Monday, 25 April 2011

Society Finches

 

Society Finches

The word “society” is perfectly suited for these little birds due to their extremely social nature.  They are so social, that they should always be kept in groups.  In fact, they are such busybodies that they can often get in the way and disrupt the breeding habits of other more private birds.  But their energetic nature is never aggressive and they make wonderful pets for novice as well as advanced bird lovers.
Society Finches are believed to have been developed in Asia over three hundred years ago by Chinese and Japanese breeders.  It is assumed that they are a domestic form of the White-backed Munia (Lonchura striata), but their absolute ancestry is uncertain.  These friendly birds grow to be about four and one-fourth inches to four and three-fourths inches (11-12 cm).
Society Finches have three basic color varieties: chocolate and white, fawn and white, and pure white.  There are also tri-colored, crested forms (developed in the 1930′s), and solid-colored Society Finches.  But what makes them really great is that no two Society Finches are alike.
Society Finches make great pets for beginners.  In addition to their ideal temperament, they are inexpensive and one of the easiest birds to care for.  Fresh food and water must be provided for these hardy birds daily.  A good finch seed mix will provide their everyday preference for millets and canary seed. Finch seed mix is readily available at any pet store.
Owners should also supply their Social Finches with green foods, such as chickweed and spinach, in a separate cup on a regular basis.  Other food supplements can include egg foods, apples or pears. You can even spoil your finches with special nutritious treats of seeds with honey, fruits or vegetables.
Grit with charcoal is also essential to your Social Finch’s diet to aid in digestion, plus it contains valuable minerals and trace elements.  Grit should be provided in a special cup or it can be sprinkled over the bottom of the cage floor.  Owners should also provide their birds with a cuttlebone because the calcium that it provides will give your bird a firm beak, strong eggshells when breeding, and it will also prevent egg binding in females.  The lime in the cuttlebone also aids the birds in their digestion.  Since Society Finches are very hardy birds, almost all illnesses can be traced to an improper diet, dirty cages, or drafts.  Society Finches with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise are able to avoid most illnesses.
Occasionally you can offer your Society Finches a bath by setting a dish in the bottom of the cage that is about 1″ deep with a 1/2″ of water inside, or you can clip a bath house onto the side of the cage.  Another aspect of Society Finch care involves trimming their nails.  Owners must be careful to never clip into the vein because the bird can quickly bleed to death.  Bird nail trimmers and styptic powder to stop the bleeding are available at any pet shop.

gouldian finch

General Lady Gouldian Finch Information Below
     The information contained on this page is only meant for "basic" information on the Lady Gouldian Finch.  For a complete detailed guide on breeding and maintaining the proper health of these beautiful birds please click on the links listed above and be sure to check out our articles contained within the 12 steps to success breeding the Gouldian finch. This will give you a complete step by step very detailed guide on how to be completely successful with these birds.  We go into great detail on exactly what we do, how and when to do it so anyone can achieve the same total success with the Lady Gouldian Finch that we have here at Frisky Finches.  Please note this is all based on a Southern California climate so you may need to adjust the instructions in the 12 steps to success to your location or breeding situations.  
Thank you once again for visiting our website.  We hope the information contained within will answer all of your questions and concerns.  If you cannot find the answers you seek, please contact us, we would love to hear from you!
     The Lady Gouldian Finch originates across northern Australia from Derby in the west across to the Cape York Peninsula. The range of the Gouldian finch in recent years has declined sharply.  Legal and illegal trapping up until the 1970s resulted in numbers being taken for the aviculture trade. There have not been any finches exported.   However more recently Australian Government studies show that the Gouldians decline may be attributed to rural development, particularly in the cattle and mining industry. There is another barrier to the Gouldians becoming wide spread.  This barrier is the airsac mite which has permeated the flocks of the Gouldians in the wild.  This mite attacks the lungs of the Gouldian causing respiratory distress within the respiratory system.  The Australian Government estimates that there are fewer than 2,500 mature Gouldian's in the wild. 
According to the English "Legend", which we believe to be a misnomer due to the lack of historical documentation available...  In 1841, an English Ornithologist, John Gould, while on an Australian expedition came across what most believe to be the most beautiful finch in the world. John Gould named this magnificent finch, "The Lady Gouldian", to honor his artist wife, Lady Elizabeth Gould.  The first living Lady Gouldian finches arrived in England in 1887.

