First Breeding: Yellow-breasted Hunting Cissa


We received the pair on breeder loan from Gene Fetter. They were together at his aviaries but had never been able to breed them. He believed that it was because he wasn't able to provide them with what they needed in aviary size. They were inside for about 3 months and were moved to a sheltered cage that was outside to get them acclimated to the climate. We live at 1,200' elevation and it can get to below freezing at night (15 degrees in 1999).

They were fed "soft food" daily along with 4 pieces of canned dog food and 2 pieces of beef heart. The soft food consisted of Science Diet, Canine Maintenance (small bites); Kaytee Mynah pellets; green Purina Nutra-blend Pigeon pellets, and Mazuri Small Bird Breeder pellets softened with water. This was mixed with defrosted frozen mixed vegetables every other day. Dry food was kept in their cage constantly. The dry mix consisted of Science Diet, Canine Maintenance (small bites); Kaytee Mynah pellets; green Purina Nutra-blend Pigeon pellets and Calf Manna. The female laid an egg on the floor of the cage.

They were moved to an outside aviary, dimensions 3' x 16 ', planted with podicarpus. A basket nest was placed high in the sheltered area above the door. The basket nest was a decorative plant pot cover lined with rush 1 inside. More rush was placed in the aviary, which she added herself to complete the nest. In our experience, the hen seems to build a nest that is sturdy and neat as compared to other jays and magpies.

The female began to make her nest immediately after being placed in the aviary. The same food mixture was fed. We also fed weanling to half grown mice once a day.

After a few days she started to lay. The first clutch of 3 eggs was infertile. They were removed at 15 days. To our surprise, she immediately layed again. Our other pairs have never layed so soon after an unsuccessful nest. Mealworms were also added to their diet. They seemed to eat both the mealworms and mice with relish. At the onset of the first egg of the second clutch, mice2


were added on a daily basis. The mice were live and placed in a porcelain mixing bowl partially sunk in the ground. The sides of the bowl are smooth so the mice couldn't jump or climb out.

In four ( 4) days time she laid 4 eggs. The male kept vigil guard. She set tight unless someone went into the aviary to drop mice in their feeding bowl. The male sounded an alarm or became aggressive and she lefi: the nest temporarily always going to the ground. (The Long-tailed Cissa always went to a high perch). About two (2) days prior to the eggs hatching, the male became even bolder and more aggressive hitting me on the head as I fed mice in the mornings.

In about 18 days the first egg hatched showing a completely naked, sightless and helpless chick. The next day, 2 chicks hatched, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon.

The fourth chick hatched the next day. The parents fed the chicks mealworms and mice for the first 3-4 days afi:er hatching. After 3-4 days the parents stopped feeding mealworms. After 5-6 days, the numbers of mice given the parents were increased to 3-4 per feeding and served 2-3 times per day. It appeared that all parts of the mice were either fed or eaten by the parents. Remnants of the mice could not be found.

The babies had pinfeathers at approximately 11 days. Their eyes opened at 12 days. At approximately 12-14 days old, the parents were given 15- 20 mice per day and served 4 times per day. The parents stopped eating sofi: food, dog food and beef heart for a while. It was quite hazardous serving the pair. The female would leave the nest calling and complaining and the male would scold and dive at the person entering the aviary. The offering of food meant nothing to him. He even drew blood from my ear.




Plasse, Chelle; 1992 AFA Proceedings, Corvids.

Angell, T.; 1978 Ravens, Crows, Magpies, and Jays. University of Washington Press.

Delacour, J.; 1936 Aviculture Volume 1, Stephen Austin and Sons, LTD., Hertford.

Woolham, Frank; The Handbook of Aviculture, Blandford Press. Madge, Steve and Burn, Hilary; Crows and Jay, 1994, Hou