Breeding records twites 2005
click here to see this year's records

This year for the first time, I am going to try to breed European twites. I also start quite modest with one breeding couple of 2003. The twites are together with a pair of bullfinches in an aviary of 2x1x2 m. Twites are not bred a lot in the Netherlands. There is one group of people in West-Brabant who had the twite as a so called project birds, where a group of breeders gain experience with a certain species. The twite is maybe not very interesting for bird breeders because it is not a very spectacular bird. There are no colours apart from the pinkish back of the mail bird in the breeding season and the yellow bill. They however, have a pleasant song. As most European birds they are sensitive to parasites. The twite also has a problem that the nails grow very quickly and long. It is important to keep an eye on this and clip them as appropriate. It happens frequently that atwites loses a toenail because they got stuck

On April 14th I have provided the nesting material. For the twites there are two small canary nesting boxes. For the bullfinches there are larger nests. The question remains however, whether they "understand" for which bird which nest is meant.

The trial to have two different bird species in one box has been discontinued. Although some other breeder have had success with this, for me it became clear quite quickly that this was not going to be successful. I gave it a try for another week, but when one bird flew up all the other got airborne and it was quite a nervous situation. There was no single moment of the day that the birds sat quitely. The twites had some intention to explore a nesting place, but it never became serious. The was also competition over a nesting place. The twites fancied a bigger bullfinch nest and the other way around. After 14 days I have decided to move the twites to a breeding cage of 1x1x0.70 m. In the beginnening the birds were still quite shy, but that stopped after a while and 5 eggs were laid. The hen incubates well and leaves the nest only a few times a day. I do not dare to check the eggs, because I have to remove the whole nest from the cage. I expect that this will be too stressful for the hen. I will have to wait and see whether the egg will come out. On the 1st of June there are three chicks in the nest and I have seen the hen feeding them

Breeding records twites 2006
In 2005 the breeding result with the twite was not that great. I had them in a breeding cage of 1 x 1 x 0.70 m.The birds started very late in the season and I ended up with three chicks, of which later one died. By exchanging one of the chicks I have now an unrelated couple. This year I also have one couple in the
large aviary where also other species are kept (a couple of siskins, goldfinches and bullfinches). The young couple is in the breeding cage. Contrary to last year already early in the season, the couple started to breed. The hen is on five eggs from the 18th of June and breeds very well. The birds have become very tame in the meantime. When I approach the aviary they come to the front. Twites are known to have problems to start breeding in their first year. This could be the reason why there is still no activity. Maybe as the season progresses, there may be a change, but I do not really count on that.
 Twite on the nest. It is funny that the bird only took very coarse material to build the nest. Nothing of the material I gave was used.
After 13 days the first egg hatched. Three more chicks followed in the enxt two days. After 5 days I have put rhe ring. One chick unfortunately could not be ringed with 2.5 mm as the leg was already too thick. I ringed this one with 2.7 mm, which is not the appropriate size. The chicks were well fed, with a large yellow crop.
four twites in the nest. The are well fed and grow rapidly

The chicks have left the nest and are still fed by the parents for a long time. Also after the parents stopped feeding, they eat a lot of egg feed. In the mean time there is a nest of young bullfinches in the same aviary and I provide insects and egg feed 3-4 times a day. As soon as I put the feed into the aviary, the twites jumped on it. If the bullfinches were not that dominant to chase them away, there was not going to be a lot left for the chicks.

In the mean time there is also a nest in the breeding cage. All four eggs are fertile and hatch after 14 days. Unfortunately this coincides with the first heat wave we had in the Netherlands and the chicks perish within a couple of days. I do not count on a second round for this couple.

A second round does take place in the aviary though. Again four eggs and fertile. There is a large difference in size of the birds that cannot be fully explained by the different hatching dates. In the mean time the Netherlands is suffering from the second heat wave and the hen responds weird to this. Although based on the age of the chicks, she should not be in the nest anymore, she sits on the nest the whole time. The result is that the nest is probably much warmer than without this protection. The chicks are hanging panting for breath over the edge of the nest and sometimes a chick fall over the edge when the hen leaves the nest. Eventually two out of four chicks die.

In the aviary there is also a goldfinch nest about 1 meter away from the twites. I see the twites regularly feeding the goldfinches. The goldfinch parents are happy with that and I have not seen them feeding their own offspring again. This foster parent arrangement is not harming the young twites. When the twites as well as the goldfinches start to leave the nest all are still fed, in the nest, on the ground or in the scrub. Six young birds are being served, so far so good.

At the end of the breeding season the twites in the large aviary raised 12 chicks, which is not too bad. Breeding in the boxes
(1 x1x 0.70) was not very sucessful. Was it caused by the size of the cage and do twites still need a more natural environment to breed or just the pair I have selected. Hard to say, but with 12 chicks I am not unhappy all together.