The bird feeds available in the west is not available in India but we have nutritional grains and seed of many varieties.
How to train a wild Zebra Finches
I have read lot of complaints about difficulty in training wild zebra finches.Training wild Zebra Finches is very easy.Keep you cage door open 24 hours so that the bird is free to move in your house.My windows have transparent mesh so birds do not fly out.Make 2 perch on the window and place polythene sheet on the floor under the perch.That way cleaning is easy.You can train them within a weeks time, if you let them go outside the cage.I use a badminton racket.Place the racket infront of the bird gently touching their stomach and ask them to sit.They sit easily following your command and then shift them from one perch to another.Initially your command should be strong and repeatitive but not harsh.The bird should recognize the name with your command.Eventually they will know what you expect them to do.If you ask them to jump on the perch from your racket they will learn.They learn your language very quickly.My study room window has no mesh and my female bird(Charlie) was sitting on the window grill.The sound outside the window scared her.She slipped while trying to fly while trying to grasp the window grill.She eventually flew down from the second floor.I went down and found her sitting in my car park on the floor.I asked her to sit on the Badminton racket and she kept sitting on it comfortably while I brought her back.Develop a mutual bond and trust with the bird.My birds also has a seperate loud tone when they have to call me and they come on the cage door.They either want fresh water or food or they miss me.My male bird Tango sings with happiness when he sees me.Do not assume that birds only sing for the female partner.I sing a small tune and both the birds have picked up the tune.Always give your birds privacy.Zebra Finches can’t see in darkness and they sit on the floor when scared.This makes them easy prey of cats,eagles,owls etc,If you have trained one bird the rest will learn.You will not have to say anything.If they see a racket comming close to them,they will know they have to sit on it.If they see a cup shaped hand comming close to their stomach,they know it is transportation time and they will sit softly on your hand.Try training the naughtiest, wildest male bird first.
A woman is always the best trainer because her voice has a rhythm.The command for training a bird called Tango will be repeatitive.
Now Tango with sit on the Racket…Tango sit,sit.sit,sit………..When Tango sits on the racket.Praise the bird….good boy Tango…clap clap,Kooochicoooo is the word they love and gets excited on hearing it.
Tango will jump to the next perch……..repeatitive…….
Does Tango wants to sit on my racket?….YES…..Tango wants to sit on my racket….Tango loves to sit on my racket.
You have to use positive words like “Tango will””Tango wants”means Tango has to do what your command says.
Feeding Zebra Finches in India
The bird seller just give them “Sava” and water.The birds get used to eating them.Keep “Sava” 24 hours in their cage.”Sava” is a grain eaten during fasting time in India.Give them boiled combination of Rice and moong daal or any other daal early morning.You may add ragi or grated beans or grated carrots or peas to the “Khichri”.”Dalia” with other different combinations of seeds is also good.You can also make it soup style.Cooking time in microwave in around 10 minutes if they are not soaked prior to cooking.The birds love to drink the soup.Give them Boiled and grated eggs(boil for 10 min) every alternate days early morning.Microwave egg shells for 1 minute and it should always be there in the cage to give the bird calcium.I had also put “Sava” seed in one of my flower pots and they grow as grass.You can give them wheat grass too.I give them 5 grasses daily which they chew.They are too excited about the grass.Provide them fresh and clean drinking water.To avoid ants, take a deep plate of water.Use a stand in the centre and place the boiled food on the stand.Heat “sand” in microwave for 1 minute to kill any germs and it should be always there for them.Black rock salt or Kala namak is also essential.My birds do not like fruits and the fruits gets contaminated very fast.Do not give food that gets spoilt or contaminated.I have a three layer stand in the cage which always has egg shells,rock salt and sand.Two fitted containers, of Sava seed in one and the other has fresh drinking water.If you place a thick cotton matress with sponge inside on the cage bed floor.They will dirty only the non-matress area.Keep atleast 6 matresses handy with you.Place two rocks near the feeding area for them to sit.Wooden perches,rock perches and iron perches help them in trimming the over grown nails and beaks.Good nutritional diet is very essential.Cuttle bones and Vitamin blocks for bird is very important.
