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The ideal home
Often, birds belonging to the 130 species of estrildid finch are kept in cages that are too small because their owner thinks that these tiny birds only need a small amount of space. This is not at all the case for these highly active species such as the crimson finch from Australia. A large indoor aviary with potted plants is the best option for these birds. In the summer they can enjoy an outdoor aviary with planted shrubs. On the other hand, the well-known zebra finches can also be kept in a cage in a small group. These cages are usually made completely out of metal and the floor can be removed or the top part of the cage can be opened up. The floor should be covered in bird sand which is available from pet shops. Food and water bowls should ideally be filled up outside of the cage. Round and ornate cages are not suitable because the size is much more important. The cage dimensions should be at least 100cm x 40cm x 70cm. An aviary which they can fly around in to their hearts’ content is the best option for this species.
Nutrition for estrildid finches
Seeing as there is no research into what proportions of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals estrildid finches require, you should give them a wide variety of foods which they can pick and choose from. Different types of millet are recommended for most breeds seeing as they eat grass seeds in the wild and this can be a good alternative. Another ingredient that is part of their basic diet is canary seeds but these seeds contain oil and should only be given in small amounts. In spring and summer, you can add dandelion, plantain, pasture grass or sorrel (without pesticides!) to the menu. A popular alternative is twigs covered in greenflies which will be eaten up straightaway. Finally, some soft food which is made up of bird biscuits, some powdered milk and boiled eggs should be given.
The need to trim down claws can be avoided if the birds are in contact with rough branches but some birds will still need some help. You should first use sharp nail clippers, then a nail file. It is especially important to be careful of the blood vessels which run through nearly two thirds of the claw. If you ever make a mistake, put the bird back in the cage straightaway and leave it in peace. Normally, it will heal on its own, but you can get a haemostatic dressing from the vet just to be on the safe side. It is not enough just to give your birds food and water! A clean environment is also very important. The top priority is the floor of the cage which needs to be changed completely at least once a week. Dirty branches need to be cleaned or replaced with new ones. The bird bath is only enjoyable when the water is clean and the same applies for the drinking water. Tap water is usually sufficient. Food for the estrildid finches should ideally be offered in several different food bowls, each one with a different type of food. This means that they can always help themselves to whatever they fancy.