Lorikeets were the only parrots in the aviary and shared this with the pigeons and a pair of Rails, which were the only ground birds. The aviary size was 16′ x 12′ x 6′ high with a 4′ shelter, the flight was planted with Old Man Saltbush and an Ink Berry bush. The Lorikeets had the choice of various logs and boxes and they selected to nest in a box under the shelter, the measurements of this being 8″ x 6″ x 8″ with a removable top. Peat moss was placed in the box for nesting material.

They started to show an interest in the box about mid-August, laid the first egg on the 18th and by the 22nd had laid four eggs. The eggs were pure white and very rounded at both ends; in fact, they were almost round. The hen commenced incubation on the 20th of August and the male took no part in the incubation, although he did sleep in the box at night. The first chick hatched out in 23 days and three days later there were four young in the box, thus indicating that all eggs were fertile. One of the chicks was a weakling and only survived a week. As soon as the young were hatched I started feeding another mixture which contained malted milk, condensed milk, honey and Bengers food mixed with water. The Bengers food was used one day and the next day Complan was used, and this mixture was fed twice daily until the young became independent. In addition to this they were fed cake, apple and pears. Both birds attended to the feeding of the young. When the chicks are first hatched they are practically naked, but they quickly grow a white down.

After several weeks the nest box started to get very wet and I decided that it had to be changed (and this was made easier by having the box with a removable lid). The nest was cleaned out and the nesting material was replaced with a commercial cat litter, and this was changed every week until the young birds left the nest box. The young birds were in the nest-box for 52 days before attempting to leave, and even then they could only fly short distances; however, plenty of dead Ink Berry had been left in the aviary so that they had plenty of places on which to perch. The first few nights the young birds were returned to the box because the weather had turned very cold, but after the cold spell they camped in the Saltbush each night. For the first week the parent birds still fed the young, after which they started to take the liquid mixture, and by the end of the second week they were completely independent and showed preference for the liquid and soft pears. When the young left the nest they were a dull example of the parent birds, the green on the body was not as bright, the red on the face was not as bright and they were quite a bit smaller in body. The Little Lorikeets have never been seen to take hard seed. Given the right food and conditions they will live for many years in captivity and they certainly are an asset in the aviary.

Reprinted from the January 1973 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

The Peaceful Dove by Dan HASSELL

A native Australian Dove, the Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida) is a slightly larger bird than it’s better known cousin, the Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata). The name ‘Peaceful’ is unfortunate, as this species can be rather argumentative with others of its species or with other aviary occupants. The Peaceful Dove’s range is over most of mainland Australia except for some of the more arid areas, as it tends to inhabit vegetated areas close to a supply of drinking water. A Society member recently reported to me, this species is quite common in the Gawler area and I know of another aviculturist who has regularly seen it between Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Peaceful Doves are between 8 and 9 inches in length (200 to 230 mm) and should be of a slender build. They are predominately a grey-brown bird on the back and wings and grey-pink on the underside, with bars of black across the wings and back. Their main feature is probably their ’zebra’ stripes from the chin to the upper breast which also extends around to the back of the neck. The sexes are monomorphic, and they can be difficult to sex. Males tend to have more iridescent blue around the eye-ring extending toward the beak, however young males can be mistaken for mature females. During the breeding season, the colour of the skin around the eye may become a more intense blue. Some say males are larger, and the black of the zebra stripes are darker and better defined in males, but I cannot pick these features and believe it is more of an individual trait. Juveniles, in particular, are poorly marked around the throat and neck area. The most reliable way to sex these birds (without the cost of DNA or surgical sexing) is by observation. Place different coloured leg rings on the birds to identify them and watch their behaviour. Cocks ‘coo’ loudly, particularly after sunrise, and hens don’t. When courting, cocks will lift their tails and will bow and bob in front of the hens, attempting to win their affection.

There is a fawn (sometimes called cinnamon) mutation of this species readily available.

Peaceful Doves can be housed in almost any type of aviary, but probably do best in a large, planted, open-flighted finch type aviary. More than one pair can be kept if the space is available, and after some initial bickering to establish the pecking order, they will generally settle down. My two pairs are housed in an aviary 5 metres x 2.2 metres x 2.1 metres high, with finches and a pair of Bleeding Heart Pigeons, all co-existing peacefully together.

In it’s natural habitat the Peaceful Dove is a ground feeder, taking mainly the seeds from native trees and grasses. It has adapted well to taking seeds from introduced grasses including agricultural crops. In aviculture they will eat small seeds, such as finch or budgie mix, and soaked or sprouted seed. Some greenfood may be taken although it is not essential. Livefood is not often taken and it is probably a waste of time giving it.

This dove is considered to be generally compatible with other species of birds, including finches, quail, softbills and the more docile parrots. It can also be housed with some other species of pigeons or doves, however aggression should be watched as some individuals can be pugnacious toward other birds. Care should be taken not to house this species with the Diamond Dove, as hybridization may occur.

This species may breed at any time of the year that food is available, but the main breeding season is from spring through to autumn. Breeding begins with the cockbird displaying to the hen, often on the ground, when he elevates his tail to nearly vertical while bobbing and cooing in an arc in front of the hen. A flimsy nest is constructed of short lengths of thin sticks or course grass, and if wire platforms are not provided, they will be placed in the fork of a bush or among branches of needlebrush. Because of their flimsy nature, nests often move and the eggs will fall through, therefore it is better avicultural practice to provide some platforms of birdwire in various positions around the aviary shelter. Hopefully they will pick one. Generally two white coloured eggs are laid, one day apart, and incubation lasts about 14 days. The parents share incubation duties. Care should be taken when moving about in the aviary during that time as some pairs are light sitters and may leave the nest. The young are born covered with down, and grow rapidly. In typical pigeon fashion, the squabs are beak fed with a regurgitated ‘crop-milk’ and, as they grow, the parents regurgitate increasing amounts of solids amongst the milk. Although not fully feathered, the young have a good cover of feathers within about two weeks and they fledge at around 16 to 17 days of age. They are poor flyers at first and may spend much of their first days on the ground. Full feathering is attained by about 4 weeks of age, with adult colour occurring between 2 and 3 months of age. The young should be eating independently about 2 weeks after leaving the nest and they can be removed from the aviary a weeks or so later, or can be left with the parents and they will happily co-exist. Some pairs will raise 2 or 3 successive clutches.

This bird is not kept as commonly kept as the Diamond Dove, or the introduced Masked Dove, but they are still readily available and are not expensive. They are a worthy candidate for any aviculturist looking for an interesting species to add to their mixed collection, and they have a lovely call which can be heard all over the backyard while not being annoying to the neighbours.

References –

BROWN, D., Guide to Pigeons, Doves & Quail, Australian Birdkeeper Publications.

SHEPHARD, M., Aviculture in Australia, Reed Books.

Australian Ringneck Parrots by Mark Holmes, Angaston, S.A.

The ringneck family of Australian parrots belong to the genus, Barnardius. They are also referred to as Broad-tailed parrots. The ringneck group are widespread throughout the drier areas of Australia and there are four main subspecies recognised, namely :

Twenty-eight parrot

Port Lincoln parrot

Mallee ringneck

Cloncurry parrot

A hybrid subspecies between the Port Lincoln and Twenty-eight parrot, the so-called wheatbelt hybrid or the yellow-fronted Twenty-eight parrot, also exists. All are widely kept in avicultural collections and are a worthwhile addition to any fanciers collection.

The Twenty-eight and Port Lincoln parrots and the wheatbelt hybrid are all very similar in coloration and I am sure there has been many a friendly argument on an aviary visit amongst aviculturists as to which is which.

In the Twenty-eight parrot, the sexes are alike in body colouration. It is a large bird, being approximately 40cm in length, of which 20cm is tail. The male however, is slightly larger than the female and has a broader head. Its head is dull black; lower ear coverts violet blue; it has a narrow yellow collar around the nape; the back and wings are bright green; the outer webs of the primary feathers are dark blue; the throat and breast are dark green; the belly is green; the underwing coverts are blue; the eye is brown; bill is pale grey; legs and feet are grey. Both sexes have a red frontal band across the top of the bill, as do the wheatbelt hybrids. The wheatbelt or yellow-fronted Twenty-eights as they are often called have the same colourings and markings, except the belly is yellow grading to a pale green towards the vent.

Immatures of both the Twenty-eight and the wheatbelt hybrid are duller than the adults with a brown hue about the head. The Twenty-eight has a tri-syllabic call, sounding like ‘twenty-eight’, as the last note is higher in pitch than the first two. This call has given rise to their common name.

The Port Lincoln parrot is also known as Bauer’s parrakeet, Banded parrot or the Yellow-naped parrot, although these names are not widely used.

Once again the sexes are similar with the male being slightly larger with a broader head. They are 37cm in length, including 19cm of tail. The head is dull black; lower ear coverts are violet-blue; narrow yellow collar on the neck; back and wings are green; outer web of primary feathers are green, becoming blue towards the tips; the lateral feathers are blue edged with pale blue; the throat and breast are blue green and the belly yellow changing to a yellow green as nears the vent and undertail coverts. Underwing coverts are blue; the eye is brown; the bill pale grey and the legs and feet are grey. Neither the male or female Port Lincoln has a red frontal band although some individual birds may have a small red spot above the bill. This is due to interbreeding, as the Twenty-eight, the wheatbelts and the Port Lincoln will readily hybridise. This is most noticeable in large numbers of trapped birds that dealers have on hand at times.

Immature Port Lincoln’s are once again duller than the adults with the head having a brown hue.

The contact call is a high pitched whistling note, repeated rapidly several times. The alarm call is harsh and metallic, being very similar to that of the Mallee ringneck.

The Twenty-eight and Port Lincoln breed from August to February, mainly in central and southern Australia. Birds in northern Australia are known to start nesting as early as June, but this often depends on the rainfall. They often double brood in the wild although I have rarely heard of them double brooding in captivity.

There is a great activity at the start of the breeding season as the pair inspect every hole and hollow in the branches of a living or dead eucalyptus tree, chattering incessantly and wagging their tails. Once a breeding pair have selected a hollow they defend it vigorously against other parrots.

During the mating display, the courting male crouches in front of the female, squares his shoulders and wings and vibrates them slightly, with his tail fanned and moving quickly from side to side. While doing this he chatters constantly.

They nest in a hollow limb of a eucalyptus tree, laying four to seven (usually four), rounded, white eggs 31x25mm in size. The bottom of the hollow is lined with wood dust as a soft bed for the eggs. Hens sit for 21 days and young fly after 30 days.

The Port Lincoln is widely distributed on the west coast of South Australia around Kimba, north to Alice Springs, west from Alice Springs to the Western Australian coast, and the whole of WA below that line, except the south-west corner. They are most common in most types of lightly timbered country, from eucalypt woodland to mallee and dry acacia scrubland of the central regions.

The Twenty-eight inhabits dense eucalyptus forests in the south-west of Western Australia.

Twenty-eights and Port Lincolns feed on the ground or among the branches of trees and shrubs, eating a variety of seeds and plant food.

These conspicuous birds are noisy and inquisitive. When disturbed they fly to a nearby tree, call excitedly and evaluate the danger before flying away. The alarm calls given by one bird quickly attracts others and soon the disturbance, be it a snake, goanna or other, is being investigated by a dozen or more chattering parrots.

Twenty-eights and Port Lincolns in an aviary have been known to be very aggressive towards their young when they have fledged and it is best to isolate the young as soon as they are independent. They have also been known to continually chase their young from the feed bowl, resulting in the death of the young birds.

The Mallee ringneck parrot is also known as the Mallee parrot, Ringneck parrot, Barnard’s parrakeet or buln buln. It is often confused with its close relative, the Cloncurry parrot. Both the Mallee ringneck and the Cloncurry are the same size but their body colourings are different and more distinct than the Twenty-eight and Port Lincoln.

They are approximately 34cm in length including 17.5cm of tail.

The male Mallee ringneck has an overall blue-green body plumage, a red frontal band above the beak and blue cheeks. They have a V-shaped brown-blue band extending from the eyes, back around the head, to meet a narrow yellow collar at the nape. There is an irregular band of orange-yellow across the belly, with the back and mantle a deep blue-black. The shoulders are yellow; the outer webs of the flight feathers blue, the underwing coverts also blue. The central tail feathers are blue with a faint edging of white. The eye is dark brown; bill is pale grey; feet and legs are grey.

The female is very similar to the male, but the back and mantle are a dark grey-green. The hen is slightly smaller, especially in its head size. Immature birds are duller than the female. The normal call sounds something like ‘Kwink-Kwink-Kwink’ and, when disturbed, the alarm call is a harsh metallic shriek.

If feeding in branches or shrubs, they will utter a subdued chattering.

Mallees blend extremely well with their surroundings, either when feeding among the outer branches of eucalyptus or mallee or on the ground.

Their diet consists mainly of the seeds of grasses and herbs, fruit, blossoms, leaf buds and insects and their larvae, They are usually seen in pairs or family groups.

The breeding season is usually August to January, but may be triggered by heavy rain. After choosing a hollow, the pair spend considerable time preparing it, lining the bottom of the hollow with decaying wood dust and making a shallow depression for the eggs.

The courting male crouches in front of the female, squares his shoulders and wings and vibrates them slightly, with his tail fanned and moving quickly from side to side. He also chatters constantly.

Four to six white eggs are laid (usually five); they are rounded and are 29x23mm in size. The female incubates the eggs for 20-21 days and the young leave the hollow after about 30 days.

While the female feeds in the early morning and late afternoon, the male sits in a nearby tree and warns of approaching danger.

