The following British Softbills are classed as ‘Schedule 3’ birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and may be shown and sold provided they have been bred in captivity and are closed rung with the correct size rings.
Hedge Accentor, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Starling, Jackdaw, Magpie, Jay.
Aviaries for British Softbills should be as big as possible, but a good size is 3 metres long, 1 to 2 metre’s wide and 2 metre high. If possible it is suggested that the roof of the aviary is completely covered to avoid contamination from wild birds, (eg: Salmonella from bird droppings etc.) However if this is not possible at least one end of the aviary roof should be covered to give the birds somewhere to roost at night out of the wind and rain. The floor can be of earth or cement with a surface covering of leaf mould and bark, giving the birds the opportunity to search for insects. Plants can be placed in the aviary, most common garden shrubs and trees can be used but there are a few which are poisonous to birds such as Yew and Laurel so a check should be made.
When feeding British Softbills you must provide a regulated food intake as well as well balanced diet. A good diet for Hedge Accentor's, Blackbird and Song Thrushes is a mix of 3 parts orlux, half a grated apple and a small quantity of grated cheese, with the addition of a few mealworms each day.
Song Thrushes and Blackbirds can also be fed on turkey or poultry pellets with added mealworms. Native fruits and livefood can be obtained to help in the birds diet.
Jackdaws, Magpie's and Jay's can be fed on a diet of Dog or Cat biscuit, soaked overnight, with added orlux and grated cheese. Tined dog food can be used BUT care should be taken that this is fresh, especially in hot weather. Add mealworms and a small amount of minced table leftovers. Water for Drinking and Bathing must also be supplied.
Nest sites can be made out of heather, conifers and evergreens placed around the aviary at different heights with wire platforms for the birds to nest on. Boxes can be put up for birds like starlings and jackdaws. Jay's and Magpie's need a large platform to nest on placed high in the aviary. A supply of nesting materials such as dry grasses, moss, twigs, coconut matting, straw etc. should be provided.
AFTER MOULT CARE
If the intention is not to exhibit, then general management will suffice. If the intention is to exhibit then the chosen birds are housed separately in cages, where they can be kept clean, feather perfect and fattened up, this will emphasize the shape and type of the species. After the show season, the birds diet is reduced to allow the excess fat to be burnt off. If the weather is good enough, the birds may be released into their aviaries to await the breeding season.
Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Nesting: Lays 3-6 green eggs, tinged with olive-brown freckles.
Incubation: 16 days by female only, fed by female only at first.
Fledge: 20 days.