My Aviary
Writing pens made with feathers from your birds.
My first and foremost hobby is making writing pens. I am a member of a group called the International Association of Penturners where I am very active in conducting "Group Buys" I have placed large orders for all sorts of products from all over the world and then sold them at actual cost to the members of the group. It is a pay before the product is even ordered sort of arrangement and has required developing a high degree of trust with the members of the group. but in a nut shell imagine being able to purchase medications, feeders or other products for your birds at about 20 to 25% of the cost you are buying them now. I have been doing this for years for the penturners group. There is also a connection to the penturners group and my interest in bird (feathers to be more precise) recently several members of the penturners group have developed a way to make pens from feathers. I thought what they produce might be of great interest to the members of this group. here is an example of what I mean by feather pens.

This pen was made with the use of Golden Pheasant tippets and Jungle Cock Eye (Grey Jungle Fowl neck feathers)
If you are interesting in finding out about having a pen made from the feathers of your birds. the style of pen above is only an example. There are actually over 100 styles of pens. for an idea of the types of pens feathers can be used on you can take a look at my web site at There is no reason I know of that any pen on my site could not be made with feathers. The prices on my site are also pretty average but feather pens would tend to be higher than those due to much more work being involved.
Not all penturners are able to make them though so contact me if you are interested and i will do everything I can to get you in contact with one that does. I am also able to direct you to the better quality craftspeople.
Feathers wanted
For now I am simply looking for samples of feathers from as many chickens, pheasants, pea fowl or any other birds I can. your help in this is greatly appreciated. I am able to pay for any postage and compensate a little bit for time involved in gathering feathers. I need this selection in order to put together a page of possible feathers to show the penturning group. from this information I expect to get requests for specific feathers and will post offers to purchase feathers of those types. For the moment seting up a wayto identify as many feathers as possible is my goal.

I have bread or cared for several varieties of Exotic birds in the past. including but not limited to
Cherry head Conure, Macaws, Ring neck Parakeets, and the odd assorted nestling that I hand fed and released back to the wild the most recent being a Starling named Daffy, that grew up thinking it was a dog.
I am also a Fly Tier and this is the primary reason I found interest in chicken varieties. On that note My primary interest has quickly become focused on the Grey Jungle Fowl due to the feathers produced from this bird being in High demand as well as valuable in regard to other feathers. I am not in the process of searching out the possability of getting a Pair or a Trio. I have purchased a reserve male and am still looking for at least one female to pair him with. i am expecting delivery of hte male in August or September if everything goes well with this seasons breeding. Never really know about such things.

Grey Jungle Fowl also known as Sonnerat's Junglefowl Gallus sonneratti() May also be spelled Gray Junglefowl