The Mallee ringneck is common in mallee scrub, open woodlands

and in trees along watercourses and is distributed from the Murray Flats and Murray Mallee of South Australia, to the sunset country of north-west Victoria and western NSW. They are also seen in southern Queensland.

When seen in an aviary, their colouring may seem a bit ‘ordinary’, but when seen in the wild they are very impressive.

Soon after sunrise they leave their roosting perches, drink and move out to the feeding areas until mid morning. During the hottest part of the day they shelter in the trees or forage in the shade for seeds, fallen fruit and the like. Towards dusk they become active and feed and drink before roosting for the night.

The Cloncurry parrot is often confused with the Mallee ringneck in captivity. In the wild the Cloncurry parrot is restricted to the Selwyn Ranges in north-west Queensland.

The Cloncurry is of similar size and stature as the Mallee with the sexes alike. The Cloncurry has a general plumage of pale green; no red frontal band; a wide pale yellow band across the belly; the wing coverts are green; and the tail feathers get darker as they go down the tail, almost to a blue. The feet and legs are grey-brown. The female is paler than the male and slightly smaller. Immatures are duller than the adult birds and may posses a russet frontal band which disappears after a few months.

They have a call, courtship and mating habits very similar to a Mallee. They seem to be a quieter bird and more docile among my collection of ringnecks. The male Cloncurry is the clown of my collection, as he usually hangs upside down on the aviary roof and moves from one side to the other. He is usually seen to roost this way too.

As far as feeding is concerned, ringnecks like a diet of small parrot mix comprising, for example, plain canary seed, grey sunflower (not black), hulled oats, pannicum, white millet and safflower.

They also relish a regular supply of fresh apple, silver beet, orange quarters, carrot, seeding grass, wheat, barley grass, millet sprays and sunflower heads. Be careful with grass from the roadside as it may have been sprayed by the local Council.

They also enjoy almonds and nuts. Do not feed almonds that have been left to get damp. Make sure they are stored in a dry place and cracked when needed.

The floor of the aviary should consist of a sand or grit base, and cuttlebone and shellgrit should always be available. They also enjoy a fresh branch of mallee or other gum in the aviary every so often, chewing off the leaves and climbing all over it.

In all, I have found my collection of eight pairs of ringnecks, comprising three pairs of Port Lincolns, two pairs of Mallees, and one pair each of the Twenty-eight, wheatbelt hybrid and Cloncurry, a rewarding addition to my aviaries. One pair of Port Lincoln’s are laying, and another is working their hollow, as is the pair of Mallees and the Cloncurry. Most of my ringnecks are only 12 months old, so I am not over hopeful of achieving success just yet.

Some of mine are housed in adjoining aviaries, with heavy gauge 13mm mesh. I hope to have them in every second cage by next season as I build some more cages. My aviaries are all 2.4m deep, 0.9m wide and 2.1m high, except two which are 3.7m deep, 1.1m wide and 2.1m high. Their hollows are all 60-90cm long and hung at 45° angle, away from the afternoon sun.

Reprinted from the December 1987 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.


I recently spoke to an Aviculturalist who swore by the design of the nestboxes he supplies to his Gouldians. It is similar in design to a lovebird nestbox, in that it has a partition between the entrance hole and the nesting chamber. His theory is that Gouldians like the interior of their nests to be extremely dark, and private, and this design provides those features. It is also more likely to experience less draughts getting in, and will also tend to retain more heat in the nesting chamber.

The overall size of the nestbox is 25 cms long by 15 cms high by 15 cms wide and the lid hinges for ease of cleaning. There is a partition 15 cms from one end, giving a 15 cms cubed nesting chamber. The remaining 10 cm area has a raised floor, giving a ‘step-down’ effect to the birds entering the main nesting chamber. An exterior entrance hole is drilled in the front of the long side, on the end with the raised floor, and a perch is fixed below the entrance hole. There is another entrance hole drilled in the partition, between the entrance chamber and the nesting chamber. It is best to put this hole toward the rear of the box to eliminate as much light as possible.

Prior to mounting the box on the aviary wall, sprinkle a little mite dust in the bottom (such as Pestene™) and, because Gouldians are often lazy nest builders, half fill the nesting chamber with grasses or other nesting materials, then push your fist into it to make a round cavity.

Peculiar Nesting Habits Of Gouldians By Jack Smith

We all realize that before placing logs or boxes in their Gouldian aviaries most breeders try to make a suitable nest by placing meadow hay or preferably swamp grass in these, as some Gouldians are lazy nest builders.

l have experienced three instances where the opposite has occurred. In 1987 I had young birds of several types in a holding cage 4.0m long x 0.6m wide x 2.1 high and in amongst these birds was a half coloured Gouldian hen and a three quarter coloured cock (these were late hatchlings in 1986). The roof is of V crimp iron and to protect the birds from the cold and the heat a piece of cardboard 1.8m x 0.6m was fixed to the roof. After several months the cardboard started to warp and sag. In late July we came home from a campervan trip to Darwin and upon entering the aviary I heard Gouldians being fed. I tapped the cardboard and out flew the half coloured hen. I had a nest of five and a nest of four from this pair. They had built a nest from seeding grasses and anything they could find. No logs or boxes were in this flight. Imagine when the sun was shining on this roof, even in July it must have been hot 50mm below the iron. On cold mornings with the warmth from the babies condensation must have made the nest very wet.

I also have an aviary 4.6m long x 1.8m wide x 2.1m high with a 1.8m house section. I insulated this roof with strips of sponge rubber (foam) 900mm x 300mm x 25mm thick. This has sagged a little over the years and a pair of Gouldians carried heaps of grasses and nested between the roof and the foam. They brought out two clutches of four young. The same applies here as the nest must have been hot and also wet with condensation. Their first clutch came out in late April. In this aviary there are two nest boxes and two logs, both with swamp grass in them but they decided to build their own between the foam and the roof. It is now March 1989 (during a heatwave) and they have built in the same place again. I would say enough grass would be up there to half fill a plastic bucket, and yet the boxes and logs are there with nests already made for them. I checked today (8/3/89) and found five eggs but am sure these will be cooked.

In 1988 in another aviary 4.6m x 1.5m x 2.1m high with a 1.8m house a pair of Gouldians completely filled a Neophema log 400mm long x 180mm wide and the hole closed each end, with grasses and reared three clutches. The log is at a 45° angle. In this flight there were also two nestboxes and two logs all prepared for the Gouldians but they decided to fill the log.

In another flight I had a nest of four Gouldians in a log laying horizontal. I noticed quite a lot of condensation on the upper part of the log and the nest was fairly wet. I decided to do the right thing and took the babies out, dried the log and replaced with new dry swamp grass, replaced the young and in 48 hours they were dead. I evidently did the wrong thing but how the other Gouldians survived so close to the roof is beyond me. How many other members have had birds build in unusual places?

Reprinted from the April 1989 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

Editors note : Jack SMITH is a Life Member of the Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc, and is a past-President and a past-Patron.

Breeding the Gouldian On the Adelaide Plains by Bert Polgreen


If managed correctly, the Gouldian finch can be long lived and a free breeder in Adelaide aviaries. This article outlines the methods I have used successfully over many years.


For Gouldian finches I prefer an aviary about 4 metres long by 1¼ metres wide and 2 metres high, with 2 metres closed in for a shelter. This gives room for a good leafy evergreen shrub to be planted in the flight. It will house two pairs of Gouldians and a pair of docile brush building finches plus their young. The width of the aviary in relation to the height and the amount covered in will give you the warmth. In cold climates the length of the shelter is increased and in some cases the box type aviary with no flight is resorted to. Elimination of draughts is essential. To test for draught, pieces of paper can be hung in the shelter and watched to see if there is any movement. If any movement occurs then you have a draught and this must be eliminated as it is fatal to birds, especially Gouldians. With regards to leafy shrubs in the aviary, you will find that the birds will roost in these in preference to the shelter. Why? A tree or shrub is like a chemical factory. It takes in carbon dioxide through the leaves during the day and removes the carbon for food and then breathes out the oxygen at night. The birds benefit from this oxygen the same as a premature baby placed in an oxygen tent at birth. If it becomes too cold for them at night they will soon retire to the shelter.

Old birds when they have finished their breeding span, if removed to an aviary of their own will live for anything up to ten years of age, simply because they have been relieved of the stress and strain of laying eggs and feeding young.

Gouldians enjoy a fine spray of water in hot weather. They will get so wet that they are unable to fly. They also like to drink from raindrops on the wire netting on rainy days.

When transporting Gouldians in a carry cage, even if only for a short distance, always make sure there is seed in the cage, because when the bird is caught in the aviary it receives a very big shock. When the bird starts fluttering around, it will immediately pick up seed and start eating. This counteracts the shock to a certain degree. Do not release the bird in a strange aviary after midday, it must have plenty of time to find seed and water and a place to roost for the night. It is much better to hold them until the next morning as they are liable to roost in a draughty place with the result being a dead bird in the morning.


The Gouldian is quite easy to cater for. Feeding consists of pannicum, white millet, Japanese millet and canary seed as dry food. For green food I rely on silver beet (slice the stems into three or four slices so that the birds can get at the juices, they seem to prefer this to the green leaf), panic grass (which produces a seed about one third of the size of a canary seed), also veldt oat or miniature oat (which is about a third of the size of commercial oat). These grasses are fed in the semi-ripe stage. Gouldians will take from 25% to 30% of their daily requirements when these are in season. Also they like sprouted seed, this can be sprouted and fed to them daily, or it can be sprouted in the aviary by covering with a wet bag. Fold the bag back a little each day and they will get all they require (this is very rich in protein). Cuttlefish bone will be taken in large quantities, so also will egg shells, but make sure that the shells have been boiled or heated in the oven to kill all the germs on them. Old lime mortar will be pecked at incessantly. Gouldians are also great ground fossickers and any seed thrown on the floor will be cleaned up before they return to the feed tray. Also when they have had a good feed of semi-ripe seed they will always return to the seed tray to top up their meal.


When breeding Gouldians do not mix the head colours. Examine the head colour on the red and yellow heads and you will find that the colour comes around the head like a helmet but does not go under the chin which is black. Around the colour you will find a pencil line of black behind which is a thin line of blue. Now if the black head is crossed with other colours you will find that the black line will widen until with subsequent crosses the head colour will decrease until there is only a few coloured feathers left and eventually the head colour will be black. This explains why the black is so predominant in the wild.

Gouldians can be bred in colony if the aviary is big enough, but do not mix the head colours for the simple reason that I have already mentioned. Also as close relations may mate and produce inferior young, they are far better kept one or two pairs per aviary. You may also strike a rogue bird or two who will spend more time chasing others around the aviary than sitting and thus spoiling their own eggs as well as stopping others from laying. They seem to delight in knocking young birds off the perch, including their own, often pulling feathers out of them. This is handy in one way because if they pull them out of the breast then you can tell the sex of them, because when the feathers grow again they appear as adult feathers.

When mating up pairs for the breeding season, try to pick a deep coloured hen, cutting out the washed out hens as much as possible.

Even with a mated pair of Gouldians there is no love lost, they are never seen preening one another. They will squabble over seed when feeding and will squabble over a roosting place, and yet fertility will be excellent, 100% in many clutches of eggs.

When mating up young pairs for the first time, try to pick birds of the same age, for instance, it is not much good mating birds bred in February with birds bred in June. If the hen is bred in February and the cock in June then the eggs will probably be infertile because the cock is not mature even though he is in full colour. If the reverse is the case, then the hen will be very late in going to nest.

When Gouldians come into breeding condition the hen’s beak will start to turn black from the tip. By the time she starts feeding young it will be shiny black all over. The cock bird’s beak will turn pink just on the tip, showing more on the bottom than the top mandible.

The mating display of the Gouldian starts off with the cock approaching the hen on the perch. He then arches his neck and bends his head forward, at the same time shaking it rapidly from side to side, gradually straightening to an upright position. Then he starts dancing up and down on the perch while at the same time uttering a low almost inaudible whistling or twittering sound. Just before this finishes the hen usually flies off leaving the cock sitting on the perch looking disappointed and as much as to say ‘I did my best and you are still not satisfied’. The actual mating usually takes place in the nest and sometimes on the floor when they are fossicking for tit bits, very seldom on the perch.

The nesting habit of the Gouldian in the wild is in hollows and in the brush. When building in the brush they build quite a good dome shaped nest with a side entrance, but in captivity they prefer to nest in logs or boxes. I prefer boxes with a lid which can be easily removed as they are much easier to clean and can be painted at the end of the season. The boxes should be about 38cm long and 12cm square with a 5cm to 7cm hole in the end or in the side at one end with a perch 2½cm below the hole. At times you will get what we call a lazy builder who will not start to build until the hen has laid on the bare boards. Some eggs are sat on a while but eventually these eggs are lost. As the first nest produces the best young ones, to overcome this I usually build the nest for them and just twist my fist into the grass to form the nest. All nesting material should be about 8 to 10cm long and must be very pliable simply because a Gouldian picks up his building material in the centre instead of by the end like other finches do. Thus the nesting material must be pliable so that he can get in the hole with it. If it is not pliable then he cannot get into the nest with it and eventually he drops it.

The Gouldian does not resent inspection of the nest, as long as it is not done too often. About once or twice per week, but do not put your hands in the nest if you want to remove infertile eggs, use a spoon. If any thing looks suspicious by all means have a look, there may be a dead young one which has to be removed.

When the Gouldian starts to lay, both birds will sit in turn on the eggs during the day, but both will come out of the nest and roost on the perch at night until the full clutch of eggs are laid. Then the hen will sit at night and only then will she develop enough body heat to incubate the eggs. All the eggs will start to incubate together and will hatch in 14 days from the time she stays in at night. The eggs nearly always hatch at the same time, not on succeeding days as they were laid. Each clutch consists of from 5 to 9 eggs (I have had them rear 9 young on quite a few occasions).

