free web hosting | free hosting | Business Hosting | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting

Joining together individuals who share a common interest in breeding Carduelan species in captivity

Updated Monday, 15 February 2010

Page 12

Return to Page 1 Page 9 Page 10 Page11 Page 13 Page 14 Page15

Breeding Flies and Mealworms

Here is one my designs and description on how to build and assemble a simple “fly breeding cage”, although after a little bit of research on Internet I think there is a room for improvement, one side could be made removable. However, since the whole cage can be disassembled within a few minutes this may not be necessary but can be included as an added option. My cage is made out of Melamine Particle Board approximately 500mm x 500mm x 500mm, the assembly sketches are pretty much self explanatory, and the dimensions are optional. Good air circulation is necessary as well as some heat above the maggot food (breeding) containers. The medium I use is a mix of Bran, Powder Milk and Water, four parts Bran one part Powder Milk and one part water. The flies will lay eggs in this mix; the maggots when hatch will feed on the Powder Milk. You may have to add a little bit more of the same mixture in a couple of days when the mixture dries up a little and turn brown, for the Maggots to continue growing. The Flies in the cage also need some food; I dissolve two table spoons of Sugar in a cup of water, pour it in about a cup-sized container, and put a paper tissue over it so the Flies can land on it to drink. When I see the Maggots wiggling on top of the dry mixture (couple days later) I remove the containers and empty them into a bigger container from which the birds feed in the Aviary, the birds will eat maggots or pupae or the “red heads” (newly hatched flies). The flies after hatching cannot fly for an hour or so, birds like Wrens or Weavers are picking them up with ease. However, I always leave one container in the cage to maintain the numbers of Flies in the cage, since their life-span is only short, about five days.

Most of the Australian Grass Finches, Parrot Finches, Weavers, Wrens etc will feed on Maggots, Pupae and Flies; but I haven’t seen Siskins, Redpolls nor the Goldfinches feed yet. Here are some of interesting links should you like to read up on other people’s technique:


Base.jpg (37525 bytes) Back.jpg (22530 bytes) Front.jpg (25050 bytes) Assembly Screen.jpg (65169 bytes)
All you need is 2 Base, one for the top one for the bottom, one back
one front panel and two screens, one on each side. 

Assembly1.jpg (50006 bytes) AssemblyFK2.jpg (46348 bytes) AssemblyFK3.jpg (62040 bytes) AssemblyFK4.jpg (52640 bytes)
Just make sure everything fits nicely and you do not have to force it in or out

AssemblyFK5.jpg (51918 bytes) AssemblyFK6.jpg (50593 bytes) AssemblyFK7.jpg (44876 bytes) 
On the inside of the door staple an old pair of stockings so that the flies 
cannot  get out when you open the door

AssemblyTruss.jpg (35689 bytes)
A stand can be made out of a 10mm square or round  bar, if you can attach wheels on 
the bottom so that you can move the cage around if you have to, it would be helpful 

AssemblyBoxTruss.jpg (34272 bytes) FlyCage2_25Dec08.jpg (57785 bytes)
It should look something like this

PowderMilk1 8Feb10.jpg (51545 bytes) Bran2 7Feb10.jpg (58011 bytes)
Three or four dishes of Powder Milk and Bran as described above and that's all!
Don't forget sugar-water for the flies.

Mealworm Breeding Box

Many articles on Internet say you don’t need a lid on the Boxes but believe me if you are a beginner try it my way first then try it the other way if you like! I had anything from Mice, Birds, Moths, Flies, and Spiders etc getting into the Box either laying eggs or eating the Mealworms. Unless you have a special room or a cabinet made to keep out the pests, a Box with a lid is the best option. Just make sure the opening is large enough to provide good ventilation, I use metal fly wire but a 6mm mouse proof wire is OK if insects are not a problem.

