BREEDING A GOULDIAN FINCH

August 8, 2018

BREEDING A GOULDIAN FINCH

The Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae), also known as the Lady Gouldian finch, Gould's finch or the rainbow finch, is a colourful passerine bird endemic to Australia. There is strong evidence of a continuing decline, even at the best-known site near Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Large numbers are bred in captivity, particularly in Australia. In the state of South Australia, National Parks & Wildlife Department permit returns in the late 1990s showed that over 13,000 Gouldian finches were being kept by aviculturists. If extrapolated to an Australia-wide figure this would result in a total of over 100,000 birds. In 1992, it was classified as "endangered in the wild" under IUCN's criteria C2ai.

This was because the viable population size was estimated to be less than 2,500 mature individuals, no permanent subpopulation was known to contain more than 250 mature individuals, and that a continuing decline was observed in the number of mature individuals. It is currently subject to a conservation program.


How Do You Know When Your Gouldian Finches Are Ready to Breed?

Gouldian finches on a lifecycle diet regime that mimics their natural availability of foods in the wild, (austerity diet, breeding diet, and maintenance diet) then you already know that all your birds will come into breeding condition at the same time, which is a few weeks after beginning their breeding diet.

This makes for a much smoother breeding season as all birds have transitioned into a state of breeding readiness, and their bodies are synchronized with the changes in hormones throughout the courtship, egg sitting, and chick feeding and weaning stages of the breeding cycle.

Gouldian finches will go through a courtship ritual to form a pair bond. This involves the male pointing his beak toward the ground and shaking his head rapidly from side to side before dancing up and down on the perch whilst singing to the hen.

If interested, the hen will watch the cock bird intently and she will signal her pleasure by tweeting him on, pointing her tail in his direction, and in some instances she may even shake her head back to the cock bird.

Eager hens may even instigate the courtship ritual by shaking their heads toward the desired cock bird. The whole process can go on continuously for a couple of minutes and is a pleasure to behold.


Aviary Breeding

So now you have your birds ready in breeding condition, what’s next? Do you colony breed or cage breed them in selected pairs? This question is probably best answered with a pro’s and con’s style response as there is no clear right way or wrong way to breed your Gouldian finches. For more selection of birds cages you may visit online stores like: aviariesdepot.com.au.

Although wild Gouldian finch pairs can occasionally be found up to 10 miles away from other members of a flock, we know that they can also co-exist and breed in our aviaries as a colony.There may however be some fighting between birds protecting the area they consider their nesting territory from any intruder birds.

Intruder birds are Gouldian finches that just simply can’t resist having a look at what their neighbours are up to in their nest boxes. Anyone who has kept and breed Gouldian finches will know that they are probably more nosy than curious and love to poke their beak in for a look.

Colony Breeding

Colony breeding birds can chose their own mate. Many believe this makes a stronger pair bond that leads to better breeding.Other birds (juveniles and adults) in the aviary are known to sometimes feed fledged chicks. This can help take some of the pressure off of all the parent birds who may be preparing for another round of chicks.

With an aviary you only need to supply one fresh water and replace/check/top up one lot bird food a day. Also maintaining cleanliness in one aviary flight is a lot easier than cleaning multiple cages. For more amazing products for your pet birds just click aviariesdepot.com.au.

This makes colony breeding a lot less demanding on your free time. Against colony breeding. If chicks are found alive on the floor, it can sometimes be difficult to work out which nest they have been thrown/fell out of. Especially if you have multiple pairs at the same stage of breeding. Inbreeding can become can issue if too many related birds are kept.

Keeping it in the family is not a deal breaker for Gouldian finches who are looking to choose a mate. Fighting can happen over best nesting sites. Make sure 2 nest boxes are provided per pair to keep neighbourly disputes down to a minimal. A lack of nest boxes can result in chicks being thrown out of nests by other birds looking for a nesting site. It is more difficult to be 100% sure of the genetics of any young produced as Gouldian finches can sometimes be promiscuous.


Cage Breeding

There is greater control over which birds you are breeding. This can prevent weaker genes being bred from the inbreeding of any colony related birds.

Breeding pairs don’t have to stress about defending their territory from other birds and instead can focus on breeding.

Bacteria that spreads through close contact from bird to bird, or from feces to bird, cannot spread so easily to infect other birds if they are isolated from one another in breeding cages. Juveniles that are just past the weaning stage can be especially vulnerable to bacteria due to the fact their immune system is still developing. Against cage breeding, the more cages you need to manage, the more time consuming it will be. Each cage will need attention when it comes to cleaning otherwise bacteria and moulds will soon become rife.

Birds relish an environment with more room and things to explore. And can suffer in smaller spaces if all they have to do is hop from perch to perch. Larger cages of at least 18” height, 18” width and 2ft in length are more ideal. However, large clutches soon fledge and can quickly make the space more cramped. Birds that are made jumpy by your presence, or by other people’s, may become light sitters on their eggs.

If they start to feel insecure they can be known to abandon the nest. As a personal rule I make a note of which birds will exit the nest boxes whenever I enter the breeding room. Once the light sitters are identified, I will avoid checking the nests of these pairs and cleaning their cages is kept to an absolute minimum until the nestlings have grown to a size where the parent birds no longer need to brood them.