Because the Gouldian nests in dark places and hollows, and because of the bright sunlight in their habitat, the parent bird cannot see to feed the young when they come in from the brightness, so nature provides the answer. It furnishes the young with little globules (six in all), three on each side of the gape, also in the roof of the mouth there are four more little spot, flat this time. These globules and spots glow like tiny lights so that the old birds can see just where to put the food. These spots and globules disappear when the bird becomes independent of its parents. Lutinos and albinos do not have lights and do not get fed, this is why they are not seen in the wild state and are only bred in captivity and then under foster parents.

There are three critical stages in the life of a young Gouldian. First when they are 10 days old, because, being usually free breeders they have fairly large nests of young, which at this stage do not have any fluff at all on them and are as bare as the palm of your hand. The hen has no hope of covering them, so she comes out of the nest to roost on the perch and leaves the young to rely on their own body warmth.

If the weather is cold at night, as it can be here in South Australia, the young will die of the cold. Their second critical stage is when they become independent of their parents, then if they are not in excellent health and have to fend for themselves they will soon die. The third stage is when they start to moult. Owing to their hard feathering, they can ill afford to lose any feathers. This leaves them open to chills which often prove to be fatal if the aviary is not warm and free from draughts. To overcome this I do not remove the young from their parents until they are fully coloured. Sometime the oldest young interfere with the nesting in the third round, owing to their being very inquisitive, but most of the old ones will send them on their way.

All young Gouldians start to colour into their adult plumage in late October and November, irrespective of when they were hatched. This is one of the odd features of the Gouldian, young birds only moult into adult plumage at the same time as the old birds, not at 12 to 16 weeks of age like most finches. When the young Gouldian starts to colour, two streaks of yellow will appear on the abdomen and they will gradually widen and extend up into the purple on the breast. At the same time the green on the back and the wings will moult until only the head is left. The head colour and pin feathers in the tail are the last to moult, hens seem to moult slightly faster than the cocks.

Late young bred in September and October will not always colour at moulting time, they may start to colour and then stop. They will remain in this state until the next moulting season comes around in 12 months time. These birds should not be discarded because they are about 15 months old and fully matured by the next breeding season and make the best breeders providing they are healthy birds.


There are a few complaints and diseases that take their toll of Gouldians. The Gouldian is a hard feathered bird, by that I mean that the feather does not possess the fine fluff on the body feathers. As a result, chills and pneumonia can be a problem during bad weather. There is also another disease which takes a big toll of Gouldians that is brought about by breeding from inferior breeding stock. Often this does not show up in the breeders but they produce young which often die when they become independent. (These adults should be discarded as breeders.) The symptoms of this disease are very similar to tuberculosis in humans but it does not seem to be contagious to other Gouldians. The birds sit around and fluff their feathers and do not eat much with the result that they become weak and in very poor condition. Eventually they become too weak to crack the seed husks and, although they seem to be feeding, they are only picking up the seed and dropping it again and they soon die.

Another cause of this disease is overbreeding. Birds may produce two nests of strong young and then produce a nest of weak young, simply because the old birds have lost their stamina through overbreeding. Do not overbreed. In very cold climates, such as England, Europe and Japan, artificially heated aviaries are resorted to. Infra-red lamps and other means are used. This is alright if the birds are kept under these conditions all their lives, but to transfer them to open flight aviaries is fatal.

Egg binding will not occur if the birds are in good condition, it is only hens that are in poor condition that suffer from this complaint, simply because the muscles of the oviduct become too weak to expel the egg.

Then there is the airsac mite. This is very prevalent in some years. The first symptoms of this mite is continuous wiping of the beak on the perch, then in the next stage the birds start gaping, opening and shutting their beak. Then in the final stage they start wheezing, which can be heard quite clearly. The airsac mite attacks the air passages and finally the lungs of the bird. Years ago we used carbaryl in the water as a treatment for this, but this is a very toxic and potent material which used to make you think that you had killed the birds. The first time I tried it I thought I had poisoned the bird, she was lying on the floor of the aviary with her wings out sideways and her legs out back and her head straight in front, but within half an hour she was back on the perch again. It was certainly a drastic cure, but within 8 weeks she was down again with it, simply because I had only treated the bird and not the aviary. The eggs of the mite go through the bird on to the aviary floor. As the Gouldians are great floor feeders, she picked up the eggs again. At the time, I heard a whisper over the grapevine from a friend who had a friend who worked with a big organisation which had been working with the complaint for years. They had come up with the Shell Pest Strip. So off I went up to the Shell garage and got a very large yellow one. I made a netting holder and hung it up near their roosting perches in the sheltered part of the aviary. Within two days the hen stopped gasping and from then on I could see the improvement every day for 7 days. Then I removed it and placed it in other Gouldian aviaries as a precaution and have not had any sign of it in my aviaries since.

Reprinted from the December 1987 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

Mineral Blocks : Good for birds and relatively simple to make. By Society Member, Martin HILTON of WHYALLA.

I have used mineral blocks for many years – as well as being good for birds’ health, they provide them with something to relieve boredom and it is surprising how quickly small finches can go through them.

I once gave some blocks to someone who gave them to budgies while still in the plastic cups and the birds chewed the plastic to get at the block – not a particularly good idea because the small plastic pieces could lodge in the intestine and cause a blockage. I once had a Red-rump Parrot autopsied and found a staple, which had ruptured the bird’s gut.

Like most recipes, the blocks’ makeup can be varied to suit specific birds’ needs. To make five blocks I mix one cup each of shellgrit, mineral grit, crushed eggshells, charcoal pieces, roughly crushed cuttlefish else bone, two cups of water. and one-eighth of a cup of cattle/horse salt lick block.

SHELLGRIT – I take it from a local area that is being developed. It is illegal to take shellgrit from most South Australian beaches, but it can be bought from some sand-yards and it must be clean.

MINERAL GRIT – Norton Minerals in Adelaide sells all types of different grades of grit in bulk. I bought 20 kilos more than 10 years ago and still have plenty. Finches need smaller grit than parrots.

EGGSHELLS – I wash ordinary chicken eggshells in plain running water, then lay them out to dry before putting them in a microwave on high for three minutes – that’s for an ice cream container three- quarters full. The ice cream containers work well for me, but I’m told there are problems with some microwaves, where proper microwave dishes should be used. I then crush the eggshells by hand.

CHARCOAL – To make charcoal it must be removed from the fire or put the fire out before it turns to ash. When cooled I break it up into small pieces then wash it gently, otherwise the blocks may turn black, which can look unsightly.

Charcoal can be bought from hardware stores, where it is sold for barbecue fuel. Any wood used to make it must be clean – untreated, unpainted and from a non-toxic tree.

CUTTLEFISH – I pick cuttlefish up from the beach. If it has seaweed on it I rinse it in sea water and if it has ink or anything else on it I leave it on the beaches, which are covered with cuttlefish during winter. To use cuttlefish in mineral blocks I crush it up with a pair of pliers.

SALT BLOCKS – These can be bought from any fodder store. They are made for horses, cows and sheep. Salt can be harmful in large amounts so I scrape a very small amount into my mixing container.

PLASTER OF PARIS – Before I started making mineral blocks I called a manufacturer to make sure it was safe for birds to eat. Plain plaster of Paris is just calcium carbonate and is safe once it has been added to water then dried.

CUPS – Disposable plastic or foam cups can be used. They are very cheap, so I just cut them from the set blocks and throw them away.

WIRE – I make wire hooks from heavy gauge galvanised wire to put into the blocks for hanging. I once had an Eclectus hen chew the block completely then catch the wire hook in her loose-fitting leg ring. The only damage was to my fingers when I removed the wire hook. Now I remove her blocks before she chews them right down.

MIXING – I use a plastic bucket or bowl, mixing all ingredients except the Plaster of Paris before adding water, then gradually add the Plaster of Paris, mixing it in by hand. If you put all the Plaster of Paris in first the water will wash the plaster to the bottom of the plastic bucket or bowl.

The amount of water depends on whether the other ingredients are wet or dry, as well as the temperature at the time. It is best to mix small amounts and if the mix starts o set add more water.

The mix is ready when it is well stirred up and looks like porridge. It’s just like mixing concrete and if the mix is too wet it takes longer to dry and may crack. It should be starting to set by the time the fifth cup is being filled.

Push the mix firmly into a cup and place the bent, non-hanging end of the hook into the mixture. If too much is mixed, or it is a hot day, the mix will start to set before you get it into the cups.

If this happens you can put the whole lump into a colony, for instance lovebirds, or you can break it up with a hammer and mix it again.

I don’t grease the cups because the blocks are still hard to pull out of the cups, even when they are greased. It is easier to just cut the cup away.

The blocks take a couple of days to dry completely, can last for several months and do not cost much to make.

Reprinted from the December 2001 edition of the Western Australian Avicultural Magazine, the official publication of the Avicultural Society of Western Australia Inc.


Among the more popular of foreign finches the Cordon Bleu has in many years been the choice of many fanciers, and during that period has been bred to a great extent under varying conditions, some in large planted flight aviaries, and others in smaller box type cages. Of these it can be said that they are established in collections, this following the ban on imports in 1938. In this respect they share with a number of foreign species, which are still capable of producing quite good broods in spite of the fact that fresh stock has not been introduced for such a long period. However, it must be realised that this has only been possible because of the sound methods employed, and our climatic conditions which at all times have been a most valuable asset in making this possible.

The Cordon Bleu is definitely not a difficult bird to sex. The male features red ear patches and is of a deeper blue, which is far more prominent than on the female. They are very active birds and for that reason they are very much at home in a planted flight aviary where they are able to conceal themselves in a shrub and by the same token view intruders and keep up their warning of chattering. In this respect they are very much like the Australian Masked Finch; these birds also delight in giving a warning signal and then retreat to a shrub to view the intruders and all the time keep up the chattering, only relaxing when they are satisfied that the intruders mean well or have departed.

The alarm these birds give is heeded by all other birds, which take cover the moment it is given, and from their vantage point gaze skywards, a natural precautionary procedure. Very often this proves to be accurate, and in many instances a glance skywards will reveal the presence of a hawk or some other large bird hovering immediately in the vicinity of the aviaries.

They are very much at home in a planted flight aviary, and usually some good results are obtained from them when housed under these conditions. However, they do respond to conditions that are comfortable and in less spacious quarters, and which carry facilities that are suited to their requirements for breeding. Usually they select a site in a shrub or in dry brush; rarely will they select a nest box. The height from the ground varies with almost every selection. The nest they build is a neat dome-shaped nest usually constructed with dry grass with a final lining of very fine grass, or if available, cotton wool, coconut fibre and a few feathers.

Egg-laying usually commences once the nest has been completed and usually a clutch consists of four to five eggs, these being white in colour and a little larger than Zebra Finch eggs. Once they have commenced laying they really take an interest in their nest; and if flushed at any time they really show their resentment and continue to do so until they are satisfied that they can return to their nest. In most instances, they flush fairly easily, but will return to the nest equally as quickly once they are certain no further intrusion is likely. However, if possible, unnecessary flushing should be avoided; this will eventually cause them to become exceptionally wary, and once in this state they very easily give up the job of settling down to serious incubation.

Incubation usually commences after several eggs have been laid and both birds will share these duties. The period of incubation is twelve days, and a further three weeks will elapse before the young leave the nest. On occasions when the young leave the nest they appear to have done so a little premature. Their body feathers do not fully cover the body and their power of flight is not sufficient to take them to a suitable camping site or on to the perches. This may l be the case for several days, and if so the young birds should be caught up each evening after they have had their final feed for the day and placed in a small carrying cage for warmth, and then again released in the aviary at daylight. This may be necessary for several days until the young birds are able to respond to the parents’ calling and make a camping site for the night.

In approximately three weeks they become independent of the parents, and several weeks after this they can be transferred to a holding cage. The young birds, on leaving the nest, show a little blue. Usually the male birds are a little more prominent, but mostly they are a dull fawn colour, with patches of washed-out blue. Their diet is similar to that required for most finches, consisting of pannicum, grey millet, white millet and canary. In addition they are very fond of seeding grasses; they really relish them and these will assist greatly to rear young.

Live food in the form of white ants without a doubt is the best that can be supplied to them to induce them to rear young. Some measure of success has been achieved with the supply of mealworms, these of course supplied in moderation and several times during the day. With these it is hard to estimate the amount they require for the young they have in the nest, and it is wise to keep them down to approximately six per bird each day, The risk of feeding this type of live food is in over-feeding, whereas with white ants no risk in this regard exists.

Generally they are among the hardiest once they are really settled in to their quarters, and providing the aviary is of reasonable size, it is possible to keep several pairs housed for breeding purposes. Occasionally they are cause for concern, and it is quite possible that a good breeding pair will follow up a good brood of young with a full clutch of infertile eggs, which however in most instances is only temporary and usually occurs when they appear to go to nest well before the previous brood of young are independent. Occasionally this will also happen at the beginning of the season, usually before the birds are properly mated.

They are a type of bird that responds to a good amount of care; they accept it readily and accordingly will give good results. They accept conditions which provide facilities for foraging, and whilst they can be kept on the move they are very contented and their call can be heard continually whilst they are on the move.

Reprinted from the August 1964 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of the Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.