Preparing a box is simple, just add about 50mm of Bran, then couple of sheets of Newspaper or cut a two or three layers of Hessian and put it on the trop. For moisture I give them a slice or two of Sweet Potato or  few slices of Carrot, sweet apple, Cucumber peels, Slices of Potato etc. The slices are placed on top of the Hessian, just remember to remove and replace them every day. During the summer months here in Sydney the Temperature ranges from 20 to 30 deg C so heating is not necessary but if necessary maintaining the cultures at 25 deg C is recommended.

As the Mealworms turn into pupa then into beetles, keep collecting them and put them into freshly prepared new culture to minimize Mealworms eating eggs or the pupas. The dimensions of the boxes are W350mm x D250 x H220 mm but you can make them any size you like. The reason why I made them 220 high is I roll up couple of sheets of newspaper into bolls and place them on top of the hessian; the beetles like to squeeze in and lay their eggs in it. Anyhow, most of you already know enough about it so I don’t have to go into details, if not read up couple of article on Internet, some people are better qualified then I am when it comes to breeding Mealworms. Here are some links:

MealwormBox2.jpg (29986 bytes) MWBScreen.jpg (61598 bytes) MWBTop1.jpg (34166 bytes) MWBTop2.jpg (36468 bytes)
This is all you need 

AssemblyMWB1.jpg (34999 bytes) AssemblyMWB2.jpg (38832 bytes)
Make sure you have more than one box so that you can move the beetles and pupa as they develop 



Cages and aviaries for Carduelan Finches

Carduelan finches are very active birds so they are best kept in aviaries or larger cages. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to keep our finches in outdoor aviaries year-round can provide everything birds need; direct sunlight, direct rain, air circulation, garden type of environment by planting trees or shrubs around the aviaries and build aviaries of almost any types and designs for the amount of space we have available or the amount of money we can afford to spend. Over the years I have seen some stunning designs not necessarily big but always in a beautiful garden setting. Finch enthusiasts who live in parts of the world where temperatures fall bellow zero during the winter months, an indoor aviary is a solution. Indoor aviaries can be just as pretty providing we plan first for the amount of space we have available. We should never overdo it by adding too much to the space we have available. Indoor aviaries should preferably have large windows and a large skylight to allow direct sunlight and plenty of air circulation during the warmer months. Garden aviaries can be built with two sections, one for winter and one for summer time. Birds will not often stay indoors willingly, they would have to be closed indoors during the cold winter months. For a single pair of Carduelan finches I would recommend an enclosure of two meters high, one meter wide and two meter deep. That would allow them to work their wings so they can  remain in perfect health and feather condition year-round.

 If the aviaries are too large the birds are very difficult to catch for any necessary check up, daily medication or ointments, generous amount of space is all they need. If too much given they can be often neglected rather then having to be chased all over the aviary, and this is not uncommon. When building an outdoor aviary a concrete floor is a must (to stop the rodents from burrowing in) or a deep footing around the perimeter, and a thought should be given about the slab slope and how is the water going to drain. Indoor shrubs are not necessary but some breeders prefer to use them, I guess it’s OK, providing they are replaced regularly otherwise they become good hiding place for mites and airsac mites, plus they collect droppings and make the aviary look dirty. In an outdoor aviary birds often prefer to nest in an exposed part or the aviary that’s why it is best to put something over the nest to protect the sitting female from heavy rain or a hot direct summer sun. As for the aviary wire type, it is best to use the 6 mm bird wire, it will stop small mice from squeezing through. Twelve mm (half inch) will not stop the mice, even large mice can squeeze through it. Below are some very basic designs, I didn’t draw the wire because it takes up too much of my computer’s memory but it will give you an idea of what is required.

WireSize1.jpg (74879 bytes) WireSize5.jpg (94273 bytes)
6mm (1/4 inch) mouse proof wire and a 12mm (1/2 inch) wire

Aviary2-15Oct05.jpg (69807 bytes) Avi2-9Oct05.jpg (66641 bytes) Aviary9-17-Nov05.JPG (66296 bytes) Aviary2-7-Nov05.JPG (65131 bytes)
Planted holding aviary for young birds

Aviary1 30Oct08.jpg (90751 bytes) Aviary1 8Nov08.jpg (106670 bytes) Aviary2 9Nov08.jpg (83062 bytes) Aviary3 8Nov08.jpg (47018 bytes) AviaryWall1 23Oct08.jpg (93716 bytes)
Climbing Rose attracts aphids and other insect, is ideal Aviary plant.

