GREEN SINGING FINCH
Green Singer, Small (Little) Green Singer, Yellow-eyed Canary, Wild Canary (erroneous!)
A relatively easy bird to obtain at the moment and one of the commonest of the cup nesters.
The hen has the band of black dots around the chest and the male does not have any at all, although young males do retain the band of spots until his adult moult – so beware of this when obtaining young immature birds.
|Fig.1. Pair - Hen Right.||Fig.2. Related Grey Singer.||Fig.3. Pair - Hen on Left.|
This bird is a common species along with the many sub-species in Africa covering large areas of the continent.
I have seen Green Singers with white heads and chests. This breeding has proven to be pied. I have not seen any other mutations of this species. As birds get older they tend to show more white around the head so this may account for some "pieds"!
Green Singer cocks and hens can be quiet vicious at times. I had a hen Green Singer who attacked a hen Gouldian each time she ventured out of the nest box. I had to remove the Green Singer pair because of those attacks. The hen Gouldian could not get off the floor of the aviary without the hen Green Singer attacking her again and again!
Ease of breeding (from 1 easy to 10 difficult):
4/10 relatively easy to breed when given the right aviary conditions although individual pairs show considerable variation in their breeding temperament.
Purchasing your bird:
Green Singers are regularly to be found in your local pet establishments and specialty bird outlets.
In order to give yourself a good gene base to breed from it would be better for you to try and purchase your birds from different outlets to alleviate inbreeding of your birds.
Birds can also be purchased from reputable breeders.
If you are unsure of where to find a reputable breeder please enquire at your nearest Finch Society of Australia branch or local avicultural club.
Good points look for:
Size of the bird.
Clear bright eyes.
The bird is always on the move.
The bird must be in good tight feather and the feathers to have a nice sheen to them.
Clean mandible, legs and a clear clean vent are essential.
The colours of the bird are strong.
Faults to look for:
Birds that are lethargic.
Fluffed up with closed eyes.
A dulled appearance on the feathers.
Aviary or breeding cabinet:
I met a fellow once who had Green Singers breeding in cabinets and they appeared to be happy and settled in that environment.
I believe that they can and will do better in small to large aviaries. I have found that the larger the aviary the better results are obtained.
Some breeders will also remove the eggs from the natural parents and raise them with the aid of the Fife canary – the smaller the canary the better!!
The breeding season for the Green Singer is around March/April through until about September/November. Some pairs appear to prefer to bed in winter while others will adopt a more "normal" breeding season!
An austerity diet of mixed seeds, grits, cuttlebone and eggshells is O.K. A fresh supply of some seeding grasses is also recommended. Not too much at a time in the off-season as it could easily scour the birds. I do not feed my birds an austerity diet now and never will.
Should I feed soft foods?
A good mix of egg and biscuit formula is fed to the birds on a daily basis. A small amount of Madera cake may be offered.
What green feed?
Fresh grass seed I believe is a must in the breeding season. Other green feed can consist of Dandelion, Milk thistle, Chickweed and Endive.
I also feed my bird’s fresh clover with the roots attached. The birds seem to enjoy picking around the roots and must be picking up small tit-bits from them.
Some of the seeding grasses that can be utilized are; African veldt grass, winter grass, wild oats, summer grass, Johnston grass, Guinea grass, and Shepherds purse or whatever is growing at any particular time of year.
It is best to give the seeding heads half ripe.
What live food?
I have found that the birds do very well when fed a mixed diet of termites, mealworms and gentles (maggots). One can always install a vinegar fly trap in the aviary for those extra bits of live food that the birds can utilise at any given time during the day.
Breeding season feeding:
If you do feed your birds an austerity diet, this is the time to start to build your birds up to breeding condition.
Do not start with large amounts. To begin with let the birds build up to the extra live food and green seeding grasses. Too much too soon can easily cause all types of intestinal problems.
After a couple of weeks of steadily building them up is when you would provide your birds with a full compliment of breeding supplements.
What age do they breed?
Green Singers can be bred at around the 9 to 10 months of age, but it is best to try and leave until they have reached full maturity at about 12 months of age.
What if I lose a mate?
Losing a partner during the breeding season can be catastrophic!
I have not had a Green Singer of either sex take on a new partner during the breeding season following the loss of a partner.
However, it is not a problem to separate the birds at the end of the breeding season and introduce a new mate at the start of a new breeding season
I have found that the Green Singers prefer you to supply the nesting cup for them to use. I have used both the cane and wire cups and there did not appear to be a preference for either.
They will at times use an open fronted nesting box and will also build their own in the brush in the aviary.
I think that the best nesting materials for the Green Singers is teased Hessian, coconut fibre and horse hair – be careful here and only use the body hair and not the tail hairs as these longer hairs can cause problems like wrapping around feet and, worse still, their neck!
They will also use cotton wool and fine grass like November grass. Some white feathers are also used at times in the lining of the nest.
