What is one of the most desired birds for poultry lovers? Undoubtedly the goldfinch, one of the animals so beautiful both for the colors of its plumage and the harmony of its song.
What is a goldfinch?
Known by the scientific name of Carduelis carduelis, and the common name of cardinal, it is a bird that belongs to the finch family. The most common is to see it in the western Palearctic, both in Europe and in the northern part of Africa and some parts of Asia near the west.
In Spain in 2003 almost 2.8 million specimens were registered, being one of the largest colonies in the world. They are very similar to canaries, but with a slightly more wild touch that makes it a little different.
Goldfinch communities are found mainly in forests, fields, agricultural areas, parks, and gardens, as well as in any herbaceous area, especially if there are thistles in the area, the preferred food of this species. It has a great predilection for hot environments.
What is a goldfinch like?
The goldfinch is a small bird, measuring between 12-13.5 centimeters. At most, it can weigh 19 grams, although the normal thing is that its weight oscillates the 14.
If there is something that characterizes him, it is the red face mask and the black wings with a yellow stripe. In adult specimens, the plumage takes on a tricolor appearance with a black and white head pattern. The beak is a simple beak, adapted to its diet.
In the case of the youngest specimens, the wings are identical to the adults, but the head and body have a brownish-gray tone, acquiring the typical tricolor head color after passing through the first molt in autumn. There are varieties of plumage, but everything depends on the season and the molting cycle.
It is a difficult bird to differentiate the female from the male since there is hardly any sexual dimorphism. However, the male tends to have a greater amount of red on his face and the nose feathers are darker. This could help a little to be able to differentiate it from the female in the case of wanting to reproduce the species. However, the best way to distinguish them is still to use the DNA test.
How long can a goldfinch live?
Compared to other birds such as the parrot or the macaw, the life expectancy of the goldfinch is very short. The normal thing is that their average life span ranges between 8 and 10 years, although some specimens have been seen that have managed to reach 12 years.
However, when they reach 12 years of age, it has also been proven that goldfinches begin their old age in an accelerated way until their death, which can reach them within a few months. A great curiosity of the males is that they can mate with canaries without problems.
What is the character of this bird like?
The goldfinch is a very active bird with a very happy character. He loves to sing and move from one place to another inside the cage or through the branches of the trees when he is free.
As a roommate, it could not be better, since it is a very affectionate animal with its owner and loves to brighten your day with music. Also, if you get used to it from a young age, you can mimic the beat of a song you’ve heard a lot.
Is it true that having a female goldfinch is a crime?
In some countries, it seems that if it is considered a crime for the indiscriminate hunting that this bird has had. Therefore, before thinking of putting a bird of this species at home, you have to check the country’s legislation to see if it is legal or, on the contrary, you could be committing a crime.
There is a way to have the female, but for this, our home must be considered as an authorized breeding center, and in many cases, the possibility of having a female in one’s hands is denied, so you have to be very careful with this point.
Although, in truth in some areas the male is also considered a crime to have, especially if it has been purchased. To avoid getting into trouble and receiving a complaint from someone to SEPRONA, you should never buy a goldfinch that does not have a ring, because it means that it has been caught illegally. Also, if the seller does not have a silvertista license, you do not have to rely much on the origin of the bird.
Although it is a fairly widespread species throughout the world, indiscriminate hunting is rapidly depleting the population, which has led to very harsh initiatives being taken against those who capture these birds. Being prohibited:
- Capture female birds. In the case of doing so, they have to be released to allow the species to survive.
- You cannot capture a nestling nest, being considered a serious crime that can lead to prison.
- If you are not an experienced silvestrist, it is forbidden to hunt these birds unless you are accompanied by an experienced one.
- The sale of these birds without being a silvestrist approved by the corresponding organization. If you sell these birds without this title, you would be committing a serious offense that could lead to a high fine or imprisonment for a crime against nature.
I want to get along with my new bird, what do I have to do?
Although as a general rule very few people waste their time training their goldfinch, it is not impossible to get a small relationship with this bird that is beneficial to both. The first of all is to place the cage well, to avoid that the goldfinch is scared and that it is in the main center of the activity of the house.
At first, the bird may be scared, which is quite normal, but little by little, go by the cage until it gets used to your presence. In time he may get closer to the walls of the cage when he sees you appear. However, it will not yet be the time to touch it, so do not be surprised that if you try you will end up taking a good peck.
To get her to climb on your finger, the first thing to do is earn her trust. Getting it will take time, so be patient. Open the door of the cage and put in your hand thistle seeds, its favorite food, so that it gradually approaches and eats them. At first, it may not come close but fear not, that sooner or later it will.
