NEO 2015

Although I haven’t taken a photo every day, I am delighted to welcome a new cockatiel into our home.When Sparkles was nearly ready to leave the box, Num and Jo Jo started mating again.

Tuesday 8 September 2015 -1-5 pm. FIRST EGG! Both started incubating immediately

Thursday 10 September  2015 -1-7 pm. SECOND EGG!

Tuesday 15 September 2015 – THIRD EGG!

Friday 25 September 2015 – Middle of the day. FOURTH EGG!

Sunday 27 September 2015 – FIFTH EGG!

Tuesday 29 September 2015 – SIXTH EGG!

6 eggs IMG_2062

That was all, thank goodness! They’re so spread out, and Jo Jo was still feeding Sparkles on Tuesday 22 September 2015.

Thursday 1 October 2015 – Day 1 – A baby hatched! It could be the first egg 1 (late) or the second egg. The broken egg shell is visible behind Jo Jo.


Friday 2 October 2015 – Day 2 – I got a good look at the baby.


Sunday 4 October 2015 – Day 4 – Baby appears to be growing nicely.

IMG_2092 small

Monday 5 October 2015 – Day 5

IMG_2116 small

Wednesday 7 October 2015 – Day 7 – Baby has a huge crop

IMG_2118 small

Saturday 10 October 2015 – Day 10 – Sparkles has jumped back into the box with the baby. This would never happen in nature.


Sunday 11 October 2015 – Day 11 – Baby Neo has grown a lot. I was worried because he seemed to be hanging his head a lot, but he is still with us.

IMG_2186 small

Monday 12 October 2015 – Day 12 – I can see Neo’s yellow crest starting.

IMG_2195 small

Tuesday 13 October 2015 – Day 13 –

IMG_2204 small

Wednesday 14 October 2015 – Day 14 – Neo’s eyes are red! He could be a lutino, like Jo Jo. There are pin feathers on the wings.

IMG_2214 small

Thursday 15 October 2015 – Day 15 – The bright yellow crop is much more visible.

IMG_2223 small

Friday 16 October 2015 – Day 16 – Yellow pin feathers are clearly visible.

IMG_2241 small

Sunday 18 October 2015 – Day 18 – Neo definitely looks like a lutino. All feathers are yellow or white. During the night a baby seemed to have hatched, but we found it dead and buried under the shavings.

Neo Day 18 IMG_2252 - Copy

Tuesday 20 October 2015 – Day 20 Neo’s feathers are starting to unfurl and there are faint orange spots on his cheeks (since yesterday)


Wednesday 21 October 2015 Day 21 Neo’s orange spots are easy to see now

Neo 211015

Thursday 22 October 2015 Day 22 Lots of feathers are unfurling on Neo’s wings, back and tail. I think even the last egg is now too far past its hatch time

Neo 221015

Friday 23 October 2015 Day 23 feathers are unfurling more, eggs are scattered, I think the parents haven’t been too worried about them for the last couple of days. Time’s up

Neo 231015

Wednesday 28 October 2015 Day 28 Neo almost looks like a real cockatiel; he’s Jo Jo’s mini me

Neo 281015

Thursday 29 October 2015 Day 29 Neo is doing lots of wing stretching and his feet are getting stronger. Hard to write this with Sparkles perched on my finger

Neo 291015

Saturday 31 October 2015 Day 31 Neo has the lutino bald spot

Neo 311015

Saturday 31 October 2015 Day 31 Neo enjoys getting out and being cuddled
Neo 311015_2




Sparkles 2015

In March 2015, my husband made a superb nest box for our cockatiels Birdie Num Num – aka Num – and Jo Jo.


Num and Jo Jo looked at the box when it was first attached to their cage, then seemed to ignore it for a few months. Then they started going in and making the nest bowl.

Friday 10 July 2015 – Jo Jo put a foot on Num’s back

Saturday 11 July 2015 – Jo Jo put a foot on Num’s back again

Sunday 12 July 2015 – Jo Jo put two feet on Num’s back

Tuesday 14 July 2015 – They mated at 2 pm! And later in the day

Thursday 16 July 2015 – They mated at 7:45 am and 4:30 pm

Friday 17 July 2015 – Before 2 pm. FIRST EGG! Both started incubating immediately

Sunday 19 July 2015 – By 4 pm. SECOND EGG!

