Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birds Breeding

Finches make great pets due to their hardiness and their quirky little personalities.  They are easy to care for and that does not change when it comes to breeding.  Along with the Society Finch, the Zebra Finch is one of the easiest types of finches to breed.  These two finches, the Zebra in particularly, will even help to rear the young of other finches like rare types of Australian Grass Finches.  

Sexes in many species of finch differ in appearance while other species look alike and can only be sexed by the behavior or song of the male.  There are several ways to tell the difference between male and female Zebra Finches.  Although there are a number of mutations that can alter the colors and characteristics of the Zebra Finch, several things remain the same.  Males have a number of distinguishing features including: orange cheek patches, stripes on the throat, black bar on the breast and a chestnut colored flank with white spots.  Female Zebra Finch lack these features and are gray in those areas mentioned.  Beak color is generally a brighter red in males and an orange color in females.  Juveniles look like females, but with a black beak.  The beak and adult colors are usually complete by the time the young are 90 days old.

Breeding season begins with the arrival of spring.  Each finch species has a specific environment that will be suitable for successful breeding.  Some finch species will do very well as a single pair in a breeding box, while others types of finches need a large aviary with many other birds around.  A compatible pair of Zebra Finches will nest in almost any environment.  Zebras Finches are good parents and rarely have breeding related problems.  The male and female Zebra Finch both share responsibility in raising the young.  It is the male who will weave the nest.  You can supply him with nesting materials like grasses, feathers, or commercially prepared finch nesting material in the cage or aviary.  But, as soon as the hen lays her eggs, you should remove any excess nesting material from the cage to prevent the male from covering up the eggs in his enthusiasm to make improvements. 

Zebra Finches will lay one egg every other day until their clutch is complete, with the average clutch size being four to five eggs.  Some species of finches will lay only two eggs while another species can lay up to ten eggs.  After the eggs are laid it is the hen who will spend most of her time on the nest but the male will often accompany her and relieve her for food and exercise breaks.  Twelve to eighteen days after the eggs are laid, they will begin to hatch. 

Parents will need an unlimited access to calcium which may be supplied by cuttlebone and high protein foods when chicks are in the nest.  The chicks will feather out and start to leave the nest at about 18 days old and by the time the chicks are about a month old they will be eating completely on their own and can be separated from their parents.  If the parent birds go back to nest before the chicks are totally weaned, you might need to place the male and the chicks in a separate cage.  The male Zebra Finch will finish feeding the babies and can rejoin his mate after the chicks are completely weaned.

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