Step # 5 - May - 12 Steps to Success Breeding Gouldian Finches
May – The beginning of the breeding season
May 1st is when we pair our birds up for the breeding season and
introduce their nesting boxes to the aviary.
By this time most of our birds have completed their molting or are about
to finish and they look absolutely beautiful!
We separate our birds by sex for 3 to 4 months of the year which we believe definitely contributes to them being eager
to start breeding. We have found
flock breeding to be the most successful method.
This is where you put a group of birds together in a cage and let them
choose their mate. Most of the birds
will do this almost immediately, stake claim to a nest box and start building or
adding to the nest you have pre built. This
method of breeding is another reason it is very important to keep good records
on genetics and keep track of the head and breast colors you pair together.
see # 6 June for more information on
banding your baby birds and keeping breeding records.
At this point we cut fresh creeping red fescue grass about 8 to 10 inches long which we grow in our yard or dry Bermuda grass is an adequate alternative for nesting material and will work just as well and is available on our shopping pages. These are both special thin bladed grasses which do not come from mowing the lawn.
We form the grass into a bowl shaped nest in the bottom of the Gouldian nesting
boxes. We use our fist in a circular
motion to form a small cup shaped area in the grass in the center of the nesting
box. Gouldians are lousy nest builders so this will help get them started.
Another very important reason for doing this is if there is not a good
bowl shape in the grass or cupped shape formed in the grass, the eggs that are
laid will not stay confined to one small area and roll around the nest box which
will cause inconsistent incubation and a low hatch ratio as the birds chase the
eggs around the nest box trying to sit on them and keep them warm.
After forming a good bowl shaped nest in the nest box we sprinkle a light dusting of poultry approved insecticide powder over the top of the newly formed grass nest. This will help keep any insects out of the nest box during the breeding season which would attack the baby birds. Also when the adult Gouldians go in the box to breed and add more grass to the pre built nest they get some of the poultry powder on themselves which will help kill any feather mites they might have that the Ivomec did not get, if any. Poultry dust is available in our shopping pages.
If you are breeding more than 1 pair of
Gouldians per cage you should always have at least 1 or 2 extra nesting boxes
available, more than the number of pairs per cage so the birds have a good
selection and do not fight over them. It is not uncommon for some Gouldians to enter another bird's nesting box and throw out their eggs or babies to take over the box for themselves. Having extra boxes will decrease your chance of territory issues. This
can also sometimes happen with new inexperienced birds breeding for the first
time but they will usually get past this stage with trial and error and become
It is a good idea to keep a pile of cut
grass in the bottom of the cage or aviary during the breeding season at all
times for the birds to pick up, play with and pretend they are building a nest.
Also they will usually add more grass to their nesting box after the
first batch of young baby bird’s leave the nest to cover any existing bird
droppings or un-hatched eggs and then they start on their 2nd batch
This is when you should also introduce a cup or bowl of Frisky Finches
high protein vitamin enriched baby hatchling food to the bird’s aviary to get them used to it being
there before the eggs are even laid. When
the babies hatch out, the adults will access it as necessary.
We use our own mixed
baby hatchling food which
is specially blended for our Gouldian finches and is rich in the calcium,
vitamins and minerals needed to produce large healthy strong babies.
This is also available in our shopping pages.
Frisky Finches Premium Baby Hatchling Mash/Food is a large part of our "secret to success". Our baby hatchling, chick and young bird mash is so power packed with everything necessary for Gouldians or any seed eating bird that I contribute 40% of our breeding success with Gouldians to it. We have been mixing and using this blend of breeding mash for over 10 years and I am convinced this really helps to give baby Gouldians a big kick start in healthy growth and development. If it will work this good with Gouldians just imagine what is possible with other birds... Finches, Parakeets, Doves, Pigeons, Quail, Pheasants, Chickens... We highly recommend you try this product. You will be very happy with the results, and so will your birds.
Another aid to breeding is the flax
seed which is mixed in with the breeders season/winter Gouldian Seed Mix during the molting and breeding season which the birds will also access as
Keep both of these products available to the
birds throughout the breeding season at all times.