Zebra Finches can understand human language and thoughts
Zebra Finches are extremely delicate birds.If you try to catch them their wings and body is hurt terribly.They are so cute and beautiful that there is always a temptation to catch them.My birds are extremely comfortable with me but when I get thoughts of catching them,the male bird becomes extremely restless as if I am standing with a dagger. I gave up the thought.I don’t want them unhappy.They enjoy when I chase them ocassionally and when I stop chasing they make a flight close to my face to challange me.Make your hand in a cup shape and you can bring it close to the birds stomach,the bird happily sits on your hand when you have to transport them to a yummy food spot.Let them come and sit on your hand and shoulders on their own will.That’s the greatest happiness.I must add that my female zebra finch easily catches flat tunes of mobile phone and can repeat it.The tone has to be flat beep beep rhythm.Who says that female zebra finch can’t sing?
Sometimes the male birds come in my study room and enjoy admiring himself in the mirror.He sings non-stop.After few hours I want him back in his room because both the birds feed the babies.The badminton racket sitting system fails and nothing works.I walk up to the female bird and complain in serious words that Tango is not ready to come.The female birds gives loud calls(she has voice of a baby goat) to him and he is back within few seconds.Try to communicate with your birds and you will find unusual behaviour.Relationship takes time to build up and the more gentle you are,the stronger the relationship between the bird and you.One harsh mistake and the bird will never trust you.Even if the finch parents don’t trust you,do not worry….The baby birds with help them be confident about you.They will learn from the babies to enjoy your company.
Making nest for Zebra Finch
Use a cardboard box.First place a layer of dried neem leaves.Place soft cotton layer and then layer it with a new folded cotton bandage.Give them pieces of soft tissue papers and neem twigs to keep them busy in nest building.Sometimes babies fall from the nest because of too much nesting material.Keep the nest deep.If babies fall they put it back in the nest.I have mentioned “neem” because it has anti-insects properties.
Bathing Zebra Finch
Place the bathing tub outside the cage.It should be more than 1 inches deep .The bigger the tub the more time the zebra finches will enjoy the bath.My birds bath 3-4 times daily.Keep the cage and the surrounding area always clean.
My birds are very comfortable when I take off the nest for cleaning.Take out the babies with exceptional care once they have feathers and place them on a soft cloth.Clean the cage and put them back.The babies gradually start clinging to you and prefer your company then being in the nest.Take the baby birds in a seperate room and you can give them the pulp of orange,boiled rice or mashed papaya to eat.Place the food near the beak with the back thin portion of a spoon.Always put your hand below the babies so that they sit on it.They do not like to be held forcefully as if you are lifting a suitcase.Place the babies on a soft towel made like a cave.You can also put some seed which they will play and eat.I also give a spoon of water to the babies which they drink happily.The babies often sleep in my bed and when they have to go to mom and dad for lunch,they come on my shoulders and make beep beep sound.I take them immediately to their mom and dad.Love your birds and they will love you forever.
Illness in zebra finches mites,lice etc
The best way to keep your birds healthy and free from mites and infection is by giving the a bath in neem water.When you see them plucking feathers or scratching their head on the cage bar then there is something wrong with the sleep/food/mites,lice infection. Boil neam leaf in water and they leave it to cool.Except for the head and ears,dip the bird throughly in the water.Then apply little euclyptus and neem oil on its feet.You may also use tea tree oil. Do not throw the remaining neem bath water in your house.If the bird is not drying himself,you can do a light blow dry with a dryer far away from the bird and not too close to hurt the bird.Place your own hand to feel the heat and the distance of the dryer.The bird will then dry itself on its own.Clean the entire house with water and cetrimide.The mites which leaves the bird will attack you.Place a branch of neem tree near them.Neem tree has great values in Ayurveda.
First Aid Kit
Vet number and hours
pad and pencil
Infared lamp and heating pad
Pepto bismol or Kaopectate
Flour- this is really the only thing you may need to use without a vet’s instruction first. Flour can be used to stop bleeding, for example if you hit a vein while clipping toenails.
Cotton balls and swabs
Avian nail clippers
Roll of gauze
Aloe vera gel
Tea tree oil
Home made incubator if possible.