| Email Us
Our Annual Shows
Our Annual Shows
Written by Luis Garcia
(Colorado Springs, CO.)
Originally published in The NFSS
Bulletin, Vol. 13 No. 3. May – June 1996
For almost sixteen years, my wife Andria and I have
been breeding and raising finches, and like most folks, we started out
with Zebra and Society finches. Throughout all of these years we have
worked with many different kinds of birds, having both good and bad
breeding results. However, when we would fail at breeding a certain
kind of bird, we would not give up. Instead we would always try and
figure out what we did wrong, and correct the problem before moving on
to the next species. This kind of thinking and excellent record keeping
is what has made it possible for us to unlock some of the mysteries of
many of the birds we raise.
As hobby breeders we have always welcomed a challenge and this past
March (1995), Andria and I decided to take on a new challenge. With the
importation ban on many of the birds once available to us, we decided
to work with one of the species of birds of which not much has ever
been written about and rarely bred in captivity.
On July 8, 1995 we got our first members of this family, four Paradise
Whydahs (3 cocks and 1 hen). Not knowing anything about these birds we
decided to try our luck with them. All four birds were placed in a 6’
long by 6’ high by 2’ wide flight for quarantine, the males were just
getting in their tails (about 6” long). After thirty days of quarantine
the male with the longest tail and the hen were left in the flight and
the other two were placed one each in two other flights. The flight
with the pair was set up with an assortment of flack plants and several
nest boxes (open front and closed) as well as wicker nests.
Since we did not have the Melba finch to use as host for them, we
decided to use birds that resembled the Melba. So two pairs of Red face
Stars and a pair of Gouldian Finches were added to the flight. The diet
for these birds consisted of our basic two part chick starter and one
part finch mix as well as egg food, soaked seed, greens, fruits, and
lots of mealworms (about 40-50 per day). In addition a cup of high
calcium K-Tee grit and a cup of thistle and chipped sunflower seed
mixed was given daily.
Once the whydahs got used to the other birds the hen started to hang on
the wire calling to the other two males and after four days of this
behavior we placed the extra males back into the flight with the pair.
This clamed her down and before long the cocks were doing what I call
the butterfly dance in front of the hen. The males would fly up in
front of her and like a hummingbird beat their wings to make their
tails move like waves. They would drop to the floor and rest for a few
seconds and start doing the dance over. By the end of August the
Gouldians and Star Finches started to build nests and we noticed that
every time one of them would leave the nest, one of the whydah males
would go and inspect it followed by the hen. On September 8th while
doing my morning feeding I noticed the female whydah was missing. When
I stepped into the flight, she flew out of the gouldian’s nest.
The Gouldians had built their nest in a half-open nest box and when I
looked inside I found three normal Gouldian eggs (round shape) and one
large football shaped egg. I left the eggs in the nest and kept on
feeding the rest of our birds. The next day (Saturday) she was back in
the nest. This time I found four Gouldian eggs and two football eggs.
On Sunday September 10, 1995 I found five Gouldian eggs and one more
whydah egg. I went upstairs to get more greens and when I returned, one
of the male Whydahs was looking in the nest. When he flew out he had an
eggshell with fresh yolk in his beak. When I looked inside the nest I
found all of the eggs broken, he had eaten them.
I could not understand why he would eat the Gouldian eggs and not the
Star Finches. Later that day I found out why, he tried to get into the
nest of the Star Finches, which was built in a wicker nest, and got
stuck while trying to turn around. This must have scared him, since I
never saw him go back to that kind of nest again. We do not know if the
Gouldians or the female Whydah had laid eggs before and the male had
eaten them before we could get to them. The Whydahs did not lay again
after this and by the beginning of October the males started to lose
their tails and were placed in a different flight so they could molt.
Nothing could have prepared us for this. Hopefully, we have since
corrected the problem with the nest boxes, by using closed boxes with a
1 ½” hole in the front and have been able to keep the males out
of the nest. We have once again set up the whydahs and the very same
pairs of Stars and the one pair of Gouldians in the same flight.
Everything is looking good once again and who knows maybe the next time
I write about the Whydahs it will be about their young.
We hope that our experience could help someone out there that is trying
to work with the whydahs. We know little about these birds or any of
the other whydahs and we would appreciate any help or advice that
anyone out there could give us. We are also looking for more of the
different whydahs to raise. If you can help with any of this please
write to Luis Garcia, 1345 Edith lane, Colorado Springs, CO. 80909.
Back to main page