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 pâtée 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).
In countries with mild climatic conditions and ideal for our birds, this allows them to be reared outdoors or with sufficient light in a room thanks to the sun.
It is different in other countries and depending on the period or the breeder decides to mate his birds. Sometimes to make this period coincide with the holidays or others.
In this article, I describe solutions that I know to overcome the lack of light and give the right conditions to our birds according to the different periods of their life in our breeding rooms.
1. What lighting brings
Suitable artificial lighting can ensure the activation of vitamin D3 essential for the growth of young zebrafinch.
Vitamin D3 deficiency can result in a misshapen or limp beak or paw. Conversely, do not overdo the administration of vitamin supplements which will produce even more harmful effects.
2. What we are looking for when managing the light
This makes it possible to be able to breed in the unfavorable seasons to recreate the ideal conditions. Simulate in some ways at best which will stimulate the birds to reproduction or to rest.
In winter, prolonging the light can also give birds more time to feed in order to withstand low temperatures (I am thinking of the case of outdoor breeding).
Conversely, reducing the length of the day can help calm a bird. For example, an overly excited male who destroys the nest to start a new lay. Giving it a break in a dark place can temper it before another attempt.
The changes in brightness duration between 2 periods must be gradual. Too abrupt a change can cause false moult or unusual behavior. A change of 5 minutes per day is suitable. You will notice as changes in behavior, excitations during the increase of this duration.
3. Solutions to manage light
a) Cycle with 2 programmers and 1 night light
The most economical will be to use 2 programmers (mechanical or electronic) and a night light.