Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Unsuccessful Breeder Finches

Q: I have a pair of zebra finches that I have been trying to breed. They lay eggs but do not hatch them. They sit on the eggs for little more than a week then they build a new nest on top of the old and lay again. Will they ever successfully raise young? What can I do?

zebra finches

A: One can never say if a pair of birds will succeed in raising young, but there may be a solution to your problem of the pair's continual nest building and egg laying. Many zebra finch pairs seem to prefer to build nests and lay eggs over and over again without sitting long enough to hatch and raise their young. This is a situation that is not all that uncommon with zebra finch pairs, you are not the only person to find their pair "stuck" in the building and laying mode. The pair will build a nest, lay eggs, sit for a few days then build another nest right over the previously built nest and eggs. This can be done several times until there is no longer any more room in the nest or the old nests are removed by you or tossed out by the finches.

The possible solution to the problem is relatively an easy one, but it can mean more work for you when you clean the cage. After the pair has completed building their nest and the first egg is laid, remove all nesting material from the cage. Removing all material also includes the paper used to line the cage floor. If the pair does not have material to build a nest, chances are good that once the clutch's completely laid they will incubate them to full-term and hatch their eggs. Make sure at this point they have plenty of good food to feed their newly hatched chicks. These good foods would include nesting and egg foods, greens, veggies, soaked and sprouted seeds, etc.

Since you have removed the paper cage lining, you will need to scrub the cage floor instead of just changing the paper. This will be more work for you, but the outcome will be worth the extra effort. Some people replace the paper lining with a thick sheet of plastic. By having two sheets they can replace the soiled one with a clean sheet then scrub the dirty lining. The plastic sheeting protects the cage floor and makes housekeeping easier on the owner.

After the chicks get a little older and the danger of being covered by new nest construction is over, the paper can be placed back on the cage floor. By this time the parents should be too busy caring and feeding the young to build another nest. If you do replace the floor lining with paper, keep a close eye on the nest to make sure the parents do not try to cover their chicks with nesting material.

With some pairs, they seem to abandon the layer nest thing after they raise their first clutch. With other pairs you will need to continue to remove all materials that could be used to build another nest once the first egg is laid. Zebra finch pairs are individuals, and each pair should have their "special" nests met to ensure their breeding success.

There are a few things that you might want to keep in mind for your zebra pair. Even though zebras will lay eggs at a very young age, that does not mean they should be permitted to breed at a very young age. It is better for the parents and their offspring if they are mature before they are bred. Many people mistakenly believe that just because zebras are small birds that they should be housed in small cages. Since they are active little birds, it would be a better idea to give them a larger cage to raise their young and exercise. Changing the cage size can often be the solution to any problems, such as unsuccessful breeding or feather picking.

The full wicker nest is often the nest style used to raise many finches. This nest style makes it very difficult to inspect the nest and know what is going on. It is just about impossible to get your hand into the wicker nests to check or band the young. If the pair will accept a box style with an access door or lid nest, inspection is made easier for both the breeder and the birds.