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About this blog

Well, I got my first 6 finches at Stafford in October - just before my birthday - I didn't know that I wanted to take up bird keeping as a hobby but there it was - my birthday present! My partner used to keep budgies but gave them up when he got divorced but wanted to get back into the hobby. His thoughts - if he has budgies and I have finches I can clean out his cages when I do mine (a typical man!). So there I was, the proud owner of 2 cock and 4 hen zebra finches.

I spent the next few weeks looking up genetics, colour variations, diet, breeding advice and anything else I could read - if anyone had told me a year ago - even 2 months ago - that my spare time would be spent googling finch information I would not have believed them!

I joined the Zebra Finch Society and have ordered my rings for birds born next year so am carefully keeping males and females separate until December - I don't want any accidents! (I am a family planning nurse - I am fully aware that accidents happen!!)

Today we trekked up North and acquired another 10 cocks and 10 hens, I'm not sure that we meant to end up with that many................

I'm now studying the birds I have for colours, shape etc to make sure that I make up the best possible pairs. I bought a set of 8 breeding cages so will just put down 8 pairs at first - but which ones........ I'm very excited to see what comes out!

My partner will be building me an outdoor aviary ready for the spring, I am very excited to see it al come together. We are imminently going to move house (solicitors permitting) and so the new bird room has been made and dismantled in kit form so it can be reassembled in a few hours - very exciting.

I tried to upload some pictures but my compute crashed! Maybe another day.........

 

 

 

Entries in this blog

 

bird room finished!

We moved into our house 6 months ago and have worked hard since then. We have hardly touched the house but the garden and bird house have had a lot of tie and effort spent on them. Before we moved we were planning on a bird house approx. 8x6'. When we first moved we had to set the birds up in the garage - far from ideal but they were OK. Before we got around to building out smallish bird house we saw a shed being sold off which was perfect, just a bit bigger - well, a lot bigger to be precise - 24 x 12' in fact!. We had to hire a 7.5 ton truck, drive to Sandwich (Kent, 4 hours away) dismantle the shed - which was still full of bird cages, seed etc, etc. The shed was fully lined and insulated and the deal was we took everything away with us! We left at 5am, had dismantled and loaded up by 3pm, home by 7 then an hour to unload and then had to return the van. A long day. Before we could begin to reassemble the shed we had to do some major ground works, levelling the garden and digging down so the 12" sleepers that the shed stands on could be buried. For a long time our back garden was a patch of bare earth and mud. Over the next few weeks we painted and reassembled the shed and Steve wired it all up so there are plenty of lights, sockets, extractors etc. Steve is a perfectionist so it is all done to a very high standard. Eventually, about 1 month ago we moved the birds in. They were instantly happier in a light, airy environment. It is easy to clean and a joy to be out there. Over the past month we have been working on the outside flights and today the birds had their first taste of outside sunshine, they were a joy to watch. I have recently diversified with finches other than just zebras and now have some silver bills, owls, gouldians, diamond firetails, hecks grassfinches and masked grassfinches (may favourite). The masked grassfinches are the boldest and were quickly out exploring the outside world.

Penny W

Penny W

 

fledglings

My first proper round of babies are beginning to leave the nest now. The chick in the picture is pure white (smudge from camera lens over left eye!) - no tear mark - parents are both CFW (Shame my camera has a black mark in the centre of the lens!)  

Penny W

Penny W

 

expanding outlook

This bird keeping hobby is taking over! Today we went to a bird sale and came back with a pair of Bicheno (owl) finches and a pair of firetails. Both beautiful birds, this is for our aviary scheduled to be up and running this spring, oh, and I managed to acquire 6 more zebras - not quite sure how ;-) The pair of finches I put down as I left for holiday had one egg (from 5) hatch yesterday - no others have hatched so I'm thinking they may be no good - well, one baby, 2 parents, it should be well looked after!

Penny W

Penny W

 

