Diet and Feeding the Lady Gouldian Finch

Feeding the Lady Gouldian Finch

There are many brands of healthy foods on the market, and many ways of feeding birds. I recently met a woman whose family had bred birds for years before she took over. I feel strongly that in cases like these, doing it “like it’s always been done” is not the best way.

Gouldian Finches Enjoying Chop
Gouldian Finches Enjoying Chop

Yes, our birds lived in the 1980s and 90s. They survived. But did they thrive? What I mean is, were they beautiful and covered in shiny, strong feathers? Were they healthy? How long did they live?

The majority of pet birds in the pre-Internet days were fed seed. Not just any seed, but boxed bird seed from Kmart or someplace – barely better than wild bird seed. And that’s all.

So if that is what you are feeding your birds today, you’re about 40 years behind. Would you like your doctors to treat you medically from protocols of 40 years past?

I didn’t think so.

They survived. But did they thrive?

My own bird keeping has evolved considerably, and continues to change. From seed (yep, I was one of those! I got my first cockatiel from a pet store in the 80s and kept him in one of those small inappropriate cages and feed him seed-only) to seed and pellets to fresh foods and then more fresh foods.

The Suggested Diet for Lady Gouldian Finches

  • Seed
  • Pellets
  • Egg or Egg food
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Supplements

Pellet food

Seeds are packaged by many different companies today, and they can be purchased at big box stores, small “mom and pop” stores, and online. I’m using a combination of seeds. I’ll put some links at the bottom of this post.

Gouldians, and most finches today, eat much more than seed. Lots of people have gone the pellet route. Pellet food is an extruded form of corn, wheat, and so forth that’s a lot like dog food in that it’s a convenient, easy way to feed birds. But, like dog food, it can be high quality or not. Check your labels.

 

Canaries enjoying Chop
Canaries enjoying Chop

Most vets are suggesting the use of pellets in the diet, but their recommendations are all over the board. I see 20% up to 80% from various vets. We feed less seed than pellets, but pellets are still commercially processed foods and since we humans shouldn’t base our diet on 100% proce4ssed foods I figure our birds shouldn’t either. So I provide a high quality pellet but I don’t serve even 50% pellets. Maybe 50% is comprised of pellets and seeds, so about 30% of their diet is pellet based.

Protein

Finches need extra protein, especially during breeding or molting, so one way to provide that is via eggs or commercial “egg food.” We do both. For eggs, I just hard boil a bunch at once, maybe 6 or 8 (because that’s what my pot holds) brought to a boil on the stove then lowered to simmer for 12 minutes. You can even leave the shells on, throw them all into the food processor, and grind. Don’t mash them too much or they’ll turn to glue.

If you don’t want to serve the shells, or you want to grind the shells finer, peel the eggs before chopping. Egg shells can be ground in a nutri bullet or coffee grinder—here’s one that you can control the coarseness on. Serve them sprinkled on food or in a separate dish; birds go crazy over them.

If you prefer it, use dry egg food. Here is a popular brand

I like to use Higgins, linked below. Dry commercial egg food is good for people who work because it can be left out in a dish like pellets and seeds.

Vegetables

The longer I have birds, the more I’m feeding fresh foods. I have seen proof from others that fresh foods are working for them. Birdie cholesterol levels drop when switched to a plant-based diet. Other numbers fall into line as well. So I chop lots of salad-type foods for my birds: spinach, kale, broccoli, squash, corn, peas, green beans. Basically every time you fix fresh food for yourself, you can cut up a little and set it aside for the birds.

Fruit

Fruit tends to lead to yeast infection, especially in the smaller birds, so I do not give much to my Lady Gouldians. They do get some because I have bigger birds that love fruit – so once in awhile the little guys get some blueberries, strawberries, or similar. Mostly I try to avoid fruit with them.

Supplements

Calcium, iodine, probiotics, and multivitamins are my go-to supplements. Veterinarians suggest that because pellet food is “complete” and has all the nutrients your bird needs, it isn’t necessary to supplement. That is true if you’re feeding `100% pellets. Since I am not, I give 50% or less of the recommended vitamins. I put calcium in the water once a week. I do use probiotics, which I sprinkle on their food, every day; these do not harm them. Kelp provides iodine, and I’ve switched from Avivita Gold  to Nekton-S for no particular reason.

