Let's first review the value of the word "Breed":
- Provide the care necessary for the development of someone, of an animal, from its birth to a certain point of completion: Breeding your young.
- Nourish, maintain its existence until it has acquired a certain strength.
- Feed and protect animals or plants to promote their development.
The zebra finch is naturally a formidable breeder. Laying, brooding and feeding go smoothly. The couple (both the female and the male) are enthusiastic about it, are completely busy raising their brood.
As an anecdote, I will always remember a father who after the loss of the mother, had given everything to finish raising their offspring. I have the image of this devoted male who could not take it any longer, who waver at the end of the day in front of me, but tirelessly continue to feed his young until weaning. I gave him all the care possible to support him during this period.
As you embark on a breeding season, here I give you some tips for preparing your zebra finches for the next few months.
Our birds are certainly easy to breed, but perhaps these are details that will encourage reluctant couples to breed or produce more fertilized eggs. This article does not pretend to give the method to prepare your zebra finches for a breeding season but simply to inform about a possible organization for an optimal breeding season. This is the one I put in place.
The selection of breeders was made at the end of the summer. The choice of couplings is of course essential, and always chosen according to the qualities to be improved and defects to be corrected in relation to the zebra finch sought, while trying to respect as much as possible the "rule" of chimmel couplings on intensive and vice versa. It will take the necessary time to form breeding pairs; many criteria must be taken into account depending on its objectives (show birds, working birds, carrier birds, etc.). It has happened that very good animals have not been mated because they have not found the perfect match. Better to be patient than to mate to “number”. Quality will always take precedence over quantity.
The young zebrafinch are now about three weeks old; seeking to escape the lack of space, the oppressive heat of the brood or simply wanting to discover the world, they will begin to emerge from the nest.
This outing is not definitive, as they still return for 2 to 3 days, but less and less often. Sometimes, when the young begin to grow up, one of them starts to fly out of the nest a few days before the expected release date, you can leave it out of the nest if conditions allow, the parents will continue to take care of it. If you need to put it back in the nest, place it gently preferably in the evening and keep your hand in front of the fly-off hole, until all the young have regained their calm.
One morning when all the young are out, the nest will be removed and cleaned before a new laying or in preparation for the next breeding season. The nest will be restored when the young are weaned and thus separated from their parents.
It is common for parents to start a new laying before the end of weaning the young. There are no rules on the matter: Sometimes the parents start hatching while taking care of the young that come out of the nest, sometimes they will pluck the young and stop taking care of them. It is up to the breeder to be attentive in his observations. At home, I prefer to remove the eggs laid on the ground to give them to another couple or to give them back to the couple after weaning when the timing allows.
The weaning period corresponds to the period when the young bird will learn to feed itself and thus acquire its autonomy. It is therefore a delicate period when it will be important to observe the birds so as not to make the mistake of separating a young person from his parents too early. Usually a young zebrafinch will be weaned around 35 days of life. Again, the observation is strict; and no need to take risks, it is a matter of a few days.
The young chicks were fed by their parents who regurgitated the seeds and/or mash that is distributed daily at this time. Now they must learn to peel the seeds and eat them alone. The sooner the chicks are self-sufficient, the sooner they will be weaned.
The parents themselves reduce the regurgitation of the pate.
But if young people feel the need they will go looking for it alone, it is easy to access food that will serve as a transition. In addition, some breeders provide young birds with sprouted seeds: These «soft» seeds are easy to peel and ingest. For my part, as soon as I leave the nest, the birds have at their disposal some millet in clusters (red and yellow that I alternate every day).
I chose to describe this day of October 15, 2020 because it is not like the others.
Indeed, it marks the beginning of breeding with the first births of gray zebrafinch in the 2020-2021 breeding season !
Eight pairs of grays mating since September 26 of this year.
Today, 3 couples have had births, 2 couples convent their fertilized eggs and 3 others have to re-lay after a "white" laying. The majority of this year’s breeders are primiparous, I do not hold them against this false start which can turn into an excellent season. As long as I observe well the behaviour of these young future parents (the younger ones are about 11 months old).
The zebrafinch gray is from the wild type.
It corresponds to the original type of Mandarin diamond. It is therefore strictly speaking not a mutation.
However, the gray zebrafinch we know to this day, is very different from its Australian ancestor. Following a selection by the breeders, the type, size and color of it have changed a lot.
Since gray is the basis of the mutations existing in the gray series (black breast gray, white breast gray, pale back gray, etc.), the rearing of this one is essential for the perennity of all these mutations.
The gray zebrafinch will thus "regenerate" all these mutations.
3. Who is gray breeding for ?
The breeding of the gray zebrafinch is recommended for beginners and can also become very exciting for the more experienced.
Indeed, despite an attraction at first glance less spectacular than a zebrafinch with orange or pastel colors, its breeding is even more interesting.
If you use this type of nest this trick can be useful.
Last year, a male regularly messed up or removed nest materials. Certainly with the aim of starting another brood.
The bottom of these nests being flat, the eggs were found scattered and therefore a risk of not being incubated was very possible.
So I looked for a solution to avoid this inconvenience. By trying out several types of concave shaped nest bottom, among others those in rope and coconut fiber, by incorporating them into the plastic nest. This male continued despite everything to want to remove these funds !
Then, I tried a white felt concave background that I taped to the nest.
My passion for breeding birds has been passed down to me from father to son. Indeed my grandfather, Italian origin, liked to breed pigeons and canaries for his pleasure. His children: My father and my uncles also have or raise birds (pigeons, straight beaks, canaries, hooks).
Later, one of my uncle sent me a photo (below) from 1970 showing my great-grandfather and grandfather proud in front of their dovecote. Dovecote which had been built on the land of the house where I was born.
I spent my childhood in Coulogne, a small town known for its many pigeon farms, the "Colombophiles Coulonneux". So after a youth "bathed" in the breeding of birds of all kinds, I discovered at the age of 12 the different colors of mandarin diamonds in books. A little later, around 14 years old, I was lucky enough to meet a zebrafinch finisher near my home known for his multiple world championship titles on display. He taught me the basics of genetics, gave me my first showroom zebrafinch, etc. What motivated me to go further !
I always marvel at the birth of young birds, which represents life… I also love everything that this passion teaches me: Patience and humility. Qualities that seem to me undeniable to progress in the selection of strains.