Breeding with the Seasons….by James R. Casey

(NFSS – May/June 2000)

I would like to share with you some thoughts on breeding your finches. I am an apartment breeder and some of my techniques may not go along with some of you. I have found some major advantages to breeding finches with the seasons.

After reading many book, articles and documentaries about bird behavior I noticed some very distinct behavioral patterns develop with my flock. As I started to breed my exotic finches I noticed over time that finches breed best in the spring. Starting at late March and going until late August. It is the time of the year that their bodies prepare properly for the upcoming event. When I keep my finches resting during the winter I see them much drained from the breading season. Even if they have not been actually breading during this time. I find that during the winter they need to replace a lot of minerals especially calcium which I supplement in the drinking water with Calcivet from Vetafarms. Once late March arrives I put my breeding pairs in banks of breeding cages with external nesting boxes. I let each pair raise 3 separate clutches during this time period. After late August I put them back in the aviary with no nests whatsoever.

I noticed that when I had kept nests in my aviary it really put a lot of stress on the whole flock. When the finches notice a nest it appears this triggers a nesting cycle. My birds all seemed to weaken even more and caused a lot of feather pulling and pecking. Once I removed all the nests the flock began to calm way down and get along together. I am using my time now to let the flock recover and get ready to start it all again.

Everyone wants to have more exotic finches, but breeding all year for me actually lowered the yield of chicks. The way I have it figured now I can take one pair and breed them and at worst at 2 eggs per clutch x 3 clutches have 6 new members to my flock. I even had a case of 6 eggs per clutch x 3 clutches and have 18 young. When I left nests in my aviary all year I found a much, much lower increase. I would say 2 to 3 young raised successfully and my breeders totally drained and depleted all year.

I have read many a book that tells you some exotics need to breed in the winter and 3 separate time per year. I have not found this to be true. Until I started getting in sync with our seasons in the Unites States I had little success. I do not know how many others of you have the conditions I have. Statistically speaking from both a health standpoint and successful breeding with many healthy young and parents I urge you all to go with the flow!

Thank You,

James R. Casey

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