 

That’s the run-down! Hope it helps. Let me know how you feed and supplement your finches.

Products may contain affiliate links; by purchasing them, I can receive compensation which goes to a non-profit parrot rescue organization. Thanks for your help.

                                              
                                              

                     

Gouldian Finch Quarantine Protocol

I have so many questions about quarantine practices, I decided to make a post to refer you to. Quarantine is necessary at 2  times: when a bird is ill/injured or suspected to be ill, and when a new one comes into your aviary.

Bringing a new bird into the aviary is what we are going to discuss today. Whether you have 2 or 200 Gouldian finches, it’s simply not worth it to expose them to illness. You could end up losing the entire aviary! So when bringing one in it is necessary to quarantine.

Quarantine to Prevent Illness in the Flock

In a perfect world, we would put the bird on a different air system than our current birds. However, that’s often impossible for various reasons. I keep my Gouldians in a bird room in my home (no more guest room! :D). I do live in Florida, so at some times of the year I could house new finches outdoors in the pool’s screen cage. I have a nifty countertop there that’s about 8 feet long and sheltered on 3 sides and is under roof. So if the temperatures are between 60-80, which truthfully only happens in March and maybe April, they can stay there. Otherwise it is too hot or too cold.

So usually mine are quarantined in a separate room of the house. I have never had problems with this. One must understand that there are risks involved – illness could potentially spread inside the home. But hand washing and using clean dishes goes a long way. So does keeping food bins separate to avoid cross-contamination.

In other words, don’t feel guilty if you must quarantine within the same air system. Just be smart about it.

That’s the why and the initial how of the matter, but there is one more issue:

WHAT are we trying to accomplish by quarantining the bird?

We’re trying to prevent bringing disease into our flock, and we are also trying to eradicate any disease or parasites the new bird(s) may have. To that end, I’ve developed a quarantine protocol that is 60 days long. 90 days would be even better. My quarantine procedure will remove external and internal parasites and give the owner plenty of time to observe the bird(s) and get them to the vet if needed.  Continue reading Gouldian Finch Quarantine Protocol

Best Food for Gouldian Finches – the Gouldian Diet

Our Gouldian Finch Diet

I’m just going to share how we feed our birds. This is not intended to be the be-all, end-all ‘law’ of how to feed Gouldians. There is a lot of discussion about the “best” way to feed. There might even be the occasional heated disagreement. But we consistently raise good size, healthy finches that parent their own babies, and this is how we do it.

Note that this is what we do now. We have evolved over the years, and probably will continue to do so in the future. We like to learn, and as manufacturers improve on what they’re doing we will embrace it. If you read a post last year, it might have a slightly different list.

Basic Diet in Order

Fresh Veggies

Pellet Food

Egg Food

Birdie Bread

Seed Mix

Tiny bit of Fruit

Supplements

The Why and How of the Diet

So. The main food for our finches is fresh food. Vegetables mostly with a small bit of fruit. Mine don’t really like fruit that much, and I don’t like to waste food. So after teaching them how to eat fresh foods, they were still rejecting most fruit and I cut it out instead of continuing to waste it.

Here are just a few of the veggies we serve. The first 5 are their favorites.

Kale

Spinach

Collard greens

Broccoli

Corn (cut off the cob, although they ‘re happy to eat it on the cob)

Carrots, steamed

Peas

Sugar Snap peas

Cooked Sweet potato

Frozen veggies from Walmart: carrots, green beans, corn, peas mix, thawed/warmed –> this is the I’m-too-tired backup plan. I keep these on hand.

The Parrot University aims their diet plan, the Circus Diet, toward bigger birds but it could totally be for finches. Just chop it smaller.

The second food we serve is pellets. We have had a little bit of trouble recently with the pellet food because Roudybush changed their formula and the birds decided to reject it. I then switched to Harrison’s which they ate for a couple weeks (long enough for me to order a bunch) then they turned their beakies up at that.

Darn it.

So now I bought another bag of Roudybush and about half of them are eating it. I’m not really sure what to do. I did find they’ll eat the Harrison’s and the old bag of Roudybush if I wet and warm it. Little prince and princesses!

You’ll have to try to find the best pellets for yours, and it can be really frustrating if they have not eaten pellets in the past. More on that in a future post!

