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

Perches for your Gouldian Finches

Did you notice that the perches that came with your cage were all 1/2-inch dowels, and they’re extremely smooth?

Yeah. That’s not what we want.

See, your Gouldian’s feet get sores on them when they have to stand day in and day out on the exact same surface. So it’s best to give them varied types of perches –different lengths, widths, and different types of surfaces. You can find a lot: sand/cement covered, twisted wood, real wood branches fitted with screws to fasten them on. These are great because they get to exercise their feet.

 

I’m not saying don’t use the dowel perches, but add some other ones in addition to.

Just stay away from those sandpaper covers you can put over a perch, they’ll hurt them.

 

A few good perches: