Juniper Times

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Keys to Breeding Zebra Finches

Zebra finches, as well as the Society Finch are very easy to care for, and are also one of the easiest kind of finches to own when considering breeding finches. Finches are wonderful pets, because of their colorful personalities and the fact that they are a very hardy species of bird. These two types of finches, the Society and especially the Zebra will surprisingly raise the babies of other finches, even of the more rare species of Australian Grass Finches.

Determining Gender: There are several different ways to tell the difference between male and female Zebra Finches. Some species of finches may have a difference in appearance between male and female, while others look alike and can only be differentiated by their behavior, or the songs of the male bird. Male Zebra Finches tend to have a bright red beak, compared to a more orange color in the females. The males have orange patches on their cheeks, a black bar on their breast, stripes on their throat, and a chestnut flank with white spots. The female Zebra Finches don’t have these features and are gray in those areas. Young birds tend to have the markings of females, but with a black beak, until about the age of 90 days, when the adult colors and beak are usually evident.

Breeding Environment: The arrival of spring is when the breeding season begins. A compatible pair of Zebra Finches will mate in almost any environment. Some species of finches need a specific environment to have success at breeding. Some breeds need a large aviary with many other birds around, where some will do fine as a single breeding pair in an isolated breeding box. Zebra Finches tend to make good parents, and seldom have problems in raising their young. With Zebra Finches, the male and female share equally in the responsibility of raising their young. The male bird is the one who weaves the nest for the babies. It is a good idea to give him a supply of nesting materials in the cage or aviary, such as grasses, feathers, or finch nesting materials available for purchase in pet stores. After the female has laid her eggs, any excess materials should be removed so the male doesn’t cover up the eggs in his enthusiastic effort to make home improvements.

Nesting: Some finch species lay only two eggs, and other species lay as many as ten eggs. Zebra Finches tend to lay one egg every other day, with a total of four or five eggs in their clutch. The female is the one who spends most of her time sitting on the eggs, but the male will often keep her company, and relieve her so she can take food breaks and exercise. The eggs begin to hatch after twelve to eighteen days.

Chick Care: The adult birds will need access to calcium while the chicks are in the nest, which can be attained with high protein foods, or with cuttlebone. At around eighteen days, the chicks will start to get feathers and begin to leave the nest. They will be eating entirely on their own by about a month, and can be safely removed from their parents at this time. If the parents begin another nesting cycle before the babies are fully weaned, it may be necessary to separate the father and babies in a separate cage, as the father Zebra Finch will complete the job of feeding the chicks. After the babies are completely weaned, he can rejoin the female.

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