A recent article ‘Conservation Corner’ in the Bird Keeping in Australia magazine mentioned some of our species of finches that are of ‘conservation concern’, and prompted me to consider some of the birds that I have kept, and what had happened to them. To help with this I went back through all of my old National Parks and Wildlife stock record books and found that our interest in keeping birds began in 1969, and it is interesting to recall the birds that were kept as our interests changed. I was able to recall the transactions, bought and sold, that had been made with people long forgotten. Of course, in those early days many of our finches were kept under permit conditions.

The finches were readily available in large numbers and were reasonably priced, as many thousands were legally trapped from the wild and dealers received their allocation. These birds were excellent breeders in captivity and responded to being provided with a smorgasbord of food, good housing, and ideal breeding conditions.

I will mention just three of these finches of ‘conservation concern’ that I kept, namely the Masked Finch, the Yellow-rumped Munia, and the Blackheart and Longtailed Grassfinches.

Regret (1A)

The Masked Finches were kept in a colony situation and were ideal as colony breeders. The aviary was large and planted, and catching up of birds with a net was not easy. Breeding was good but colony breeding means you needed to be on the ball to keep track of which young belonged to which pairs. Management was not as easy as having aviaries of mixed birds of single pairs. I was still working at the time, which really only left weekends, and there always seemed to be pressing reasons why I couldn’t find the time to trap the young ones. It is easy to let a colony “get out of hand”. Such was the case and eventually all of the birds were sold. We had bred Masked Finches for some time and thought we would try something different for a change, always with the thought that we could get back into Masked Finches again should we wish to do so – WRONG! Although there had been rumours for some time that the availability of birds from the wild might cease, it happened, and within a few years these birds became increasingly difficult to get, and even moreso now.

Regret (1B)

Some time later I had another decision to make over White-eared Masked Finches. Although with finches we all like to buy birds which are sexable but not quite fully coloured (i.e. known young birds) I saw three pair of adult White-eared Masks, leg-rung, together with a number of young which were still difficult to sex. I was assured that all these birds came from the same source. I thought ‘why did the owner sell what appeared to be all of his birds – his breeding pairs and his young?’ “Was he strapped for cash?’ After much thought I went against the usual decision, and decided to take the oldest birds, that were definitely three pairs, with the hope to get at least one breeding out of them. I kept these birds for three years without any breeding success. I regretted not having bought six of the younger birds.

Regret (2)

Another growing interest required the conversion of two aviaries into a glasshouse and a shadehouse, and one of these aviaries housed a colony of Yellow-rumped Finches. These birds are remembered for being able to almost destroy a large clump of Johnson’s Grass as they stripped the grass into long shreds for nest building. The same reasoning (We can always get these back later) was applied, as with Regret 1A – the Masked Finches – and so at the time seventeen Yellow-rumps were sold. The difficulty in obtaining these birds now and their low numbers held in our aviaries is reflected in their price.

Regret (3)

The third regret, the Longtail, was a bird that I had always admired, being sleek and elegant. We had really good breeding results from these birds years ago. The wild stock adapted well to aviary conditions, and over many years from three pairs, and with more pairs made up from birds bred, the stock record showed that we had bred one hundred and twenty two young, and with few losses. I cannot remember why this bird disappeared from our own aviaries, but again it was probably only for a change.

In more recent years I looked to get them again, but they were rarely available or only as an old bird. Strangely, I have seen more of the coral beaked Heck’s Finch available, which years ago was the rarer. Eventually I purchased three pairs of Longtails and was pleased because they were just like we like to buy birds – not quite fully coloured but sexable. Over a three year period some were reared, some were lost (including some of the original birds). At one stage the number of birds was up to twelve but these birds never seemed as hardy, strong and virile as the wild birds that we bred years ago and gradually we lost the birds. They fluffed up, looked miserable, and died with dirty vents. This problem is shared with other members in the Society. Consequently, when their number was reduced to just five birds, I sold them.

These are just three species that were bred in my aviaries in the past, at one time in good numbers, and we can all recall our own ‘regret stories’. Unfortunately, I see two factors that may be against the recovery of these birds of ‘conservation concern’. One is the difficulty in obtaining suitable breeding stock, and secondly, because of their low numbers and the dollar driven price (which will only increase), many breeders will be put off being involved in their recovery. This of course applies even more so to the Pictorella and Crimson Finches.

Considering the thousands of birds that were trapped from the wild in the past and which propped up the numbers in our aviaries for many years, their obvious demise in aviculture prompts me to ask the question – ‘Have we done the numbers of these birds in the wild a great dis-service, and did we really deserve to have them in our collections?’


Although we call them a ‘worm’, mealworms are actually the larvae stage of the Tenebrio molitor beetle. Most of us either breed or purchase these little fellows to feed to a variety of finches, softbills and some parrots. They also provide the most asked questions at General Meetings, finding their way on a regular basis to the question box.

Having consulted the Adelaide Museum, S.A. Mealworm Breeders and other keepers of this worm I hope the following information will answer some of the questions most frequently asked.

Firstly we have only 2 species of worm, the main one that we all keep plus a sub-species, often referred to as racehorses. These are usually found in aviaries hustling about in spent seed on the aviary floor. They have harder skin casings than the normal worm and are harder for birds to handle. Professional worm Breeders tell me they are extremely difficult to colonise in boxes and are best left in the aviary.

Now we come to super-worms and mini-worms. Same as the normal worm, but one is fed on a growth hormone, the other on a retardant designed to increase the size of the worm or the latter to remain as a mini-worm. In the case of super-worms they become sterile and just continue to grow until they die. They don’t chrysalise and turn to beetles so they are useless as a breeding medium.

One could also question the wisdom of feeding these worms to your birds. S.A. Mealworm Breeders and other S.A. producers do not adopt this practice, with the super and mini-worms coming from Interstate.

While temperature is an important factor in breeding worms, 24 to 26 degrees celsius is recommended, humidity is an even greater factor. At 20 percent humidity the beetle lays only 2 or 3 eggs. Take the humidity to 70 percent and up to 600 eggs are laid. This is most probably why populations drop off in the summer if your box becomes dry. Of course nothing ever runs smoothly. A mite, which can multiply enormously in a very short time, can appear. The best way to get rid of mite, along with weevils, is to place some wormwood in the box. This will get rid of these pests within 24 hours. One user of this method tells me that as the wormwood dries out and breaks up he places it in a piece of stocking. Does the job, but keeps the box cleaner.

One method of raising humidity is to place greaseproof paper in the centre of the box on your top layer of hessian or material that covers your final layer of bran. Lettuce leaves and some soaked and squeezed bread can be placed on the paper to supply moisture.

Professional breeders in the main use a culture of bran and pollard, with pollard representing 20 percent of the mixture. They feed carrots only as the other source of food.

If you wish to improve the calcium content of the worms, put a generous layer of chicken meal. More expensive but improves the food value. Two final items – firstly, don’t disturb the brood too often. Take a quantity sufficient for a weeks supply and at the same time tidy up the box changing lettuce leaves and bread. Secondly, after the first harvesting fresh bran can be added and with the medium containing eggs another cycle will develop. Continued use of the culture will see it break down and become putrefied with urine. It is best not to use the medium more than twice.

The Superb Parrot by John Grant


The Superb Parrot (alternative name Barraband Parrot) is one of three members of the Polytelis genus of Australian parrots. The word Polytelis roughly translated into English means ‘magnificent’, which I feel is an apt description. There are two other members of this genus, the Princess Parrot and the Regent Parrot. In my opinion, the Superb is the most appealing of this group with its striking combination and placement of colours. Next is the Regent and finally comes the Princess Parrot, which I think is a highly overrated bird in the beauty stakes. I realise that this last comment will be strongly disputed by many people, but as I see it ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.

I house these parrots in both 4.9 metre and 3. 7 metre long aviaries by 0.9 metre wide and 2.2 metres high, with a 1.2 metre long shelter. The shelter has a floor covering of 200mm of beach sand and the flight is of natural earth. I place one perch inside the shelter, another outside with the third at the opposite end of the flight. I do not house these parrots side by side but place birds of another genus between them. This family is perfect to place between Rosellas, Ringnecks and Hoodeds because of its placid nature.

I feed a mixture of seeds which consists of the following: Sunflower 20%, Safflower 20%, Hulled Oats 20%, Canary Seed 20%, Jap Millet 10%, and White Millet 10%.

I have this mixture made up in 200kg lots at a time by one of the local seed merchants. During the non-breeding part of the year the birds also receive any green feed which is available at the time. The green feed not only consists of grasses and silverbeet but also any and all vegetables that my family eats. The greater cross section the better.

In the breeding season I feed seasonal grasses and silverbeet, which I grow, and these are supplemented with apple and sweet corn on a daily basis. I have found that these parrots have a particular liking for oranges and broccoli. The feed bowl is placed on a stand inside the shelter, while the water container is placed in the flight with a cover to prevent contamination and to keep the water cool.

In adult birds there is no problem. The hen does not have any of the red or yellow face and throat colouring of the cock. The hen is basically a green bird with only a faint wash of grey and light blue around the cheeks. She retains the pink edging to the under tail feathers.

In some of my pairs I can tell which birds will be cocks and hens when they are fully feathered but still in the nest. The young cocks are an all over apple green and stand out very strongly when all the young are held together in the sunlight. Other pairs’ young are very difficult to tell and on some individual young I must wait until the first moult at seven months old.

I ring all my young and record colour, number and leg, hoping these factors and observations will assist me in working out their sex.

Hen birds always appear to be in great demand and I receive telephone calls throughout the year in search of them. I would strongly advise people not to purchase a cock and then go looking for a hen. If you are fortunate enough to find one, it will undoubtedly be an expensive item. When purchasing a young pair always ask their age, remembering that all young birds look virtually the same as hens until they go through the first moult. I have heard many people say that the orange feathers around the legs are a good indication that the bird is a hen. I would totally disagree with this statement as all young birds have these orange feathers. It is true that the hen retains these feathers after the first and subsequent moult but I also have mature cocks which have retained a few orange feathers around their legs.
Suitable breeding age

These parrots are what I would describe as a ‘long term’ proposition. Nowadays people appear to be more interested in purchasing mature birds in the hope that they will go straight to nest in the coming season. Personally, I feel that this is totally the wrong approach and the purchasing of young stock is the correct way. I do not doubt at times that genuine mature pairs become available for sale but they are few and far between. I feel this trend has come about due to the high profile of lovebird breeding which has existed over the past 8-10 years. Some people tend to think that if a pair of birds has not produced by the time they are one year old, then they are no good. These parrots usually do not breed until two or three years old and they are still producing many years after that.

These parrots are seasonal breeders from September to December. I have kept them on a continuous basis for the past 13 years and until 1987 my records show that they have always gone to nest by the second or third week of September. Last year (1987) none went down until the first and second week of November; one could attribute this to the changing weather cycles we have had, although my Regents, as usual, commenced laying in the second and third week of September.

The incubation period commences upon the laying of the second egg and varies between 21 and 23 days depending upon the ambient temperature. The chicks leave the nest after approximately 35 days, this time period again can vary depending on the temperature experienced during this time. They are independent after one month. While they are young it is important to expose them to as wide array of food as possible as this will determine their eating habits in later life. The number of chicks in a clutch varies from 3 – 7 with the average clutch in my experience being four. I find that if there is more than 4 there is a chance of losing the youngest chick or having to supplementary feed or hand feed. I do not like hand feeding as it is very time consuming and I feel the young are never as good as those raised naturally.

I use nestboxes that are 600mm tall and 300mm square with an entrance of 65mm placed 100mm down from the top. I also have an inspection hole near the bottom of the box. For nesting material I use equal parts of peat moss and chain sawdust and this is placed in the boxes to a depth of 75mm.
Health problems

The only major problem that appears to be prevalent in this parrot is a form of paralysis which affects the legs. A quite healthy bird will appear in total good health one day and suffer this problem the next and it affects both cocks and hens. The paralysis appears at any time of the year and appears not to have any relation to handling or sexual activity, in my experience. I have had this problem affect several birds over the years and have never had one recover even with veterinary treatment. George Smith, the well known English veterinarian and author, in his book ‘Love Birds and Related Parrots’ states that he has had birds in his collection recover naturally from this paralysis. He writes that the paralysis was brought about by handling the birds.

When I first purchased a pair of these birds they did not breed until they were three years old. Since then they have produced 4 young each year (including 1987) without fail. This species is reasonably popular at present and, in my opinion, will become even more so. Their striking colour combination and quiet nature will ensure this. I cannot recommend them too highly to people who are looking for an interesting ‘long term’ aviary occupant.

Reprinted from the January 1988 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

My Experience with Double-barred Finches by Jack Smith

Although I had kept most Australian and foreign finches over the past thirty years, until very recently the Double-barred finch (Poephila bichenovii) was one Australian finch which I had never had in my aviaries.

In September, 1983, I purchased one pair of the black-rumped race and from this pair clutches of three and one were fledged. From what I had heard about this bird it was not easy to breed, so naturally I was very pleased with the success. It was then that another two birds were purchased. As far as I am concerned, and two dealers are of the same opinion, this finch is very hard to sex. I have been told of various ways of sexing them but am unable to pass on any foolproof method. The way I sex these finches is that the chest between the top and lower bar is a dirty grey on the hen but a much cleaner grey on the cock, and the lower bar is not as wide on the hen as it is on the cock.

After a few sales, a few deaths and a few swaps, I finished up with my second pair in March, 1985. Between 1983 and December, 1986, my two pairs of Double-bars have reared fifty-nine young, including one clutch of seven, two clutches of five and two clutches of six. These birds are in an aviary 4.5m long, 1.8m wide and 2.1m high with a 1.8m long shelter, which has an enclosed front of fibreglass sheet 60cm down from the roof.

