Fostering makes sense initially

Due to numbers now being bred, fostering versus parent rearing is no longer an easy decision.   Especially as all birds are now captive-bred

For newcomers to waxbills though, fostering is a good way to start to build up a breeding stud with nice, young birds. Then can learn successful parent rearing knowing there is a viable UK population

In my first season, the only parent-rearing success was from a captive-reared hen.   In those days, wild-caught were still available

In only 3 months of fostering, there were numerous chicks from different pairs of wild-caught Cordon-bleu parents.   This continued through 2009 using F1's)

Fostering normally means that 50% of eggs laid will result in independent chicks (but this includes all the infertile eggs from 2 'battery hens' - otherwise, fertility is ~ 90%)

Fostering delivers, even though it isn't natural and doesn't feel quite right, it is a great way to learn while building up a flock

pair of good Bengalese fosters

Pair of good Bengalese fosters


Fosters vary

With good fosters, all fledglings lack any tufts of head down. From 'okay' fosters, some fledglings have tufts of head down

From poor fosters (or old/ unfit parents), 1 or more chicks fledge incompletely feathered or can't even fly

If initially results aren't good, try again with eggs from other another Blue-capped pair. If it's another poor result, use such Bengalese to foster rear eggs from good foster Bengalese

Why are some poor fosters of Blue-capped? A common theory is rejection is due to dark skin colour (and down).   I'm not convinced

Bengies' chicks are much, much noisier.   It could be down to sound.   It doesn't matter

Get some good Bengalese fosters from Gouldian, Parrot finch or better still, other waxbill breeders

Once you have a good strain, its very easy.   Good fostering seems to be inherited

Only risk a couple of fertile eggs (make up the clutch of say 5 eggs with china eggs) on an untried pair or trio of Society finches

Some will happily foster at 8 months

If Bengalese are young ie under a year old, they may fail the first time.   Don't give up on them

If Bengalese are about a year old and have had 2 Blue-capped nests and failed to rear, then give up on the those Bengies


Cock trios every time for me

Can induce cock trios to go clucky in 4 days

1 china egg added to nest each morning for 4 consecutive days

Start making them go clucky as soon as know have a waxbill nest

No egg-laying cycles

No distracting extra eggs laid

This example involves Pin-tailed parrot-finch chicks but hopefully the example is still sound)

The photo below shows two nests which hatched on the same day and had exactly the same food/ regimen/ cage

The trio's chicks are bigger, better developed and better feathered than the pair's chicks

The trio's chicks have already started moving around the nest

What goes in comes out.   Much more droppings in the trio's 3 chick versus the pair's 2 chick nest

Not just due to the nest having one more chick.   Trio's chicks crop's were invariably much fuller

One cock and two hens or all hen trios?  The hens compete for the eggs so fewer are consistently brooded so fewer hatch

So, cock trios every time


Bursting

Better if you can stop peeking at the chicks as they near full feather from days 13 or 14 onwards

Otherwise you might induce a 'burst' and the weakest/ youngest could suffer

If you see fewer waxbills to the perch than when you last inspected prior to fledging, try not to look in the nest

The smallest/ weakest will 'burst' and an extra day in the nest can be the difference between surviving or not

Fledging time varies

Blue-capped Waxbills don't all necessarily fledge on the same day.   One might be early or 1 might be late (usually all within 2 days though.   This fits with the egg hatching times. 1 nest was 4 days)

Fledge at about days 18 - 20. It varies with different fosters, (average - 18.5 days)

The waxbill chicks return to the nest for the first few days during the day and especially at night

Reduce chance of imprinting

Faced with a small, not fully feathered fledgling, I turn the heater up to 20C (70F) for 2 day

Only one or two chicks fledge, so are more Society Finches than Cordon-bleus!!   If possible, transfer one or two older Blue-capped waxbills, which are steady in small foster cages, for 3 or 4 weeks

It means at least youngsters see behaviour of, and socialise with, other Cordon-bleu Finches


Weaning - minimise the stress

Waxbills may be weaned at 16 days. The sooner they mix with other Blue-capped the better to learn to socialise

When weaned, don't transfer from a small foster cage to an aviary in one giant leap

Try an intermediate week or two in a small cage and work up to bigger things

If going to a flight cage transfer one or two Bengalese as well just for 2 or 3 days

The young waxbills will be more comfortable and the adventurous Bengalese will find the seed and water soonest

Ensure seed and water dispensers are of the same type, colour and positioning as before

This helps the youngsters find them

Having said that, Blue-capped youngsters are pretty intelligent as fledlings

Useless information, the beak changes from black to 'pink' a month after fledging.   The first moult is at just under 3 months.  They go through the moult without any fuss


Bengalese (Society Finches) or Zebra Finches as Cordon-bleu Fosters

I tried unsuccessfully but some breeders advocate using Zebras to foster

Why bother when Bengalese are wonderfuly steady, predictable and controllable?

A 'trio' of Society finch cocks can be made clucky within 3 - 4 days but...

Some Bengalese wont feed Blue-capped waxbill chicks

The skin colour and/ or the heavy down may contribute

Big downside of Zebra Finches versus Society finches as fosters is are harder to make 'clucky' when it suits you

So, you must have a pair breeding 'in sync' which means keeping more Zebra finch pairs

Upsides - photo shows dark and light skin coloured Zebra chicks in same nest plus quite a lot of down AND ...