Tuesday 21 July 2015 – Middle of the day. THIRD EGG!

Thursday 23 July 2015 – Middle of the day. FOURTH EGG!

… and that was all; a clutch of 4. The chicks will take 18-21 days to hatch, if the eggs are viable.

Friday 7 August 2015 – Day 0 – here are the 4 eggs. I didn’t get a chance to photograph them as they were laid because Num and Jo Jo sat on them all the time. I’m worried that they are unviable because today is 21 days for the first egg. Fingers crossed

IMG_1693 small

Saturday 8 August 2015 – Day 1 – a chick hatched before 7 am, 22 days after the first egg was laid. We are thrilled and so are Num and Jo Jo. The chick has quite a lot of bright yellow down

IMG_1714 crop

Sunday 9 August 2015 – Day 2 – Baby is noticeably stronger and can hold its head up for a little while. Both parents are feeding it. It can’t see yet

IMG_1717 crop

Monday 10 August 2015 – Day 3 – Baby is doing well. Terrible photo because it’s a dark day

IMG_1732 crop

Tuesday 11 August 2015 – Day 4 – No photo – parents didn’t come out together all day

Wednesday 12 August 2015 – Day 5 – Baby is being very well fed and has a huge crop. It’s growing quickly. It has cute little wings

IMG_1744 crop

IMG_1747 small

Thursday 13 August 2015 – Day 6 – Baby is growing stronger

IMG_1777 crop

Friday 14 August 2015 – Day 7 – Baby is so much bigger. The crop is scary-huge. I can’t believe it’s been a week. It doesn’t look as if the other eggs are viable

P1290085 crop

Saturday 15 August 2015 – Day 8 – Baby is doing well. Jo Jo is really pulling his weight. Num Num seems to sit in the box on Baby at night and Jo Jo sleeps on the top perch, then he takes a long shift in the morning

IMG_1799 crop

IMG_1805 crop

Sunday 16 August 2015 – Day 9 – I’ve just realised that Baby is going to have grey wings like Num (mum). Jo Jo is completely yellow. I think I can see pink pin feathers on the ends of the wings.

IMG_1808 crop

Monday 17 August 2015 – Day 10 – I can see a teeny yellow crest!  I can definitely see cream and grey pin feathers on the the wings. I think the eyes are starting to open.

P1290109 crop

P1290101 crop

Tuesday 18 August 2015 – Day 11 – Baby has a splendid yellow crest. The pin feathers have grown longer and there are more rows of them.

P1290120 crop

Wednesday 19 August 2015 – Day 12 – just look at Baby’s crest! It’s bright gold. I can see that there is grey on the upper back as well. I can just see the spiky pin feathers on the tail. The eyes are well open now. Baby is so big it has to lie beside Jo Jo

P1290165 crop

P1290168 crop

P1290154 crop

Thursday 20 August 2015 – Day 13 – Crest is more obvious, pin feathers on wings are longer and have more than one colour on them. There are pin feathers across the upper back and tiny ones under the chin. Baby is walking around a bit, but finding it difficult because it has such a big belly.

P1290184 crop

Friday 21 August 2015 – Day 14 – There are pin feathers all over now, including the sides of the face. The crest has a nice peak.

P1290207 crop

P1290213 crop

Saturday 22 August 2015 – Day 15 – Pin feathers are longer, Baby is taller

P1290236 crop

Sunday 23 August 2015 – Day 16 – We’ve removed the aspen shavings so Baby doesn’t eat them. He’s walking around much more. The white feathers at the ends of the wings are starting to unfurl. We can hold Baby – he’s so warm. This evening we removed the eggs. It’s 10 days past the 21 days for the last egg.