Never go out without looking your best.
If I can keep these birds at all I can only have a few. My first interest is in having pets, any other benefits are a plus. The feathers of the Grey Jungle Fowl, specifically the neck feathers called Eye, swords and spades are in high demand and valuable to Fly tiers. Top quality feathers can be worth as much or more than some of you can sell chicks for. But to get that type of feathers you have to get birds from top quality blood lines.
So far I have found about a half dozen members of this group that have Grey's at all. of those It appears that Charles Hill in Georgia has the highest reputation for quality of breeding stock. I also realize that at least one member in Southern California has managed to wrangle one pair from Charles. since S. Cal is much closer to me than Georgia, it is my hope to contact this member and see about any offspring he may produce.
My ultimate goal is to find birds from the blood lines of Ron Taylor of England. Just to keep it simple Ron as far as I can tell acquired several pairs of birds after they where listed as endangered in the early 70's. His focus in breeding them was not only to help keep the species going but to develop feathers that are desired by fly tyers. Since that time Ron has sold his hatchery but has kept a small flock at the request of the Indian Government do to diseases that still threaten wild populations my thinking is if the Gene pool that was developed in Ron's flock are good enough for the Indian government as a back up gene pool, they must be pretty good. Ron evidently has made every effort to keep those blood lines pure.
From my research so far It is these birds that produced the most highly developed feathers. Locating any information in regard to these specific blood lines is proving difficult.
For now I am going to use this page as sort of a diary until I have some more concrete information to have here. So far I have had a couple of group members contact me and offer to help me put together a collection of feathers. My plan is to spend the next year getting this whole thing organized and rolling. For the moment I just want to express my thanks to those that have offered to help. you know who you are. I am looking for a wine cooler to use as my first attempt at an incubator. wish me luck because if it is successful I will most likely offer it for sale at a later date.
Well a development over the weekend concerning my interest in the Grey's I managed to get in a reserve for the pick of the litter males from a breeder for this up coming season. I am still on the hunt for the same sort of deal for a female or even two. I have an e-mail in for Charles Hill and Hope to be able to contact Elton H and see if I can get a couple of top quality females through them.It is an expensive way to go but I want the best of the best stock to start breeding from and realize I will have to pay for it. It is a lot to ask for someone to try and evaluate and choose out the best of there chicks but doing so hopefully will get me top quality breeders.
I did a quick draft of a pen for the Jungle Fowl last night and went and priced materials. Besically a 10X14 wood and chicken wire enclosure with a double entry. it will be solid wood from the ground up to 2 feet then 4 feet of wire and the top will be 1 foot of wood again. so it will look a bit like a wood building with really big windows of wire. $250 to do it up nice eliminating a lot of the wood and going with just wire only save about $30 so the plan is to go nice. this brings the total projected cost to about $400 and only one bird located so far. I am determined to get the best starter birds I can but may have to keep it to just one female.
So far not much luck on located a select female. i did contact Stuart at Avirill farm but from the info I got they sell birds but do not sell select breeding stock.It looks like my choices are still among the four breeders I have heard about and three of those I have no way to get in contact with. I really want to get ahold of breeders before birds even start laying this year since I am basically looking for the best female they produce this year.
I have been turning over the issue of thermostats in my head for a couple of weeks. Mostly how to put together a how to on tweaking them so you get good temperature control. basically how do you get a cheap thermostat to be more accurate.
I have no idea what sort of thermostat is used in the store bought bators. I have seen wafers mentioned several times. I see water heater thermostats are used in most home made bators. Not only can a thermostat be ajusted for the temperature that you want, it should also be adjustable for how far above or below that temperature the air gets (the high and low). I am pretty sure that all thermostats can be adjusted for high and low. but it pretty much takes having it my hands and tinkering with it to figure out how. some are made with an adjustment just for the high and low. some like wafers are iffy at best that it can even be adjusted.
for the most part here is what is going on in a thermostat. there is a piece of metal, actually two different metals sandwiched together. this piece of metal beds as it cools off or warms up. so all you hav eto do is get the metal to bend towards a source of power as it cools and bend away from that connection as it warms up. the trick is to get the metal so close that it will contact if it drops even half a degree. and disconnect when it warms by one degree. and it needs to do this at the exact position that the 1 degree it keeps things at will be the exact degree you are looking for. All of this actually gets complicated. a thermostat that will keep at temperature to within 1 degree at 70 degrees will not necessarily keep the temperature within 1 degree at 100 degrees. even laboratory thermostats will list how accurate they are at different temperature ranges. The real bad news for egg hatchers is that most thermostats are less accurate at temps above 90 degrees. even the best most accurate ones will go from being able to keep temps to half a degree to a 2 degree variance at higher temperatures. this is because it is ore common to need accurate measurements of temps like 70 degrees than 100. so the stats are manufactured for the most common need. so not only do thermostats need to be tweaked. they need to be tweaked for 100 degrees.
Not a lot of fun setting in your oven trying to tweak a thermostat but basically that is what it takes.

the high and low of a thermostat is a product of the fact that a cooling piece of metal does not instantly stop and start flexing the other way just because the temperature started rising. there is a bit of a delay in the reversal of movement. it take another bit of time for the heat in the air to be absorbed by the metal and that sort of thing. so a cooling bator has the light come on but the metal part is still pushing harder and harder on the connection. eventually the metal realizes it is getting warmer and starts to bend the other way. but first it must bend far enough to get rid of all that extra pressure and then even more to break contact. in the mean time the heat source is just merrily pumping heat into the bator. so by the time the metal is able to actually break contact thebator temp may have overshot and gone to 102 or 102 degrees. well the metal finally catches up and breaks contact. light goes off and everytign starts to cool. once again the metal itself may stay warmer than the air in the bator. this is a very real and probable concern and can actually change with humidity and location of the thermostat. but it is also another issue the temp of the air drops to 100 and the metal is jsut now getting the first indication that things are cooling. it must stop it's bending and start moving int he other direction. just for this example lets say that the time it took the metal to reverse direction was enough time for the air to drop to 99 degrees. the metal sill has to get all the way back and make contact. by then the temp may drop to 98 degrees. contact is made and the cycle starts all over again. now this is an example of a very very tight high and low by the way. most home thermostats have a difference of 10 degrees in the high and low
so if you set it at 70 degrees your house will actually get as warm as 75 and as cool as 65 degrees. and those are not cheap thermostats. Water heater thermostats are not nearly as accurate and actually vary widely from one to the next in the high and low. they are made to be a devise that roughly tells the heater when to come on and not. water heaters temperatures vary from 31 degrees to 120 or higher and a water heater thermostat only needs to be good enough to tell the power to come on at 100 degrees or soish. ah maybe not until 90. who really cares it all falls under not hot enough anyway.

