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CrazyCritters
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Joined: 05 Sep 2020, 13:07
Location: Ipswich, Queensland

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for having me. I'm here to learn more about finches, in particular the relationship between diet and breeding.

I don't own or breed finches, I actually started a small business breeding live insects earlier this year originally with pet lizards and turtles in mind. Then, I was told that mealworms are a common staple in many bird diets, especially during breeding season.

I thought this forum would be a good place to get some more information to better understand the dietary needs of these beautiful birds.

Thanks,

Ashleigh.
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Brisbane_Finches_333
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Joined: 02 May 2019, 20:47
Location: Brisbane, QLD

Hi Ashleigh,

Some finches need a regular supply of insects (live food) to breed, such as African Waxbills and Pytilias, while others will not usually eat it and don't need it to breed, such as Gouldians and Zebras. Many finches can breed without livefood but results are generally improved when it is introduced.

Many breeders feed mealworms to their finches, although they are usually fed in moderation as they contain a higher fat percentage than other livefood. Maggots (fly larvae), crickets (eaten only some finches) and termites (the best livefood for finches, contains a lot of protein) are other insect foods commonly fed to birds.

Thanks,
Aidan
Aidan [] Junior Moderator [] Breeder of Native and Foreign Finches
Queensland Finch Society Member
2019 ABK Magazine Young Birdkeeper Winner
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Shane Gowland
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Welcome to the forum Ashleigh :)
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finchbreeder
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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.
LML
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CrazyCritters
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Joined: 05 Sep 2020, 13:07
Location: Ipswich, Queensland

Thanks for the replies!
Brisbane_Finches_333 wrote: 19 May 2021, 17:29 Some finches need a regular supply of insects (live food) to breed, such as African Waxbills and Pytilias, while others will not usually eat it and don't need it to breed, such as Gouldians and Zebras. Many finches can breed without livefood but results are generally improved when it is introduced.

Many breeders feed mealworms to their finches, although they are usually fed in moderation as they contain a higher fat percentage than other livefood. Maggots (fly larvae), crickets (eaten only some finches) and termites (the best livefood for finches, contains a lot of protein) are other insect foods commonly fed to birds.
And to Aidan for the information about live insects in finch diets, I really appreciate the help :)

Feeding mealworms in moderation is usually common practice for reptiles because of their high fat content, I was wondering if this was the same for finches.

We currently breed mealworms, crickets, woodies (not sure if these are used much with finches or birds generally?) and black soldier fly larvae. We haven't tried establishing house fly colonies just yet and may look at this more as we get bigger. Termites is a new one for me, it didn't even cross my mind until you mentioned it in your reply. Same for the weevils. But definitely something to consider for the future.

We often have dermestid beetles and larvae but I'm not sure if they offer any similar nutritional benefits as weevils, we find a lot of our customers are people using them for clean-up-crew in bioactives or for taxidermy more so than as feeder insects.

The list of live food options is growing by the week, and gives us plenty of potential projects as our business grows!

Are there any 'rules' about appropriate sizing of insects for smaller birds? or are they fairly capable of eating full grown insects?

Thanks again,

Ashleigh.
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finchbreeder
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Finches prefer smaller insects. Aphids are also popular, but not the easiest to get.
LML
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Rod_L
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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.

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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.
death to all cats & ants
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finchbreeder
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Very comprehensive Rod. I don;t like the flour weevils, because of the moths. But seed weevils are different, no moths follow.
LML
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