Once it eats them from your hand, put your finger on it so that it gets on it. If it doesn’t, give it a little push when it’s on the hanger and it will shift directly to your finger so you have a foothold. The first day does not do anything, but the next day you can already try stroking the belly or the head.
After several days you can remove it from the cage, but do not be surprised that it ends up flying away to explore what is around it. Very few people let him move freely around the house since in an oversight he can end up escaping through an open window. If it flies off, do not yell at it or try to catch it. Let him be the one to return to his cage, leaving his favorite food in it and then close the door.
Ready to have a goldfinch, how does its cage have to be?
Although it seems that the goldfinch is a small bird, the truth is that it needs a large cage, especially in width, since it likes to fly through it to stretch its wings. So, you should buy a cage that is 100 cm wide, 60 cm high and 80 cm deep, so it will have enough room to move. Also, it is important that the bar has a maximum width of 12 mm and that the separation between them does not exceed 1 cm, to prevent the bird from getting stuck between the bars.
Be very careful when buying the cages, since as a general rule small cages are offered for this bird and you never have to buy them to keep it at home, unless you are going to transport it outside to participate in a contest or to take him to the vet. Also, you should avoid oval or hut-shaped cages at all costs. Always opt for square or rectangular.
The material is also very important since some are very toxic to these small animals, such as zinc, so always go for a stainless steel one Also, make sure it has a good tray at the bottom of it that can be easily removed when cleaning. The next aspect is the doors. Goldfinches are small birds, so they could try to escape through the doors that you put the feeder and drinker through, getting stuck in the process and could be their death. So, to avoid this small problem it is best to buy a drinker and feeder that is hooked from the outside side and that there is only one door through which you can put your hand.
The perches that you buy are better to be made of natural wood since the plastic ones that come with the cages do not serve to file their claws well. With three hangers you will have enough to keep moving from one side to the other. With toys, a rope or a ladder could be enough, although it is fine to have something that can chew, as long as it is made of rubber and quality.
In summer, although it is a bird used to hot environments, it is good that you put a cup of cold water in the cage so that it can take a bath when it feels like it. Then remove the cup and put it back in, with clean water, the next day.
Is it difficult to locate the cage of a goldfinch?
To be able to locate the goldfinch cage you only have to follow the same guidelines as for the rest of the bird. The first thing is to avoid an area of the house where there are many drafts since the goldfinch could catch a cold and fall ill. Nor should it be in an area where it is excessively hot or in the sun for hours. Well, you could die of heat stroke.
Avoid putting it on balconies at all costs as traffic noise could stress it out and it is not a good place for a birdcage, despite popular belief. Nor should you put it near the television because of the flashes from the screen that could be harmful to it or in the kitchen, where it could be poisoned by the smoke from what you cook.
The best place will always be the living room because it is where you have a more social life and thus you can get him to establish links with family members. Besides, the cage must be at eye level, thus preventing the goldfinch from feeling intimidated or showing signs of rebellion towards its owner.
The goldfinch’s cage needs cleaning, what do I do?
Goldfinches are very clean birds, so your home must be cleaned thoroughly. To begin with, the tray on which he relieves himself must be changed every two or three days. You can put a newspaper to make it easier or sand The feeder and the drinker must be changed daily and thoroughly cleaned at least once a week to avoid creating parasites that could attack the goldfinch.
Regarding the cleaning of the cage, this has to be done twice a month. Using bleach diluted in water to be able to clean the bars well. The bird must be out of the cage, in another or lose if you already have confidence with him because the bleach is toxic for him. After cleaning it well, wet it with water, and then dry it with a cloth.
That the goldfinch can bathe by itself in its cage is very important, as this also helps to prevent the appearance of parasites. There are many small bird “bathtubs” in stores. Prepare a water bath with a few drops of apple cider vinegar and you will not have to worry about having parasites.
And what do I feed my goldfinch?
The goldfinch is a granivorous bird and feeds especially on seeds. There are already foods in stores that have different combinations of seeds so that this type of bird can be fed, however, it is always good to prepare some homemade combination to have it ready.
Especially, what the goldfinch likes the most are the seeds of thistles which are also very rich for it due to its high content of nutrients and antioxidants. However, he cannot be fed solely on this seed, no matter how rich it is for him. For this reason, you must give them seeds from other plants such as shepherd’s purse, purslane, poppy, sunflower, dandelion, or oats These seeds can be given to you throughout the year and days without running any risk, as long as a recommended daily dose is not exceeded.
It is best to prepare a combo that has birdseed, baguette, rapeseed, black lettuce, white lettuce, oats, sesame, poppy, perilla, hempseed, and decorticated oats along with little thistle seeds to ensure that it has the necessary dose of nutrients and vitamins daily.