THE LADY GOULDIAN FINCH

The Lady Gouldian Finch, Chloebia gouldiae, is arguably the one of the most vividly colorful birds on earth. Its native habitat is the northern region of Australia. The Gouldian Finch is now an endangered species.  Australia has a closed door policy prohibiting the exportation of animals from the country.  Exportation of Australian finches was banned in 1960. 
The following link is to a free e-book discussing the ongoing Gouldian Finch Recovery Project in Australia: A 2000 "Recovery Outline" (.PDF Format) produced by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage estimated Australia's wild Gouldian Finch population to be approximately 2500 mature birds. 
Gouldians are between 5 to 5.5 inches in size or 13-14 cm long. The coloration of the cock is far more brilliant than that of the hen. The male has a noticeably longer center tail feather.

Lady Gouldian finches require more vitamins, nutrients and supplements in captivity than heartier breeds such as the zebra and society finches. Therefore, Gouldian finches are not recommended for the novice having little or no experience with these captive birds unless using proven products to ensure healthy happy "Frisky Finches".

There are three varieties of Lady Gouldian Finches which are naturally occurring in color:
(1) The red-headed: Poephila mirabilis
(2) The black-headed: Poephila gouldiae
(3) The yellow-headed: Poephila armitiana

Although these are the color varieties generally recognized, there are many other combinations derived from these basic colorations. Including blue,  yellow and silver mutations.  These ultra hybrid verities of the Lady Gouldian finch can prove to be rather delicate and often require a controlled indoor environment.

SOCIAL HABITS

Gouldian finches, like many other finches, have a beautiful soft chirp, but do not like to be petted or held. Individuals seeking pets that enjoy being held should probably shy away from the Gouldian finch. Gouldian finches should be kept in one or more pairs to satisfy their need for social contact. Gouldians sing, but only the males (some better than others).

HOUSING

Gouldian finches, whether in a cage or aviary, need the largest flying space affordable. A minimum flying space of 24 inches is recommended. Cages, either metal or wooden, are the most frequent cost-effective choice for housing Gouldian finches. The space between cage bars should never be greater than one-half inch. Experts report good results when employing box cages which are closed from every side but the front. Gouldian finches are susceptible to health problems with cold drafts or wind.  It is recommended there is an area in their cage or loft where they can escape the breeze.  Actual brass cages are not recommended because of potential toxic qualities (although, most cages brass in color are not actually made of brass).

Gouldians are easily disrupted by frequent changes in their housing environment or by movement of their cage. Frequent stress can eventually weaken a birds resistance to disease.
Gouldians need natural sunlight as well as shade. Its housing should allow the birds access to natural sunlight. If this is not possible, full color spectrum "artificial sun light" should be provided (with a timer).


DIET & NUTRITION

The Gouldians primary food is seed (various millets, canary, flax and niger seeds). Although, seed is the principal item in any finches diet, even a good mixture of seeds in not completely sufficient to insure a balanced diet. Nutrient needs change throughout the life of the Gouldian finch and according to the various stages in its life cycle. Other more detailed resources should be consulted to adequately cover this topic.

NOTECalcium is extremely important to the Gouldians health in captivity. Generally, a cuttlebone, available at many pet stores, is the easiest method for assuring that this mineral is available however this alone is not enough.
Baked, then crushed chicken egg shells are also very important to satisfy the need for calcium.   
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT NOTE:  All eggs and egg shells have the salmonella bacteria in them which is deadly to finches. It's mandatory you "BAKE" any egg shells your feeding to your birds in the oven on a cookie sheet at a 375 degrees for a minimum of 45 to 55 minutes (until golden brown) to kill all the salmonella bacteria before crushing them up and feeding the shells to your birds.  If you do not follow these cooking steps the salmonella bacteria will kill your birds!
We highly recommend making additional vitamins, minerals and trace elements available in your birds grit.  Please see our nutrition page for more information on the proven products we use.  
Gouldians need Grit: Grit is another very important element to the Gouldians diet. Insoluble grit assists the bird in digestion of seed. Many Gouldian owners provide their pets with a few teaspoons of crushed oyster shells and crushed charcoal is mandatory to insure a healthy digestive tract. Gouldians, not exposed to daily sunlight, should be given some form of vitamin D supplement. In fact, a wide spectrum vitamin supplement is recommended by breeders regularly, especially when the birds are going through their molt.  It is also recommended to provide your birds with additional calcium and iodine supplements during the molting season to help in the production of their new "very colorful" feathers.  Please see our 12 steps to success breeding Gouldians for more information on this topic.

