finchbreeder wrote: ↑20 May 2021, 15:00
Welcome to the forum. A live food I discovered by accident, is the small weevils that sometimes infest bird seed. Orange breasteds will breed like wildfire on these.
My dad owned a cake shop back in the day and we sometimes got weevils out of the flour bins when we were sifting the flour. I used them for my fish and birds. You can grow weevils in flour, rice, bird seed, oats or anything grain based. Just have a big bin of flour sitting around for 6 months and then sieve them out. Birds will eat the larvae and the adult moths, although the moths fly away when you put them in the aviary. But if you freeze the moths then you can put them in a bowl for the birds to eat.
Aphids have just been mentioned and were another staple for my fish and birds. Mum had roses in the garden and I added to her collection when I found out aphids loved new growth on roses. I would go out with a 2 litre ice-cream bucket and hold it underneath the new flower buds, then gently tap the flower buds and the aphids would drop into the bucket. I either fed them off straight away or put a lid on the bucket and froze them for later use.
The problem with termites is you have to go into the bush to find them and then freeze them so they don't start eating the house and furniture. But they are eaten by lots of birds.
Ants are eaten by some birds but ant eggs and ant pupae are usually eaten by most insectivorous finches and wattlebirds. Ants can be cultured in aquariums, plastic containers or you can buy special ant houses. The hardest part is getting the eggs/ pupae out of the sand, and shaking the ants off your hand after.
Flying ants are also eaten and you can run around with a net in spring nd catch them, then freeze them or use them live.
Wingless fruit flies are eaten by lots of birds and can be cultured in plastic or glass bottles with a bit of fruit in the bottle. The wingless ones can't fly away and you can get starter cultures from university supply shops. If you want to have wingless fruit flies in an aviary, you get a 10 litre plastic bucket and put a brick in the bottom of the bucket so it doesn't tip over. Add some fruit to the bucket and put some bird wire on top of the bucket to stop the birds getting at the rotten fruit. The flies will breed in the fruit and as they hatch and crawl out of the bucket, the birds will eat them. You will get normal fruit flies doing this but the birds are able to catch them too.
We used to get swarms of midges in spring and summer. The air would turn black and there would be millions of them. I ran around with a large (12 inch) fish net catching them and putting them into plastic bags. I then put the bag in the freezer to kill them, then bottle them up and keep them frozen until used.
Earthworms can be fed to birds and quails love them. There are hundreds of different species of earthworm and some are big while others are small. The smaller varieties are better for birds. However, you can also take young worms from bigger species of earthworm and birds will eat the young worms that are smaller. You can buy worm farms from Bunnings or any hardware store or nursery. You will have to look around for small species of worm or just use whatever is available.
You can get white worms and grindal worms, which are much smaller than normal earthworms and these can be cultured in 2 litre buckets containing a bit of peat moss or potting mix (without fertiliser in) on the bottom. The worms are fed a dry powdered baby cereal and when they have bred up in large numbers, you find them crawling up the sides of the container. You can wipe them off with your finger and feed them to birds or fish.
I used to feed earwigs and cockroaches to my birds. The finches didn't touch them but the quails would go absolutely nuts over them. We had a pile of rocks out the back under an oak tree and I would simply go around with a bucket and pair of tweezers. I turn rocks over and grab the earwigs, roaches, spider or worms and put them in the bucket. When I had enough I would throw the contents onto the aviary flood and the quails would go berserk running around pecking at the insects and eating them. I had baby quails everywhere, all year round. earwigs can be grown like mealworms.
Whilst most African finches will take live food like insects, most Australian finches do not have a lot of insects in their diet. Australian finches & parrots breed after the rains start and green grass seeds become available. We had a lot of vacant blocks around our property and every winter they would get covered in wild oats and various other seeding grasses. Each day I would go out and collect bucket loads of green grass seeds on stems and put them in the aviaries. Within 2 days of doing this, every bird would be breeding. It was an instant stimulus for them. They got green grass seeds right through winter and spring. In summer I would grow birds seed and feed the green seed heads to the birds.