Finches are such small living things with delicate bodies and sensitive systems, and yet in the wild and in their natural habitat they survive under all kinds of conditions. The difficulty we have is to emulate the natural conditions by providing the right accommodation, food, temperature, humidity etc. and that is probably why many things can go wrong. And yet there are many highly successful finch breeders who have learnt how to care well for their finches and who have been successful season after season.
Here is a quick checklist for beginner finch breeders:
Why do finches have health problems?
a) illness has not been identified
b) new stock had not been quarantined.
c) new stock has not been given enough chance to acclimatize.
d) birds are not weaned slowly onto a new diet and different water.
e) over crowding causes stress and birds coming into close contact with other birds’ faeces.
f ) strict hygiene is not applied.
g) an aviary is not suitable; damp, drafty, too hot or too cold.
h) birds in a mixed collection may not be compatible.
2. Why do birds fight?
a) too many birds in one
b) species are incompatible.
c) there are not enough hiding places for timid species.
d) there are not enough food and water dishes.
e) there are too many cocks or too many hens.
f) there are not enough nest sites.
3. Why do they not go down?
a) no stimulation eg. introducing an
mate, nest, breeding diet etc.
b) birds are of same sex.
c) birds are too old or too young, or incompatible.
d) they prefer a bird/s in the ad joining aviary.
e) they are disturbed by other birds, humans or pets.
f) the conditions in and the size of the aviary is not to their liking
4. Why do eggs not hatch?
a) eggs are infertile – one or both
parent birds may be infertile or
inexperienced in mating.
b) birds may be weak or ill or perches may be loose.
c) birds may be temporarily sterile as a result of having been given medication.
d) parents deserted the nest so embryos got cold and died; a number of factors can disturb brooding birds and cause them to desert their eggs.
e) conditions are too dry; certain levels of humidity are necessary.
5. Why do young die in the nest?
a) the diet is inappropriate,
inadequate or inconsistent.
b) most finches stop brooding chicks at ten days of age and they would die during a cold night
c) parents are inexperienced eg. squashing chicks.
d) nest exposed to excessive heat.
e) ants or mites, mice or cockroaches have invaded the nest.
f) nest checks disturb the birds.
g) humidity too high causing fungal outbreak.
h) sudden diet change.
6. Why do chicks leave the nest prematurely?
There are many factors that cause this, from an overcrowded nest to any kind of change in the routine or nest situation. The important advice is not to place the chick/s back into the nest as it will only disturb the rest of the chicks. Bring them inside for the night, do not artificially heat them, and release them into the aviary the following morning. Parents normally resume feeding.
In order to overcome problems with finches, the owner needs to follow basic rules, such as strict hygiene and proper housing and feeding. He should get to know the normal behavior of his birds, so that anything abnormal can be spotted immediately and the resulting problem be prevented.
Reference: Kingston , Russell ”Here’s to good health”, Australian Birdkeeper Oct/Nov 1996.