During the egg laying process, many owners and breeders recommend that a baby bird formula or mash be mixed with additional vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Introducing the hatchling-formula is essential when the birds begin laying eggs because it is much easier to  regurgitate because of it's ground or mash consistency and is easier for the fledglings to digest. The reason for starting the baby bird formula before the birth of the offspring is to get the parents accustom to it prior to the time it is needed for feeding the young. It is important to have a good nestling food made available to them before the babies hatch. Often, beginners fail to do this because they think they can add nestling food after the eggs hatch. This is the most common reason for babies to be thrown out of the nest.  Please visit our shopping pages for our recommended hatchling mix blended specially by Frisky Finches.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Clean fresh water should be maintained at all times in the Gouldian's cage. Daily cleaning and replacement is "highly" recommended. 

BREEDING

In the wild Gouldian finches nested in hollowed out trees, empty burrows and other secluded difficult locations. As a rule, Gouldian's are lousy nest builders.  Wicker or bamboo nests are sometimes used in captivity as nesting sites however we recommend wooden nest boxes approximately (6x6x10 inches) with an open, "side entry" in the front or porch entry with the nesting area accessed through a 1 1/2 inch round hole for the birds to access the back of the box.  The top should open for cleaning and access if necessary.  Nesting material can include different tall fescue grass or commercially sold materials. Gouldians would prefer grass for nest building however the store bought materials will work if that is all made available to the birds. We recommend that some nesting material be placed in the nest box prior to the birds laying eggs to pre-form a bowl shaped nest to insure that the eggs remain in a confined area and are not simply laid on the bottom of a nesting box to float around the box without nesting material.  This will cause uneven incubation of the eggs and result in a low or no hatch success ratio. 
According to some breeders, Gouldians are aviary birds that do not breed well in small cages and do not like to be with other species of finches. Authorities, however, differ on this issue. Aviaries are much larger structures than cages, approximately 50 cubic feet or more in size.

The mating ritual of Gouldian finches is one of the most interesting events to observe. At one stage of the courtship ritual, the cock will jump straight up and down in order to provoke a response from the hen. Both sexes also proceed to bow and shake their beaks to each other. The hen may flutter her tail feathers and cock them or point her tail towards the male. They are private birds, and copulation occurs most often in their nesting box, out of view.

Egg laying usually involves the formation of clutches of four to six eggs however at times as many as 10 will be laid. The eggs emerge approximately once every 24 hours. Active brooding begins after the third egg is laid. Hatching will begin approximately 15 to 18 days after breeding begins. Gouldians may also wait until the very last egg is laid to start incubation. It is very important not to disturb or disrupt the nest during this period. In other words, do not constantly inspect the nest. Full feathered fledglings should appear after approximately 22 days.
We recommend never inspecting the Gouldians nest 2 weeks after the babies are born. Late inspection of the nest may scare the Gouldians and result in abandonment of the babies or the babies leave the nest early which usually ends up to their demise.

During the breeding of Gouldians, the parent birds need to be fed a special diet. Please see the information regarding this in our 12 steps to success breeding the Lady Gouldian Finch.

Owners of Gouldians should not be surprised by their natural molting which normally takes 4 to 6 weeks. It takes 4 to 6 months or longer sometimes up to a year for baby Gouldians to color up and get their adult feathers depending on what time of the year they are hatched which helps explain why they are so expensive.   It usually takes closer to 1 year before young Gouldians are ready for sale.  Gouldian finches should not be paired for breeding until they have molted into their colored feathers.
It is important not to allow finches that are closely related to produce offspring. Inbreeding weakens the genes and will result in small birds, washed out colors, a weakening of the offspring and eventually the breed.

