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Colony Breeding in Finches

Of all the birds I keep I do not colony breed. With the exception of two pair of Gouldians per flight everything else is bred in single pairs. This is not to say colonies don’t work, it is saying it is not necessary.

The example is that if you have five pairs of a particular species in an aviary at the end of the year do you really know

  • what has bred,
  • what has had two or three nests,
  • how many young has a particular pair bred,
  • and what has not bred.

If you breed single pairs of species per aviary you know exactly what has happened in a particular season.

The most likely scenario for people who breed a colony of a particular species with another colony of species is hybridization. If you lose the odd bird from one species and the odd bird from another species, the likelihood of these odd birds pairing with the other odd birds is far greater and the unwanted hybrids will come from these pairings. If you breed single pairs and you lose one bird of a pair you know this very soon and are able to rectify the situation by providing a new partner or removing the odd partner.

If you lose a particular bird, do not be afraid to introduce a new partner because pair bonding only lasts until a new partner is introduced. A lot of people say finches pair for life, this is not true, as I have found in my experience if a bird is healthy and fit and loses its partner, it does not spend the rest of its life alone but will take the first mate that comes along.

Finches all over the world usually are a flock bird from just a few pairs to maybe flocks of hundreds or even thousands. If in the flock situation, a hawk or another predator attacks that flock and kills a bird, does the surviving partner of that bird take a new mate or does it not. I say it does.

In addition to this, if you have a particular pair that are bonded but are not breeding for example they may not be laying fertile eggs or just not really compatible, if you break that pair and put them with new partners this will be okay as long as you move the original pair as far away from each other as possible because an adjoining flight is not far enough. They will still sit side by side at the wire, but removed from each other and given new partners this will almost certainly prove fruitful for at least one of the pair. You will then be in a position to work out which of the birds was the problem as far as breeding goes.

In the single pair situation if a species breeds it is then up to the breeder as to how long the birds stay in with the parents. Early in the season I choose to take the young out of the aviary at least after the second nest has flown. This is obviously long enough for the birds to be with their parents as the parents’ attention goes to the new brood. It is not really a matter of 5-6 weeks as a standard, but when the parents have fledged the second nest. Towards the end of the season I will leave the young in with the parents longer, if overcrowding is not a problem. Of all the birds I keep, I don’t have any that are aggressive towards the previous young birds. Most times the previous young are removed from the parents sooner rather than later, to avoid the young being a distraction to the parents going back to nest if the parents have not already done so.

In the colony how do you ever work this out?

The colony young cannot be identified as positively as the young from a single pair. This is important for making up future pairs. It is very difficult to establish their parentage and blood lines if you don’t know exactly who the parents are.

2 Responses to “Colony Breeding in Finches”

  1. HAMMER Says:

    Hi i agree with all that is said here, excep’t when you haven’t got the room to have avairys all over the place, so what do u do, you get a semi large cage and have ago at colony breeding, i have a mixed colony of seven differnt types of spieces of finches, im not saying it’s easy but if your dedecated and get to know your birds and keep records it is very rewarding…. great site keep up the good work…cheers Mark

  2. S.Deeth Says:

    I have kept and bred finches for nearly 20 years and have had success breeding finches in both the colony situation and as single pairs.

    I have found with some varieties such as Longtails that they breed better in a colony situation.
    I tried for over 2 years with single pairs of Longtails with no results however as soon as i put 3 pairs in together they started breeding immediately and havent stopped since. I have found that in a colony situation Longtails are as easy to breed as Zebras , i feed no livefood only finch mix , egg and biscuit and seeding grasses.

    I also love seeing the way Longtails interact with each other in a colony situation.

    I do agree with the context of your article though it is much harder to keep records of the offspring in a colony situation.

    Hope this helps anyone who is struggling to breed this beautiful australian finch.

    Great site Cheers Scott

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