For more than a decade (depending on length of time any particular species was kept), I’ve tracked everything from seed hulls to water intake and have referenced the water intake for normal, healthy birds – several species.
A Fortified finch mix is a fine start for Gouldian finches, but they do require additional nutrients. Because I want my birds to have foods closest to that they would find in nature, I hand-mix my feed. I realize it is not always practical for the average bird keeper to do so. The Nutrition link will give you many options for feeding your birds, whether they are the family pets or you intend to breed them for sale.
Things you may potentially see in the aviary - what to watch for, how to avoid and prevent.
Only purchase quality, robust birds from a reputable breeder. The better the birds, the more likely they will remain healthy! Along with excellent care, where you purchase your birds and the quality of the birds you select can make a huge difference in how well they flourish. See the Tips page for more information on what to look for when purchasing birds and how to quarantine new arrivals.
Exercise is key! Gouldian finches are inherently low-key, sedate and peaceful birds. They don't bop around like the average Zebra or Society finch and, therefore, have a tendency to become overweight and sedentary if not given the appropriate amount of space and incentive to exercise.When I first started keeping birds, I watched them for hours. I realized that they were unable to actually "fly" in the standard cages you find in pet stores. The more time I spent watching them, the more I realized they truly needed a larger space. I have since provided my birds with the largest cages I can afford. Outside of breeding season, they are housed in large 5' long flight cages with a minimal number of birds with which to compete for flight and perch space.
Remembering that finches require more horizontal space than vertical. Their cage should give them ample room to utilize their wings - in other words, a long flight of at least 30" is best for a pair. My own Goulds spend hours flying in circles in their large flight cages. I will, however, use slightly smaller cages (no less than 24") as breeders when my larger breeding cages are full or if I have to set up a hospital cage.
As incentive to exercise, I occasionally hang spray millet from the center of the cage where they will have to perform acrobatics in order to obtain their treat. I also offer live fruit tree branches and/or palm branches to climb on regularly. The branches give them something to pick at and exercise their feet and legs while keeping them active. Skewer-type food hangers also force them to exercise. As a special treat, I'll sometimes roll apples in a little bit of peanut butter, then in Niger seed and impale them on the skewer and hang it smack dab in the middle of the cage. I Do NOT recommend giving them peanut butter too often. It is very fattening...but it IS a hoot to watch the juveniles try to get to it!
Click the Housing link for additional information on housing your birds!
HEALTH & HUSBANDRY - MAIN
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.
This link takes you to the breeding condition page where this topic is explained a bit more.
Now THIS is a topic for debate! I will concede that light, heat and humidity are extremely important, however, the high heat and humidity many breeders say the Goulds need is not necessarily true. Many breeders keep their birds in areas that allow the birds to adjust to the outdoor temperature and humidity levels of the climates in which they are breeding them. In my humble opinion, this is the best way to keep the birds! Purchasing birds from these breeders allows the average hobbyist to keep birds in their home without the need for expensive equipment or having high heat bills!Humidity plays a large roll in the health of skin and feathers, and is important for a successful breeding season. See the Housing and Breeding pages for more information.
"Often, those least experienced in bird-keeping have the greatest success with Gouldians because they have not yet learned how to pamper their birds and have not added too many other birds to their collections to produce detrimental personality clashes."
Henry Bates and Robert Busenbark, 1970
Quarantine is an integral part of any flock program. New birds should always be kept away from your current flock until you are relatively certain they do not harbor parasites or illnesses that can be spread to your established flock.
QUARTERLY - or at very least twice per year - your birds should be run through preventive maintenance quarantine procedures. Follow this link for detailed information about this topic.
There are many potential dangers in your home, and even in the bird's cage! Just a few are listed here, but it will give you an idea of what to look for and how to remedy the situation. You'll find a list of items you should keep on hand in case of emergencies.
Is it really that difficult to raise Lady Gouldian Finches?
Well, let's put it this way...how difficult do you want it to be? It will depend on where you acquired your birds, but Goulds require little more than the average finch to keep. It's all a matter of perspective and in how you (or the breeder) treat them in your home! There are many breeders who will tell you they are difficult to keep and breed, which may be true if they keep them in a high heat situation and never go near the cage when they are breeding...once these birds are sold to a new owner, they often become ill and die because the new owner won't keep them at 75 degrees and wants to be able to actually look at them! For the most part, I have found them to be quite easy to deal with.
If you pamper them - keeping them in a high heat/humidity situation, squirreled away from the rest of your home - they will most certainly become spoiled and nervous! However, if you keep them used to noise, commotion, other animals, and normal household temperatures and humidity, they will thrive as would any other finch! See the housing, and breeding links for more information on this topic!
Perhaps the most critical issue involving Lady Gouldian finches, as well as any other type of bird you may own, hygiene plays a big role in the health and well being of your birds.
Good animal husbandry practices are imperative. Clean cages make for healthy birds. Clean, dry perches make for healthy feet! Perches, food dishes, water dishes or dispensers, toys, nest boxes, and cages, must be cleaned and dried thoroughly on a regular basis to avoid dangerous bacteria. Sure, a little dirt is okay, but "poop towers" are not! It's a matter of perspective. Would YOU want to live in a home covered in poop? I think not! How do we do it all?
Check the Housing and the Cage Cleaning Made Easy links for more information!
I have heard stories about the difficulty of raising and caring for Lady Gouldian Finches. Fortunately, much of the trouble associated with keeping them involves improper housing, nutrition, and over pampering! Overall health includes the usual stuff like food and water, but it is also important to remember that starting with a healthy bird and giving them the proper environment is really key.
Click each blue link for additional information on each topic!