“PMS” OR PREMATURE MORTALITY SYNDROME©
By Donald Perez
This article relates to canary chicks that look fine one day and the next day are found on their deathbed somewhere out of the nest. There are a variety of reasons why one experiences results such as these with canaries. The first time one would see this in the birdroom, it would be natural to assume that as the hen came off of the nest, a chick stuck under a wing and thus came out of the nest with her. Or possibly that the nest was not deep enough and the chick in its' excitement to be fed, crept out of the nest. Hmmm, lots of good reasons as to why these chicks are found cold and dying on the floor of the cage. Why do some chicks seem to look fine one day and regardless of the age of the chick all of a sudden die or as is said, "gone light."
One reads info in e-mails and articles of too much protein in the diet. Another assumption by some would be radiation from a TV. While yet others would attribute problems to wet nests.
Now how exactly does a nest get wet? Does an April shower sprinkle rain on the nest? Does the hen go to the drinker, take a big swig then rush back to the nest and spit it all over the inside of the nest? NO, NO, and NO!
If one changes the nest, will the problem still be there? In most cases the answer is yes. Why? Because the occupants are still there.
The inside of the nest gets wet because something unnatural is occurring. The fecal sacs of the chicks break because something is happening in the nest. It all starts, folks from the digestive tracts of the parents!! It does not matter what you feed your birds. It does not matter if you buy the finest foods from all over the globe and administer them in the correct proportions set down by so-called experts of nutritional analysis. If the parents are not assimilating all the nutrients from the foods they eat because of the pathogen buildup during the most stressful time of their lives, the results become apparent very quickly as these pathogens continue to develop IN the body of the parent(s) and chicks. The time for procreation and survival of the species is a very stressful time indeed!
Let's start from the beginning as I interject some facts here derived from well over 30 years of breeding canaries and quite successfully I might add for you who are new to the keeping of canaries. Check out my Champion Glosters at: http://www.houseofcrests.com
The fact of the matter is that most all the breeds of canaries we see before us today are "manufactured" breeds derived from the wild canary years and years ago. (In fact new breeds are continually being developed and standards are constantly changing on those breeds where their standards have become outdated!)
What do I mean by the statements above?
Since humans created all these breeds, other factors play into the pairing program other than the natural selection of the species or the survival of the fittest and species. The kindness factor, or sensitivity factor or the moral factor enters the selection process when humans are involved. More on this in a bit though.
First, did you know that there are five kinds or varieties of canaries in the world today?
One kind or variety was and continues to be developed strictly for their singing abilities with very little concern for type or color and they are called the song variety.
The second kind or variety was and continues to be developed strictly for their color with little concern for type and not at all for song and they are known as the color bred variety.
The third kind or variety was and continues to be developed strictly for their particular type with little concern for color and not at all for song and they are known as the type canaries with some even being called canaries of posture.
The fourth kind or variety are known as the mule and hybrid canaries which are the offspring resulting from crosses between canaries and the various breeds of finches that would mate with them for either their color, their song, their type or any combination of the afore mentioned factors.
The fifth kind or variety is composed of any of the above-mentioned kinds or varieties, which are haphazardly bred for the shear pleasure of doing so or whatever such madness may invade the mind of the human. In other words, the fifth kind or variety is what would be considered mutts or mongrels.
There are no varieties or kinds of canaries that were or are created to be simply finger-tamed pets ever by any of the master canary breeders who developed all the first four breeds. If one finds a very young canary that will sit on their finger, the youngster will soon grow out of it just like baby tigers and cub bears do. In my opinion, Canaries were never meant to be finger-trained as some would lead you to believe!
The least desirable of any of the above five varieties will undoubtedly find their way to a flea market, bird fair, bird show sales room, wholesaler or pet store somewhere.
There have always been a percentage of bird fanciers and bird keepers who think they can make a living or at least recoup their expenses each year with canaries so they go into what I call, mass-production-mode. This mode causes these breeders to do whatever it takes to keep every chick hatched alive!
They will do whatever they can in order to keep these little buggers alive, even if they fall out of the nest time and time again. Let's hand feed all the weaker ones and with the moral human fiber that runs through all of us, it is no wonder we become attached to the struggling chicks that would certainly have perished if this occurred in the wild.
Let's upset the natural selection process found in nature of the survival of the fittest! Heck, let's do all we can and watch the majority of the runts develop into disasters with one problem or another before they ever gets a chance to reach adulthood. Yeah, let's keep them alive long enough maybe to get it to market! If we get $15.00 for it, it'll pay for some snacks for the ones back home! What a huge mistake in most all cases!
Now I'm not at all saying these instances are the case with the writers on any of the Internet groups or magazines.
I am simply setting the stage based on my perspective of those certain individuals who have crossed my path at one time or another during my many years of bird breeding and exhibiting. Those people who seem to think that the answer is to save and continue to breed with weak stock are sadly mistaken. Stock that is so weak, that if they were in the wild, would have been eliminated by nature taking its’ natural course with animals and birds using the natural instincts that have been used longer than man or woman has ever been alive.
