Well we wonder why we keep our birds sometimes, get up in darkness, feed and water them, pop back in early evening in darkness again to check on them. The weekend comes around and we spend a couple of hours cleaning them out, before then spending some time with our families, who we have barely seen all week!

Yes it can be difficult sometimes and can get us to wondering if we still want to keep them when we don’t really get to enjoy them. But then there are those moments when you pair them up for the new breeding season, hoping for better birds than last year. The expectation of the first eggs and then, will they be fertile? The breeding season ends, your last round of chicks are on the perch as the earlier rounds are well into their moult. Your attention moves towards the birds you will be showing later in the year as well as which birds will be retained for next year’s breeding programme.

The buzz is always there even when you do simply feel as if all you do is feed, water and clean. But I still want to ensure that even when busy I spend time observing and enjoying my birds. That is why I made the decision recently to change my routine a little to ensure that I made that time without it impacting on my work or family time. But what could I do to ensure this would happen?

Upon returning home in the evening the Java’s are winding down, my shed lights are on and sometimes slowly dimming. Therefore, I get all of my feeding and watering done there and then, very efficiently and make sure I am out of the shed with minimal disturbance.

The next morning, however, I rise before 6am (previously 6.30am), put on my ‘shed’ clothes, make myself a cup of tea and make my way to the shed where the lights are just coming on. I pull up my chair and just sit and watch them with only my hot cup of tea to keep me warm. I see the birds all fluffed up on the perches, huddled together before they stretch their wings and hop from perch to perch. Once their exercises are complete they are looking around them, seeing what is going on. Soon a cock bird breaks into song, followed by another performance elsewhere in the shed. My attention is then taken by the flights where my current year bred youngsters are starting to squabble in mid air over the millet sprays hanging from the wire, whilst the older birds skip about looking for seed on the ground. It isn’t long before I realise that the whole shed is filled with the chorus of my cock Java’s all singing at the top of their voices.

I have to admit I am completely lost, not thinking about anything else, but soon 30 minutes are over and it’s time to get on with my day. I know 30 minutes is not long, but everyday it gives me the space to spend time with the birds and also to mentally get myself in a good frame of mind for the day. I have also realised how much activity I had been missing as I had never watched my Java’s first thing in the morning. I feel that I am starting to understand their behaviour better and I like to think that perhaps they are starting to enjoy my company each day as well. I plan to maintain my new routine and would encourage any other keepers to think about ways in which a change in their routine might help them to get even more out of their birds.