Avi3-1.jpg (19262 bytes)  Avi3-2.jpg (20964 bytes)
Simple aviary with two compartments ideal for two pairs of Goldfinches

Avi2-2.jpg (26523 bytes)  Avi2-5.jpg (30726 bytes)
This is a slightly better design


Av.jpg (20599 bytes)  Av3.jpg (23695 bytes)
Aviary with four compartments ideal for four pair of Carduelan finches



Avi.Footing.jpg (30534 bytes)  OAviary1.jpg (26151 bytes)
It is important that the footing is at least 300 to 400mm
deep to stop the rodents from burrowing. Each compartment is 

one meter wide two deep and 2.2 meter high.


OAviary2.jpg (21552 bytes)   OAviary3.jpg (30948 bytes)
These type of aviaries are more suitable for countries where the winter 
temperatures does not fall bellow zero for any considerable length of time.
But can be used as the breeding aviaries from May to about September
if covered with plastic sheeting.


Aviary Assembly.JPG (54110 bytes) Aviary Assembly2.JPG (48182 bytes) Aviary Assembly3.JPG (69428 bytes) Aviary Assembly4.JPG (38853 bytes)
These type of Aviaries are ideal for those who are into preservation of species,
it has 6 breeding compartments, plus the external aviary where seed producing plants are 
sown. The birds with young are let out to feed on green seeds. The external compartment can be subdivided to another three smaller compartment so that seeds can be planted to ripen at different times.

AV8.jpg (24091 bytes)  AV4.jpg (28777 bytes)   AV9.jpg (26495 bytes)
Indoor and outdoor flights, these type of aviaries are ideal and every 
finch hobbyist dream.



CageSingle.jpg (16759 bytes)  CageDouble.jpg (20505 bytes)  CageDouble1.jpg (20943 bytes)
When breeding in cages it is important to be able to separate the
birds. Each half is about 850mm wide, the boxes are 400mm deep 
and 500 high. Each double cage is only used for  one breeding pair

of birds.

Cage3.jpg (19882 bytes)  Cage3a.jpg (30862 bytes)
By far better designs are those with removable wire grill that separates 
anything  falling down on to the floor tray. Cage fronts should also

be easily removable for easy cleaning.
Lower groove.JPG (35905 bytes) Upper groove.JPG (36331 bytes) Lower groove 2.JPG (52969 bytes) Upper groove 2.JPG (75967 bytes)
That's simple, two grooves are made about twice the grill thickness, one in the top one in the bottom, the grill is pushed into the top groove then dropped into the bottom.
View1.JPG (69944 bytes)  Grill.JPG (70715 bytes) Bolt.jpg (53316 bytes)
It looks something like this. Don't forget the safety bolt.  


GreenShadeCloth1.jpg (70000 bytes)  GreenShadeCloth3.jpg (82740 bytes)
Wire cages are just as good but need some kind of open front cover (sleeve) that can be put over the cages. Excellent covers can be made out of Shade cloth, which is durable and easy to wash. It is available in three shade density levels: 25%, 50% and 75%. An alternative would be to decorate the wire cages with artificial wine, greenery etc. Shade Cloth is used in Gardening and is weather resistant (sun, rain etc), it is much tougher then the Mosquito netting. Therefore, do not confuse it with the Mosquito netting!


Corner3asm.jpg (24137 bytes)   CornerDrp3.jpg (31940 bytes)
The nests are placed in the exposed part of the aviary. Tree branches or 
shrubs are not important, but drapes made from shade cloth, hashion 

around the nest will make the sitting hens more secure. Some kind of cover 

above the nest is also important to have.