P1290247 crop

P1290254 crop

Monday 24 August 2015 – Day 17 – It looks as if Baby’s grey is going to be charcoal, not soft grey like Num’s. Charcoal wing feathers are starting to unfurl and I think I can see the orange cheek! We’re starting to hold Baby. I tried to get a sharp photo, but I still won’t use flash.

P1290266 crop

P1290273 crop

P1290277 crop

IMG_8702 small

Tuesday 25 August 2015 – Day 18 – Baby sometimes hisses and puts wings out when I open the box, but doesn’t mind being held. Num and Jo Jo don’t seem to mind us holding baby either. More wing feathers are unfurling. It looks as if Baby will have light and dark grey in the wings.  I think Num is removing the waxy coatings so the feathers can unfurl. Baby is standing up more; the belly and crop don’t look as big now.

P1290288 crop


Here are Mum -Birdie Num Num aka Num – and Dad – Jo Jo. Num is a pied with soft grey wings with white edges and a grey barred tail. Jo Jo is a lutino and is pure lemon with no grey. Interesting to see all the charcoal grey appear on Baby! Neither parent has grey on the face.

IMG_3145 small

Wednesday 26 August 2015 – Day 19 – Baby is enjoying looking out the window now. Num is still preening the pin feathers. More feathers are unfurling, towards the front of the wings and on the tail, which is getting longer. The wings are really long when stretched out.

P1290318 crop

P1290320 crop

P1290330 crop

Thursday 27 August 2015 – Day 20 – Baby’s feathers are unfurling nicely. She seems to have a lemon wash through the white on her wings. We’ve decided to call her ‘she’ because we saw one banded feather in her tail (wild type females have bands on their tail feathers). Her tail has lemon feathers in the centre (the future long ones) and charcoal feathers on each side of them.

P1290344 crop

Friday 28 August 2015 – Day 21 – More and more feathers are unfurling, on the upper back, chest and crest. She can raise her crest and is stretching her wings out. She has some little stripey feathers near her legs too.

P1290347 crop

Saturday 29 August 2015 – Day 22 – Meet Tina Sparkles! More of the feathers on her upper back have unfurled and her tail is longer. Her crest feathers are unfurling and her crest is taller. The yellow and white feathers under her chin and on her upper breast are unfurling.

P1290351 crop

P1290354 crop

Sunday 30 August 2015 – Day 23 – Sparkles has a lot more feathers now, but Num sometimes tugs them out roughly. Sparkles has some stripy feathers at the tops of her legs and a yellow collar and grey breast.She can grip around a finger, although she’s slow to change legs. She’s starting to walk a bit more. She flaps her wings really quickly sometimes.

P1290359 small

P1290367 small

P1290369 small

Monday 31 August 2015 – Day 24 – Sparkles looks like a real cockatiel now! Her crest is fluffy, most of her feathers are unfurled and she is just exquisite. Her legs are getting stronger and she is practising flapping her wings and nibbling on things.

P1290382 crop

Tuesday 1 September 2015 – Day 25 – Sparkles looks as if she’s close in size to her parents – her head and body – but her tail is much shorter. She’s flapping her wings a lot and I keep finding the ladder knocked down in the box. Tonight when she was out Num and Jo Jo looked as if they were calling her to fly. They kept doing short flights, mostly together, from the lounge to the cage and they were talking to her and she was talking to them. It was like the galahs but the urgency isn’t there yet. Num and Jo Jo mated yesterday and today – Spring is here!

P1290393 crop

Wednesday 2 September 2015 – Day 26 – I walked out into the lounge room to check on Sparkles and she had climbed up to the entrance hole! While I was holding her she flapped her wings like crazy and made a nice cool breeze. Num and Jo Jo mated 3 or 4 times today and Num looked like she was trying to make a nest bowl. She was pulling at the paper towel in the nest box.

P1290396 crop

Thursday 3 September 2015 – Day 27 – I decided to take a photo of Sparkles in her box because she’ll soon leave it forever. Her wings are long, although her tail isn’t yet. She is gripping better with her feet.

P1290410 crop

Friday 4 September 2015 – Day 28 – Sparkles has started investigating things with her beak and tongue so I gave her some millet. She seemed to know how to eat straight away. I gave her some fresh grass seeds too. Sparkles balance has improved. she perches well on my finger. Num and Jo Jo are continuing to mate and arrange the paper in the box.