a newbies view

About this blog Well, I got my first 6 finches at Stafford in October - just before my birthday - I didn't know that I wanted to take up bird keeping as a hobby but there it was - my birthday present! My partner used to keep budgies but gave them up when he got divorced but wanted to get back into the hobby. His thoughts - if he has budgies and I have finches I can clean out his cages when I do mine (a typical man!). So there I was, the proud owner of 2 cock and 4 hen zebra finches. I spent the next few weeks looking up genetics, colour variations, diet, breeding advice and anything else I could read - if anyone had told me a year ago - even 2 months ago - that my spare time would be spent googling finch information I would not have believed them! I joined the Zebra Finch Society and have ordered my rings for birds born next year so am carefully keeping males and females separate until December - I don't want any accidents! (I am a family planning nurse - I am fully aware that accidents happen!!) Today we trekked up North and acquired another 10 cocks and 10 hens, I'm not sure that we meant to end up with that many................ I'm now studying the birds I have for colours, shape etc to make sure that I make up the best possible pairs. I bought a set of 8 breeding cages so will just put down 8 pairs at first - but which ones........ I'm very excited to see what comes out! My partner will be building me an outdoor aviary ready for the spring, I am very excited to see it al come together. We are imminently going to move house (solicitors permitting) and so the new bird room has been made and dismantled in kit form so it can be reassembled in a few hours - very exciting. I tried to upload some pictures but my compute crashed! Maybe another day.........

Penny W

Penny W

 

My first babies

I'm on holiday, left my birds with my stepson. Today he sent me a picture of my first 2 babies with their parents, fledged and doing well. Very pleased with them. My partner thinks probably clock birds, how long before this is obvious?

Penny W

Penny W

 

One week later

Last week we looked at possible pairings for the finches, think we have made the right decision - but plenty of time to change our minds - have moved them into different cages - double breeding cages, currently got 2 hens in one side and 2 cocks in the other with a solid divider between. Mind you, today I found one of the cocks peeking around the end of the divider to see the hens - and one of the hens flirting back! I don't want them breeding quite yet as I want to use my 2016 zfs rings when I get them in January. We have put one pair together (because I'm inpatient) and we want to see what we get crossing our black cheek hen with a normal grey cock. Nice nest built - nothing in it yet though! I'll keep checking......

Penny W

Penny W

 

Flu! (human, not bird!)

Having moved house my body decided that the stresses involved in house moving were too much and my body has gone into meltdown. For the past week I have been almost bedridden with high fevers and feeling rubbish, when I have a window of feeling slightly better I pop out to the birds, check a few cages, then collapse back into my bed - it's rubbish! Steve has been working hard - at his job, then DIY around the new house and keeping on top of the birds, I just hope he doesn't catch this bug off me. Anyway this weekend in a 'better' hour we set up a new cage for all my fledglings. They seem very happy - I have two more to move in with them in the next couple of weeks, I have 2 nests of chicks that have just been rung then another 5 pairs with eggs due to hatch in the next week or so. I had 2 nests of chicks last week - of similar ages (luckily). Steve suddenly noticed the cock bird in one cage was trying to take nesting into the box, he looked in - the 2 babies (there were only 2, the other 3 eggs were clear) had been completely buried, their crops were empty so he removed them and put them with the other babies where - one week on they are doing well. I was dying of my virus at that time so would never have noticed I would have attached a picture of my fledglings setting into their new cage but it appears the file is too big and I can't work out how to make it smaller!

Penny W

Penny W

 

too many cocks spoil the show team!

I have bred some lovely zebras this year, the problem is only 2 of them are hens! The 2 hens are fawns, the cocks are normal and penguin so it looks like I won't have any current year pairs to show. I've just put some more pairs down so fingers crossed ....... I have had a frustrating time with some of my other finches too. I have one pair of Hecks who have had 2 rounds, each round they have fed the babies until they have feathers, then they stop feeding them and the babies die. They currently have 6 eggs so I have taken some of them away and put them under Bengalese. I don't want to foster but I thought I didn't want to watch 6 babies starve to death! I have a pair of diamond firetails, the first round they abandoned the nest a few days before the eggs were due to hatch. The second round I took 2 eggs and put them under a young pair of Bengalese and left 2 eggs with them. They abandoned the nest again so their two eggs didn't hatch, the first one that hatched under the Bengalese seemed to take them by surprise and they didn't feed it, the second one they looked after beautifully - until 2 weeks old when I removed the dummy eggs that were still in the nest which obviously upset them and they abandoned the poor chick. (Lesson learnt - don't change anything in the nest.) My pair of cherry finches hatched 4 and fed none, my timors laid eggs and sat on them for a while, but it obviously got boring so another abandoned nest. I did manage to get a clutch of gouldians to 7 weeks old before one died, and then another died a few weeks later (no idea why). I have another nest with 2 gouldian chicks, now 18 days old but today when I checked the box, one was dead with an empty crop, the other appears to still be being fed. I am also trying to breed some more Bengalese but they don't seem to want to lay eggs - maybe I have sexed them wrong and I have all cocks! My masked grassfinches and owl finches have never laid either. I'm hoping the masked grassfinches might breed in the summer outside in the flight. Here's hoping for a more positive next update to this blog!

Penny W

Penny W

 

There is an egg!