Eggs and Incubation

The cock bird is the nest builder in the family, although I have known 1 or 2 hens to also collect nesting material and assist with the nest building. Depending on the birds, nests can take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks to be completed. In some instances for the slower builders, the nest will continue being weaved for a few days after the first egg is laid.

Once your birds have paired successfully the hen will begin to lay eggs from around 3 days after copulation. Egg are laid once a day and clutches can vary in size from 3 to 7. Sometimes a hen may skip a day between laying each egg. This is believed to be because the hen isn’t quite in full breeding condition. Don’t panic if this happens. Let the hen finish in laying and see how things progress for the pair with incubating and raising young. Pairs that skip a day when laying eggs can still go on to raise perfectly fine and healthy chicks.

When you believe the hen has missed a day and not laid an egg, it’s always worth checking the cage floor. Sometimes one of the birds has broken an egg and ejected it out of the nest, although they will do a good job of eating up the evidence you may find some yolk residue on your cage floor/litter. Broken eggs are a sign the hen may not be getting enough calcium grit or shell in her diet, which should always be available during the breeding season.


Chicks

Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of bird keeping is witnessing the birth of new life. This happens in a fairly short space of time. Once incubation is underway you can expect the eggs to hatch from anywhere between 14-16 days later. This can however seem like the longest 2 weeks in the world when you are eagerly awaiting the first chicks of the breeding season to be born.

But no matter how long it seems, make sure you keep fingers out the nests and resist the urge to check inside the nest box every day. If the hen begins the incubation process toward the end of her egg laying cycle, then all fertile eggs should hatch within 1 day, and no later than 2 days of each other. This gives all the chicks the best possible chance of survival.

Chicks can grow fast and double in size very quickly, so any chicks hatching later than 48 hours from the first may struggle to compete for food. The chicks are born with light reflecting nodes on the side of their mouths. This makes it easier for the parent birds to find their mouths inside dark nests. The nodes begin to disappear once the chick is weaned.

If only 1 or 2 eggs out of a clutch hatch I will leave any infertile eggs inside the nest for 1 week after hatching, especially if the parents are light sitters and easily spooked. This is because the eggs will give off some warmth to the chicks when the parents are not in the nest. Fertile eggs will have a pinkish hue after the first few days of incubation.

The inside of a fertile egg will darken in colour, and by the 10th day of incubation the egg will lose all transparency and have a whitish matt hue to the shell. In contrast unfertile eggs will have an off white yellowish hue to them and this becomes more obvious by a degree of transparency when they are held up to the light


Fledging Chick

Gouldian finch chicks can spend anywhere from 21 days to 25 days in the nest before fledging, though I generally find 22-23 days being the average marker from hatching to fledging. Good parent birds who feed their young often and spend more time in the nest keeping the chicks warm will help speed up the chick’s development.

Another factor in determining how long it will take chicks to fledge is the size of the clutch. Smaller clutches will often grow faster than larger clutches because there is less competition for food. Even as I write this now, I have in mind a clutch of 3 chicks who I just closed rung today at 7 days old, while another nest of 6 chicks at 8 days old where just a little too small to be closed rung today. I now expect the smaller nest that hatched a day later to fledge ahead of the larger nest.

Occasionally you might find a slightly underdeveloped chick on the cage / aviary floor before their due fledging date. This can happen because a hungry and over eager chick has fallen out the nest while hanging out of the entrance hole calling for its lunch.

If you find such a chick replace it back in the nest and hopefully it will have learned not too lean so far out of the entrance hole next time. Once the last chick has fledged the nest, the nest box should be removed and replace with a fresh one. Adding a little nesting material inside the new nest box will assist the busy parents in preparation for the next round. For more Amazing products for your birds just click here: aviariesdepot.com.au


Personality & Behavior

Gouldians are pleasant “watching only” birds — they don’t like to be held, and can even panic and die when handled. Stress is deadly for these fragile birds. They are not typically hand-raised (only under emergency circumstances), and will not take well to taming efforts. They are lovely to watch, but not to hold. If properly cared for, these birds are reported to live for more than 4 to 6 years.


Food and Water

Always make sure your birds have access to fresh, clean drinking water. Because they enjoy bathing, put a birdbath or shallow dish in the cage a few times a week for an hour or so, removing it when it becomes dirty. In the wild, Gouldian finches eat various grasses along with sorghum seeds.


Development of their habitat and grass destruction is a major reason their wild numbers are in such serious decline. Captive Gouldian finches can eat commercial seed mixes designed for finches, along with fruits and leafy vegetables.

Provide your finches with separate feeding bowls for seeds and for fruits and veggies. They love live meal worms, if you want to provide them with a special treat. Your birds require a cuttle bone for calcium, along with crushed oyster or eggshells.

Precautions:

In general, Gouldian finches aren't as robust as other breeds of finch.That's partially because they are nervous, easily stressed birds. Once you've situated their cage, don't move it unless absolutely necessary. If you are looking for birds cage, bird toys and accessories just click here: aviariesdepot.com.au.

Gouldian finches require higher temperatures than other birds, ideally between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If that's too warm for your home in the winter, they'll probably be just fine as long as they're acclimated to temperature changes. If you don't want your finches to breed, you can keep same-sex birds together. However, unlike mammals, if opposite-sex birds mate and the female lays eggs, you can simply remove them. Don't try to hold a finch unless it's an emergency, as birds of this species find it very stressful.


© 2019 Aviaries Depot. All Rights Reserved.   Built using KlueLess.io Static App Generator.