Cinnamon pied greenfinch

Fledgling birds. How to wean birds.

Between day 18 and day 21 from the hatching date, the chicks are ready to leave the nest. At this stage, the finch chicks/canary chicks are fully covered with feathers. Because the parents will not feed them so often, the chicks will jump out of the nest and chase parents around the cage for more food. They are now called fledgling birds. If they leave the nest earlier, you must keep an eye on them and try to put them back in the nest. In this article, I will briefly write about fledgling birds and how to wean birds.

The 15-16 days old chicks are still very weak, and premature exit from the nest can affect their condition in a negative way. The most common reason why chicks will fledge too early is that the nest could be infested with mites. Other reasons could be that got scared of the nest by a loud noise, rodents, or even by the owner.

If the chicks got scared for whatever reason, then try to put them back in the nest and avoid visiting the bird room too often. Rodent infestation must be dealt with immediately as it makes your birds very sick and eventually kills them.

Treat the bird’s nest, cage, or sometimes the entire bird room for mites using products that can be found in pet shops or online.

Mite products:

Avoid mite infestation by treating your birds and the bird room well before breeding season starts. I am treating my birds with drops at the back of their heads twice a year and never had mites issues. The old birds are getting treated every 6 months. The chicks will get treated when they will get separated from their parents and every 6 months thereafter.

Stages of development

  • 6-8 days old; The chicks should be ringed. How to ring a bird? bird banding
  • 7 days old; The chicks open their eyes and the feathers start coming out.7-8 days old chicks 7-8 say old red eye chicks
  • 14 days old; The chicks are partially cover with feathers and become more active. 14 days old siskins chikcs 14 days old canaries and greenfinch
  • 21 days old; They are fully covered with feathers and they will leave the nest. bullfinch ckich 21 days old siskin chicks Cinnamon pied greenfinch
  • 28 days old; they should be able to feed themselves and they could be separated from their parents. siskins and greenfinch Lutino greenfinch

Parents pulling feathers of their fledgling chicks.

From day 14 onwards you can have big problems, the parents can start to strip the chicks of feathers to build a new nest, in which case urgent separation measures must be taken. Before separating the young chicks from parents try to do the following:

  1. Put a new nest exactly in the same place as the one with the chicks and the one with the chicks below, under the new one!
  2. Give them as much nesting material as possible to build the nest so they don’t have to get feathers off the chicks.
  3. In extreme cases, some breeders are saying that the solution could be a piece of pig fat! Interesting, isn’t it?

This problem is extremely dangerous and is solved by putting a piece of simple, salted, unsmoked fat next to the nest because the parents are in desperate need of fat in the mating process. This is the main cause of plucking feathers from the chicks. It’s not a joke and don’t ignore this problem!

Tie some strings to cage bars so they can pull them and distract them from the chicks’ feathers until the need for fat is satisfied. This behavior can be prevented if before the breeding season the birds are provided with fatter food. 

Building a new nest.

When the fledgling chicks are 21 days old and they left the nest, the parents start to build a new nest. It is recommended that one pair of canaries or finches lay at the most 3 rounds of eggs and feed the chicks per season. Any more than this could stress the parents too much.

Red eye canary chicks 
Fledgling birds
How to wean birds
Weaning hand-fed canary chick

Once the new nest is built, the fledglings should be separated from the parents with a wire divider so that they still can be fed between the bars. If separating the youngsters is not a possibility, then make sure that the nest remains clean while eggs are laid. This can be easily achieved if we use plastic eggs to replace freshly laid eggs. By the time the last egg is laid, the fledglings should be old enough to be permanently separated from the parents.

If the male participated in the rearing of the chicks, you can separate them into a cage together and will continue to feed them until weaning. During this period, you must maintain cleanness in the cage since inexperienced chicks often swallow various inconsiderable items (grain shells, feathers, dried food residues, etc).

Chicks that have just left the nest don’t know how to assess distances, turn around, slow down and recognize obstacles. Therefore, the young bird should not be allowed outside the cage until it’s old enough. During its flight in a room, the bird can hit the closet or wall, fall into the flower vase or aquarium, fall in the slot between the wall and furniture, etc.

Weaning canary chicks; Weaning finch chicks

When the chicks are 28 days, they can wean. This occurs gradually because parents feed the chicks less and less. Parents feed the chicks about until their whole tail grows.

In the first few weeks, they will eat mostly soft food (hard-boiled egg, egg food, germinated seeds, soaked seeds, etc.) until they learn to peel the seeds. Also, you have to give them slices of apple and cucumbers.

The chicks will be separated from their parents when they can feed themselves and move through the cage. Chicks will be moved to another cage. Usually, by this time the parents will go back into the mating period. As mentioned before, it’s natural to have two or three rounds of chicks a year. More is already too demanding for the female.

Each family of canaries or finches is unique, just like every round of chicks. In time you will gain experience and you will know how to face every situation that will arise. But the important thing is that you will have great satisfaction by breeding the birds.

Weaning tips:

  • When multiple fledglings are weaned at the same time, the cage must be big enough for all of them to avoid fighting later on.
  • Make sure your birds are eating by themselves while still in the same cage as the parents.
  • When moved to the different cage, provide the same food as they were used to while with the parents.
  • Provide soft food for the first couple of weeks.
  • If possible, separate the chicks with a mature hen so they can learn how to find the water and the food in the new cage. An older chick will be as good if a mature hen is not available.
  • Make sure that the older birds won’t fight the chicks of the food and water.
  • Ensure that the new chicks are eating and drinking
  • Because changing cages could be stressful to some birds, keep a lookout for unhealthy behaviors (e.g. biting legs, pulling feathers, getting weak, heavy breathing, etc.)

Weaning hand-fed canary chicks / weaning hand-fed finch chicks:

  • Do not hand-feed them as much as before and introduce soft food (egg food, vegetables, soaked seeds, germinated seeds, etc). They will get hungry and will start looking for food. Try to put some egg food on your finger and feed them when they open their beak. Keep observing them and if they don’t feed by themself then, help with some more hand-feeding formula.
  • Move them in a cage with a bird that feeds by itself (preferably a hen canary or hen finch, a male will scare them as it will be very active during breeding season). They will follow the older bird and so the chicks will find the food and water.
  • Make sure that there is plenty of food and water so the birds will not fight.

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