A Chinese lantern is planted in this aviary and the other birds occupying this flight are Gouldian, Emblema, Cordon, Cuban and Star finches. The nesting material supplied is coarse grass, swamp grass, cut-up and shredded sugar bag (hessian) and emu feathers. Nesting sites are in needle bush.

I feed these birds pannicum, white millet and canary seed, all in separate containers, with preference being given to white millet. A container each of niger and maw is also available but very seldom touched. Seeding grasses, when available, and silver beet are supplied and gents and mealworms are also provided, the latter cut into three small pieces. Over the period of time these Double-bars have been bred, success cannot be attributed to live food as I was away for periods of seven, five and three weeks and although no live food was supplied during this time, young were still successfully reared.

After the success with my first two pairs of Double-bars, I decided to go further and in October, 1985, thought it a good idea to place two pairs in another two aviaries. One aviary measured 4.5m long, 1.5m wide and 2.1m high with the same shelter as in the other aviary but with nothing growing in the flight. Other birds in this flight were one pair each of Scarlet-chested and Bourke’s parrots, Cuban and Emblema finches. I supplied the same nesting material and feed as with the first Double-bars kept, but since October, 1985, these two pairs have only reared two young.

The other aviary where the Double-bars were placed in October, 1985, was 4.1m long, 2.1m wide and 2.1m high, planted with Duranta and Golden Privet. The birds in this aviary were Gouldian, Emblema, Star, Fire, Cuban, Black-heart and Cut-throat finches. Shelter and feeding were the same as in the other aviaries. The same nesting material was supplied, with the addition of duck down and assorted feathers, but preference was still given to swamp grass and emu feathers.

As previously stated, these birds are hard to sex and it took me until December, 1985, to be sure I had two pairs in this aviary. As yet I have not had one young from this aviary.

I, and many other aviculturists, would like to know why one should have so much success in one aviary with a species of bird, and no success at all in other aviaries with the same species and feeding and nesting conditions the same.

Reprinted from the March 1987 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

Keeping and Breeding the Eastern Rosella by Shane Fairlie

Due to its striking colour, pleasant whistle and general hardiness, the Eastern Rosella, (Platycercus eximius) has always been a popular aviary bird, having first been bred in Spain in 1863.


For people like me who have trouble imagining what a bird looks like from a written description, the best advice to give on Eastern Rosellas is to look at any Rosella foods label and imagine their emblem 32 cms long. The bird pictured on their labels shows the colouration of an adult male Eastern Rosella, giving a far better likeness of the bird than I could describe. Females and immatures are a duller version of the male with the females also having a considerably smaller head and narrower bill.

A recent study by Professor Walter Boles of the Australian Museum’s Ornithology Department showed that, on average, the broadness of bills in Eastern Rosellas was 12.9 mm in males and 10.5 mm in females, This is an easily recognisable difference when sexing these birds.

Sexing of immature birds is relatively easy using the comparison of both head and bill size and also the fact that the young cock bird’s cheek patches are usually larger and cleaner. If it is possible to observe the birds in the hand then a few brown feathers directly behind the eye usually denotes a female.

The normal opinion is that full adult plumage is obtained after their first full moult at about 12 months of age, however, my view is that it really takes two years to obtain full colour plumage, although the last year probably only accounts for approximately 10 percent of improved colour.


Apart from the nominate form, there are two recognised subspecies of the Eastern Rosella – the Golden Mantle (Platycercus eximius cecilae) and the Tasmanian race (Platycercus eximius diemenesis).

The Golden Mantle differs from the nominate race by having the feathers of the mantle, back and wings edged with a rich golden yellow. The green on the rump and vent also takes on a bluer hue.

The Tasmanian race is an overall bigger and brighter bird with larger cleaner cheek patches. The overall length of this bird is about 34 cms.


The nominate race inhabits a wide ranging area of the East Coast, varying from north-eastern New South Wales through to Victoria and South Australia, and is fairly common throughout its range.

The Golden Mantle subspecies takes over from the nominate form in its north-eastern range and extends into south-eastern Queensland.

The Tasmanian race, as its name suggests, inhabits an area that covers a wide range of Tasmania and, as with all species of Eastern Rosellas, it shows a preference for more open lightly timbered country as opposed to denser forest growth.

There is also a population of this bird established on both islands of New Zealand, having been introduced from captive stock many years ago. There is varying opinion on the origins of the Eastern Rosellas that inhabit parts of the Mt. Lofty Ranges and suburban areas of Adelaide, with the two streams of thought being that the birds are native to the area and the other view being that the birds originated from released stock earlier this century. Whichever is true, the fact remains that these birds are indeed well established and seemingly improving in numbers every season.

In fact, Eastern Rosellas are now regular visitors to many Adelaide suburban gardens and also to many inner city areas where they can regularly be seen feeding in Adelaide’s parks in the company of both the Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus) and the Adelaide Rosella (Platycercus adelaidae).


I have read of Lutino, Par-yellow, White-winged, Pastel and Cinnamon Eastern Rosellas being bred, but I have neither seen these birds or pictures of them. Two mutations of this bird that I have seen in the flesh (or feather) is the Black or Melanistic mutation and also the Red mutation.

The Black Eastern, as its name suggests, is a predominantly black bird, but still carries white cheek patches and cock birds retain a red chest, which makes this recessive mutation easy to sex.

These birds are slowly being established in New South Wales aviaries and are also now being kept by South Australian aviculturists. My personal view is that apart from novelty value this mutation does absolutely nothing for me in comparison to a richly coloured normal bird.

The red mutation is an altogether different bird with its full body being a rich blood red, but retaining its snowy white cheek patches with its wings being almost a normal colouring apart from some red edging on its feathers. These birds are well established in the Harkaway aviaries of Syd and Jack Smith near Melbourne and as a matter of interest their foundation stock were five wild trapped (legally) red birds caught locally.

These birds have seemingly been around in the wild for some time as Gould first listed these birds as a new species in 1837 and named it the Fiery Parakeet (Platycercus ignatus) and had a skin that was taken from the Moreton Bay area of Queensland. Another skin taken from near Temora in New South Wales is held by the Western Australian Museum.

The longevity of this mutation in the wild (albeit in small numbers) puts a different light on the normal argument of mutations not surviving in the wild.

These birds are absolutely striking in an aviary, but as my good friend P.E. Adelaidae stated – ‘If you want a red rosella why not save yourselves thousands of dollars and buy a pair of Crimson or Western Rosellas’. That’s a viewpoint that I personally find hard to argue against.


The Eastern Rosella is relatively easy to cater for and has been known to live and breed in quite small aviaries, however my preference is for larger aviaries. Visitors to my place invariably inform me that my aviaries are too big for the birds housed in them, but I think my results speak for themselves. What may look to be too big an aviary outside of the breeding season, with only two adult birds sitting in it, takes on a completely different view in breeding season when we have as many as 10 to 12 young birds in with their parents. Due to the large aviary size, these birds can be left together for many months without any mishap or jealousy shown by the parent cock bird to his offspring.

Two seasons ago we had four breeding pairs of Easterns and their aviary sizes were: one aviary 6.5 metres x 1.7 metres; two aviaries 5.5 metres x 1.3 metres and one aviary 4.3 metres x 1.1 metres, with all aviaries being 2.1 metres high.

Our experience was that the birds in the larger aviaries were much less flighty and overall much more settled than would otherwise be the case. Another interesting thing we have noticed is that with the extra width we provide, our birds tend to fly past at hip height to the side of us rather than attempt to fly over our heads. My opinion now is that aviary width is just as important as height in making our birds feel secure when we enter their aviary (unless of course the aviary provided is in the range of 2.8 metres plus high).

All our shelters are approximately one third of the overall size of the aviary, are draught free and have a liberal layer (five centimetres) of shell grit on the floor. All our flights are bare earth and are vermin proofed by the usual method of burying a kick plate 30 cms under the ground and extending it to 45 cms above the ground. This kick plate extends the full perimeter of all the aviaries and as well as keeping mice out it also offers protection from cats during extremely hot weather, when our birds frequently sit on the cool shady earth of the flights rather than on one of the perches provided.

Late autumn and early winter is our ‘spring cleaning’ time and all our aviaries are emptied of birds and furnishings, disinfected and painted and repaired if necessary, and fresh shell grit and new perches put back in, our birds are then wormed and put back in their newly cleaned home.

One aviary furnishing that we have found invaluable is the tree branch of a sturdy nature that has numerous horizontal branches on which we spike their daily fruit rations. We have found that this not only keeps their fruit off the ground but also keeps our birds active by having to climb and hang onto a branch to enjoy their fruit. These ‘fruit branches’ are placed halfway along the flights, and, although they are open to the elements, all the fruit is generally eaten before sun, wind or rain has a chance to spoil it.


As with most aviary birds (excluding lorikeets) hard seed forms the basis of our Easterns’ diet, and while a small parrot mix would be suitable our preference is to feed individual bowls of Sunflower, Japanese and White Millet, Canary Seed and Hulled Oats. By doing this we have noticed quite a varied preference of seeds between different pairs at different times of the year.

Our birds hard seed diet is supplemented by apples, oranges, silverbeet, broccoli, sweetcorn, pomegranate, sprouted seed, seeding grasses, tree branches (both gum and Cotoneaster) and insect cake. All these items are fed when available (when either cheap or free) but we purposely try to change our feeding patterns from an austerity diet in winter to a more varied and available diet during spring and summer. By doing this we attempt to copy Mother Nature and put our birds in a ‘breeding mode’ by making readily available different foods suitable for feeding their young. In the past we have fed soaked seed but we have discontinued this because we saw no benefit for the amount of time it took. This was replaced by sprouted seed, which is bought loose at the local supermarket quite cheaply.


The breeding season for Eastern Rosellas commences in August and can go through to January. We pack our logs with a dampened mixture of peat moss and chainsaw shavings and hang them in the shelters in mid to late July. Eastern Rosellas are easily catered for with their nesting requirements, taking to a medium or large parrot box just as readily as a log.

As soon as a nesting receptacle is put in the aviary the cock bird usually commences to display to the female as part of his normal courtship. The display of the Eastern Rosella is unmistakable, with much tail wagging and drooping of wings, accompanied by a soft chattering that seems to all combine to put the hen into a nervous state. Following this the cock bird usually feeds the hen and then copulation normally takes place. In some devoted pairs the cock bird feeds his hen all year round, but this is an exception rather than the rule.

Eastern Rosellas can be double-brooded and we have one pair that do this regularly, in fact they are what I would call the perfect pair of birds, in that they have never had a sick day, are double-brooded, always have 100% fertility and have never failed to raise a chick, which indeed makes them a very rare pair of birds.

Having owned this particular pair of birds for quite a few years it has given us a good chance to breed from their progeny (not together) and compare the results. It is interesting to note that none of their offspring have been double-brooded. By contrast they usually go to nest at what I would consider to be a relatively late time for Easterns (late October – November). These young birds have however all continued to show their parents pleasing traits of good fertility and ability to raise their young without mishap.

First year birds mated to each other have had fertility ranging from one egg in a clutch of five, to three fertile from a clutch of four. All these birds achieved 100% fertility in their second year.

We initially used to supply a second log to our double-brooded pair but, although it was thoroughly inspected, it was always passed over in favour of renesting in their old log once their first clutch had completely vacated it.

All our cock birds spend considerable amounts of time in the logs with their hens, both during incubation and while the young are in residence, although they have never spent nights in the logs.

Incubation takes approximately 21 days and even though I’m the worlds worst ‘sticky beak’ I don’t recommend inspection of nesting logs. I have tried nest inspection in the past and I have always found it impossible to flush the hen off the nest. Hens invariably dive into the nest at the first sight of people, and when viewing the nest with the hen present, she will back down onto her eggs or chicks and spread her wings out and open her beak in readiness to defend her young. This behaviour makes proper viewing impossible and also puts at risk any eggs or young due to accidental breakage or injury.

The young normally start to leave the log at about four weeks of age and I do not hesitate to put them back in the log if I think they have left too early or if inclement weather is forecast. This minor interference has always been accepted by all our parent birds.

Previous articles on this bird have stated that the cock bird commences to feed the chicks at about twelve days of age but this theory was blown out of the water by the video shown at our recent Minchin Memorial Meeting. This video showed a cock bird feeding a newly hatched chick. When the chicks fledge, their flight shows all the clumsiness of a new bird, but closer observation shows that their main problem is in stopping rather than in judging distances. This can be born out by the fact that our young birds always land feet first when they crash into the wire rather than head first as is usually the case, also in all the Easterns we have bred not one bird has scalped itself. This is another area in which a larger aviary has an advantage, with younger birds being far less panicky in a bigger area.

Although the young are usually independent at about three weeks out of the nest, we leave all our young in with their parents for many months after that with virtually no problems at all.

Barring mishaps, a well housed and cared for pair of Eastern Rosellas should still be a viable breeding proposition well into their late teens.


Eastern hens tend to be very shy if their log is left in the aviary all year round, diving into their log as soon as they hear anyone approach their aviary. For this reason, we either take their log out or cover over the entrance hole during the non-breeding season.

Eastern Rosellas enjoy nothing like a good bath and, therefore, we provide a large water dish, although this is normally replaced with a smaller one during breeding season to prevent any mishaps with new chicks. Despite their joy at having an early morning bath it is very rare to catch these birds in this vulnerable position, as they are soon out of the water at the slightest hint of anything out of the ordinary.

Their alertness is the main reason that we have purposely housed our Easterns in corner aviaries, wherever possible, as they act as an early warning system to alert our other birds to the advances of a prowling cat or the like.

Their distress call is invariably heard before the danger is actually seen, thereby putting our birds on alert without the accompanying panic.


