My Love of Feathers


My love of feathers began in 2006 when, at the age of 11, I decided that the few Polish fowl my parents had kept for many years were very interesting. Later that year, after much talk with other breeders I decided to separate the best of the birds into breeding pens.

After a year of successful showing and breeding Polish fowl I discovered the Houdans—a close relative of the Polish—and was able to obtain some of the best stock of both breeds from a veteran breeder of over 40 years.

At the end of 2007 I was able to obtain a beautiful strain of Crested Ducks from a local breeder—the crest was an obvious attraction and the fact that they can come in over 50 colours peaked my interest in the breed. After breeding Crested Ducks successfully I decided to expand into another breed. I chose Mammoth Muscovy Ducks as they had a small crest, can grow to an enormous size of over 15kg and possess a docile nature.

Each year I attend roughly eight to ten poultry shows including the Sydney Royal Easter Show and local club shows. I attain great pleasure in winning place cards, ribbons and trophies. I won ‘Champion Pure Breed Turkey’ at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year!

As well as breeding the ducks and chooks I also enjoy guineafowl, turkeys and pheasants and find them to be a great addition to my collection. I have recently begun breeding both Cinnamon and Red-eyed Silver Guineafowl as they are becoming harder to acquire and numbers are low. I was also able to obtain both Bourbon Red and Royal Palm Turkeys—these two colours are rare and it is hard to find pure stock in Australia.

I keep both Reeve’s and Lady Amherst’s Pheasants and believe that they are one of the most stunning types of birds in aviculture. The contrast of colours of both breeds makes them eye-catching and enjoyable to own and I sometimes find myself admiring them for hours on weekends!
Lady Amherst's Pheasant male

Royal Palm Turkey Gobbler


After presenting a talk at the Northern Rivers Avicultural Society on breeding and showing pure breed poultry, followed by a visit to two bird breeders in Grafton, my interest was sparked in keeping and breeding pigeons, doves and quail. I decided that planted bird aviaries were required and construction began on a 4.8 metre long x 4.8 metre wide x 2.4m high aviary and a smaller 2.4 metre long x 2.4 metre wide x 3 metre high aviary. These aviaries were built in the shade of gum trees to allow a cooler area in summer for the birds. They are built on a 150mm concrete footing beam at a depth of 450mm specifically to stop rodents digging in from outside. Floors are raked neatly so there are few places for them to live. The roof, back and sides of the aviary are partly covered in shadecloth to provide the birds with enough privacy to enable them to feel safe. The front is left uncovered as is a metre all the way around the base of the aviary to allow the sun to penetrate and me to view the birds easily. I have also added 2mm² wire along the bottom and top of the aviary to ensure that predators cannot harm the birds.

Within my aviaries I have planted succulents, rainforest ficus, small shrubs, fruiting trees, Bird’s Nest Ferns, Agapanthus, sprouted wheat and inkberry. I specifically chose these plants for either food or nesting requirements and have found their inclusion to be beneficial— especially the sprouted wheat—as many species enjoy eating and frolicking within them.

As well as having plants in my aviary I also have rocks, logs, branches, ponds and structures which provide the birds with adequate stimulation and habitat features. Most of the ground dwelling birds such as the quail, Flock Pigeons, Bleeding Heart and Squatter Pigeons enjoy using the rocks, branches and logs as vantage points upon which to vocalise and display themselves. The watering holes are natural looking rock-lined concrete washouts and many of my doves and pigeons can be seen bathing in them during the warmer months.

I provide both natural and artificial nesting sites within the aviary to allow roughly three nests per two pair of birds, allowing individual selection. Where I live the temperature can range anywhere from 40°C down to –5°C so we recently made up concrete hides for both of the aviaries which have inbuilt heat lamps and are coloured to add a more natural look. The lamp is on a timer that turns the light on at 6.00pm and it goes off at 5.00am.

I have also wired tea-tree in even spreads a metre from the roof to provide a privacy canopy which is used by the birds for both perching and nest linings. The centre post in the larger aviary is utilised as a tree—I place several pine branches into drilled holes to provide a natural day perch that is readily enjoyed by most birds.

The feeders in my aviary are all external platform cages and were chosen to attract both the native wild birds and give the mice no reason to enter the cage and disturb the birds. My mix includes French white millet, cracked corn, sorghum (milo), black and grey sunflower, small poultry pellets, wheat, oats, mungbeans and peas. I chose this mix as I find there is less waste and a wider variety of seeds than commercial mixes.

My aviaries contain a total of eight different species of dove and pigeons including Green-winged pigeons Chalcophaps indica, Peaceful Doves Geopelia placida, Talpacoti Doves Columba talpacoti, New Guinea Ground Doves Gallicolumba jobiensis, Bleeding Heart Pigeons Gallicolumba luzonica, Flock Pigeons Phaps histrionica, Squatter Pigeons Geophaps scripta, Ruddy Turtledoves Streptopelia transquebarica and California Quail Lophortyx californicus. All of these birds are kept in pairs—excluding the Flock Pigeons that prefer a small colony environment—and no fighting or aggressive behaviour has ever been observed.

I find that the Squatters and tree dwelling birds prefer raised feeders at a height of approximately 1.5 metres or greater, but the Flock and Bleeding Heart Pigeons will almost always use low feeders. The ground dwelling birds and Bleeding Hearts are the tamest of the birds and I can usually hand feed them after a few minutes of trust building.

Although the California Quail are slightly flighty they provide a great addition to the aviary and emit a delightful call which creates atmosphere in my aviary. The most entertaining species I keep, however, is the Squatter Pigeon—they often vocalise to each other, can be seen following each other and roost together on the ground where the male can be seen feeding the female on colder mornings. Both of the smaller dove species also frequent the ground and can sometimes be observed roosting with the larger doves and pigeons. These provide a great contrast to the larger species.

Green-winged Pigeons are also part of my aviary collection and I find them to be a placid bird. Perches are placed in the sunny corners of the aviary to allow them to display their magnificent illustrious green plumage.

My Ruddy Turtledoves are great little additions as their temperament and quirky personalities add to the aviary. They are harder to acquire than other exotic doves due to limited numbers however we have kept them for more than 10 years and I am hoping to breed more of these birds.

Although many people believe New Guinea Ground Doves to be the most pugnacious of all the species of dove and pigeons I believe them to be a great part of my collection and my pair shows a lot less aggression than most. The other variety of foreign dove I keep is the Bleeding Heart Pigeon. These are the same size as the Green-wings, have blood-coloured feathers on their breast and have a beautiful blue/purple sheen throughout their head, neck and back which make this an attractive aviary bird.

I chose red sand for the bottom of my aviary because in the wild Flock Pigeons can be found in the semi-arid desert areas of central and northern Australia. Flock pigeons are also easy to sex as the male possesses a jet-black head with white face markings while the female has only a black stripe below the eye and the amount of white is much less.

I find aviculture to be the best and most enjoyable hobby and having over 200 birds and poultry provides me with a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes allowing me many hours of admiration and enjoyment all year round.


Jake Boundy is 15 years old and lives in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. As Jake has stated he finds aviculture to be the best hobby. He looks forward to many future years of breeding and keeping birds.





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