It has been said not to breed two crested canaries together or two white-ground together because of lethal factors, yet why do people continue to do that with 99.99% disastrous results? Why do people knowingly pair two different breeds together and sell the resultant offspring somewhere and label them as the breed it most closely resembles at maturity? Why do people hand feed canary chicks when the hens are continually tossing those sickly chicks out of the nest?
Is it out of compassion, or greed, or ignorance or all of the above or maybe some other reason I am not aware of?
In the wild, only the strongest birds of any breed survive. In the wild, if there is or are chicks in the nest that do not pick their heads up to eat and seem sickly, they are immediately tossed as far away from the nest as possible so as not to let a predator know there is a nest above and so that all the foods gathered by the feeding parents are fed so that the healthiest mature faster.
It makes no sense for the parents to feed the weaker chicks. Their genetic makeup and weaknesses will prevent these chicks from survival thus preventing them from matting and passing on those defective genes in future generations.
Think about it for a minute. Birds in the wild instinctively know to do this. Even our manufactured canaries have these instincts today as is experienced in our birdrooms.
Yet we, are the "GODS" of our birdroom and it is us who ultimately must decide if we should keep the little bugger alive so that it may live another day! It is us who create these pairings and crossings. The sad thing is, many breeders who, if they did not slate them to be sold at market, would simply hold on to them because, "they were saved from death!" These poor creatures tend to hold a special place in the breeders’ heart.
Worse, some will even breed with the wretched things perpetuating these problems from generation to generation and selling them and spreading the survival of the unfit.
Sadly, the person who gets one of these poor birds ends up with one problem after another. Sometimes they get on the Internet, if they have access to a computer with a connection and they search for groups or lists and ask questions.
Because there are more non-experts than experts in the world on the subject, these seekers of valid information end up with more confused than not as they receive replies consisting mainly of old-wives tales and all sorts of wrong answers with a few good tips scattered here and there.
The next fact is very simple to understand.
Canaries, as with most all birds, cannot get in captivity all the freedom, balanced nourishment and mating possibilities for the survival of the species for they are dependant on humans. Humans with any and all sorts ideas on the best ways to manage canaries.
As relates to diet, please know now that there is absolutely no diet yet that exists that can replicate what a bird would get in the wild living in its' natural habitat!
That in mind, know then that ALL birds are living with some type of stress in captivity. The degree of stress varies with the time of year it is.
Other than environment, vermin or pests, mosquitoes and internal and/or external parasites, the major problems are respiratory or digestive.
Unsanitary conditions cause digestive problems but more times than not, pathogens are the problems most closely associated with their getting a virus, losing weight and eventually dying.
In mature canaries, by the time we notice they have an illness, it may already be too late! During the breeding season, they learn to hide illness better than at any other time of the year.
Other then a very pale or yellowish color of the inside of the mouth or the body of the chicks, the only way to tell there is a problem is if a chick is tossed or the feathers on the breast of the hen are wet and the down is matted on the chicks.
What can be done about this? What should have been done long before the breeding season!
One must be “pro-active”!!! One must feed a probiotic!!!
OH NO!!! Is this another commercial in the guise of an article? Call it what you will?
I call it taking advantage of an opportunity to educate some in the fancy and to perpetuate the improvement of the captive breeds.
The fact that I have a product that indeed works as can be attested to by many successful breeders around the world and avian veterinarians presently using the product is reason enough to use it! Visit the Testimonials & Endorsements Page elsewhere on this same site.
It is my belief and that successful breeders must feed a totally live, strictly avian-specific probiotic that will create the appropriate environment in the intestine of any bird thus reducing the population of pathogens thus allowing for total assimilation of any and all foodstuffs administered to our birds year 'round.
It does not matter how much or how little is spent on the food products fed to our birds, if there is stress and pathogens indeed gain a stronghold in the digestive system, there will be problems that only amplify themselves if one does not actively take a positive approach and administer a fine-quality probiotic. Learn more by reading all the articles on this site and see why I am offering a quality solution that starts to work from the first day you begin to administer it to your birds!
If you decide to use a probiotic as I suggest and you raise healthy birds, you’ve done well. When they are fed the best diet with the addition of a live, avian-specific probiotic and they grow stronger with each passing day, you’ve done very well. Why? Because they then can assimilate all the nutrients they would derive from each and every bite they eat.
These birds now turn into adults who will get into breeding condition quicker. They will also stay healthy during the season and they in turn will feed their own chicks from the very beginning a diet to which you have added a probiotic in it. This will then allow you to produce chicks who will grow quicker and thus develop to their very best genetic potential so that healthier, more improved canaries will fill each and every cage. If you exhibit, you will have birds with better stance, position, plumage and attitude!
You will also reduce and pretty much eliminate the incidence of problems and untimely deaths like “PMS”!
Get your birds on track to a healthier life and not only will you be happy, so too will your birds!!
All the best of the season!