Whilst it could never be said that Eastern Rosellas have the trusting and confiding nature of a Bourke’s Parrot or the comical antics of a Princess Parrot or Blue Bonnet, they nevertheless have much to recommend them as an aviary occupant.

They are extremely hardy, and relatively easy to cater for and would make an ideal addition to anyone’s collection, be they an experienced aviculturist or a beginner just starting off in birds, as I was when these beautiful birds came into my life.

One thing that I could not stress highly enough is that people select good quality unrelated stock when selecting their birds. Also, we must breed these birds true to type and not intermix subspecies with the nominate race as is so often the case. Every bird breeder has a duty both to himself and his hobby to breed pure species and subspecies whenever it is possible if we are to maintain the integrity we seek.

Although total numbers of these birds in aviculture is relatively high, there are quite a few inferior birds amongst them, as well as numerous wild-trapped birds that are really not a viable breeding proposition.

As with the Princess Parrot, it is high time Eastern Rosella breeders culled their poor quality birds and concentrated on breeding a good standard of bird, rather than just trying to achieve a maximum head count.

Hopefully, the days of hearing people say “She doesn’t look real good, but she breeds too well to get rid of” are on the way out, especially when used in reference to such a widely kept bird as the Eastern Rosella.

Reprinted from the October 1991 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

The Yellow-rumped Mannikin By Mark O’Connor, Mount Gambier

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The Yellow-rumped Mannikin

By Mark O’Connor, Mount Gambier


Mark, the author of the following article, has been interested in aviculture since about 1990. Now at age 12 he has enjoyed considerable breeding successes with his birds. His main involvement has been with finches although he also keeps some Bourke Parrots (both normal and Rosa). He can readily identify most species of birds, including some of the rarer foreign parrots and is more than capable of citing the price of many birds without enlisting the help of a price list.

Description of the Yellow-rumped Mannikin (Lonchura flaviprymna)

This solid finch in my opinion would rate as one of the most attractive Australian finches. With its chestnut-brown wings, creamy buff underparts, straw yellow rump, greyish head and bluish grey beak, it has always been a firm favourite of mine. Young Yellow-rumps come out as a dull brown colour.


As usual, the cock bird is the prettier of the two, and although difficult to sex, there are some variations that you can go by. The cock bird’s head is usually of a lighter colour and the upper mandible is slightly larger. Compared to the female, the cock seems to have an overall brighter coloration. As far as I’m concerned, the best way to sex them is that the cock will crow and the hen will not. I have used this way with a fair amount of success.

Feeding Requirements

My Yellow-rumps enjoy a variety of seeds including red pannicum, niger, canary, a general finch mix and canary tonic. During the breeding season my birds get plenty of silverbeet, broccoli, soaked seed, apple, termites and mealworrns (fed once a day). I don’t know of anyone who has bred the Yellow- rump without some form of livefood, so it is just about essential if you want good breeding results. Yellow-rumps should always have a good supply of fresh water for drinking and bathing purposes. My birds always get cuttlefish, shell grit and egg and biscuit. Whenever possible the Yellow-rump should have seeding grasses as they are something the Yellow-rump really likes.

In the Aviary

From my experience, the Yellow-rump is extremely docile. I have never observed the Yellow-rump interfering with other birds whether they be young or old, or other bird’s nests. It is a good bird for a mixed collection of other Australian and foreign finches, except they should not be housed with either other Australian mannikins or munias, as they may hybridize. I have only tried breeding them as a three pair colony and never as just single pairs. My birds have bred successfully this way so I intend sticking with it. Yellow-rumps are usually a very hardy bird, but as with other birds they should have an adequate sheltered area and the aviary should be as draught-free as possible.


Being a comparatively large finch, the Yellow-rump likes a lot of room. My Yellow-rumps are housed in an aviary which is 4.5m x 4.5m x 2.1m high. My colony of three pairs share their aviary with the following: two pair of Hecks, one pair of Yellow-hooded Siskins, one pair of Blue-faced Parrot-finches, one pair of Orange-breasts, one pair of Fires, one pair of Cubans, one pair of St. Helenas, one pair of Emblemas and one pair of Rosa Bourkes. There have been no problems arising from this combination and the only birds that haven’t produced young so far are the Blue-faced, the Yellow-hooded Siskins (although they are on the nest at the moment), and the Rosa Bourkes (who also currently have eggs). They like a bit of sunshine (which is a bit of a problem here in Mt. Gambier!), so a few sheets of fibreglass on the roof doesn’t go astray. My aviary has a sheltered area which is 2.1 metres long by 4.5 metres wide and 2.1 metres high. Half of the front is covered with fibreglass. This lets light in and stops draughts. The front is planted with the following plants: Kunzias, Melaleucas, Bamboo, Acanthus, Fuschias and various little grasses.


Yellow-rumps usually breed all year round, except they have a break during winter. The Yellow-rump will usually build either in grasses or brush. Mine have only ever nestled in the brush which lines the inside of the sheltered area, about one metre above the ground. I have never noticed them breeding in cane baskets or any other nest receptacles. They make a small, round nest with no entrance tunnel and feathers are used for lining the structure. Swamp grass and other fine grasses are used in the nest construction. My birds have bred twenty three young from four nests, so they usually have about six young per nest. The babies come out a dull brown colour and aren’t usually good fliers. The parents look after the babies well, and the Yellow-rumps once out of the nest usually live. I have noticed other members of the colony looking after the babies as well.

General Comments

Although not an overly popular bird, for reasons which I don’t know, I think they are ideal finches to keep for the following reasons: they are docile, hardy and free breeders. They never interfere with other bird’s nests or young and are colourful as well.

Reprinted from the January 1994 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

Breeding Galahs By Muffy’s Mum

Last year l achieved my greatest ambition, to breed Galahs. That may not so wonderful, until you stop to think that nearly every Galah in captivity in Australia is a family pet in a small cage. Nearly all of them were born wild, and taken from the nest as babies, or trapped in nets. Just because they are so common in the wild, aviarists tend to ignore these beautiful and intelligent birds. Galahs are rarely bred in captivity here, so I would like to share what was for me a very exciting experience.

I kept Galahs for several years, and had even had eggs in 1980, but the birds had been scared off the nest by car thieves. So, last year with a new high fence and padlocks everywhere, and lots of advice from friends, we carefully prepared the logs. These were about 1.2 m long, and about 35 cm in diameter. Both ends were sealed off and a hole about 10 cm in diameter made near the top. A mixture of peat moss, saw dust and sandy soil was put in to a depth of about 30 cm from the base, then the logs were hung in the shelter of the aviary at an angle of about 45°. Enough room was left at the top for us to inspect the logs when necessary.

At the time, we had two pairs of Galahs in the aviary, and three logs, so that they had a choice of nesting sites. My breeding pair have chosen the same log each year. When they are ready to lay, the other pair were separated from them because the nesting birds tend to give others in the aviary a hard time. Of course, it is easy to tell if you have a pair, because in adult birds the cock’s iris is dark brown, and the hen’s iris is red or pink, and they indulge in mutual preening.

In July, the cock was often seen displaying on the log they had chosen. He would raise his crest, spread his wings, and screech loudly! They were seen mating several times a day, and during her pregnancy the hen looked scruffy and climbed everywhere instead of flying. Galahs are the only Australian cockatoos to line their nest with fresh gum leaves, so they were given plenty of gum boughs. Galahs also chew off all the bark for quite a distance from the entrance hole but nobody quite knows why. The cock did most of the nest preparation, and was seen biting off sprigs of gum leaves and taking them into the log. Silver beet was also used, and several gum nuts were placed in the nest with which to surround the eggs during incubation. Both birds spent a lot of time in the log, preparing the nest.

During August, the hen started to lay but became egg-bound with the second egg. However, we brought her inside and kept her warm and she passed the egg during the night, and she was returned to the aviary the next day. In mid-September, three white eggs were laid, and incubation started after the second of the eggs was laid, the hen sitting at night and both birds taking turns during the day. The incubation period was thirty long days and during this time both birds were rarely seen together. The cock was more aggressive than usual, especially when I approached the nest.

At last, in mid-October, we heard the unmistakable sound of a baby Galah being fed and jumped for joy! The three chicks were hatched at two-day intervals, and were soon clearly heard crying and being fed. At birth, they were 5 cm long, bright pink with no down, and grew 2 cm’s in the first week. As the chicks grew, the parents spent less time in the log during the day, but the hen still sat at night until they were fully feathered, while the cock sat on the log, guarding his little family.

At two weeks of age, the chicks started to show pin feathers, then their eyes opened, and by four weeks of age they looked like prickly little Galahs! At five weeks of age, they were two-thirds grown, and when I peeped into the log, the three little birds would raise their crests and “Huff” at me! Then the babies started to climb up to the entrance hole and peep out, and we spent many happy hours watching them. At six weeks of age, the babies liked to sit at the entrance hole with their heads and shoulders out. They were seen preening themselves and were heard to practice flapping their wings in the log.

Most Galahs are very wary of trying new foods, so I feed mine this diet all year round, just increasing the quantities when they have young ones to feed. Each day they have seed mixture, almonds and peanuts in the shell, boiled maize, apple, silver beet, sweet corn, and occasionally a cabbage leaf, carrot, peas in pods, or a sunflower head. Of course, cuttlefish is always available to them. Their favourite food was seeding grasses, so they were given a big bunch of these twice a day.

At six weeks and four days of age, the first little Galah left the nest, very early in the morning. He was very unsure of his feet and wings, but his two very proud and protective parents took good care of him. The other two left the nest at two-day intervals, and their parents were kept busy feeding and teaching them all to climb and to fly. A few days after leaving the nest, the youngest one developed problems with his feet, probably the result of some deficiency, and although I even took him to work with me and fed him every three hours, he died in my lap that night. But the other two babies were doing well, and were soon no longer babies but just smaller, paler editions of their parents.

By nine weeks of age, the young ones were eating a few seeds but were still being partly fed by their parents. They were even learning to squawk with husky little voices. By twelve weeks of age, the young ones were almost completely independent, but the hen, who was a motherly soul, still liked to fuss over them.

The two young Galahs are now a year old, and very loved family pets, while their parents are busy again with their three young ones, hatched mid-September this year. It has been even more exciting this year for me, because as the result of a car accident I have spent a lot of time at home, and I have been able to watch it all more closely and add to last year’s notes and photos. My other pair of Galahs also went to nest this year, and laid two eggs, but being only young and this their first attempt at breeding, they didn’t sit on the eggs enough to hatch them.

So if any of you would like to try to breed Galahs too, I hope my notes may be of help, and even though you will not make much money out of it, you will get a big thrill out of doing something that so few aviarists attempt, so I wish you the very best of luck!

Reprinted from the November 1982 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

Bob White Quail (Colinus virginanus virginianus) I By H. O. King

Distribution: Eastern United States of America.

Description: Cock. White throat and white eyebrow stripe which extends downwards to the neck. There is a black band running through the eyes and bordering the white of the throat. The back upper breast and wings are rust-brown with yellow and brownish-yellow spots. The breast is brownish-yellow and white with narrow black stripes. The crest is barely visible. Hen. Is lighter in colour, has the throat bright buff and the black markings are less defined. Length 9 inches.

This is one of three Bobwhite Quail and is one of the most popular in Avicultural circles. In the native state Bobwhites increased for a century or more as they virtually followed the plow, west across America. They were well suited to the mixed habitats of the early American small farms. Today there are Bobwhites to be found in some city parks and along rivers bordering and meandering through many cities and towns. This quail got its popular name from its call of Bob-white! Ah, Bob-white, Bob-Bob-White.

Nesting requirements are simple and all that is used is a scrape in the ground and a bit of straw or a few leaves to line the nest. In the wild the nest would be very well camouflaged. That, added to the habit of the hen to sit very tightly, they are extremely difficult to locate. The nests are usually under scrub or in tall grass and a cover dome is constructed and a side entrance which makes it hard to locate. This fact may account for the Bobwhite’s reluctance to sit on their own eggs in Australian aviaries as they are usually kept in open flight aviaries, often as terrestrial dwellers in Parrot aviaries devoid of any natural cover. The usual clutch varies between 12 and 20 eggs, which are white or cream coloured and lightly speckled with brown. Incubation takes 23 days. Nest building and incubation are usually carried out by the hen alone but should she die or be killed, the cock may take over and carry on with the incubation and rearing of the young. It is usual for this species to be double brooded.

The young quail, like their close relative the pheasant, are capable of some flight when only one week old, but usually hide in the undergrowth when disturbed and remain there until “All Clear“ is sounded. These birds are reluctant to be in areas where it is cold and/or damp and, even in the wild, will wait until the sun is well up before venturing out into the grass that is now dry of dew. The birds usually sleep on the ground in a group in a circular pattern facing outwards. This is a good defence against being approached by any predator without their having noticed, to ward off or confuse any would be attacker. The quail will all “explode” up and out at the last minute causing confusion as to which one to chase. This method of sleeping also means added warmth for each other.

These birds are omnivorous but up to 80% of their diet consists of vegetable matter. They live up to 9 years of age in captivity but in the wild would be lucky to reach 5 years.

Red-crowned Kakariki – Our Most Fertile Pair By Gordon and Joyce Paech

We agree with Mark SHEPHARD, in his book “Aviculture in Australia”, that a much more appropriate name to describe the two varieties of Kakarikis held in aviaries in Australia are Red-crowned and Yellow-crowned, instead of Red-fronted and Yellow-fronted. Both have a red frontal area. Yellow-crowned Kakarikis have a red frontal area with a yellow crown on the head and faint yellow behind the eyes. The Red-crowned Kakariki has a red frontal area to the eyes and a red crown on the head with red behind the eyes. Therefore, the distinguishing colour is on the crown and not on the frontal area of the head. Mark SHEPHARD’s book has a very good section on Kakarikis. We would suggest that aviculturists contemplating keeping one or more pairs of Kakarikis to acquire this book. It also has excellent coverage on other birds and subjects relating to aviculture.