Well, today there was an egg in the nest box - but neither finch was in there and it felt quite chilled - is this normal?? Should they not be making an effort to keep the egg warm?? Or do they not incubate until they have laid the whole clutch??

Penny W

Penny W

 

Not a great day

Today I attended the funeral of a 48 year old work colleague, a distressing time. So nice to get home and spend some time with the birds. Very therapeutic cleaning cages, replacing seed and water etc. (I never would have believed this 3 months ago!) My 'couple' are still busy incubating their 4 eggs - they stopped laying 2 days ago so I'm expecting news in about a fortnight (I think)  

Penny W

Penny W

 

and there are more....

I started my zebra collection with 6 -  this has now increased to 38 (I think - but they don't sit still!). Every time we go out we seem to acquire a few more! Last week I paired my best birds and now have 5 boxes with eggs! Tho original pair that I put together laid their first egg 2 weeks ago - I was worried as they didn't seem to want to incubate, however once there were 4 eggs they incubated and today, less than 2 weeks after the last egg I have a chick! I thought it took longer but there is a live chick being fed by the parents. Just waiting to see if the other 3 eggs are good. I have ordered a special torch for checking the eggs but it has not arrived yet - the birds have beaten technology! I'll be interested to see what chicks I get from my first pairing - black cheek he with normal cock. Bit early to tell just a few hours after hatching!! My partner has now paired his budgies too so we are setting up a busy maternity unit! Life is going to be busy in the next few weeks.

Penny W

Penny W

 

Stranger in the camp

I was sold a bird last week and told it was a white, black faced cock. I didn't really want it, but it came as half of a pair, the hen being a normal which is what I was looking for. I'm not convinced it is a cock - to the extent that I have put him/her in my cage of hens and he/she is not creating havoc! I posted a picture on some facebook pages and the general consensus is that it is a hen, possibly grey cheek cfw. Anyone else got any good ideas?

Penny W

Penny W

 

good news, and bad, and more good news

Well, three of the four eggs hatched but yesterday one of the chicks was dead in the nest, it was well fed but appeared to have been flattened by the parents :-( The last egg is still in the nest - should I remove it or wait until the parents throw it out?? Of my other pairs I now have 6 pairs with eggs 27 eggs so far! Our candling torch has arrived and it appears that most of the eggs are fertile, maybe I should have ordered more than 20 ZFS rings!! My finches are definitely doing better than my partners budgies - of 10 pairs he put down only 4 have started laying    

Penny W

Penny W

 

moving house

Well, last week saw us moving house. No mean feat with a shed full of birds! Fortunately we were able to get access to the garage the night before the official moving date so we moved the birds then. That night I had a dream that one of the cages of budgies had managed to escape.  My partner went to the  new house with a van load of stuff,  opened the garage door - and out flew a budgie! My dream had been true! The rest of the birds had survived the move and we even had 2 finches and 1 budgie hatch that night . Later that day one of our new neighbours came round asking if we had lost a budgie as one had moved into his conservatory when he had popped into the garden! We were planning on erecting our bird house this weekend.  My partner had made it in flat pack form but the weather had other ideas! They will have to stay in the garage for another week! I have recently paired some more finches, one of which was a white finch, sold to me as a cock bird, but I wasn't convinced!  I paired him/her up with a definite cock and this weekend The pair have started laying!  I think maybe I was right!  

Penny W

Penny W

 

Show time

I decided I ought to take my birds to a show, to see how they compare so entered a few pairs into the ZFS show in Barry last month. I didn't win anything but my normal were placed in a large class which was nice for me. My lightbacks were my best pair in my eyes - but there were only 2 in that class so coming second didn't really tell me whether they are good or not (the pair that came first went on to win one of the top prizes). This weekend it was our local bird club show so Steve and I entered birds, Steve entered 7 budgies, I entered 8 pairs of zebras and 6 Australian finches. A very successful outing, all my birds were placed - except for the lightbacks who were 'wrong classed' as silvers (which they are not!). I admit none of the classes were particularly big - there were 9 entries in the gouldian class so it was very pleasing to come first in that. I came away with prize money, a trophy and 5 rosettes! A good day out. I spent a nice day yesterday cleaning out all my breeding cages as nearly all the birds are in the big flights now getting fit and ready for the breeding season. I just have 1 nest of zebras, 3 nests of Bengalese, one pair of Hecks and 1 pair of firetails with eggs at the moment. The Bengies are just starting to hatch - I wait and see whether the others have good eggs or not. The Hecks have not built their nest in the nest box but under the little table that I put their food on so there is no way of checking them without major disruption! I spotted at least 2 eggs a week ago when they both came out to feed. I will have to listen out for chicks! (not sure if I will be able to get them to ring them).

