Why Your Gouldian Finches Won’t Breed
We get asked often about why Gouldian finches are not breeding. Let’s address those issues today and see if we can help you figure it out.
Gouldians can breed by age 6-8 months (sometimes even while they’re still in juvenile feathers) but that doesn’t mean they should. Parent birds that are too young may not sit “tight” on their eggs, resulting in a lot of infertility or dead-in-shell. They may not feed their babies well, or they may toss them from the nest. See Age For Breeding Gouldians for more information.
By waiting until a finch is 14 months old or more, you are (almost) ensuring that you’ll have a more patient parent bird who is willing to care for babies in the way it should. I say almost because there are those rare occasions when a parent is still not a good one, especially if you bought your Gouldians from some outside source and don’t know whether they were parent raised, etc. But in general, an older parent is a better parent.
Gouldian finches that are covered in mites, harboring parasites, or are just will not breed. Consider a full quarantine protocol if you’ve never done one, or take one of your finches to the vet and ask for tests (they’re fairly inexpensive) and medications.
Sometimes you feel your finches are healthy, yet they are still not breeding. Here the issue isn’t as clear-cut, but often it is a dietary or, more specifically, a nutrition issue. Do you give them regular vitamins and supplements? It is common for Gouldian finches and other caged birds to be deficient in calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. These are easy problems to fix by using supplements, some of which are at the bottom of this page. Boosting their health often helps them come into condition.
It is worth mentioning that people often say “oh, we have cuttlebone” which is great and does provide some calcium, but it’s not an easily absorbed form of calcium so it often goes right through their system. Instead, opt for calcium that can be dispersed in the water or sprinkled on food. These also have the added advantage of containing phosphorus and/or Vitamin D3, which are both needed to help with calcium absorption.
Many newcomers to Gouldian finches don’t take the seasonality of breeding into account. They think that because they put a nest in the cage, the birds should breed. The fact is that Gouldians have seasons. In the wild, there are definite signs that trigger their bodies to prepare to breed. In the aviary, we have to either mimic those seasons by the use of lighting and food, or just wait for “their” season to roll around. I find that my adult birds that hatched in the fall tend to breed in the fall, and the ones that hatched in the spring want to breed in the spring. If it isn’t their season…. you must wait, grasshopper.
You can’t force birds to be ready to breed; there are internal systems that have to be prepared, and external cues that tell them it’s time. Don’t be too hasty to breed them; enjoy your birds while improving their overall health, and you’ll most likely find babies in the nest one day. One thing is for sure, Gouldian finch ownership teaches us patience!