Finches are not only beautiful and active little birds, but many of them are also prolific breeders. In fact, you may not need to do anything to encourage your finches to breed, just provide a nest box, some material to the nest, and they are good to go!
If you want to learn more about how finch breeding works to increase the chances that your own finches will be breeding, you will find that information and more in this article. Note that different species of finches have slightly different breeding habits; The information in this article applies to finches in general, so you may need to do some more research.
Basics Of Finch Breeding
If you think breeding your finches sounds like a great idea, you will be happy to know that many species of finches breed easily in captivity without any indication.
In this section, you will receive basic information on finch breeding, including tips for differentiating the sexes, as well as information on courtship behavior and nest-building behavior that finch species exhibit.
1. Sexual dimorphism
To be successful in finch breeding, you must pair a male and female of the same species. If you are new to finches breeding, you may be concerned with the challenge of differentiating the males from the females.
However, for the most part, finches are sexually dimorphic, which means that there are significant physical differences between the sexes. The Gouldian finch and the strawberry finch are two examples of sexually dimorphic species.
In many cases, the male finches are more brightly colored than the females. Male finches also tend to sing more than females; females can chirp and cheep but do not exhibit the same singing ability as a male finch.
Although many species of finches are sexually dimorphic, sometimes these differences only become apparent during the breeding season. For example, the male Strawberry Finch looks a lot like the female, except during the breeding season when its colors shine.
It is also important to note that there are also some sexually monomorphic finch species, species that show no significant physical differences between the sexes. This is true for society finches, spice finches, and owl finches.
In cases like this, you may need to study the singing habits of the finches to distinguish the sexes.
2. Courtship behavior
In most cases, male finches become sexually active earlier than females. In the wild, this gives the male finch time to find a suitable nesting site before beginning work to attract a mate.
Male finches engage in a number of courtship behaviors to attract a female, usually targeting a finch of the same species. In captivity, however, it is not uncommon for male finches to court females of different species. Sometimes it also happens that the female takes the first step, encouraging the male finch to sing to her; this happens with star finches.
When it comes to courtship behavior, the male finch generally exhibits a combination of singing and dancing. Different species exhibit slightly different courtship behaviors.
Finches that dance while singing incorporates a variety of movements including bowing, jumping, head shaking, chest-puffing, and standing upright. If the female accepts the male’s advances, she will notice signs of mating bonding, such as sleeping or perching together; The pair can also be seen preening or grooming each other.
In the wild, the finch breeding season begins in the spring, although many finches breed freely in captivity. In the wild, male finches may begin preparing for breeding a few weeks earlier than females, as winter is just ending.
If you keep a male and female finches together, the male can start chasing the female around the cage at this time. You may need to keep a close eye on your finches at this point because the male can become aggressive.
In many cases, however, it is recommended to condition the sexes separately before introducing them for breeding.
To condition your finches for breeding, you will need to feed them a high protein diet. Female finches will also need a little extra calcium in their diet to help with egg formation.
As you condition your finches, look for signs that they are ready to mate. In female finches, building a nest is the best indicator that it is ready to breed.
For males, courtship behavior may include feeding the female and “kissing” her. If the sexes are separated, the male can make visual displays in addition to singing.
You will know that the two are ready to mate when the female recognizes the male’s displays; she will indicate this by bending over to allow mating to occur.
3. Nest Building
If you plan to breed your finches, it is best to keep them in separate cages until they are both ready for breeding. In females, the sign that she is ready to breeding is that she will build a nest.
For best results, you should house the female in the cage that you want to use as a brood cage so that you do not have to move her or move the nest after it has been built.
The ideal dimensions for a finch breeding cage are 46x28x36 cm (18x11x14 inches). Provide the female with a wicker or wood nest box and a tray of nesting materials.
Recommended nesting materials include softwood shavings, small twigs, and other soft bedding materials.
The Process Of Finch Breeding
When it comes to the actual mating process, finch breeding usually occurs very soon after the pair is introduced; You shouldn’t have to do anything to encourage them to breed. Just make sure your finches are the right age for breeding before starting the process.
Finch sexual maturity generally occurs around 6 to 9 months of age, although it could be earlier for some males. Some finch breeders recommend that female finches should be at least 1 year old for breeding and male finches should be no more than 5 years old.
While preparing your finches for breeding, you should feed them a healthy diet of rich foods. In the case of females, you should make sure that they eat enough fats and oils to avoid constipation and the binding of eggs; Adding a little olive oil or wheat germ oil to her seed should help with this.
Once the pair is ready for breeding, you can introduce the male into the female’s cage, not the other way around. After successful mating, the female will lay one egg per day until she is done.
The number of eggs per clutch will vary from one finch species to another, although the average is 3 to 8 eggs. Once the eggs have been laid, the female will incubate them for approximately 13 to 14 days before they hatch.
In some cases, you may notice that the female taking a bath the day before hatching. When she returns to the nest, she will wet the bedding, which will help soften the eggs in preparation for hatching.
When the chicks are ready to hatch, they will start by making a small hole in the side of the egg and then continue to chipping until the egg hatches.
When finch chicks first hatch, they are almost completely naked and wet. The chicks’ eyes will be closed and their beaks will be soft, making them completely dependent on the care of the hen.
The chicks will likely subsist on the rest of their yolk sac for about half a day but will need to be fed within 24 hours of hatching.
In many cases, both the male and female finches take care of the chicks, although some recommend removing the male from the cage after hatching just to be safe. To make sure your finch chicks get enough to eat, you can start offering chick food, or you can make your own using mashed hard-boiled eggs with water-soaked whole wheat bread.
The female will continue to feed and care for the chicks until they are approximately 21 days old, at which point they will leave the nest and begin to live independently. When the chicks are fully weaned, they should be separated from the parents.