Penny W

Penny W

 

Thinking about next year

Well, I paid my subs for the ZFS again and have ordered my rings ready for January, so now it's time to think about who will produce my youngsters! I spent last week sorting out all my stock, I have a few youngsters that were born in July, August and September so I returned them to their respective flights. I then sorted the cocks and hens into 'mine' and those bought in. This weekend I sorted out all my breeding cages while observing my birds to decide who should pair with who (referencing my book to ensure I didn't go for close relatives - thank goodness for records!) By last night I had  13 pairs of zebras down, also 2 pairs of Hecks and 1 pair of star finches. Up until now the only finch other than zebras that I have successfully managed to breed are Bengalese so I await results - the star finches and one pair of hecks are proven pairs who have bred before (for someone else). I have increased my finch collection with some Timors - so have had to order some smaller rings! We are planning to put one or 2 pairs down but the trouble is we don't know how old they are - we were told they are this years birds so may be too young. We are planning on putting some nest boxes around in the 'foreign' flight to see whether some of them may breed in that environment. We visited an amazing set up on Saturday (featured in an August edition of Cage and Aviary) which has got us wondering if we can enclose and insulate our outside flight so they can have the space all winter. Watch this space!! We have decided to put a conservatory on the back of our house so we can sit and watch the birds in all weathers which will be nice. Its amazing to think that I only got my fist birds just 14 months ago, I now have probably about 130 representing 10 different species! Oops - my hobby is taking over!  

Penny W

Penny W

 

0-170 in less than 2 years!

If anyone had mentioned bird keeping to me 2 years ago I would have been surprised, it was not something I had ever considered. However, my partner had previously kept budgies and had a hankering to get back into the hobby. He took a sly approach by taking me to Stafford in October 2015 and buying me half a dozen zebra finches for my birthday the following week! - a cunning ploy! Anyway I embraced the hobby but never really thought that I would get too involved. I remember Emmy commenting on one of my earliest blogs that 6 zebras will soon become more! How right she was! Advance the clock 22 months and yesterday I caught up all my birds to list them and count them all. The grand total 169!! (that does not include Steve's 90 budgies and the 8 quail!)10 varieties of finch. Some of which I have had successes with, some of which are proving to be a challenge! I have 80 zebras but my breeding results have not been good at all, lots of normal cocks and one normal hen, good lightback cocks but no matching hens. I have done quite well with penguins but would struggle to find a show pair. Fortunately I will be on holiday for the ZFS show in September so I won't hunt around for a few pairs to show, I will try and support our local CBS show in October though. I have sorted out my potential breeding team for next year so have birds to go - but not matching pairs as I don't have any! I made a decision earlier this year that I was not going to keep CFWs so have been a bit annoyed that my lightback pair have given me 3 CFW hens! They are nice birds though so I should be able to sell them at Stafford this October.

Penny W

Penny W

 

And then there were 4!

There are now 4 eggs and one or both of the finches is in the nest box at all times. Fingers crossed that the eggs are fertile. Time will tell. We are off to the Welsh National Show this weekend, just to see what is out there. This finch hobby is a bit addictive!  

Penny W

Penny W

 

experimenting with mutations

I may be new to this game but I am trying to get on top of different mutations, I like the penguins, and have a pair, but they are both quite small so I have paired them with better sized birds with the view to next year crossing the babies and getting some bigger penguins (well, that is the plan). Last weekend I managed to acquire a large penguin cock and have paired him up - but so far, no eggs - we'll see. I also have several split black cheek chicks - with the intention of breeding some of my 'own' black cheeks next year. I know it will be a long journey, if my understanding of genetics is right by crossing 2 splits I should get 25% pure, 50% split and 25% who are not carrying the recessive gene. One chick I have from 2 normal looks like it may turn out to be a black cheek, meaning both parents must be split. I need to wait for him/her to moult out to be sure.

Penny W

Penny W

 

my growing babies

Bearing in mind that 6 months ago I would never have believed that I would own zebra finches I am really please with the way my babies are colouring up, hopefully I can upload some pictures

Penny W

Penny W

 

update

When I started my blog I had half a dozen finches (late last year). Emmy commented that 6 often turns into many more, well yesterday I had a count up - 84 plus 6 tiny chicks and several eggs being incubated! Hmm, time for a bit of a sort out methinks! Our new bird house and aviary is taking shape in the garden, can't wait until it is up and running, we might need a bigger one before we move in if I'm not careful!  