It is a bird that also consumes some vegetables such as endives, tomatoes, or lettuce which should be given well chopped so that it does not have any problems eating them and a couple of times a week. They also like fruits such as orange, pear, apple, or strawberries which are a very rich source of vitamins for this bird. Three times a week at least this bird has to take a fruit mix, which can be a perfect substitute for seeds.
Enrich the relationship with your goldfinch
Although indeed, the goldfinch is not as close an animal as a lovebird can be, it does like something to motivate it to be happy. After all, being locked in a cage is not something that will make you very happy in your day to day life.
Therefore, one of the options is to offer a cage companion to the bird, especially if it is imprinted, so that it does not feel alone. It is best if it is another bird of the same species, but it also gets along well with canaries and birds of a similar size. Another option is to use relaxing music, such as classical music, a type of music that they love to listen to because it relaxes them.
Of course, there is always another option, and that is to establish a human-pet relationship with the bird so that it never feels alone when it sees someone around the house. It is not too difficult, but it does require a bit of patience.
What kinds of illnesses can you have?
Among one of the first causes of mortality of these birds in captivity are diseases, especially due to the carelessness of the owners. This is the list of the most common diseases of these birds.
- Coccidiosis: As a general rule, it appears when food or water contaminated by saliva from sick animals has been taken. The goldfinch will have bloody diarrhea, lose weight, drool discharge from the beak, and within a few days of symptoms appear, it will die. To avoid it, it is best to clean and disinfect the cage periodically.
- Colibacillosis: As a general rule, it is produced by eating contaminated food and liquids, causing loss of appetite, green diarrhea, and a duller character. The normal thing is that it can be treated with medicines. Mortality does not exceed 50% of cases, but it can be transmitted to humans, so you have to be very careful.
- Enteritis: Intestinal inflammation causes the bird to feel dry, so it will start to drink a lot despite losing its appetite. He will be listless with the owner and will be sleeping most of the time. It is usually caused by parasites, eating poor quality food, or infection. It can be cured with antibiotics.
- False molt: Goldfinches shed their skin once a year, but you may suddenly see that their feathers are shedding in the summer. This is usually due to a lack of hygiene or having made a mistake in their diet. You have to give him some multivitamins in the water.
- External parasites: If the cage is not well cared for and neither what is fed, the goldfinch can have external parasites such as mites or lice. In these cases, you have to use a sprayer to be able to eliminate them.
- Pneumonia: Remember that when locating the goldfinch cage you have to avoid that it is in an area with strong air currents. If you make this mistake, the bird will begin to have problems breathing with a lot of mucus in the nostrils, it will breathe with its beak open and it will be as off. You have to give him heat and an antibiotic to help him recover.
- Salmonellosis: As a general rule, this disease is contracted when they eat infected food or water (or when the food has been in the feeder for a long time). It is also transmitted by contact with infected birds. Among the symptoms, the most common is profuse diarrhea. Death of the bird and transmission to man is possible. You have to go to the vet for immediate treatment.
- Worms: Yes, birds can also have worms such as tapeworms or roundworms. Especially they appear due to the poor cleaning of their cage. Among your symptoms, you will lose your appetite, leading to weight loss, you will be tired, and your stool will show small white particles. You will have to speak to the vet to treat it.
- Diphtheria: It is a deadly disease that is transmitted by direct contact with another infected specimen. The feathers will lose their color, you will have diarrhea, it will be difficult for you to breathe and you may die. Only an experienced vet will be able to help the bird survive.
- Acariasis of the legs: The legs will begin to appear rough scabs with grayish tones, deformation in them. The normal thing is that the cause is due to poor cleaning of the bottom of the cage, so it is necessary to apply special ointments to help you eliminate them.
- Cysts: The normal thing is that if a goldfinch has cysts it is because it has been inherited from one of its parents. Among the symptoms, you will begin to present a subcutaneous swelling in the back and wings. They need to be removed, but this can only be done by a highly experienced vet.
I want my goldfinch to reproduce, what do I have to know?
First of all, remember that having a female in captivity, unless the appropriate permission has been obtained, is a crime. The second thing is that the goldfinches can breed twice a year in mid-March-April, and then in spring. It is rare for them to breed three times in the same year, but not impossible.
To make it easier for a couple to reproduce, it is best to put them in a separate module, with a large wooden nest so that they have a little privacy. After copulating, the female will spend 6-10 days in the nest to lay 5 or 6 white eggs, although some may have red tints. Once this is done, the incubation process will begin by the female between 12 and 15 days, during which time it is fed by the male.
When the chicks are born, they do not have feathers, they are deaf and blind, so they are fed by the parents until 15 days, at which time they already obtain their plumage, so they can already be transferred to an independent cage if is desired. It is in the autumn molt when they obtain their final plumage.
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