When you are trying to figure out temp control problems keep in mind the thermostat is not measuring the temperature of the air or any part of the incubator. all it knows is the temperature of that little piece of metal. the more exposed to the air the more accurate it can be. the more the metal absorbed or looses heat at the same rate as the air. the more accurate it will be. if there is anything near it that will still be radiating heat after the air has cooled will keep it warm and not functioning as you need it to. even the metal, plastic or other material that it is housed in can add to such problems. probably the very best way to get an accurate and unaffected reading of the air temp is to have two wires with one having the metal piece soldered to it hanging right out in mid air and the other wire mounted so that the metal makes and breaks contact with a fluctuation of 1 degree in air temperature. even with that you want a metal strip that heats and cools at the same rate as the air does or as close to it as you can get.

imagine you cover your stat with a piece of metal to protect from shock. the air in the bator reaches 100 degrees. the metal cover and the stat reach 100 degrees shortly after so you you do not notice a high temp that is out of your range of 100 degrees. as the air cools however, the metal cover and the stat under it are not as willing to loose heat as the air int he bator is. the air temp falls and you watch your thermometer fall with it. and you are asking yourself if the thermostat is working. well the truth is it is working just fine. the air temp falls to 98 and still the light does not come on. you start to frown. the thermostat is still setting there nice and cozy at 99 degrees and just about to stop and make it's return trip as described above. the air temp continues to fall and eventually at about 97 or 98 degrees air temp the thermostat makes contact and starts the heat source. you are by then stomping and ranting pulling out hair about lousy no good thermostats.

I have though to possible fixes to this problem ranging from highly accurate but expensive thermostats to fixing a fan to the stat so that air is always getting blown past it. looking into contact material that woudl gain and loose heat at the same rate as air is something I realize would be good to do but most likely beyond my ability to find out. I do know that i have seen very accurate thermostats and they do not have metal contacts. they have mercury contacts.

I see several solutions to the problem.
One. a bator so well insulated that once a temperature is reached the heat cannot escape and the temperature never changes. yes it is possible by the way. they have systems in existence today that can prevent an ice cube from melting for over a week in an oven. that is keeping heat out in this case we are trying to keep it in. but this would require that all other forms of support are contained int he unit, like oxygen and water. By the way I suspect that such a sealed box would also not alter in the way of humidity since it would also have to be sealed from barometric pressure. By the way I have never seen it mentioned how Barometric pressure effects Humidity here.

Anyway. a system that is continuously exchanging the air for fresh conditioned air. in other words a box that has air blowing through it that has been heated and humidified to the proper levels before it is blown in. sort of like the concept of the forever hot water. except in this case you have to leave the faucet on 24 hours a day for 21 days. might get expensive but doesn't necessarily have to be.

or a combination of the above two ideas. that is a positive air flow of conditioned air with a container that is sealed enough that very little air is actually exchanged. what this requires basically is a conditioning chamber added to existing incubators. don't try to condition the air that is already touching your eggs. it is a little to late by then. condition it before it ever get anywhere near them. this way the air that is around the eggs is always correct and all the problems are being dealt with in a separate compartment. fresh air that is to cool is warmed before it is allowed near the eggs. A mi metal lever that opens a baffle that is suspended in the very air you are concerned with at all would control the adding of more heat which would also supply fresh oxygenated air at the same time.

Lots to experiment with in all that. I am sure most of the ideas would simply dead end and not produce the results desired. but it would be a lot of fun to test them out.

