Breeding pairs should be separated into either an aviary or a cage of a suitable size for these active songbirds. From there on out, you’ll want to ensure your goldfinch breeding diet includes the necessary components of a healthy breeding diet. While the European goldfinch diet is predominantly granivorous (seed-eating), you’ll want to supplement it with a variety of other healthy foods. Here is what does goldfinch eats, and what does a goldfinch seed mix is made of.
The pointed beak of the European goldfinch is perfectly designed to probe thistle blossoms, and their seeds are an integral part of its diet. Niger seed is also popular with finches. Whether purchased at a local pet store or online, a quality seed mix should contain both of these seeds as well as those on the following list. If your mix does not include some of these, you may be able to purchase them separately:
Canary Seed: Premium Natural Seed Blend Mix, Seed Mix for the Canaries, Vitakraft pro vita
Black Rapeseed: Black Rapeseed
White Millett: White proso millet seed
Wild Weed Seeds: Deli Nature 94
Peeled Oats: Whole naked oats
Grass Seeds: Mixture of grass seeds
Panicum Millet: Spray Millet
Sesame Seed: Sesame seeds
Other seeds that may enrich your birds’ diet include Camelina, Bella di Notte, Chia, Black sunflower seeds and Plantago major.
It’s important to note that a bird’s diet in the wild will be dictated by the seasons and the types of foods available at any given time. Therefore, while seeds typically make up the bulk of the goldfinch’s diet, this natural forager also obtains ample nutrition from insects, fruits, berries and other sources. This healthy variety in the goldfinch’s diet helps to maintain a high level of activity, healthy color, and vibrant song.
Breeding European goldfinches require more protein-rich foods, such as egg food mixed with sprouting seeds or proper seed mix, as it supports overall health and provides essential vitamins and minerals to both the parents and nestlings once they are born. It is recommended you provide this extra protein several times a week. Adding cuttlefish, softbill pellets and calcium blocks to their diet is also helpful.
If you cannot find egg food supplements at stores or online, there are a few DIY remedies. Try hard-boiling eggs and cutting them in half to expose the yolk. You can also try mashing it in with biscuits with a fork and feeding your birds the mixture in small quantities. If the weather is hot, be sure not to leave the egg or yolk mix in their cage too long as it will not keep and could turn poisonous.
Insects are also a good source of protein for finches and adding live insects like mealworms, waxworms and crickets are a welcome addition to both their diet and that of their hatchlings. Mealworms are also available in dried form and are a good source of vitamins and protein for newly-hatched chicks. Just be sure to limit their feeding to two or three mealworms per bird.
The question of adding grit to your bird’s diet is a personal one. Birds in the wild will often consume foods that their bodies find difficult to digest and the grit that sometimes ends up in these foods helps to make these foods pass.
Passerine birds like finches and canaries tend to be able to remove shells with their beaks. In addition, purchased seed mixes are specially manufactured to leave out the husks and shells of seeds. For these reasons, some bird breeders believe grit, a mix of ground minerals and sand is unnecessary. Others disagree, believing that grit and cuttlebone should always be available in a finch’s diet. There is also the argument that well-mineralized grits contain beneficial trace elements.
In general, grit should only be added if it is otherwise absent from your birds’ diet, and it should be added in very small amounts mixed with food. If you feed your birds grit, never put it on the bottom of the cage, but instead utilize a feeder. This will prevent the grit from becoming contaminated with droppings and unsafe to consume.
Fruits and Vegetables
A well-rounded diet should also include various fresh fruits including apples, pears, grapes, strawberries and raspberries to name a few. Vegetables, such as fresh sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, chopped spinach, romaine, and other lettuces, fresh or frozen peas and soft corn are also recommended. Cucumber is another good choice as the silicic acid in this vegetable is particularly beneficial for molting.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up about 20 to 25 percent of your finches’ diet. Take care to wash all produce thoroughly and cut it into small, manageable pieces. Additionally, be sure to remove any uneaten fruits and vegetables after about four hours to avoid them becoming spoiled or rotten.
Along with fruits and vegetables, European goldfinches may enjoy other plants. Two of the most popular in their natural diet include thistles and teasel. Other worthwhile additions include coltsfoot, dandelion, chickweed, groundsel, ragwort, mugwort, hardhead and wall lettuce.
As with any good diet, your birds should be hydrated, and providing clean, fresh water daily is a must. Use a feeder as opposed to a bowl so it does not become contaminated with bird droppings. Finches should also be supplied with water for bathing. A wide, shallow dish filled with about 1/4″ of water will usually suffice, but be sure to change it regularly and wash the bowl well as they will likely want to drink from that water source also.
Just like human beings, birds develop preferences for their favorite foods. As a result and despite your best efforts, they may not always eat what they are given or consume foods in their proper proportions. Vitamin supplements are available for purchase at many pet stores and can often be added to their drinking water.
More vitamins and supplements can found here.
Keeping your birds well fed and with a well-rounded diet is critical to their good health and reproduction capabilities. Likewise, making sure their feeding bowls are cleaned thoroughly with soap and water each day is vital. Good care of your European goldfinches will show itself in alert, active and sociable birds that engage in plentiful eating and drinking. They should have smooth and vibrant, well-groomed feathers. With a little luck, your pair will result in a nest of eggs and, eventually, healthy hatchlings.
- Breeding Linnets. How to create an ideal environment.
- Mules and Hybrids. How to Breed Mules and Hybrids.
- Sexing Goldfinches. How To Differentiate Male & Female Goldfinch.
- The redpoll. How to breed redpolls in captivity.
- Keeping Siskins. How to breed siskins.
- How to breed and show goldfinches. Quality goldfinches.
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