Zebras don't roost as early as Bengalese

In winter early roosting Bengalese limit feeding time and extends 'night'

picture of Zebra finch chicks showing there differing body colouring

Zebra Finch chicks - 1 nest, same parents, different skin colour, down & varying sizes


 
Fostering makes sense initially

Due to numbers now being bred, fostering versus parent rearing is no longer an easy decision.   Especially as all birds are now captive-bred

For newcomers to waxbills though, fostering is a good way to start to build up a breeding stud with nice, young birds. Then can learn successful parent rearing knowing there is a viable UK population

In my first season, the only parent-rearing success was from a captive-reared hen.   In those days, wild-caught were still available

In only 3 months of fostering, there were numerous chicks from different pairs of wild-caught Cordon-bleu parents.   This continued through 2009 using F1's)

Fostering normally means that 50% of eggs laid will result in independent chicks (but this includes all the infertile eggs from 2 'battery hens' - otherwise, fertility is ~ 90%)

Fostering delivers, even though it isn't natural and doesn't feel quite right, it is a great way to learn while building up a flock


 
Fosters vary

With good fosters, all fledglings lack any tufts of head down. From 'okay' fosters, some fledglings have tufts of head down

From poor fosters (or old/ unfit parents), 1 or more chicks fledge incompletely feathered or can't even fly

If initially results aren't good, try again with eggs from other another Blue-capped pair. If it's another poor result, use such Bengalese to foster rear eggs from good foster Bengalese

pair of good Bengalese fosters

Pair of good Bengalese fosters


 

Why are some poor fosters of Blue-capped? A common theory is rejection is due to dark skin colour (and down).   I'm not convinced

Bengies' chicks are much, much noisier.   It could be down to sound.   It doesn't matter

Get some good Bengalese fosters from Gouldian, Parrot finch or better still, other waxbill breeders

Once you have a good strain, its very easy.   Good fostering seems to be inherited

 

Only risk a couple of fertile eggs (make up the clutch of say 5 eggs with china eggs) on an untried pair or trio of Society finches

Some will happily foster at 8 months

If Bengalese are young ie under a year old, they may fail the first time.   Don't give up on them

If Bengalese are about a year old and have had 2 Blue-capped nests and failed to rear, then give up on the those Bengies


Cock trios every time for me

  • can induce cock trios to go clucky in 4 days
  • 1 china egg added to the nest each morning for 4 consecutive days
  • start making them go clucky as soon as you know you have a waxbill nest
  • no egg-laying cycles
  • big positive is no distracting extra eggs laid

 

What goes in comes out.   Much more droppings in the trio's 3 chick versus the pair's 2 chick nest

Not just due to the nest having one more chick.   Trio's chicks crop's were invariably much fuller

One cock and two hens or all hen trios?  The hens compete for the eggs so fewer are consistently brooded so fewer hatch


 
chicks fostered by a pair of Bengalese versus those fostered by a trio

This example involves Pin-tailed parrot-finch chicks but hopefully the example is still sound)

The photo above shows two nests which hatched on the same day and had exactly the same food/ regimen/ cage

The trio's chicks are bigger, better developed and better feathered than the pair's chicks

The trio's chicks have already started moving around the nest


 
Bursting

Better if you can stop peeking at the chicks as they near full feather from days 13 or 14 onwards

Otherwise you might induce a 'burst' and the weakest/ youngest could suffer

If you see fewer waxbills to the perch than when you last inspected prior to fledging, try not to look in the nest

The smallest/ weakest will 'burst' and an extra day in the nest can be the difference between surviving or not

Fledging time varies

Blue-capped Waxbills don't all necessarily fledge on the same day.   One might be early or 1 might be late (usually all within 2 days though

This fits with the egg hatching times. 1 nest was 4 days)

Fledge at about days 18 - 20. It varies with different fosters, (average - 18.5 days)

The waxbill chicks return to the nest for the first few days during the day and especially at night


 
Reduce chance of imprinting

Faced with a small, not fully feathered fledgling, I turn the heater up to 20C (70F) for 2 day

Only one or two chicks fledge, so are more Society Finches than Cordon-bleus!!   If possible, transfer one or two older Blue-capped waxbills, which are steady in small foster cages, for 3 or 4 weeks

It means at least youngsters see behaviour of, and socialise with, other Cordon-bleu Finches

Weaning - minimise the stress

Waxbills may be weaned at 16 days. The sooner they mix with other Blue-capped the better to learn to socialise

When weaned, don't transfer from a small foster cage to an aviary in one giant leap

Try an intermediate week or two in a small cage and work up to bigger things


If going to a flight cage transfer one or two Bengalese as well just for 2 or 3 days

The young waxbills will be more comfortable and the adventurous Bengalese will find the seed and water soonest

Ensure seed and water dispensers are of the same type, colour and positioning as before

This helps the youngsters find them

Having said that, Blue-capped youngsters are pretty intelligent as fledlings

Useless information, the beak changes from black to 'pink' a month after fledging.   The first moult is at just under 3 months.  They go through the moult without any fuss


Bengalese (Society Finches) or Zebra Finches as Cordon-bleu Fosters

I tried unsuccessfully but some breeders advocate using Zebras to foster

Why bother when Bengalese are wonderfuly steady, predictable and controllable?

A 'trio' of Society finch cocks can be made clucky within 3 - 4 days but...

Some Bengalese wont feed Blue-capped waxbill chicks

The skin colour and/ or the heavy down may contribute

Big downside of Zebra Finches versus Society finches as fosters is are harder to make 'clucky' when it suits you

So, you must have a pair breeding 'in sync' which means keeping more Zebra finch pairs

Upsides - photo shows dark and light skin coloured Zebra chicks in same nest plus quite a lot of down AND ...

Zebras don't roost as early as Bengalese

In winter early roosting Bengalese limit feeding time and extends 'night'


 

picture of Zebra finch chicks showing there differing body colouring

Zebra Finch chicks - 1 nest, same parents, different skin colour, down & varying sizes


Next page has information on parent-rearing parent-rearing
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