Swivel Feeders.jpg (22227 bytes)  Swivel Feeders2.jpg (18460 bytes)
Installing the swivel feeders on to the 

wire makes feeding the birds much easier. 


Front1.jpg (20520 bytes)  Neast.jpg (16074 bytes)  
Always install removable fronts with two doors, you can than use both 

arms when trying to catch the birds. Use only  nests that can be  
easily removed and placed back.

NestBasket1.jpg (54080 bytes) NestBasket2.jpg (57526 bytes) NestBasket3.jpg (56453 bytes) NestBasket4.jpg (65200 bytes) NestBasket5.jpg (46451 bytes)

RopeNest1.jpg (43986 bytes) RopeNest2.jpg (44205 bytes)
With a little bit of imagination we can create our own invention and save some money in 
the process.


Seed_Dish1.JPG (71935 bytes) Round Dish1.JPG (52841 bytes) Round Dish2.JPG (50420 bytes) Round Dish3.JPG (58211 bytes)
Seed DishJQ1.JPG (59541 bytes) Seed DishJQ2.JPG (63335 bytes) Seed DishJQ3.JPG (66012 bytes)
Avoid food and water dishes with sharp corners as in photo one. Dishes with rounded corners are much easier to clean.

Aviaries for Carduelan Species
by John Quatro

Let’s examine the type of Aviaries we build, why we build them that way, do we think and plan or do we just build them without too much thinking and planning. Are the Aviaries built keeping us in mind (less maintenance) or considering the birds (larger, with some plants) or is it considering both, us and birds, highly maintained garden type of setup with flowers and plants that produce large amounts of seeds!  I tried to examine myself first, and most times I built Aviary, it was because I needed an Aviary and “quickly”! In my early days of keeping finches it was always communal Aviary, I used whatever material I had available at the time, made a sketch to help me with the dimensions and started building. Often it was one weekend job. I knew nothing about the Carduelan species keeping, but in those days who knew? I kept mainly our native Grass finches and African Waxbills, they always bred well in a mixed environment. Any Carduelans that I might have kept were treated same, but they never bread. Canaries always built nests but their young for whatever reason never survived.
Canola2-7Oct06.jpg (42507 bytes)
Flower1-7Oct06.jpg (99799 bytes) CanolaSeedPods-7Oct06.jpg (71923 bytes) 

Other times I bought a pre-built Aviary and it only takes about an hour to assemble! Through the years of keeping finches I also had a chance to visit many excellent Carduelan breeders from all parts of the globe and see their breeding establishments. I visited many Wildlife Bird parks, Zoos and Sanctuaries, especially so if I heard they had rare finches that I might have been interested in at the time. They all had something in common when it comes to keeping and breeding Carduelan species; they all used two types of Aviaries, the keeping Aviaries and the breeding Aviaries. Some breeders bred Carduelan finches in large Canary type breeding box-cages, but they also had some type of larger Aviary where the young are moved to when the breeding pairs started their new clutch.  

MilkThistle1-7Oct06.jpg (65967 bytes)  MilkThistle2-7Oct06.jpg (117517 bytes)  MilkThistleNeedles3-10Oct06.jpg (113218 bytes)
Milk thistles, cut off the needle regularly as the plant grows

All of those breeding Aviaries are approximately same in size, anywhere from about 1.5 and 2.5 meters in either depth or width and usually about 2 meters in height. Aviaries of this size give birds a chance to use their wings, and this is important for their physical and psychological well-being. As we now know there is no “ifs or buts” Carduelan species are territorial, each pair must be given their own breeding enclosure otherwise you’d be wasting your time. Both, the dominant males and females will and do chase other Aviary birds relentlessly, sometimes to the point that some birds just fall of the perch and die. Some of you may disagree because most Estrildids are non aggressive. In a larger Aviary they can be kept with the Carduelans, and the Carduelans don’t seem to chase Estrildids as much as other Carduelan species. I agree with that, but the problem with Estrildids is that they can be nuisance in an aviary, especially if you’re trying to breed some of the rare Carduelans. Estrildids are very disruptive, they will still the nesting material and occupy their nests. Most importantly when the Carduelan young hatch, any precious amount of seeding grasses that you can offer as well as other food will be consumed by the Estrildids, therefore it is best to breed the Carduelans on their own. With some Carduelan species like the Red Siskins, just a presence of another bird in their Aviary can deter them from breeding; Red Siskins will and often do abandon their nests, eggs or their young just because of presence of another bird in their Aviary.   

SowThistle1-7Oct06.jpg (41897 bytes)  PeachTree3.jpg (50426 bytes)  SowThistle3-10Oct06.jpg (31510 bytes)

With any Aviary built, we must provide good shelter from winds, rains and the hot summer sun. Never ever put the birds in to the Aviary before installing the roof. I’m speaking here from my experience, I lost some of the rarest species in Australian Aviculture due to stupidity, reasoning that birds in the wild do not have roof over their head and that it was OK to put the birds in, I was going to install the roof in a day or so! That night we had one of the heaviest downfalls in a long while. The following morning I found most of the birds dead on the floor. During the hot summer months, heat can kill young and older birds as well, thick shade is important. This means the Aviary must be partly covered and built in a shady place preferably under a tree but at the same time must be exposed to a full direct sunlight for at least the first 4 to 5 morning hours.  In winter, cold winds and extreme cold can do the same, and I’m not talking here about the tropical finch species.  

VariousGrasses13.jpg (115896 bytes)  VariousGrasses14.jpg (130244 bytes)  RedFlower1-7Oct06.jpg (49023 bytes) 

The aviary complex setup at Loro Parque Tenerife, one of the worlds leading bird conservation establishment, is surrounded with beautiful garden settings and I often like to use their setup as a standard for any outdoor breeding aviaries for Carduelan species. At the Loro Parque, they mostly have Parrot species. I haven’t seen finches. Most Parrot species are territorial, so are the Carduelans, and that’s where I first realize the importance of keeping only pairs per Aviary. Being larger then Finches, Parrot enclosures were also a little larger but a formula I like to use for any species breeding aviary is: the minimum, 20 times the bird’s length for at least two dimensions (eg. width & depth) and that’s generous for any ‘breeding’ Aviary for most species of birds.  

  VariousGrasses6.jpg (91732 bytes)  VariousGrasses18.jpg (162255 bytes)  VariousGrasses7.jpg (112498 bytes)
Climbing wild Rose, up against the wall

Now, the Keeping Aviary, Communal Aviary or a Display Aviaries are simply what the name implies, they are not meant for breeding. They are larger ‘walk in’ type of Aviaries usually outdoor where young birds or odd birds are kept. Depending on how one prefers to keep their birds, you can let your imagination go wild; you can have the most beautiful flowering plants in the world, together with flowering seed producing plants. Anything from the small seed producing grasses to a very large 2.5 meters Amataranths, Large and small Sunflower, various Thistles etc. You can also install all kinds of waterfalls, evening lights etc. Certainly there is a rule or a pattern you’ll have to follow, if you don’t know anything about gardening it will be ‘trial and error’ for the first couple of years or you can get the professionals to do it for you. Some of the tricks here are: there has to be a perfect balance, you cannot have to many birds, you must choose if possible species that will not destroy your new garden and knowing when to add or remove birds from the Aviary to allow plants to regenerate and reestablish. One of the most impressive small Aviaries that I have seen was the Humming bird Aviary at the San Diego Zoo. They had few species of Hummingbirds and some Chlorophonias actually breeding at that time. We could see the Chlorophonia sitting on eggs inside a Weaver type of nest at about shoulder level height. Pair of Hummingbirds had their tiny nest built totally exposed on one of the 25 mm pipes, 2.5 meters above the ground. Again' the compatibility is the key; there are species of Hummingbirds that can’t be kept with other species because they are highly territorial.  The ‘walk in’ Hummingbird Aviary at San Diego was a big attraction; visitors could walk in, sit down, enjoy the birds and the beautiful flowering plants. That was an Aviary I though would satisfy people who enjoy both, gardening and birds and I decided that when I got back I was going to build one exactly the same. 