P1290422 crop

P1290427 crop

Saturday 5 September 2015 – Day 29 – Sparkles spent her first night out of the box in the cage with her parents last night! She did a few short flights yesterday and today. The day before she slipped off the box and fluttered to the floor. She loves perching on our fingers.

P1290441 crop

Thank you for your interest in Sparkles. From now on, I’ll just post an occasional photo, as Sparkles won’t change in appearance.

Tuesday 8 September 2015 – Num just laid an egg!!!!!!!!

Our fabulous fish

I’ve lived with fish for almost as long as I can remember. When I was a child, we had a goldfish pond outside, and a tank with tropical fish inside. Since then I’ve usually had at least two tanks in the house. Currently we have a 6′ marine tank and a small tropical tank.

In the marine tank, water quality is so important, and filtration is even more important than frequent water changes. Because of our high water quality, we have maroon anemonefish Premnas biaculeatus that are more than 20 years old,

IMG_0622 small

and two citron butterflyfish Chaetodon citrinellus that are 18 and 17 years old. One has had what looks like scar tissue for at least 10 years, but nothing has developed from it.

IMG_0502 small

I have two favourite groups of marine fishes: butterflyfishes and angelfishes. We have a threadfin butterflyfish Chaetodon auriga,

IMG_0509 small

a dusky butterflyfish Chaetodon flavirostris,

IMG_0437 small

a flame angelfish Centropyge loricula,

IMG_0457 small

and a keyhole angelfish Centropyge tibicen.

IMG_0421 small

Habitat enrichment for pet birds

Nearly three years ago, a very dear bird came into my life. I heard an unusual parrot call, went outside and noticed a cockatiel on the lawn. She was weak and hungry and allowed herself to be picked up and put in a cage with food and water. I couldn’t find the owners of this little one, and before I knew it, had my first pet bird. After Num came Teddy, who escaped in January 2014, then Jo Jo.

I still struggle with the idea of keeping birds in cages. I believe they should fly free, but Num couldn’t look after herself and was seconds away from being killed by a cat when I heard her call. We let our cockatiels’ wings grow out and let them fly around inside the house every day. We also take them outside every day to socialise with other birds and experience different weather.

There are many bird toys available, but I’ve found that the best toys are native plants. I clip off pieces and peg them to the inside of the outdoor cage.


I use bottlebrushes, wattles, banksias


and lilly pillies.


They like nibbling flowers, so I use grevilleas


and westringias


In the wild they eat grass seeds, so I let grass go to seed in my garden and peg the seeding stalks to the cage.


They like to bite dried banksia flower spikes, crisp brown leaves, light twigs (not sharp) and wattle seed pods.


The plants must be native or approved by a bird specialist and must be free of chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers etc).

Here’s Jo Jo enjoying westringia flowers …


And here is Jo Jo eating grass seeds and Num eating grass I’ve pushed through the bottom bars of the cage so it is like a plant growing.


This keeps them entertained and encourages natural behaviour. And it’s cheaper than commercial toys (which I do use in the indoor cage, because they’re not as messy).

I also put them out in light rain, and watch them turning upside down and stretching out their wings.


Birdie Num Num is laying eggs

IMG_9556 - CopyOne of our cockatiels, Birdie Num Num, has started laying eggs. I thought she wanted to lay one a few weeks ago, so I made her an emergency nesting box out of a shoe box lined with aspen shavings.


Although she paid attention to the box straight away, widening the hole and going inside, she laid her first egg on a high perch and we found it smashed on the bottom of the cage.


But she laid the second one in the box and started to sit on it.

P1280216 - Copy

Then she laid the third…


then the fourth.

P1280238And there could be more to come. We’re almost certain the eggs are unfertilised, because although Teddy Yellow Bear was sold to us as a male, he has only just turned 1 and there is no sign of pair bonding.

But Num is determined to sit on her eggs and defend them against all of us, so we’ll just have to wait this out with her.