Now to our most fertile pair of Red-crowned Kakarikis, which may be of some interest. We have kept and bred Kakarikis for over 10 years with some failures and some successes. This particular pair have been our most successful breeders. Upon viewing this pair in the aviary, they look no different than the other 7 pairs in our other aviaries, but they must have decided to show the other pairs how to get down to some solid breeding. At nine months old they fledged their first clutch, and in 26 months from the time of their first clutch fledging, 12 clutches were raised with a total of 61 young birds of their own fledged in that time. All were healthy, strong birds. The parents are now enjoying a well earned rest but they still look fit and healthy.

Breeding Results for One Pair

Raised Date

2 30 Jul 87 Parents 9 months old. Some eggs not fertile.
6 14 Oct 87 Started to lay in with young. Accepted another nest box.
Male finished raising all the young.
6 12 Dec 87 Gave another nest box. Male finished raising young.
4 25 Feb 88 Gave another nest box. Male finished raising young.
6 22 Apr 88 Gave another nest box. Male finished raising young.
5 21 Jun 88 Gave another nest box. Male finished raising young.
6 29 Aug 88 Gave another nest box. Male finished raising young.
7 31 Oct 88 Gave another nest box. Male finished raising young.
6 27 Dec 88 Gave another nest box. Male finished raising young.
2 28 Feb 89 Female helped raise young. 3 eggs not fertile.
5 10 May 89 Female helped raise young. 3 eggs not fertile.
6 21 Aug 89 Female helped raise young. 3 eggs not fertile.
Total 61 26 Months Now enjoying well earned rest. Both parents still fit and healthy.

How we housed and fed this pair of Red-crowned Kakarikis may be of interest. But although the housing and feeding may have helped in the breeding and raising of the young, we are of the opinion that one has to be lucky and strike the right pair to have that much success in breeding. Some pairs never breed or refuse to raise their young, and some pairs will only raise a few and then decide to rest, sometimes resting for 12 months or more before starting to breed again.

This pair shared a reasonably large aviary with one young pair of Princess Parrots. The aviary length overall is 5.2m of which 2.1m is shelter area. The shelter has a corrugated iron roof, two sides and back are V crimp iron, the ceiling and top half of the walls are lined with Hardiflex. The gap between the ceiling and roof iron is insulated with Rockwool bats. The remainder of the aviary is open flight. The aviary is 1.5m wide and 2.1m high. The floor is natural earth covered with coarse washed concrete sand.

Nest boxes for all our Kakarikis are made of wood or chipboard 12 mm thick or more. Box dimensions are 175 x 175 x 450 mm long with a 60 mm entrance hole in front near the top end of the box with a short dowel perch. The nest box has an inspection door located just below the middle of the box. It can be partly left open on hot days for extra air ventilation when young are in the nest box. Coarse sawdust or saw shavings and peat moss are slightly dampened and pressed into the bottom of the box. The box is suspended with a wire handle about 60 cm long. The wire handle is hung onto a gutter bolt or strong screw fixed to the back or side of the aviary shelter at a 25 or 30 degree angle, making sure the nest box is in the coolest part of the aviary shelter and about 60 cm down from the roof of the shelter.

If young are in the nest box it is very important (and we cannot stress this enough) that on very hot days the nest box with its young must be unhooked from its bolt or screw and placed on the floor in the coolest part of the shelter. Make sure that the hot sunlight does not shine on the box or near it at anytime. It is always several degrees cooler on the floor, and on extremely hot days it is also wise to wet a hessian bag and place it on the top and back of the box. This gives a cooling effect like the old fashioned water bag. Also partly open the inspection section at the bottom of the box to create a through movement of air. The parents will attend to the chicks on the floor. The box can be re-hung after sundown when the temperature has dropped. The young chicks can overheat in the nest box very quickly. Overheating is fatal to Kakariki chicks. It can be very disappointing to have a clutch of 5 or 6 lovely young in the nest box, and it only takes one hot day for them to overheat and all the young may die, when a little extra care could have saved them.

Kakarikis are not great seed eaters. We supply a small seed mixture in one deep container, such as a large plastic ice cream container. They love to scratch their seed around and, having a deep seed container, there is less chance of having seed scratched out over the floor. The mixture we supply is 2 parts Canary Seed, 2 parts Jap Millet, 1 part White Millet, half part Panicum, half part Linseed. Also in another deep container is Grey Stripe Sunflower and Safflower. We supply less sunflower seed when the birds are not raising young.

Each day they receive a small portion of freshly sprouted small seed mix and freshly sprouted sunflower seed. We prepare a fresh batch of sprouted seed each day, and do not let the seed become rancid or mouldy. Also we remove from the sprouted seed trays any seed that has not been consumed from the previous day. Larger portions of sprouted seed are given when the birds are feeding young. One freshly picked silverbeet leaf is supplied to each pair every day. Fruit, especially apple, once or twice a week, fresh corn on cob when available, any green or ripening grass seeding heads that are available, also grass stems to chew, also the green seeding head of silverbeet. When collecting grass be sure that it has not been sprayed with weedicide.

In conclusion we think that most aviculturists would derive enjoyment, as we have, by having one or several pairs of Kakarikis in their collection as they are very interesting little parrots, unafraid of humans, becoming very tame and inquisitive. Sometimes their activity is entirely unusual. We hope to relate an unusual activity at some later date. Another good reason to have one or several pairs is because they breed almost any time of the year, which gives an added interest in the aviaries by them often breeding when most other parrots are resting.

There must be other aviculturists that have had some success in breeding as we have. Let’s hear from you in these columns because that is what aviculture is about. The successful and sometimes unsuccessful keeping and breeding of birds.

Reprinted from the January 1990 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc.

Avian Influenza (also called Bird Flu) An original article by Josie Pyle

The World Health Organization has reported an outbreak of Avian Influenza in birds in Asia. Millions of birds have been infected as have a small number of people, who were infected after close contact with chickens in Vietnam and Thailand. There is no evidence as yet that the virus has spread from person-to-person. 19 out of 25 confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza have resulted in death, 12 were under 18 years and 7 were adults. All human cases have been reported from two countries, Vietnam and Thailand.

Avian influenza is a viral disease of birds. There are many strains of avian influenza virus that cause infections of different severity and some strains may be associated with severe disease and high mortality in poultry, as well as transmission to humans. Avian influenza A (H5N1) is the strain of the virus currently active in South-East Asia and is highly lethal to poultry. The virus can survive in faeces, on feathers, eggs or meat.

Avian influenza viruses can infect more than poultry.

Avian influenza viruses can infect a wide variety of birds – more than just domestic poultry. Avicultural species including pheasants, partridges, quail, pigeons, ducks, geese, guinea fowl and ostriches are susceptible, as well as wild birds. Some migratory waterfowl, sea birds, and waders are infected with AI viruses, but do not show signs of the clinical disease.

Avian influenza viruses usually only infect birds but theoretically avian influenza viruses could spread to any species susceptible to influenza viruses such as pigs and horses. In practice, this type of spread is extremely limited.

The clinical signs of avian influenza in birds.

Clinical signs vary greatly and depend on many factors but highly infective avian influenza can cause sudden death, swelling of the head, ruffled feathers, diarrhoea, haemorrhaging, nervous signs and respiratory distress. Any signs of sickness or sudden death in a substantial part of a flock should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities.

The spread of avian influenza

The principal means by which the AI virus initiates outbreaks in domestic poultry is by wild birds, particularly ducks, contaminating food or water supplies and subsequent spread of the virus by the movements of infected live birds or contaminated feed, equipment and materials.

Migratory birds are a potential risk of introducing exotic avian influenza viruses to Australia.

Transmission to humans occurs predominantly through the handling of live infected birds or close contact with them and their excretions.

Is Australia safe?

There have been five outbreaks of avian influenza in commercial bird flocks in Australia, all of which were successfully eradicated. The last reported case was in 1997 in Tamworth, NSW. Avian influenza can be carried by migratory bird species that could infect wild birds in Australia. It is highly probable that contact between wild birds, particularly ducks, and poultry was the cause of the avian influenza outbreaks in Australia in the past.

What is Australia doing about avian influenza?

Animal health authorities have had contingency plans in place for many years to minimise the impact of an outbreak of avian influenza in Australia. Commercial poultry farmers have well-developed biosecurity systems which have been strengthened in recent years. Poultry farmers are on high alert and are backed up by diagnostic facilities and response plans the equal of anywhere in the world.

Australian Government agencies with responsibility for issues such as animal and human health, quarantine and border protection have been closely monitoring and will continue to monitor the current South-East Asian avian influenza situation.

What can I do as an aviculturist?

Good biosecurity, so as to maintain a barrier between domestic birds and wild bird populations, is the single most important factor in reducing the risk of an avian influenza outbreak. Apart from preventing contact between wild and domestic birds, the water supply must also be treated, or from a known safe source.

When cleaning aviaries or poultry yards appropriate precautions such as gloves and face-masks should always be used.

Any suspicious sudden deaths, especially involving a large number of birds should be reported immediately.

Avian Influenza Hotline: 1800 675 888

The Blue-winged Parrot By Gerry Solly


The Blue-winged Parrot (Neophema chrysostoma) inhabits the whole of Tasmania, the islands of Bass Strait, the whole of Victoria and the South-eastern portion of South Australia. The northern extreme of the range being roughly a line drawn from Gawler in South Australia through Broken Hill in New South Wales to the Victoria-New South Wales border on the east coast.


The Blue-wing is approximately 200 to 225mm in length, which is about average for all the Neophema groups. The upper surface is olive green, the underparts yellow, the wings are blue with black flight feathers, the nose-band is blue.


The Blue-wing is the hardest of all the Neophemas to sex. As with the Elegant (N. elegans) the blue nose-band is the surest method of sexing these birds. It is usually broader and darker on male birds. However, it is possible to get bright females and dull males which look identical. In this case I go by the black of the flight feathers. In the case of the male these are an intense glossy black, while those of the female are a duller grey-black.


The young are a dull version of the hen and take about six to nine months to attain full colour. It is almost impossible to sex immature birds.


Blue-wings nest later in the season than the other Neophemas. They rarely go to nest before mid-November and sometimes as late as mid-December. If a pair double broods the second nest is seldom before late January. As a consequence many young are lost in the nest due to the high temperatures prevailing at this time – December and January temperatures are usually in the 30-35 degree Celsius range.

Clutch sizes vary between four and six eggs, the usual number being four or five, six being very rare. Good birds in top condition usually have 100% fertility. It is uncommon to find an infertile egg, unless the birds have been inbred. The hen sits extremely tightly. It is often hard to get her to leave the nest if you want to inspect the eggs. I have had to lift hens off on many occasions when inspecting the nest. They do not seem to mind this as they return to the nest as soon as the aviary is vacated. The eggs take about twenty days to hatch. The young spend three to four weeks in the log and take another two to three weeks to become independent.

I have found that the Blue-wing is the only Neophema to prefer logs hung at an angle. I give all my parrots a choice of logs when they first go to nest, one at an angle and one vertical. All the other Neophema species invariably choose a vertical log, but I have only had one pair of Blue-wings do so.


As with the other Neophema species the staple diet consists of canary seed, millet (white and Japanese), pannicum, hulled oats and sunflower. They show a preference for the oats and sunflower. This tends to make them fat, but as it does not appear to interfere with their breeding capabilities or affect their life span I give these seeds to them as they want them. They also consume large quantities of seeding grasses in season and much silver beet and milk thistle during the rest of the year. Large amounts of green-feed are consumed when feeding young.


Blue-wings tend to be flighty birds and go into mad panic if frightened. This seems to be a natural quirk of this species, as I have found hand reared young very friendly until released into an aviary, they then quickly become as wild as those raised by the parents.

Except for Elegants, they get on very well with birds in adjoining aviaries. I have housed them with Bourkes (N. bourkii) with quite good results. This is probably because Bourkes go to nest as early as September and the Blue-wings not until two months later, thus there is no competition for logs.

Bathing is a favourite occupation. As soon as I place fresh water in their dishes they are in it. They also like to get under a fine spray from the hose.

I offer my birds the following logs:

Vertical 450 to 500mm in length with a 50mm hole 60mm from the top.

Angular 600 to 700mm in length with a 50mm hole 60mm from the top. Both ends are closed and the log hung at an angle of 25 to 30 degrees from the horizontal.

I use nesting material consisting of 50% peat moss, 25% coarse sawdust (not shavings) and 25% sifted dirt. This is mixed and left to stand for six to twelve months before being compacted into the bottom of the logs.

Reprinted from the January 1979 edition of Bird Keeping in Australia, the official publication of The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc

The Brown Quail – Coturnix australis

Other names – Swamp Quail
Length – 175-2OOmm (6.89-7.87 inches)
Adult weight – 65-140 grams (females tend to be heavier).

Description – Cock – Upper parts dark brown marked with black and chestnut1 each feather with a central white stripe. Chin and throat light brown. Remainder of underparts lighter brown with black scalloping. Upper breast darken Eyes red, brown or yellow. Bill black or dark brown. Legs and feet yellowish.

- Hen – Similar to cock but more heavily marked with black and with less chestnut on the back.