“This part you’re probably not going to like”
Raising Gouldians is a little like growing a garden, if you are in your
garden all the time, every day watching, weeding, primping and prodding, it will
seem like there is not much growth or progress going on and it takes forever to
get any vegetables, but if you give your garden what it needs, water, the proper
fertilizer, occasional weeding and “LEAVE IT ALONE” suddenly one day you
will notice it has grown up and is plentiful with tons of vegetables.
Your Gouldians are the same way, if you “LEAVE THEM ALONE” they will
be very successful breeding and produce a tremendous number of babies through
out the season.
Never go into the nest box when the babies have started to develop
feathers or are close to coming out of the box.
This disturbs them and they will leave the nest box to early which
usually ends up in death. It’s
best to let them come out when they are ready and try to leave them alone most
of the time!
It is OK to occasionally take a peek in the nest box during the first
week or two until their pin feathers start growing into baby feathers but do not
do this daily! The more you leave
your birds alone the better results you will “BOTH” have!
We have found the most productive years for most Gouldian finches
breeding are from the ages of 1 to 4 years old.
After most Gouldians reach the age of 4 their hatch success ratio starts
to decline. They can go on for
another 3 or 5 years or more breeding after that and still produce allot of
babies however the numbers will decline as the years pass and generally speaking
this decline usually starts after the age of 3 or 4 years old.
Some Gouldian parents can have as many as 10
babies in one hatch although few pairs are ever this successful.
It flat out exhausts them trying to feed all those babies!
At times we believe some pairs will actually toss some babies out of the
nest after they hatch just to reduce their work load.
This seems to happen more frequently with older birds that are winding
down on their breeding years like from 5 to 7 or 8 years old.
The standard numbers of baby’s younger pairs produce range from 2 to 6
per hatch and some eager pairs will even produce up to 8 babies per hatch.
Another good method to increase breeding productivity is to pair an older
more experienced bird with a 1st year breeder.
The older bird will teach the new parent what to do.
This works either way, putting a young hen with an older male or vise
You do not have to keep the same pair of
birds together every year, they will accept a new mate each year however if you
put them both back in the same cage the following year they will usually go back
to their old mate. If you change the
pairs or mates each breeding season it helps to keep the gene pool fresh so not
as many of the babies are directly related and after 3 or 4 generations they are
even more removed genetically. This
makes keeping track of the genetics or the records allot more complicated
though. I guess a little like 3D
Continue with the regiment of feather glow
liquid vitamins, calcium and other supplements…..
4 days on with the liquid supplements, 3 days off with plain water.….
May through November we give our birds a lot of Golden Spray Millet piled
up on the bottom of their cages. This
is done for several reasons. We
believe it gives the birds a secure feeling that there is ample seed available
for breeding and feeding their babies at all times plus the spray millet is easy
for the birds to feed the new babies. It
is also easily digested by the baby birds along with the hatchling food and
after the young birds leave the nest box it gives them something to play with
while learning to eat seed. Last
they love it!
Gouldian finches have light blue spots on
the sides of their beaks which are used as a glowing landing strip for the adult
bird’s to find their babies mouth in the dark.
Gouldians in the wild nest in hollowed out trees and burrows which are
dark and secluded. These spots glow
slightly which helps the parents find the babies mouth for feeding in the dark.
The spray millet we give our birds also helps the young Gouldians rub off
the blue baby spots on the sides of their beaks as they mature into young adults
and they love to chew on the spray millet seed and play with the stalks.
The nesting habits of the Gouldian finch in dark secluded places is why
we recommend using the type of nest box which have a side porch entry with the
nesting area in the rear or back of the box accessed through a small 1 ½”
inch hole. Gouldian nesting boxes
are approximately 6” x 6” x 11” long.
These nesting boxes with the side porch entry are specially made for
Gouldians and are also available on our shopping pages.
This article is copyrighted 2006 for Frisky Finches and is not meant to be reprinted, replicated, or republished without our expressed written permission. Thank you!
Disclaimer: The author of this website is not a licensed veterinarian. The information and advise contained within is only offered as a basic introduction to the Gouldian Finch and comes from over 10 years personal experience breeding this species. Our success is also attributed to 30 years of accumulated avian knowledge breeding various other bird species, veterinary advise, research and discussions with other professional breeders.
Thank you for visiting our website. We hope you will find it informative and helpful.
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