HEALTH ISSUES

The most frequently mentioned Gouldian finch health issues are:
  • Air sac mites 
  • Egg Binding 
  • Canker & Protozoan InfectionA "must read" article on the Lady Gouldian Finch and protozoan infections; Canker, Guardia, Cochlosomosis & Cryptosporidium.
Air sac mites attack a birds respiratory system. These following link offers a number of articles concerning this health problem: - NFSS Article, Air Sac Mites
Egg binding is an especially serious problem effecting female Gouldian finches during the time that they are attempting to lay eggs. We believe one of the causes of this syndrome is a lack of calcium in their system.  The egg gets lodged in the birth canal and the Gouldian female is unable to pass it. The female Gouldian would will become so weak that she sits at the bottom of the cage. This is a serious condition and necessitates immediate action. Preferably, it is always best to consult a qualified avian veterinarian. The following link is to articles concerning this health topic:  - NFSS Article, Egg Binding
The calcium supplement (calcium gluconate) with 23% liquid calcium has been very effective in assisting in this problem:  Please visit our Nutrition & Heath page for this product.
Please visit our introduction to the Lady Gouldian Finch pages and our articles on the 12 steps to success breeding the Lady Gouldian finch for a complete step by step very detailed guide on how to be completely successful with these birds.  We go into great detail on exactly what we do, how and when we do it so anyone can achieve total success with the Lady Gouldian Finch.  If you have any questions or concerns please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

finch information

Finch Information

Bird lovers with little time on their hands may find that a pair of finches would be their ideal choice for a pet. Unlike parrot species, which require constant stimulation, finches prefer mostly to be left alone and if handled they often become quite stressed. Finches are best for someone who loves to sit and watch their birds rather than someone looking for an affectionate friend. If you're that type of bird lover, a finch will provide a lovely addition to your home.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing

Finches live for approximately 4 to 7 years. Because of this limited life span, it is best to buy a finch when they are still young. Finches don't like to live alone. They should be in a bird cage or aviary with at least one other finch. If you have no intention of breeding them, they don't mind being in same sex pairs. If you intend to keep many finches you must remember that they can be territorial and may pick on a weaker bird sometimes until they kill it. When new birds are bought you should be sure to watch how they interact to ensure that none are being bullied in this manner. If they are, some options to deal with the situation might include putting the birds in a bigger cage or increasing the number of birds because it appears that when they are above six in number the bullying tends to disappear.
There are a large variety of finches kept as pets. Before making a purchase do a bit of research into the various species. Some are known for their extraordinary colors while others sing lovely songs. Your preference will be the main factor in which species you eventually choose.
You also must take into consideration where you will buy your finches. Many people rush off to a pet store but these are not always the ideal places to purchase a bird. If you do decide to purchase from a pet store be sure to inspect the bird thoroughly for any signs of sickness. A sick bird might show any of the following symptoms:
fluffed out feathers
sitting listless on the cage floor
abnormal growth on beak or feet
tail bobbing
dull or swollen eyes
The best place to purchase a bird is from a reputable bird breeder. Still keep your head up for any warning signs of sickness. Visit the breeding facility and ask to look around. Check that the cages are large enough for flight and not overcrowded. Be sure that they are clean and birds have access to clean water and ample food.
When buying the birds try and get as much information as possible from the breeder. Find out the sex and the family history of the bird. It's best to purchase a bird that has already gone through its first molt but is not too old.

