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Breeding of different European Birds
A menage a trois



Al lot can be said and discussed about breeding of European birds. Every breeder has developed his own method after failure and success. It is good to listen to experienced breeders what they have to say, but never adapt their method one to one. Also do not combine all the "good" advise you have been given. I know breeders who were providing lots of vitamins, nutritional supplement, because they adapted from everybody the "magic" vitamin or mineral mixture. To breed European birds successfully their are a number of things important. I have listed them below. More comprehensive information on these topics can be found at other places on my website.

1. hygiene, hygiene and again hygiene

If you hate cleaning do not start breeding European birds. Most of them are sensitive to diseases. The cages and the aviaries must be kept clean at all times. Cleaning followed by disinfection needs to be done at least once a week

2. Purchase of birds

Buy your birds from a know bird breeder, whom you have visited, have been able to observe the birds and are satisfied with the condition under which they are kept. Buying from a trader or shop, often leads to disappointment and is also bad for your wallet

3. Feeding

The key words here are "balanced diet" and "avoidance of excess feeding" The foundation is a good seed mixture and also EGGFEED. In the winter 2-3 times a week, which is gradually increased to every day in March. If you ask 100 birdbreeders, they all have different recipes for egg feed. Important is the protein content. Too little results in a delay in getting into breeding condition. Too much results in overactivity (especially the cock) which also results in failure

4. Distraction

It looks over the top, but I get increasingly convinced that birds that are active breed better. Particularly birds like crossbills, but also other birds need to have something to do. In nature they are busy the whole day with searching and grazing. They like branches to nibble at, bundles of weeds or millet, water for bathing, which is also essential for the condition anything that is healthy and keeps them busy.

5. Patience

In April most bird breeders get this jumpy feeling. There may have been some sunny warm days already. The birds sing all day. Then a lot of breeders incline to couple and/or provide the nests in a too early stage. I learned the hard way. Now I couple the birds in the beginning of April and I provide the nesting material end of April. You should also be careful not to put birds from a large aviaries into small cages. If smaller breeding cages are used put the birds together long before the actual breeding season starts.

6. Suitable nests

Provide suitable nest at more than one place in the aviary. Most birds like to choose from a few alternatives.

7. Appropriate feed

With some exceptions chicks of European birds need animal protein in the first stage of their life. This is provided in the form of egg feed supplemented with germinated seeds and insects. Giving small portions many times a day is better than big portions a few times a day. The egg feed is then always fresh and the parents are triggered to start feeding when there is "something new" on the plate.

These are a couple of important rules of the thumb. At many more places on my website these topics are discussed more extensively. Every breeder pays the learning fee and there will be disappointments. Listen to everybody, but remain critical (also what you have been reading here on my website). Start with an "easy" bird become a member of a breeder society.


Breeding reports

In total I have nine breeding aviaries in my garden and a big aviary for young birds. Compared with a lot of breeders, this is quite a modest set up. Therefore it is important to make a choice, because it is impossible to breed all birds you like. Since a couple of years I breed bullfinches and I am quite successful. In the new season 2005, I breed with Crossbills, three couple Nordic bullfinches (one brown, one pastel and one standard colour), two couples bearded tits (a new challenge) and a couple twites. Furthermore there are goldfinches, greenfinches, siskins, but for them I will not give a detailed breed report . All together quite a variety. I will keep chronological breeding records no matter whether it is a success or not.


Click on the picture for the records of the breeding season 2005


(an exceptional friendship between two finch species)
A friend keeps a variety of birds in a large beautiful aviary. Two months ago he spotted a Zebra finch hen sitting on his aviary. It had rained a lot this day and the bird was completely soaked and in a terrible condition. It was not very difficult to catch it and she was put in a small cage indoors to dry with plenty of seeds and water. There was little hope for this bird but surprisingly she survived and after a couple of days. she was completely recovered. As she looked very healthy with no sign of any disease, she was released into the large aviary. 

In this aviary there is a mixed population of gold finches, bull finches, canaries, Japanese nightingales and quails. Right from the start the zebra finch became very good friends with the pair of bull finches. All day they were seeking each others company and during the night the three were resting very closely together the small zebra finch in between the bull finch couple. Even when the breeding season started and the bull finches were building a nest, their little friend was still tolerated and even helped building the nest. What now happened I have never experienced before and I have never heard of something alike. It is well known that sometimes two birds have a preference for a certain spot in the aviary for nesting. This leads to in a lot of irritation and fighting and finally one couple gives up and seeks an acceptable alternative. Not with our close friends. When the bullfinch had three eggs and started the incubation, the zebra finch joined her in her nest and even produced three eggs herself (of course infertile because there was no male zebra finch around). This all is taking place in good harmony. Sometimes they need to rearrange places, but it never turns into hostilities.

Although the situation seems to be one of mutual full acceptance, it will- in one way or another- adversely affect the breeding and give a lot of disturbance when the young's are born. After we have taken the pictures above, my friend decided to catch the zebra finch and put it in a separate cage for the time being.

If you have had similar experience I am very interested to know. Please mail me.