I just got up about an hour ago and am really tired. It is a good tired though. I starting building the pen yesterday. We had to go to Home Depot for all the parts when we came back we started digging out he area that it will stand on. lots of hard digging as usual. we got two pf the posts set along the south facing wall and most of the dirt dug out where the east wall will go. I am sure I will make changes before the Male actually arrives late this summer. I am off work for four days and want to get some work done each day. I hope to have everyting done but the doors b tuesday. I am taking pictures along the way and hope to get them posted later.
I made a separate page just to cover all the Aviary details. But since I also want to keep this semi sorta Diary going I will add here that we made some pretty good progress on the Aviary yesterday. Today we got two more posts set and the gate put in. pictures would not show nearly how much work we actually did since most of it was digging. the good news is we are finally pretty much done with that a far as making room for the walls. one more post hole to dig, three posts to set in concrete and all we have to do after that is screw on all the boards. I am certain everyone is glad to see the digging is done for a while. I know I am.
Well I have not been writing for a few days but I ahve not been setting still. I started a culture of meal worms two days ago in preperation of when my birds finally arrive. The Aviary is pretty much complete. We started painting it yesterday and expect to be finished with that tomorrow. we had to stop early today due to rain so I hope it does not continue through the weekend. I have also started looking at incubators and cannot decide if I should go with a ready made unit or go after making my own. i simply am not impressed with the reports I see on ready made ones. I also see a tendancy toward it being the experieince of the person rather than the bator that makes the difference though. This group is fairly poor in experienced input. most of the conversations you see concerning hatching is done by a first timer mainly venting their nervousness. I woudl love to see some reports from more experience bator operators.
It snowed last Sunday 2-21-2010. and laid down about 18 inches in 24 hours. We did manage to get the Aviary painted and I got the inner door frame built but then the snow brought the work to a stand still. I have managed to reserve a trio Of Grey Junglefowl now so it is all pretty much hurry up and wait. I went back to working on some of my penturning projects. One is trying to get some good display photos of the various feathers from a Male Ring Neck Pheasant. I am aslo working on making some thread weave pen blanks. I alsosold a bunch of penturnign tools over the weekend and am starting a search to get Golden pheasant and Lady Amherst Pheasant skins. I am also looking for groups that are better structured and have more relevant information. to much useless chatter to wade through here.
I have not been slacking, In fact I have been to busy to write. I have been working on some thread wrap (Like they do for custom fishing rods) brass tubes for my pen making friends. this required making the wrapping machine before I could start wrapping tubes. it takes a couple of hours to wrap a tube even if it is a simple design. I have 2 completed and another one about half done. I also found two old ice makers that i am using to try and make a home made bator. i got thermometers and a humidity meter yesterdayand ran a calibration test ont he Hygrometer last night. it is off by 10% on the low side so I will mark it with a +10 in permanent marker. I am geting ready to go get more parts for the Aviary and the bator. The rain and nasty's ahve not stopped this week so no more work got done ont he Aviary. I am also working on a batch of 100 pens but am almost finished with those. I sort of went into this weekend a bit frazzled and unfocused and it is showing. So far I ahve not really accomplished much and am getting ansy. it would be nice to have a bator set up this afternoon and getting tested to see if it will stabalize. wish me luck.
Been a while since I wrote on this page. It's been a busy time. Lets see. I have built two home made incubators and fiddled around with various configurations for them. This was interrupted by needing to set them up to actually hatch some eggs. The first of which hatched very early on thursday 4-7-2010. Only one of 14 eggs managed to hatch. A tiny Serama. Since single chicks do not do well we went to Greens Feed and pick out a couple of 2 day old companions. A Silver Sebright and a Japanese White Bantam. they are all doing well at this time and getting along well. The two older chicks started eating like they needed the food yesterday and Big Bird (the Serama) Was eating fairly well this morning. This being his third day his Yolk should be starting to run out.
I have 7 more Serama eggs that will go into the hatcher this evening due to hatch on Wednesday.
In the mean time I have been pretty much gaining as much hatching and rearing information as I can. Have come up with several electronic circuits that will work as thermostats and actually built one that I had working for a short time. getting the components to stay together in one piece is challenging. I will be able to get back to exploring these ideas in a few days.
In the time I have been searching for hatching information I have found a couple of interesting sources of information. One is an Embryo Analysis chart that assists in determining the age and cause of a failed Embryo. The other is information about breeding, Genetics. Gaining full expression of Genetic traits etc. IN general I find the information there to be very enlightening although far from complete. The general idea I get is that by far the majority of chicken keepers. Including those that consider themselves to be breeders. Have very little idea what is needed to improve their blood lines. Conditions in which their prize breeders are kept are harsh at best. In some cases effort has been made to shelter the birds which would seem to common thought to be good conditions. But with a little home work I have found that this is far from true. I now think it would be interesting to get involved with breeding the Serama and am entertaining thoughts of breeding for one or two of the following colors. Black, Blue and Sebright. Since Blue requires keeping so many extra birds it is not likely to be attempted for a while. I like the looks of the black silkie and that is likely to be the first one I work with.
Thanks for visiting and look forward to my time here at BYC