Monday, April 15, 2013

My Experience with Finch Breeding

Last year I ended up coming home with a female Zebra Finch. She had a nice little peep and a cute little cage. We hung her in the livingroom window. The baby loved her peep and would watch her from the couch for hours. After a few months she started laying eggs in the bottom of her cage. So Tony asked if we could find a male for her to make babies with. I figured why not, how hard could it be? Animals only purpose in life is to mate, and I felt wrong denying her of this so we found a male.

  They laid 3 sets of eggs and lost them. The first two were my fault, I gave them too much nesting material and they buried the eggs. After the first egg is laid you are supposed to remove the rest of the material. Our male, Tonto tends to get overzealous and builds these lavish, plush nests that bury the eggs. The third clutch almost made it, except that the parents were pulling the material out through the bottom and putting it on top which in turn made the eggs get cold from underneath and die.

The fourth clutch finally did it. The parents took turns on the nest and one day I looked in because they were both out of the nest and there they were. Four little babies with mouths open. Right out of the eggs they look like slugs with beaks. They make no noise at all and the parents are very nervous and flit around like crazy. Tweety, the mother, seems to be like me where she pushed Tonto aside for the first 3 weeks  and refused to let him help at all.  We supplimented the seed mixture with something called eggfood, which has real eggs, honey and other bits in it to help keep the babies nourished.  After about 3 weeks they all hopped out of the nest one night.  Scared the crap out of us we thought something was wrong.
   It was 9 at night when the babies decided to fly the coop. We were getting ready for bed and they just exploded out of the nest in a flurry of feathers and peeps. We left them alone except the one who got stuck in the water dish because I was afraid he would drown. They still have black beaks, but at some point they will change to orange like the parents. Tonto stepped up and has been teaching them to fly. We put a perler bead on each birds leg to tell them apart. It was easy, just cut it all the way through on one side and stretch it out and slip it on, lightweight and easy to see. Ours glow in the dark too so at night we see tiny colors flying around the cage.

  One thing we have noticed is they all have lumps on their necks on both sides of the body. I am thinking they are the unformed muscles that they use to fly? Tweety has something similar on her neck too, probably from sitting on the eggs for 3 weeks, but Tonto has a firm muscle on each side. They aren`t big lumps, you can only see them if you move the feathers aside. They get smaller every day.

 Tony has developed a tiny hatred for the babies which we hope will go away when they wean. The babies make this crazy demonic peeping when they want to eat. It sounds like angry little demons crying, like those horror movies with the distorted electronic laughing? They start at 5 am and go every few ours or so throughout the day. He hates it lol.

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