Update on Breeding!

We have been breeding birds since the Spring to increase our experiment sample size. Originally, we had pairs in separate cages and monitored their nests twice every week. However, we didn’t have much success with breeding this way. We had gotten some nestlings (chicks in the nest) and fledglings (chicks after they fledge, or leave, the nest), but not as many as we had hoped. So, we set up a free-flight breeding room at the end of the summer which tends to increase success and abundance of chicks. We set up a room inside the aviary with nest boxes, food, water, and bushels of hay tied together (it is important to keep the hay sticking up on the ground so the birds can pull pieces out and make their nests themselves). I came back after a couple weeks off and we now have a bunch of new clutches and some new fledglings! Exciting!

Here are some fun facts about zebra finch breeding:

Zebra finches can breed all year long….that is one reason why they are such a great model organism!

Females can lay up to 8 eggs in a clutch ( usually 3-6)…she lays one egg a day until clutch is complete and them begins to incubate them once the last one is laid

Eggs begin to hatch within 12-15 days after incubation…if doesn’t hatch in 20 days, it is infertile

Chicks are usually weaned (removed from cage with parents) between 4-6 weeks…..this is around when they start gaining their orange beaks and in males, orange plumage

The birds will not be sexually mature until at least 2 months old

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