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.