The nest is cup shaped and both the male and female do the building of the nest.
They prefer to nest high up in the aviary.
You may see the male feeding the female or even see them both carrying nesting materials and these are the first obvious signs that they are going to nest. If cotton wool is supplied you will see it from one end of the aviary to the other!!!
The mating ritual is easy to spot as the male chases the hen around and around the aviary and when they alight he will begin singing.
The male will sing to the female and when she is ready she will submit on the perch.
2 to 4 eggs are laid on a daily basis with the hen doing the brooding of the night and sharing the brooding with the male during the daylight hours.
Incubation is usually around 13/14 days depending on the time of year, generally beginning after the laying of the 3rd egg. There may be a couple of day’s difference in the brooding time in cooler weather and also in colder climates.
The usual time for the fledging the young of the Green Singer is around 21 days.
How long do the young stay with the parents?
I have found that the young are fully independent of the parents after 5 weeks out of the nest. I do not leave the young with the parents so as not to interfere with subsequent nests. I have not had the problem with young interfering with other nests, but some breeders have stated the young can be very disruptive.
When you have separated the young from the parents it is wise to keep a sharp eye on them to see if they are feeding as the parents for anywhere up to 7 weeks sometimes feed the young.
What do I feed the young?
No change of diet is required for young Green Singers they can be fed the same diet as the parents.
When do I ring the fledged young?
Some breeders ring their young whilst they are in the nest. Some Green Singer parents will tolerate the handling of the young whilst others will not and, from experience, most will not and immediately desert the nest of young.
If you feel a need to ring your young, then the young can be rung immediately after they have left the nest. If you leave it too long the ring will not slip over the toes.
When ringing young birds with an enclosed ring, be careful not to damage the foot or toes over which you are slipping your ring and beware not to break a leg.
Fig.4. Baby Singer.
Separating the pairs:
I believe that the separating of the male from the female does pay dividends when breeding time comes around.
In the Sydney area separate the cock from the hen at the end of November and reintroduce him about the second or third week in February.
However, most breeders appear not to bother separate their birds and leave them to do their own thing as regarding breeding!
Showing your bird:
The judges will look for the overall colouring of your bird.
Your bird must be in good feather and have bright eyes.
The feet, legs and mandible should not be flaky.
The bird must alert and moving most of the time.
The toenails should not be overly long and be clean and even.
The gene pool for the Small Green Singer here in Australia is pretty good just now and is expected to improve over the next few years with a renewed interest in aviculturists taking up the breeding of these birds.
Green Singers can live up to 9 or 10 years if housed properly.
A good worming and coccidia program should be used throughout the year.
This is a beautiful coloured bird for an aviary with their butterfly type of flight they are a delight to look at. Not only are they pleasing on the eye but are a beautiful singer as well.
If they are kept with birds of a similar colour it would be wise to keep an eye on them as some can get quiet nasty towards similarly coloured birds.
A MUGS VIEW!!
The Small Green Singer has long been one of my favourite exotic finches but I have certain misgivings when recommending them for everyone! They can be a tad aggressive to other species especially during the breeding season – with Cubans it can verge on the homicidal for both parties!!
To me getting a breeding pair is like finding a true breeding pair of King parrots – about 1 in 15 ‘pairs’ prove to be free breeders. However, when they breed they really go and it is not uncommon to get 10-14 young from a good pair in a season.
Down here they tend to breed during the winter which means there is something going on in the aviary even during the colder, miserable months!
Rather than waffle on I shall try and jot down a few points which might help you if undecided upon these guys for your collection.
●Never try a trio as even hens will fight with each other and most likely no breeding will result until one hen is removed.
●They love cotton wool to nest with but try and find the most natural brand possible (one cheap ‘homebrand’ one from Israel which is easily obtained in the Hunter Valley is the best I’ve come across!!) to try and reduce the chances of them getting it wrapped around legs – for this reason do not give them sheep’s wool!! If you give them cotton wool your aviary will look like a snow storm has hit it in the peak of nest building!
●If handling these guys remember that they can easily slip their wings backwards and dislocate or even break them so always keep the wings firmly held against the body if catching for ringing or handling for any reason. I have seen them ‘flip’ their wings in this manner on two occasions – both resulted in the loss of a wing!
●There exists at present a cinnamon mutation of the Green Singer which we believe to be sex-linked and when I can purloin a few pictures of them from a mate I shall pass them onto you!
●They will also cross with the Mexican or Black-headed Yellow siskin- that is if they don’t kill them first!
●As a consumer of live food they require regular worming treatments and, if you don’t send regular fecal samples to your avian vet, then you might stick to a 3 monthly worming regime.
●Have not found young from previous nests to be a problem when new chocks are being reared but would adopt Doug’s words and take them out to be on the safe side!
●As a relatively cheap and freely available cup nester they are a great stepping stone up to the more expensive and finicky Fringillid finches available to us in Australia.
Fig.4. Dad, Mum & Baby!!