By Theresa Gray
PO Box 11
Vienna, IL 62995
First appeared in the November 1998 Heartland News.
Gouldian Finches are beautiful little birds. Their feathers are a rainbow of colors. Their plumage is so remarkably colored that this no wonder they are referred to as the "King of the Finches". They are native birds of Australia.
I keep my birds in the basement with florescent lights on 14 hours a day. I keep my breeder pairs in a cage that is 24" long, 12" wide and 16" high. Only one pair is kept in a cage. When I want them to start to nest, I hang a wooden nest box in a cage. The nest box is 5" by 5" x 5". It has an opening in the front with a perch. The top slides so I can slide it off a bit to check the nest without disturbing the nesting birds. I gather grass clippings from the lawn and put them in the microwave for a minute or two to kill any bugs. I put a handful in the bottom of the cage for nesting material. The male bird does the nest building and usually does a good job. Sometimes it takes them a week or two to "get in the mood". One way I can tell when they are ready to nest is the male bird sings to the female and does a little hopping dance on the perch in front of her. I call him a song and dance man.
Mating is done in the nest. The size of the clutch varies from three to six eggs. The female does most of the brooding, but the male will set from time to time to give her a rest. The eggs hatch in 13 to 16 days. Mine have always hatched on the 14th day. The babies have little fluorescent spots around their mouths. It is said that they are there so that the parents can feed them at night. I put a mixture of baby cereal and peanut butter mixed with water until it is the consistency of pudding in a small seed cup in the cage. The parents then feed it to the babies. They will start to eat a little and won't need it any longer. The babies fledge in about three weeks. They will be ready to be moved to a separate cage when they are about six weeks of age. Some breeders have had problems with their Gouldians not setting on their eggs or not feeding their young, but I have not have had that problem. I have found them to be excellent parents.
I feed year round a vitamin-fortified finch seed mix with chopped fresh greens such as chick weed, fresh spinach, romaine lettuce and broccoli. I also give them hard boiled egg yolk (boil the eggs for 30 minutes to kill bacteria). I give them mineral grit, egg shells that are ground in a blender and cuttlebone. Spray millet is kept hanging in their cages at all times as this is an essential part of their diet. I give them fresh water every day with four drops of iodine mixed with one half gallon of water.
Gouldian Finches should be kept from the cold weather and drafts. The temperature should not drop below sixty-five degrees. They can stand the heat just fine. Our summers in southern Illinois can be very hot, but I have seen no heat stress in my birds.
There are two basic head colors in the Gouldian Finch - red or black. Then there are a number of mutations that result in different colored birds. I personally think that the normal red or black-headed ones are the most beautiful. I have found that keeping them clean and feeding the right feed will result in success.
They are happy little birds. The male sings a lot and the female chimes in with a cheerful "weet, weet" as they busily fly from perch to perch or hang from the spray millet. The care of them is most rewarding.
|© November 1998 The Heartland News|