Truss.jpg (22292 bytes)                               Bracket.jpg (36477 bytes)                         
Truss                    Bracket goes on top corner of each truss 

Brace.jpg (31639 bytes)                       CornerAssembly2.jpg (30371 bytes)
             The Brace slides over the  bracket 

Assembly2.jpg (38633 bytes)
Four channels are paced over each edge of the corrugated sheet 

AviaryAssembly1-a.jpg (25964 bytes) 
The front end Assembly

AviaryAssembly1-b.jpg (46783 bytes)
One of these panels is fitted in each section of the two sides and a rear of the Aviary

AviaryAssembly1-c.jpg (39377 bytes) 
Just like this, and remember to design the height of the Aviary to be whatever the sheet is.

  I designed an Aviary that comes in a kit form, that is extendable and is easy to assemble, all out of 50 x 50 powder coated square tubing, it will never ever need painting again. Only the trusses that support the Aviary needed welding. Once they’re made then you just keep adding, 5 trusses per year if you like, and you can make your Aviary 1000 meters long if you like, add as many dividers as you like! The distance between trusses has to be whatever the width of the roll of wire is, and the braces between the trusses had to allow the width of the wire to reach about the halfway of each 50 mm truss. Three sides and one third of the roof are covered on my aviary. The side panels are pre assembled on the floor and just slid into position and fixed with four screws to hold the panels into place.

Keeping in mind this is a planted Aviary, I would recommend you sketch first where you’re going to put each plant. Remember, larger plants go first (up against the wall) then the smaller and so on. The reason for this sketch is to help you plan where to make the pathways, where to install the perches, they should never be installed over the plants and the reason is obvious, leave enough space for the droppings to fall on the ground. It is best to mix seed producing plants with pretty flowers. The flowers being only for esthetic values, can be almost anything from Orchids to Roses to Marigolds etc. Do not plant the more toxic variety, but I found that if birds are given an ample amount of leafy greens, seeding Grasses etc, they will not nibble on something that doesn’t taste good, but how careful should you be is definitely your own decision. My favored seed producing plants are Milk Thistle, Canola, Amaranth, Sunflowers (small and larger varieties), Corn, Dandelion, Shepherd’s purse, Sow Thistle, Marigolds, Spray Millets, Japanese Millets, etc. Use caution with Milk Thistle, make sure you cut off the sharp needles and do it regularly as the plant grows. I have 10 plants growing in my aviary and never had problems getting in and out of the Aviary. Some of the plants attract insect like Aphids, these are: Canola, Sow Thistle and Roses. Young birds are often seen foraging for hours searching for insects.  

Siskin6 - 3Nov06.jpg (74672 bytes) Poppy3 3Nov06.jpg (102973 bytes) Siskin7 - 3Nov06.jpg (166738 bytes)

As you can see with just a little bit of planning and imagination it is easy to create beautifully planted Aviary. Try to establish the plants and then put the young birds in, whenever they’re ready to leave their parents, this usually coincides with the time when the seeds are ready for consumption. Young Goldfinches are the best, they quickly learn where the seeds are located and how to open up the pods, other birds learn from them. Even the tiny Red Siskins make a stand against larger finches when there is dispute over the claim to whom a certain seed pod belongs to.

It is essential that all Aviary plants receive good soaking on regular basis otherwise some will wilt and die, or one thing for sure; ‘there will be no flowers and no seeds’. You also need to apply some fertilizer, I only use liquid fertilizer and the best time to apply it is during the heavy rainfall, I admit that I am not a fully-fledged gardener, I’m still learning, some of you may know more about it.    


(Click here for next page)

lightbar1CLR.gif (7004 bytes)

lightbar1CLR.gif (7004 bytes)