Penny W

Penny W

 

I'm a Granny (sort of)

12 months ago I had no idea that I would own any birds, in fact if anyone had told me I wouldn't have believed them! BUT, in October I got my first birds. I was impatient to pair up and put one pair down too early to use 2016 ZFS rings. The net result was 2 chicks, only one of those survived. I put a split ring on him so I knew which one he was. Anyway, I paired him up a few weeks ago, result 6 fertile eggs, 2 hatched yesterday and one today (but that baby was dead and the parents through it out), so 3 eggs to go, but whether they hatch or not, I'm still a granny to 2 chicks! (Proud Granny moment!!). The birds in the big flight have been enjoying the outdoors, I shut them in at night (with a little persuasion). I haven't let them out the last few days - it's been so windy I think they would have been blown off the perches! Roll on next summer!

Penny W

Penny W

 

12 new finches, but some losses too

Today I got 12 new finches (none of which were zebras I'm afraid). We have had 2 bicheno (owl) finches since December and although they built a lovely nest and spent a lot of time in it, they never laid an egg which got me wondering if they were both male. Last weekend when talking to a breeder of bichenos he said to sex them put them in separate cages so they cannot see each other but can hear each other. Males will start to sing very quickly. We caught them up and took them down to the house to watch and listen - the budgies in the bird house drown out finch singing! Within a couple of minutes both birds were singing their hearts out. Our assumption was right - both males! Today we went and got 2 hens (we hope). We also bought 5 pairs of bengalese to use as fosters after a week when my best hen and her mate hatched 5 eggs which they did not feed so they all died.  The other finches we bought today were another pair of gouldians as the 2 we have don't seem to like each other! The new ones have settled in well and the new cock seems to prefer the original hen and the original cock seems to prefer the new hen so maybe in the future we will manage to breed some of our own. When checking my nest boxes today my best penguin cock was dead in the box with his 3 chicks. Mum appears distracted looking for him and does not appear to be feeding the chicks who a 3 weeks old and have just left the nest box. If she doesn't feed them would I get away with sneaking the chicks into other nests of chicks? Hopefully overnight she will understand she is now a single mum. Fingers crossed.

Penny W

Penny W

 

All change!

I keep my hen and cock zebras in separate flights. So far it is has been the hens, and the foreigns having access to the outside flight. Today it was time for a swap. the flight cages are designed so this swap can be done without having to catch all the birds so it was just a case of encouraging the hens into one long flight cage and the cocks into another then opening different doors and voila - their accommodation is swapped over. It didn't take the cocks long to realise they could go out into the fresh air which they seemed to really enjoy - and they put themselves to bed when it got dark, I didn't have to chase them back in like I do the hens. The widowed hen has worked out that it is her who needs to feed the chicks so they seem to be doing OK. They won't go into the nest box but as it is not cold I'm not too bothered by that

Penny W

Penny W

 

New Year, new chicks

Having paired up in early December we went on our Christmas sunshine holiday leaving the birds in the charge of my stepson. When we left I had 21 fertile zebra eggs, I also had a nest of Hecks eggs and my star finches had just started to lay. I awaited my return from holiday - and my ZFS rings - with anticipation. We got back on Thursday afternoon and, after a much needed cuppa headed out to the bird house to see what was going on. There had been quite a lot of clear eggs and chicks not being fed but I had 9 zebra chicks, one nest of 4, one of 2 and 3 singletons. They were getting quite big so I was glad to see my rings arrive on Friday - 8 chicks were rung then and the 9th was big enough today. As well as zebra chicks I had 1 Hecks chick and 5 good star finch eggs. I spent the weekend doing a good clean up of the flights etc as my stepson does food and water but isn't so hot on the mucking out! I don't clean out breeding cages while birds are sitting so didn't go near my star finches but something appeared to have disturbed them as all the time I was in there they were staying out of the nest box. By the evening the eggs were quite cool so I decided to swap them with a nest of clear zebra eggs. By the next morning the zebra eggs with the star finches were stone cold indicating that the stars were still not sitting, the star eggs were lovely and warm. Yesterday afternoon one of the star finches hatched, the question was, will the zebras feed it?? By this morning it was dead and another had hatched, by tonight another had hatched and the one that hatched overnight was still alive - were they feeding it?? I guess tomorrow morning will tell. I now have some fertile gouldian eggs and 2 more nests of Hecks eggs, my silver bills have also laid but I think their eggs are clear. I'm looking forward to seeing how I do with the other finches, although they seem to give more challenges than zebras. I bred some Bengalese at the end of last year so next winter breading season I will put down some pairs as possible fosters although I would like birds to be parent reared if possible. Time will tell.

Penny W

Penny W

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