The Brits Are Here
A royal welcome to members of The Waxbill Society of the UK. The autumn edition of The Waxbill introduced The Green Day Diet to its members. Thanks to my friend, Tim McCormick, a Florida breeder, I am now a member of The Waxbill Society. I’ve yet to be added to the group’s forum, but Tim has been forwarding me comments some of the members have made after visiting this website. It’s heartening to know there is some interest in the diet, along with the way we have been breeding our African wild-caughts. I’m looking to be an active member on the forum and have a good exchange of ideas and information. We have some very sharp and long-time breeders in the group who can only add to our knowledge of finches.
In the article, “The Morning Ritual,” we covered how important it is that we keep to a routine our finches can depend on. It relieves stress and makes for happy breeders. Parents need to have that fresh egg food at lights on to feed their hungry chicks. That’s why the egg food is given to them every day of the year here, as we always have a few species that are breeding. But it also insures there are no gaps in their nutrition that can affect their overall health. I’m a firm believer that a healthy bird is less likely to become ill and why chance having to medicate your birds when it can be prevented.
I have noticed recently that a few people have commented on serving variations of the diet. Sometimes an uninformed choice can result in throwing off the balance of the diet. I see comments like, “I feed them cucumbers because they love them.” The nutritional value of a cucumber is slim to none, and if the birds are eating them instead of what’s in the diet, they are not getting their potential optimum diet. I may sound overbearing when I point this out, and maybe for hobbyists, it isn’t that big of a deal. But if they are breeders, then they should pay attention to nutritional values if they expect to be successful in producing chicks. My finches eat exactly what is in the GDD and nothing else. They don’t know there are cucumbers and haven’t complained about the lack of them.
I also see comments about mixing the contents of the diet together into a mash. Maybe that is what they are used to. But being familiar with something that is not as utile as separation of items on a plate is no reason to give up if they don’t take to it right away. We have a product here in the U.S. called “Herb Salad,” which is a dry blend of several plants, many with medicinal properties. Sick birds are said to pick through the mix and eat the herbs that will make them better. Their instinct tells them what the right cure is. I believe this to be true, just as I believe they are selective with their daily breakfast and the quantities they eat of either broccoli, cabbage and carrots, or greens is based on their needs. Why have them work at it to find what they need? The most important item to keep separate is the egg food. It doesn’t take much observation to see parents of newly hatched chicks go right to the egg food, fill up and return to the nest to feed the beggars. Egg food is the choice of all parents. Why make it difficult to mix it in with other things they don’t want to give their chicks? The urgency they display filling up should tip us off that having to hunt for the egg food only causes stress on them.
One other item that can be potentially harmful is the idea that if a little is good, then more is better. It can result in toxicity affecting the liver and kidneys. Finches appear to be self-regulators with the exception of protein. I am not sure why there is this aberration, but when they get too much protein they are apt to go through a hormonal change.
In conclusion, let’s go to McDonald’s. Why? Because even though it may not be the best meal in town, we know what we are going to eat, and with few exceptions, the Big Mac is going to taste the same at every McDonald’s in the world. I have probably eaten a Big Mac in a dozen countries and never have had a surprise.
We’ve been on a protein kick the last couple of months because we’ve been doing trials to find the right protein and the right amount to use with African species that require a higher protein rate to breed. If you know me, then you know that nothing live is being used in the trials. If we are going to get it correct, we have to know the percentage of protein in a food source, and it has to be the same with every batch of food. This is something live foods generally cannot do, as their protein is based on what they’ve recently eaten.
I was asked in a forum, from a nutritional point of view, what makes finches toss chicks. The correct answer is: too little protein or too much protein.
Then I was asked, well if that’s the case, how do you know chicks are being tossed when they are being given too many mealworms. The answer: you don’t.
If you have a problem species where the parents continuously toss chicks, based on the assumption it is a nutritional deficiency, you can start adding protein to their diet until they don’t toss anymore. With a food source such as ground hemp seed, you know the protein is consistently 34%. Therefore, you can calculate that X amount of hemp seed should work most of the time.
When using live food, do you know what the protein percentage is? Probably not. And the next batch you use could have a different percentage, higher or lower, so you never really know. They may produce a successful clutch one time and toss the next. What caused it? Too little or too much protein? You don’t know. If you haven’t read my article, “Stuffed, But Not Sated,” then give it a glance, but the title really tells the tale.
Why We Breed Birds
I’m still bowled over by the Cutthroat fledglings coming down the production line. With their juvenile feathers, they appear twice the size of their parents. The recent gift from Dybowski Twinspot parents has three little ones walking or flying all over their flight room, flicking their tales from side-to-side. I’ve seen in this clutch a better ability to fly. The last ones were pretty clumsy for a couple of weeks. Lo and behold, my agonizing is over with the Melba Pytilias. The last two years were full of sick Melbas, Melba males that killed off other males, and if males weren’t around, their hens. I was in their flight room late tonight and the final pair—I thought I was down to one male as I hadn’t seen the hen until a few weeks ago, after being absent for months—brought out a juvenile that looks to be a couple of months old. The secretive Melbas may have more, but I am happy to finally see one successful son. Patience is a virtue; perseverance a must.