Banding and Record Keeping
Banding Baby Parrots
For those of us who breed Parrots, banding the babies and keeping good records is just as important as providing the proper diet and environment. It is the only way to identify the youngsters and be able to keep the bloodlines separate and pure.
All our Caique and Brotogeris babies are banded at about 15-18 days old, depending on the size of the chick. We use aluminum bands obtained from L&M Bird Bands. The correct size for Caiques is #10, for the Brotogeris parakeets Cockatiel size is a perfect fit.
Banding is a simple procedure. The chick should have an empty crop as the manipulation could cause it to aspirate if the crop is full. If it is a tight fit you can use a Q-tip to put a very small dab of antibacterial ointment such as Bacitracin™ or Neosporin™ on the thickest part of the foot, at the base of the toes. This will act as both a lubricant to aid the band in sliding over the foot, and to soothe any minor irritation or abrasion that may be caused by the band. Be careful not to get the ointment on the toes themselves or it will be difficult to grasp them with your fingers.
I hold the chick against my body with my left hand with the chick's head pointing to my left side. With that same hand I extend the chick's right foot backwards, causing him to point his toes as it is impossible to get a band on a clenched foot. Carefully hold the two front toes and the long back toe together and slip the band on. Holding the band on the toes with your left hand, gently grasp the toes with the right hand and slide the band over the foot. Once over the foot use a blunted toothpick, if necessary, to carefully pull the remaining short toe through the band.
Any time we acquire an unbanded juvenile or adult bird they are banded with a stainless steel band (looks like an import or quarantine band). A special tool is required to put these bands on. I will usually have my avian veterinarian apply the band during the initial checkup. These open bands are obtained from DL Products. Sizes used for Caiques are 5/16 inch. For our Brotogeris parakeets, we use either 3/16" or 1/4" depending on the species.
As each chick is hatched, and then later banded, it is entered into our computer database. Though our database program was specially customized for our aviary, there are many fine software programs commercially available.** Alternatively, a spiral notebook or three ring binder with index tabs can be just as effective. Some breeders choose to use a card file with index cards. The chosen system is not as important as long as the information is maintained.
Each entry should consist of no less than species, band number, hatch date, name or ID of both parents, and sex of the chick if known (generally entered at a later date after DNA or surgical sexing). Fields are available for additional information such as cage ID or location, the name of the person the bird is sold to or if the chick will be kept for future breeding. This is the minimum information that should be kept, our customized database system contains much more. This system has worked very well for us for many years. At any time, information on a specific chick can be easily retrieved just by the band number or we can retrieve complete breeding history on any of our pairs.
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