April 2009

The Songbird

For as long as I can remember, my dad was a canary owner.  He scoured pet stores, searching for pretty canaries that sing even better than they look, constantly changing their notes to add variety to the melody.  Finally he would bring the right one home, and from then on we would listen to the bird daily, put at ease by the singing.  After so many years of being raised around these birds, I have to admit I miss them, even though I wouldn't call myself an "animal person."

Grit For Baby Chicks

If your chicks are eating a commercial chick starter feed, they will not need grit.  (I'm not sure if this is because chick starter is designed such that it doesn't need to be ground up in their gizzards, or because it contains the correct amount of grit in the preparation.)

Instead of teeth to grind their food, chickens have a special organ called a gizzard.  When a chicken pecks up a bit of food, it goes straight to the gizzard before heading to the chicken's stomach.  The gizzard is filled with bits of inorganic material like grit, sand, and (in adult chickens) small pebbles.  These grind up the food, in the same way that a pepper mill grinds up peppercorns.

At some point, you will want to start feeding your baby chicks some greens, or possibly bugs that you catch in the yard.   This is an excellent feeding supplement for your chicks, and it helps introduce them slowly to the Big Wide World in which they will one day find themselves.  And frankly, it's really fun.

Smoking Sparrow

Paul Sheriff of Leasingham, Lincolnshire, in England has just found out how the fire that burned down his shop to the tune of £250,000 worth of damage was started... and it’s a little hard for him to believe.
It seems that after weeks of investigations, his insurance company finally found the root of the blaze. They have blamed it on a smoking sparrow . Yes, as in the little bird.
The sparrow had apparently been building a nest close in the eaves of Sheriff’s village store and was lining the home with the usual things such as twigs, but also had a fondness for cigarette butts thrown that had been thrown on the ground.
You probably know what’s coming next. The sparrow happened to pick up a cigarette butt that was still smouldering and flew it back to the nest.
Sheriff was fortunate enough to escape the March 9th fire as a customer alerted him to the blaze.

City Chickens: Raising Baby Chicks

This is an "advanced level" article, covering some lessons that I learned about raising baby chicks which you won't find in books or in other "Raising Chicks 101" online articles. 

If you've read the entry level articles, you already know that chicks should be fed special chick food, that they should start out at 95-100 degrees which is lowered by 5 degrees a day, and that they need fresh water available at all times.  Those are the basics, and if you do nothing further, your chicks will grow up fine. 


On the one hand, you want your chicks to be relatively convenient, so that you can check on them easily.  On the other hand, they will be producing an appalling amount of noise, dust, and smells, so you don't want them right in your living area.  I live in a cabin with an open floor plan, so I had no choice but to plunk them right in the middle of everything.