Record Keeping for Bird Keepers
Bird keeping can be more rewarding with record keeping. Record keeping for bird keepers is maintaining information about each bird, each pair, each clutch & each egg. Furthermore it's about recording your actions related to bird set up, diet, medication etc and the results they produce.
A few things that you need to get started
The first thing you need is the ability to uniquely identify each bird. You must be able to identify every bird listed in your records. If you have only a few birds and their physical appearance makes it straight forward to identify them then you need not worry about this. However, if you have dozens of birds that closely resemble each other you may need a way to positively identify each bird. This process is made easy through the use of leg bands or microchips. A leg band assigns a unique number to a bird which can be used to identify that bird. Microchips may also be embedded in larger species which can be read by an electronic reader to identify the bird.
Another prerequisite for good record keeping is breeding in a single pair per cage set up. Colony breeding is unreliable if you intend to keep accurate records. Cross pair mating, hens laying in other nests are common problems that you may run into.
Finally you need a good method of record keeping. Some of these are discussed below.
The classical method of record keeping is to maintain a card for each bird that carries the basic information such as hatch date, parents, sex mutation, etc. At the beginning of the season, cards for each pair are clipped together. When a clutch starts the date for each egg laid is noted on the card which allows the hatch date to be calculated. The final status of each egg, hatched, dead in shell, clear and so on are noted on the card. When chicks hatch out you start a new card for each bird and fill it in with information from their parents' cards. This process, though still in use by some experienced breeders, has been fading away. The actual record keeping is not so difficult but getting useful information out of these records can be tough. The good thing about this method is that it allows you to record the information inside the bird room. Cards may be attached to the cage or taken to the bird room on a clip board to record the information immediately.
The second method is to use a desktop computer to record the information described above. You may use a simple spreadsheet or a designed software to record the information. The obvious benefit is that the computational power makes the job easier. You can also look at your data in many different ways to identify and solve problems. The down side of using this method is that while your birds are in the bird room, your PC is not. This means that you must record the information on a piece of paper when you attend to your birds and feed it into the system later. This is duplication of work. Relying on memory for data collection doesn't work if you have more than a few pairs.
With the arrival of powerful handheld devices there is now a third method available to bird keepers which gives you the best of both and also new features that were previously missing. AviMan is the first Android app that works on your phones and tablets, You can record the data directly from your bird room using your handheld. You can use the camera on your device to maintain a photo album for each bird or pair. It also allows you to record actions such as medication, addition or removal of nests, change in diet through the use of notes.
To download AviMan visit the Google Play Store