Please don’t go crazy on the pellets. They are an extruded processed food

After the pellet food, the next thing we probably serve the most of is egg food or birdie bread, which I consider interchangeable. I do make my own and avoid sugar at all costs. I see no reason whatsoever to give finches sugary food that could lead to a yeast overgrowth. Just my 2 cents.

Seed mix should come after all those foods. Seeds are not a complete diet. If you feed your birds only seeds, they’re going to have some deficits, like “holes” in their nutritional makeup. They will lack calcium, or Vitamin A, or D3. You might feel they’re healthy “except for…”

That’s what I hear. Except for egg binding.Or, Except for unexplained deaths. One lady wants to buy from me (I have finally quit selling to her) but she wants exceptionally young birds because “they don’t live more than 3 years.” Well, mine do. I bet if we examined her Gouldian diet, we’d find the problem.

Anyway, don’t believe the pet store employee who’s never owned a bird if they tell you to buy the seed and nothing else. Please. And don’t feed it because your grandmother gave seed-only to her canaries and it was good enough for her. Our understanding of birds has evolved since then. More scientists have studied their diets since then. We’ve all fed our birds and, via the Internet, we’ve pooled our information. We are better now!

So seed should fall near the bottom of  the list. It is easy, but it’s like you and me eating potato chips every meal. Do we want to? Of course! But is it good for us? No way.

Now, I’ve listed fruit way down near the bottom, although I serve the fresh fruit with the veggies or in the bread, and I’m not sure it’s really that small. Honestly mine don’t care for fruit. They absolutely won’t touch anything with orange or tangelo (darn it — I have a tangelo tree) or lime. I read that you could let a canary teach them to eat oranges; mine said no go. So I give a little apple now and then, or some applesauce in the bread, or maybe a slice of pear. That’s all.

Supplements

At the   very bottom we have supplements. Calcium, D3, or just a good overall vitamin will do well. Remember to account for what’s in the pellets — you don’t want to overdose them. I figure my birds get about 1/3 what the manufacturer recommends, so I give them 1/3 the recommended vitamins. I like to use the kind that you mix in water.

That’s about it! Please let me know if you have any diet questions. I’ll try to answer them the best I can.

 

 

 

 

 

Before Buying your First Gouldian Finches…

Finches are often an impulse buy at the pet store. I don’t blame you if you bought some this way. What’s not to like? They’re bright, pretty, intelligent, and curious. We fall for them easily. But some people say Gouldians are not beginner birds….

Gouldian finches are only 4 to 5 inches long, and the pet store may have told you they fit in one of those itty bitty cages. That’s not true. Well, strictly speaking it is true – they fit. They just don’t thrive in there. Gouldians need to be able to fly in their cage; it’s good exercise and it keeps them healthy. Hopping from perch to perch doesn’t cut it. So before you do anything else, please buy at least a 30X18X18 cage for your finch. Like this one: 30x18 finch cage(click to enlarge)

Here it is on Amazon

Or, if you are willing to go a little taller right off (it’s even better for the birds) try a flight cage:

This one is available in both white and black: (click to enlarge) White Flight Cage for finches See on Amazon

 

I have several of these and really like them: larger flight cage for finches

click to see on Amazon
One reason I like those is that I can remove the side panels and fasten 2 or 3 together.

 

There’s a little more room inside that one ^^ because there’s less storage underneath.So it’s up to you: More room for flight, or more storage?
Now that the cage thing is out of the way…. Did you know that a seed-only diet is unhealthy for birds? Most people think “bird seed” is all they eat. That’s not the case, if you want to keep them in good health. They can eat lots of people food, like kale, lettuce, spinach carrots, and more. They can eat finch pellets, which are fortified with vitamins. And they love hard boiled egg, which you can give them fresh or, if your time is limited, supply dry egg food. Below are the seed, egg food, and pellets for feeding your finches.

Bird Seed
Egg Food
Harrison’s Pellets – be sure you get extra fine.
 

Those were the two main things for keeping Gouldian finches well even if you are a rank beginner. If you’d like to know more about keeping Gouldian finches, try one of these articles:

Gouldian Finch Diet
Compatible Species for Gouldian Finches
Gouldian Finch Tips
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