Hi, my name is Alistair, and my wife's name is Victoria. We started keeping finches just over 1 year ago. We were both new to keeping birds but we had read information in books and online beforehand to help prepare ourselves.

Originally we got two Zebra finches, one male called Darwin and one female called Florence, in November 2010. We bought the largest cage we could get at the time, 18" x 14" x 26", but soon up sized to a larger cage, as we thought the first cage seemed a bit small. The second cage was approximately 31" x 19" x 32".

We tried to discourage breeding, and removed eggs, replacing them with plastic ones, but the Zebras kept trying. We guessed they wanted company, but we wanted to control the population for the time being. Eventually, we decided to get two more finches in August 2011, but this time two Bengalese finches. We got a Chocolate Self called Donovan and a Fawn Pied called Luna. Originally we thought Donovan was a male and Luna was a female, but neither really did anything to give away either gender.

When they were finally combined, the finches got on well, the Zebras seemed excited and stopped trying to keep eggs. However, Zebras naturally get territorial and Bengalese are docile, so the Zebras chased the Bengalese every now and then. We regularly adjusted the inside of the cage to prevent the Zebras establishing territory, which helped for a week or so at a time.

The relationship was bizarre, neither Zebra would mess with Donovan, as he would just stand tall and tower over them both, but the Zebras would beak fight with Luna and she would just fly away. However, eventually Luna had had enough and thought back, finally resulting to holding onto the perch and flapping her wings while fighting back. This then resulted in the Zebras freaking out and standing down most of the time from then on in.

In September 2011 we moved house. Once we settled in, we found a nice bird shop and bought two Cherry finches and two more Bengalese finches. The Cherries were a female called Plum and a male called Orion, and the Bengalese were a female called Lilly and a male called Apollo. The new Bengalese were easy to sex as Apollo started singing within 24hrs of us buying him, and sang to Lilly non-stop all day.

Again, once it was time to combine the birds, we put the Zebras in the original cage and the original Bengalese with the new Bengalese and Cherries in the larger cage. This was only temporary while we bought two new large cages which were approximately 47” x 20” x 20”, and could be stacked. The finches then remained in the same groups but in the new cages. The cages were kitted out with silk leaves and silk vines along the back, and hay for the bottom. The finches were all very happy and got on well.

We then decided to give both cages some nests one in the Zebra cage and two in the Bengalese and Cherry cage, and soon found out that Donovan was in fact a female. Apollo decided to have eggs with Luna in one nest, then eggs with Donovan in the other nest one week later. In the meantime the Cherries decided to build their own nest out of the hay in the silk vines, directly above Donovan's nest.

Luna laid 6 eggs and Donovan laid 8 eggs, but we also found two random eggs on the bottom of the cage, so put them in Luna’s nest with her eggs. While we used to remove eggs to control the population, this time we let them keep the eggs to see what would happen, as we guessed the Cherries and Bengalese would have little success for their first time.

6 eggs in Luna’s nest hatched and a week later 6 eggs in Donovan’s nest hatched. Luna and Lilly teamed up to feed Luna’s chicks, while Donovan and Apollo fed Donovan’s. The Cherries were unsuccessful so we moved them out and put them in the other cage with the Zebras, who were also unsuccessful. The Zebras try to argue with the Cherries every now and then, but the Cherries are so surprisingly agile that they easily out manoeuvre them every time.

After a week, the first lot of chicks were strong enough to make quite a bit of noise, but two were clearly making a different noise to the rest. Eventually it turned out these two were in fact Cherries, most likely the two eggs we found on the cage floor.

It has now been nearly six weeks since the first six chicks hatched, and it has been nearly two weeks since Donovan’s six chicks fledged. Today, one of Luna’s chicks was practicing to sing. The chicks seem almost independent now, and the younger six are learning quicker and their older siblings. At most we hear begging occur once or twice a day, if ever now. Next week we plan on moving the Zebras and adult Cherries to the older large cage, and split the Bengalese finches between the two large stacked cages.

Many people ask if we plan on selling any of the young, but we're hoping to keep them all, possibly getting another large cage while we look at the idea of building an indoor aviary.
Caroline
2/23/2012 19:55:41

Facinating - I didn't know these little birds could be such characters - but I still prefer rabbits!

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