Sexing – Adults may be sexed with relative ease by visual differences. Hens also tend to appear somewhat larger than cocks. Difficulty exists when individuals or different colour morphs are compared. Three colour morphs exist namely brown, grey and red. All hens are of the brown morph but cocks may be of either of three colour forms. Red morph cocks predominate in the north and In arid areas. Grey morph cocks are rarer in Australia but common In mainland New Guinea. This variation between cocks will also affect the degree to which sexual dimorphism is shown in an area. Juveniles will attain adult plumage at 10-12 weeks of age.

Hatching – The newly hatched chick is golden brown with two dark stripes down the back and a thin chocolate brown line running back from the corner of the eye. The depth of colour of the newly hatched chicks may give some indication of sex with the darker chicks usually being young cocks (and therefore showing similar differences to adults).

Distribution and Habitat – This species is found in New Guinea, Australia, Lesser Sunda Islands, Fiji and New Zealand (in the latter two it Is an introduced species). It is generally resident but inland birds may be nomadic. Birds have also been recorded as migrating from southern Papua New Guinea to Northern Australia.

In the wild this species occupies a variety of habitats ranging from Eucalypt woodlands to rainforest. Its only requirements are that the area contains regions of dense grass or herbage In moister areas. Riverbanks and roadsides are popular and this is where they are commonly seen as they move out into open areas to feed.

Subspecies – Four Australian subspecies are recognised. These are:

C. a. australis – This Is the nominate form found throughout mainland Australia. The cock of the brown morph Is as described above. Red and grey morph cocks have a predominance of their appropriate colour replacing part of the chestnut on the back and sides.

C. a. ysilophora – This subspecies still causes some confusion. Also known as the Swamp Quail, this subspecies Is considered larger, more clearly marked and has a yellow Iris. It is generally documented as a form restricted to Tasmania but recent studies have shown that individuals in the mountainous areas of Papua New Guinea also show these characteristics.

C. a. queenslandlcus – This is a subspecies recognised from the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. It is considered smaller than the nominate subspecies.

C. a. cervinus – This subspecies is recognised from the Kimberley region, Western Australia and is considered smaller, paler and redder than the nominate subspecies.

Only the former two subspecies, C. a australis and C. a. ysilophora are known to exist In aviaries in their pure form.

Housing – Although somewhat bulky, this species is considered suitable for a mixed collection of finches, softbills, pigeons and doves and small parrots. Only In large aviaries greater than 10m2 (108 feet9 floor area, should this species be mixed with other quail or colony bred as they can be particularly territorial. This can also be a problem if housed with ground nesting pigeons such as Squatter Pigeons. When I have had these species nesting together, the Brown Quail tend to dominate and may drive the pigeons off the nest. This species looks most attractive when housed in a lightly planted aviary. When introduced into an aviary, some individuals of this species may be flighty and this will often result in scalped birds if measures are not taken to avoid it. Prior to releasing your new purchase into the aviary, it is wise to clip both the primary and secondary feathers of one wing to restrict the power of flight. A cover or plant growth, grass or dried brush will also reduce the nervous tendencies of these birds. Unless the individual birds are known to be quiet, it is generally unfair to the birds to expect them to feel secure in open parrot-type aviaries. The call of this species is generally unobtrusive but the mating call Of the cock can be penetrating if two cocks are kept within earshot of each other and continually point out their territories to each other. Occasionally this species may call at night, but I am yet to associate this with any greater risk of cat attacks as is often suggested.

Feeding – In the wild, this species forages in open areas and light undergrowth for seeds, insects and greens. In the aviary, a commercial small seed mix (such as Finch, Budgerigar or Small Parrot mix) is adequate for a maintenance diet when supplemented with greenfeed. This species will tend to scratch the seed out of shallow containers so seed is best supplied in a deep l00mm (4 inches) container or in a shallow tray covered 50 (2 inch) plastic trellis mesh. White ants, mealworms or maggots (gentles) should be fed daily during the breeding season. Other foods that will be readily accepted by this species include coarse laying mash, dotterel mix, and turkey starter crumbles.

Breeding – Nesting may occur at any time of the year, however August to May Is the peak breeding season. Some pairs may be erratic in their breeding and several successful nests may be followed by a period of inactivity.

Nests are built on the ground usually in a secluded site against a grass clump or In a corner under shelter The nest is little more than a scrape in the ground lined with grasses pulled in from the immediate surroundings of the nest area. Some pairs will unfortunately lay their eggs all over the aviary floor. This generally can be related to a lack of privacy and the provision of more grass clumps or tea-tree branches placed in the corners may help.

The Red-capped Parrot

Purpureicephalus spurious

Other Names: King Parrot, Western King Parrot, Pileated Parakeet.
Distribution and Habitat

The Red-capped Parrot inhabits the south-western corner of Australia, in close association with the marri tree Eucalyptus calophylla, which provides both nesting hollows and food. The bird’s peculiarly shaped slender, hooked bill is adapted to extracting seeds from the large hard seed capsules of the marri tree. The Red-capped Parrot also inhabits trees surrounding cultivated farmlands, parklands, orchards and alongside roads and watercourses, even into the suburbs of Perth. Unfortunately its frequenting of orchards has led to conflict with local fruit-growers.

Length: 360mm

Male: The brightly coloured male has a red forehead, crown and nape, bright yellow cheeks and throat, a purplish-blue chest and light-green back. The rump and upper tail covets are also bright yellow, with red on the flanks, vent and under-tail. The long tail is bight green edged with blue and tipped white. The long slender bill is a bluish-horn colour and the legs and eyes are brown.

Female: A duller bird, the female has more green on the flanks and under-tail. In addition her red-cap may be tinged with green and her chest colour less vivid.

Immatures: Young birds have dull green heads and upper parts, a rust coloured frontal band and are generally duller in colour. The under parts are a dull red-brown, washed with violet blue lower down. Adult plumage is attained in males by the first complete moult when the birds are 12 to 15 months old. Young females may not acquire full plumage, especially the re-cap, until the second moult. Immatures also have an under-wing stripe, which persists in females but disappears in males after the first moult.
Avicultural Notes

Status: The Red-capped Parrot has not enjoyed great popularity in aviculture and has the reputation of being a flighty and timid bird. This reputation may have been earned from stock in the past being obtained mainly from legally taken wild birds. More recently, several aviculturists seem to be enjoying more success breeding this species and with more captive-bred birds, hopefully their reputation will improve.

Housing: A large aviary, 2-5m in length is recommended for this species. As they tend to be aggressive, they should not be housed next to other aggressive species such as rosellas or ringneck parrots. Red-capped Parrots enjoy bathing, so facilities for this activity should be provided.

Diet: In addition to a basic seed diet, the parrots should be provided with a selection of fruit, greens and vegetables, eucalypt and cotoneaster branches. The Red-capped Parrot used its feet to hold food.

Sexing: in addition to the above, females have a thin band of green feathers between the red cap and the eyelids. The red feathers of the vent are not as bright and have a broken outline, barred with pale green. This later is most obvious between 6 and 12 months of age and may be used to identify young females.

Breeding: Generally begins around October and birds have been known to breed in their first year. The courtship behaviour of the male is quite unique. He alights near the female, erects his red crown feathers, droops his wings to display his yellow rump and slowly raises his fanned-out tail feathers. During the display a harsh rattling “kurr-ak” is uttered.

Nesting: Logs or boxes may be used. Four to five eggs are laid and incubated by the hen for 20 days. The male feeds the hen during incubation and for a further 2 weeks. After this he feeds the chicks directly in the nest until they fledge at 5 weeks. Hand-raised Red-capped Parrots are reported to be very responsive and exhibit a high degree of intelligence.
Final Note

While not a beginner’s bird, the Red-capped Parrot would make an attractive addition to the more experienced aviculturist’s collection. To safeguard it’s avicultural future, It is important that this species becomes more established and available in aviaries.


1. Lendon, A. Australian Parrots in Field and Aviary. Angus & Robertson Publishers, North Ryde, 1989.

2. Shephard, M. Aviculture in Australia. Black Cockatoo Press, Prahran, 1989.

Spastic Leg Paralysis of Parrots

Spastic Leg Paralysis of Parrots is a disease that usually affects single birds amongst many in an aviary. It has also been called “Barraband paralysis” because Barraband (Superb) Parrots Polytelis swainsonii appear particularly prone to develop this condition. Similar conditions have been seen in a wider range of parrot species however, including Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus and Cockatiels Nymphicus hollandicus  (Cockatiel paralysis syndrome).

Spastic Leg Paralysis shows up as a sudden onset of paralysis of both legs. The degree of paralysis can vary from mild weakness with difficulty grasping the branch, to the whole limb being extended stiffly behind the bird, often with clenched toes. The birds’ general health is usually not affected and it will continue to eat well and behave in an otherwise normal way. The affected bird usually has difficulty maintaining its balance on the perch, has an unsteady (ataxic) gait and (in more severe cases) will move around the aviary floor on its hocks or by using its beak only.

While the exact cause of Spastic Leg Paralysis is unclear, many affected birds show spinal cord damage or stroke-like damage to the brain, but not all affected birds show these changes. It is now thought that a deficiency in calcium and/or vitamins A, B1,2&6, D and E may be involved, especially as a dry seed diet is notoriously lacking in these ingredients.

Treatment for affected birds includes supportive care, ensuring birds can reach food and water easily, and vitamin supplements. The latter may have to be given by injection so the aid of an avian veterinarian is often required. While some birds can recover spontaneously, the problem can recur later. Obviously, the long term diet of both the affected bird and any aviary mates needs to be modified to include more fruit, green vegetables such as spinach and other vitamin and mineral supplements. Giving nothing but “Berocca” to drink for seven days has often achieved good results.


Macwhirter, P., Everybird, Inkata Press, Melbourne, 1987.

Olsen, G. and Orosz, S., Manual of Avian Medicine, Mosby, Inc, Missouri, 2000.

The Stubble Quail

Coturnix pectoralis

Other names: Grey Quail, Pectoral Quail.

Distribution and Habitat

In the wild state, Stubble Quail are highly nomadic and the population in any one area can fluctuate widely depending on the rainfall that area has received. They are common in eastern and south-eastern Australia and coastal southern region of West Australia and present in lesser numbers in central Australia, the Kimberleys, Northern Territory and Queensland.

Stubble Quail prefer open grassland areas, more open then that adopted by the Brown Quail. They have adapted to stubble, cereal and lucerne crops and pastures but can also be found in native grasslands, saltbush or spinifex grasslands.

Their diet consists of seeds, green grasses, insects, caterpillars and small frogs. In cultivated areas, these birds prefer the seeds of introduced species of plants, including those considered weeds in crop pastures but in dry inland areas, seeds of native grasses are eaten. Although the numbers of Stubble Quail in some locations have increased secondary to clearing of woodlands and crop cultivation, much of their habitat has been destroyed by sheep and rabbits, so that overall numbers may not have increased. Ii is still the most common of the native quail in the wild and is hunted at certain times of the year.

When disturbed, they will first try to escape by running through cover, only flushing it desperate. They fly with a loud whirring of wings, just above the grass for approximately 50m, then drop to the ground and continue running. It is difficult to flush them twice.


The adult Stubble Quail is 18 to 18.5cm in length, with the female usually being slightly larger than the male (as it common in the Coturnix genus). The sexes are easy to distinguish.

Both sexes are dark brown above with pale buff markings. The centre of each feather has a cream stripe running down it, giving the plumage a streaked appearance. In the male, the sides of the face and throat are light chestnut; in the female the throat is white and the sides of the face and neck ate pale buff with darker spots. In both sexes the feathers of the head and nape are black with buff tips and there is a white eyebrow and white line through the centre of the head. In the male the chest has a prominent black pattern with the rest of the chest and abdomen being white with a black central streak. The hen lacks the black chest patch, having a paler buff coloured chest with darker markings through it. Both sexes have a red-brown iris, black bill and flesh coloured legs and feet.


A three syllable clear whistle or a sharp clear “too-wheep”.


The nesting season starts in September, hence the first broods usually hatch in October. The season extends into February with some late broods hatching in March. Breeding is heavily influenced by the amount of rainfall and in the inland of Australia, breeding can occur well into autumn. The nest is usually made in thick cover and consists of a scrape in the ground lined with grass. In this the hen lays usually 7 to 8 (occasionally as many as 14 have been found) pale yellow or light brown eggs, with dark brown blotches which she alone incubates for 18 days. The chicks are a buff colour with dark stripes running down the flanks and down the centre of the back

Avicultural Notes

Stubble Quail tend to be shy birds and will look for cover as soon as anyone approaches the aviary. It is therefore best to keep them in a largish well planted aviary. Spinifex grass or Johnson grass is well suited for providing shelter. It the aviary isn’t planted, it is important to provide them with an area of cover that they can get into or behind. Brush or hay stacked in the corner, stuffed with finer grasses provides good shelter. I have found that, with cover provided plus patience and bribery with plenty of mealworms, the birds will gradually become less timid. Young birds treated with daily live food and other tit-bits can become quite tame. If your birds are particularly flighty, it is advisable to clip a wing until they settle down to prevent birds hitting the roof of the aviary and scalping or even killing themselves.

In captivity the breeding season extends from September to January or February. They tend to lay more eggs than wild birds; usual nests consist of ten or so eggs but up to 15 may be laid. Eggs are laid at 48 hour intervals. Some hens may lay numerous eggs around the aviary, similar to some King Quail hens. This may reflect inadequate or unsuitable cover for the hen to hide her nest securely.

Although Stubble Quail have been known to raise young successfully on dry seed alone, green food should be provided (they seem especially fond of seeding grasses) and live food will be appreciated.


The Stubble Quail is a relatively cheap and very attractive addition to an aviary. They are generally quiet birds, require little special attention and can breed freely if given the right conditions. Unfortunately they have never been a high profile bird and are currently only kept by a very small number of aviculturists.