Every now and again they do run around like headless chickens, with one or two males very obviously making their intentions known....
Sometimes they do fly up the cage, spooked by something, although we don't always know what.
Until Saturday morning when we noticed Charley was staying very quietly alone in one of the little huts. He wasn't spooked when we tried to take the eggs out of the hut. My daughter managed to pick him up gently without any problem (which was strange!) And that's when we realised he was injured. He had a lot of blood on his head mainly and a little near one eye.
Straight away we took him out and got a separate enclosure ready for him, with food and water. We tried to clean his wound up as well. He was very cooperative, didn't struggle much. He mainly stayed in one place. We have left him to recover a little, before cleaning him up a little more. He wasn't opening his eyes, and we thought probably because of dried blood.
This morning he is looking much better, grooming, eating, drinking, and walking around. He's even crowed a couple times when he heard the others.
He's still not opening both eyes yet though.
I don't know how he got injured. I haven't seen the others peck each other or fight. So I don't know if it's what happened or if he's banged his head on something whilst flying up the cage...
Anyway, I am not sure what to do now. Should I wait a little longer and put him back with the others? Should I take the young boys out first, just in case? Only one of the young ones actually crows at the moment, Howard.
I don't really want to keep Charley away from Martha too long. What would you do?
I have no experience with CPQs, but from my memories of young Coturnix, of going down repeatedly to find injured birds and a blood-spattered cage, I would say its probably an attack from one of the young males attempting to mate. Coturnix males get raging teenage hormones apparently overnight. They then try to mate anything that moves, male or female, and they grab and hold on to the head or shoulder of the unlucky recipient with their beaks. When they are shaken off, they still hang on, pulling skin away with their weight, and this often results in terrible injuries. I had to cull one female who had lost an eye and most of her beak, so she wouldn't have been able to eat. An injury like Charlie's to the top of the head is typical of a mating attack. As a result, I culled all the boys I hatched as soon as I could definitely sex them, and the girls lived happily together afterwards.
It's clear from your accounts of Charlie and Martha that CPQs are, on the whole, quite different in their behaviour, at least once they have become adult and settled down together. However, I think it's most unlikely that Charlie would have badly injured himself in his own known surroundings, and if he were mine, I would assume it was either an attack from one of the young males, intended as a challenge to the top bird, or else a bungled attempt to mate. Was there any blood on the feathers of any of the young birds?
I would remove all the young males to a separate cage, to protect the other birds from any more possible attacks, though you may find they then start in on each other. (Personally I would cull them at this point, especially as you feel you probably don't want to keep them all, but that's up to you.) Then reunite Charlie and Martha on their own, but keep them separate from the remaining female youngsters as well, and watch very carefully to see how everyone behaves. I also found that some unexpected males would emerge a week or so after I thought I knew what sex everybody was!
Having plenty of space is key, as with all domesticated birds, so there is room for them to get away and hide. From Spring onwards I kept mine in a rabbit run on the lawn, moved on every few days, covered with a waterproof tarp to keep them dry, shaded and sheltered, and they had lots of room.
First aid for injuries on such a tiny bird can be tricky. It's good to treat the wounds with purple disinfectant spray - spray some on a saucer and apply it using a cotton bud, so you don't spray the whole bird or get it in his eyes or nostrils. I also bought a little hamster cage, second hand, for injured birds, and put it inside the large cage so the bird inside didn't lose touch with the others whilst remaining safe whilst healing up. Thery did mostly heal up remarkably fast although sometimes their feathers didn't regrow over the injured area.
Do let us know how he gets on.
I looked at the others after we put Charley out of harm's way. And couldn't see blood anywhere else, bar one tiny little spot on the side of Howard's beak. But I didn't think much because it wasn't really significant at all.
Ok, I think i will have to remove the two young males. Leonard has been behaving ok but it isn't to say that this might change. For the other two, the white one (we named Bernadette) is definitely female. I have been having doubts about Penny because she's not quite as round as Bernardette and Martha and sligthly smaller as well. So I'll have another good look at her...
I do understand now about having to cull the males so if it has to be done, it has to be done. I am not sure how this is done though...
I have removed Leonard and Howard. They were in the enclosure where Charley was until I remembered I have a large indoor rabbit cage which is no good for my rabbits anymore... I know it's far from ideal, 2 boys together but they look happy enough for now at least.
I have had another read of previous posts, and I was starting to think it might be better for me to try and re-home the young ones as couples, better than culling the boys right? But now that I have found this bigger cage,... Thinking I may not need to... There is plenty of room for all of them to be able to get away from each other...
I will need to rehouse Bernard though his cage will be an overkill for one canary. Lol unless I find him a friend
When culling my males, I held them over a bucket lined with a plastic bag, to catch any blood, and located a pair of secateurs behind the neck in the place you would put the broomstick if culling a hen, then used the secateurs to get a precise grip whilst stretching and twisting the neck to dislocate it. It's not intended to cut the head off, the secateurs don't even have to be sharp, and if confident you could do it just by putting two fingers either side of the neck, but I found it easier to locate the right place and do a fast job using the secateurs. As when culling a hen, you have to be calmly determined to actually do it, and then it's over in a moment. Not a nice job at all, of course, especially the first time, but can be necessary, eg if you have a badly injured or terminally sick bird, as well as for culling unwanted males.
Thank you nonetheless for the advice on the culling as I might still need to do it if things don't improve. Only thing is I don't think I would be able to hold the bird still. I have enough problems catching them any keeping in both my hands!! I have just had Howard flying up to the ceiling of my front room and then strolling around the floor whilst my daughter was trying to catch him this was quite comical to be fair...
Just about to go see how they all got on with the new arrangements. Fingers crossed everyone is ok.
He's now living with the 3 girls, but he only has eyes for Martha still... Not that she's all that pleased about that lol I think she wouldn't mind being left in peace sometimes.
The other 2 young boys are still living together in a large rabbit cage in the garage which is plenty of space (more than Charley and co have actually). They aren't fighting, and seem to enjoy each other's company, which has left me amazed to be fair. I thought I would need to cull them quite quickly to avoid injuries, but they really are really good there... I would like to regain the space in my garage though, but having them culled just to get my space back seems an overkill to me.
In the meantime, we are getting 3 eggs a day now, and we can hardly keep up! Lol none of the girls thankfully look interested in the art of brooding... Yet!