GET THEM TO EAT THE GOOD STUFF
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.
Lady Gouldian finches are notorious for being afraid of new things! A little patience and a few of these tips should help you convince them there is nothing better than trying new foods!
The easiest way to get your Goulds to eat
KEEP OTHER LESS FINICKY BIRDS IN THE AVIARY WITH THEM. Canaries, Society and Zebra finches are the easiest to care for and least likely to turn their beaks up at new foods. All three of these species are very curious and will almost immediately explore the new food dish and foods inside. The less trusting Goulds will watch their aviary mates and as soon as they realize there is no danger, will follow them to the dish every time!
Free Choice & Treat Cups
Offer your Goulds a single food at a time. Be certain it is fresh daily and give them very small amounts to avoid waste. If you place the food in a dish AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE IN THE CAGE, the birds will be more likely to look at it, pick around in the dish, and eventually eat the foods you've placed there.
Starting with boiled egg or an egg food mix is the easiest way to get them to try new foods. They adore clean, dry egg shells as a calcium source and will usually devour the shells first. Any boiled egg you offer them will soon be eaten as they pick through it for the shell. Greens should only be added a single leaf at a time to prevent intestinal issues such a diarrhea. Seed eating finches would only eat tiny amounts of greens in the wild anyway, so if they won't eat greens for you, chances are they don't "need" what's in them and should be supplemented other ways.
Mixing New Foods With Favorites
Sometimes mixing a favorite seed or food with the new food will get your birds close enough to the new food that they may try it. Of course favorite foods are often those they should only receive as a treat and on rare occasion, so this method should be used almost as a last resort. You don't want to make your birds fat just to get them to try a new food! That would be totally counter intuitive. The point of new foods should be to expand upon a sound nutritional program, not to entice your birds into the world of treats.
Patience & Consistency
One of the hardest things I've had to do with new bird keepers is explain that they must be CONSISTENTwith everything they do with the birds. In order to get your birds to eat what you want them to eat, you MUST be consistent in what you feed them, when you feed them, and how you feed them. If there is a specific food you want them to eat, offer it to them day after day until you see them eating it. But take note - they may NEVER eat that food. Don't be discouraged. Sometimes it's okay if they won't eat a particular food. Regardless of what some others may say, our birds have a good sense of what they actually need and what they don't. I have witnessed daily my birds telling me what they need. If there is something missing from their food dishes, they will hang over that dish until they catch my eye and see me preparing to replace that dish. If they require a nutrient that is missing from their diet, they show it through their feather quality, stance, droppings, and carriage. I watch as well as listen. I inspect their nutritional program for defects and add what is missing or take away what they don't need. If you can learn to actually "HEAR" (just because we listen doesn't mean we "hear") what your birds are telling you, you will see that sometimes what is offered in captivity will either do them no good, or is not something they "need".
Patience is a virtue with Gouldians. There is no such thing as instant gratification! Unless the breeder you purchased the birds from has been feeding his/her birds greens, pellets, or whatever it is you are trying to get them to eat, they will NOT eat it until they get used to that food. The only way to get them used to it is to put it "up in their grill" every single day. You must be consistent!
Do you see the pattern here? Once the birds become accustomed to your hands in the cage, the new food in the cage and the time they should expect it, they will slowly begin to come down to that food dish and actually nibble at those foods. Like Pavlov's Dogs, they'll learn the pattern and accept it!
Patience and consistency. Steady as she goes...easy does it...keep at it...DON'T GIVE UP!