Finch Cages

The most important things to keep in mind when setting up the cage or aviary for you finches is that they require ample room to fly around and they must be safe and disease free.
Unlike parrot species that climb in their cages, finches get their exercise exclusively from flying. This is why it is imperative to make sure that the cage that you have for them is quite long. They care little about the height of the cage, but the length is all important. For a pair of finches the length of the cage should not be less than 30 inches.
Finches do not care much for complicated bird toys that parrots adore. They do need bird perches though. Dowel perches often cause feet problems so avoid them. Also, never use sand paper covered perches as they are harmful to your bird and offer no benefits. Rather choose non-toxic hardwood branches as perches. Don't choose redwood, cedar or pressed wood chips as they are poisonous to birds. As anything made of wood cannot be sterilized, after they are covered in droppings they must be replaced to avoid illness. Finches also like swings but both bird swings and bird perches should be placed out of their flight path and not over their food or water dishes to avoid fecal contamination.
The best thing to line the cage with is newspaper. Good food and water dishes should be made from stainless steel or non-toxic plastic. It's a good idea to place the bird food container on one side of the cage and the water container on the other to encourage the bird to get exercise.
Finches need full spectrum sunlight to remain healthy. If possible, their cage should be kept near a window that can be opened or they can be taken outside. Make sure that if they are in direct sunlight they have somewhere in their cage to find a shady spot. If natural sunlight is not possible then a bird cage light with a timer that follows natural sunlight patterns can be used. In the night finches want darkness to sleep but it is not a good idea to cover their cage with a cloth as this limits fresh air.

Finch Food

The shape of a finch's bill is a sure fire giveaway that they are seed-eaters, but in the wild they also eat sprouts and insects to make up for the nutritional deficiency of seeds. Domesticated finches would gladly eat bird seeds exclusively, but if they did they would suffer from malnutrition. It's up to the owner to ensure that their finches get a balanced diet.
Nowadays, there are finch pellets on the market that offer a complete diet for finches. It is important to purchase the ones made specifically for finches. These have been scientifically researched for the specific nutritional needs of finches.
Finches also benefit from fresh food. A good mix is to grind up a whole boiled egg (shell and everything as the shell will give your pet the calcium that it needs) and mix it with some chopped vegetables, fruits or bean sprouts. Vegetables such as carrots, spinach, broccoli and other brightly colored veggies are ideal. The same goes for fruits. Mangoes, papaya, pineapples, oranges, bananas are good fruits to choose. You may also give them premixed bird foods that are cooked and served. This 'egg mix' should be given fresh and any remainder removed from the cage after four hours.
Finches raised strictly on seeds often balk at pellets and fresh food. It is best to offer new foods in the morning or in the evening, which is a finch's natural foraging time.

Finch Care

Food and water should be changed daily. It is a good idea to wash the dishes with dishwashing soap and water. The cage should be cleaned weekly. When cleaning or disinfecting your finch's cage, transfer your birds to a temporary cage. All surfaces should be wiped clean with bird cage clener and then rinsed thoroughly. Monthly the whole cage should be disinfected with a mixture of 3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. The bleach mixture should not be used on metal surfaces. Before disinfecting be sure that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. Rinse off the bleach solution and let the cage dry in the sun.
Finches will occasionally need their nails cut. Purchase a pair of small birds nill or a pair of baby nail cutters. Disinfect these before and after use. Have on hand some styptic powder just in case you cut too deep and the nail bleeds. It is good to hold the nail up to a strong light so that you can see where the vein is and are able to avoid it. Trim only a tiny bit off the end of the nail.
There is normally no need to trim your finch's beak as they take care of their beak themselves.

Finch Illnesses

Finches are notoriously difficult to cure so the best thing is to keep your birds healthy by maintaining a clean environment. By the time that a finch shows any of the signs of sickness mentioned early, the bird is very sick and should be taken to an avian veterinary straight away.
You also must be very careful when buying new birds to be put in the same cage as the ones that you already own. They should be kept in a completely separate place in quarantine for 6-8 weeks. It is a good idea to have them checked thoroughly by an avian veterinarian because there are diseases that a healthy bird can only be a carrier of and will show no signs of illness. These could be deadly to your other birds.

Conclusion

Finches are lovely pets that won't demand a lot for their owner but will give you many hours of companionship and entertainment. Finches are the perfect bird for the person with a busy schedule.

finch information

Finches Information

Finches Information

 

It is no wonder why these active little birds are so popular as pets.  Finches are easy to care for and make wonderful pets for anyone including those who live in an apartment, have children, and even those individuals that have other pets.
Finches come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and personalities.  Popular varieties include the Zebra Finch, the Gouldian Finch, and the Society Finch.  Most finches are very social and can easily be housed in spacious cages with other finches and other hard bills. But larger species may be aggressive to smaller species.  It is not recommended to house finches with parakeets, lovebirds, or other hookbills because these types of birds tend to be naturally more aggressive.  Be careful not to overcrowd these birds because it can lead to feather picking.
Although finches are quite friendly, mixed groups of birds should still be watched for bullying and fighting.  Their socialization and the fact that finches prefer to play among themselves is a positive in regards to the fact that they will not pout like a parrot would if you are unable to play with it everyday.  However, being more interested in birds then people, finches may not always become finger tame birds.
Although most finches will not be able to be handled, there are a few finch species that with time and patience can be finger tamed.  If you do need to handle your finch for something like trimming its nails, place your palm on its back and wrap your fingers around the bird with your thumb and forefinger on either side of its head.  Finches hardly ever bite, and if they do, they do not have a harmful or dangerous bite.
Most finches are extremely easy to care for but they are active and must be able to move around easily within their cages.  It is important that they be able to fly from perch to perch so keep their cage accessories to a minimum to give them room to move about freely.  All they need is a single toy, mirror, or branch that can be changed around within the cage periodically to provide the bird with variety.
Toys that are safe for parakeets are also safe for finches.  You can also give your finch a treat by offering it a bird bath within its cage a couple of times a week.  Finches in the wild love to roll in dew dampened grasses for a bath so you can also provide your finches with a small amount of damp dandelion leaves or grasses in the bottom of the cage for a few hours as well.
These entertaining and hardy birds also tend to be more quiet then some other bird species.  Plus, they are also less costly to purchase than many parrots and soft billed birds, adding to their appeal as pets.  Finches will provide a lot of entertainment with their cheerful little voices and their unique personalities.  People enjoy them for their busy antics, plumage, and for their song.

zebra finch

Zebra Finches


In the wild Zebra Finches are hardy little grass finches that occupy grass or brush lands, dry savannas, open areas, pastures and cultivated fields.  In our homes, they steal the hearts of their owners with their cheerful nature and active lifestyle.  But that is not the only reason that Zebra Finches have been one of the most popular cage birds for over one-hundred years.  These attractive little creatures are also hardy, inexpensive, active, and one of the easiest birds to keep and breed.
Zebra Finches are great birds for a beginner or for any bird enthusiast!  They maintain their happy disposition throughout their seven to ten year lifespan with continuous work and song.  They are also one of the most popular varieties seen in pet stores.  Zebra Finches need the company of other finches, so plan on getting a pair, and you will need a decent sized cage so they can fly.
Zebra Finches are available in many different patterns and colors.  Typically, the male Zebra Finch has a gray upper body and wings and a white belly.  Their beak and legs are a red-orange color and there is a cheek patch on each side of its head.  They also have a teardrop mark under the eye that can be brown, tan or fawn, but is commonly called “orange” by Zebra Finch enthusiasts.  The flanks or sides located just below the wings of male Zebra Finches are chestnut-colored (orange) with white dots.  And finally, the male’s chest is black and white striped like a zebra, hence the name Zebra Finch.
The female Zebra Finches also have a gray upper body and wings with a white belly, but their beaks and legs are lighter in color then the males’.  Females also have a black teardrop mark under the eye.  Some different Zebra Finch varieties include the Fawn, Chestnut Flanked White,Lightback , Pied, Black or Orange Breasted and the Black Cheek.
Zebra Finches originate from Australia where they live in dry areas and eat mostly grass seeds.  Seeds are also the basic food for them in captivity.  However, offering your finches fresh foods from your kitchen is also an option.  Different individual birds will have different likes and dislikes.  You can experiment with a variety of food items to see what your particular birds will like to eat.
Try offerings them things like mixed vegetables, sprouts (alfalfa, etc.), hard boiled eggs (mashed), lettuce, spinach, bread crumbs, and corn bread.  Most natural foods can be fed to your birds.  Just stay away from extremes like peppers, cabbage, etc.  Make sure to feed your Zebra Finches only the amount of fresh food that they will consume on a daily basis.
Remove any food that they do not eat before it spoils.  Although Zebra Finches are very hardy and can go for a long period of time without water since they are desert birds (not recommended), eating daily is vital for their survival – so make sure that you always keep their seed bowl filled.