fetching finches

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Compatible Species
Elegant Grasskeets (Neophema elegans) area actually hookbills (true parrots). However with the petite size, lazy nature and calm demeanor- they can make good additions to aviaries with other species or as low maintenance pets. The elegant parrot was originally named by the renowned ornithologist and artist John Gould in 1837. It is one of six species of grass parrot in the genus Neophema commonly referred to as "grass parrots," or "grasskeets". They average 8.6-8.75 inches (22 cm) in length and weigh between 1.4 - 1.8 oz (40- 51g)- most of which is from their long tail. Similar to finches; they should not be housed with other Grasskeets as they may hybridize. However, these peaceful birds can be housed with Bourkes, parakeets, finches, canaries, doves and quail.

Unlike many other hookbills, they have an almost identical diet to that of passerines (finches, etc). One would assume they require slightly less protein than most passerines as they are Psittaculidae. However that is false as they are commonly seen on the ground looking for insects (unlike other 'parakeets').  So a larger portion of their diet should come from protein: egg food, insect, quinoa, etc.

In their natural habitat, these parakeets eat seeds as well as seasonally available fruits, flowers, fruit, buds, plant and vegetable matter & insects. They are found near the shores- and therefore have adapted to a higher salt diet in the wild. However that is not recommended when in captivity. But it is important to provide supplementation through 'Manu Clay' mounted so they can receive the extra nutrients and trim their beak.

Daily Diet: 1/4 pellets, 1/2 fruit/veggies//sprouts/flowers/egg food, 1/4 seed
I want to be clear about this: pellets are nutritionally balanced to some degree. But the processing means that some of the nutrition is either destroyed or down right artificial. Many of them also contain a large amount of soy - which can increase hormone production. So instead I try to mimic the natural diet by providing an extremely large variety that rotates twice a week.

Seed mix (finch or parakeet- usually 14 different seeds)
  • Commercial mix- I use a mixture of a parakeet mix from the big box store, and specialty mix from Lady Gouldian that I mix myself with extra seeds from the supermarket. You can read more about this on the 'Advanced Nutrition' section of this site. Here are the types:

    Red millet, Niger, White millet, Red millet, German millet, Siberian millet, Canary grass, Buckwheat, Hemp, Paddy rice, Peeled oats, Wild turnip, Rolled oats, Sunflower, Sorghum, Safflower, Wheat, Linseed, Sesame, Lettuce, Flax, Chia and Poppy. For flavor there is citrus, honey and rosehips. There is added Vit A / D3, Calcium, Sodium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Iodine, Copper, Manganese & Zinc and Echinacea.

Harrisons pellets (super fine) and Roudybush pellets (crumbles)
Rotating items (daily- but may vary)
Egg food with crushed shell, cuddlebone and probiotics
Sprouted seed (I sprout about 20 different seeds in a professional sprouter- you can purchase online so you- and your whole family can enjoy)
  • beet, broccoli, kohlrabi, swiss chard, radish, mustard, watercress, alfalfa, cabbage, clover, spring greens. ONLY the greens: lentil, mung, garbanzo, pea, adzuki, kamut, fenugreek, herbs, moringa
Fresh veggies (10 different kinds)
  • bok choy, swiss chard, winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc), zucchini, kohlrabi, kale, corn, collard greens, moringa, carrot, beets (blonde beets), brussel sprouts, celery, spring greens (including spinach), peppers, broccoli, pea pods, green beans, cauliflower, parsley, cilantro, turnips, yams, sweet potato, pumpkin
Fresh fruit (at least 3 kinds)
  • apple, pear, figs, banana, cherries, blueberries, orange, coconut, papaya, dried pineapple, fresh dates, banana, mango, cantaloupe, pomegranate
Fresh flowers (as available, please ensure they are organic as you dont want them with pesticides)
  • aster, carnations, chrysanthemum, daisies, hibiscus, nasturtium, pansies, roses, lemon, lime (many fruit trees)

Herbal Tonic - (separate dish)
  • see 'advanced nutrition' portion of this site
Bee Pollen
Brazil Nuts- source of Selenium (important especially for females)
Other nuts- good source of vitamin E. Walnuts, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds. All these should be chopped to a manageable size and maintain portion control. I do not feed Macadamia- macadamia have 80% fat, which can easily cause obesity and digestive upset.
Cuddle bone and egg shell
Ensure you have a UV light!

Sparingly or special add-ins: cooked pasta, cooked quinoa, cooked beans (make sure they are soaked, and cooked fresh), cooked rice (brown and wild rice), grapes, and most important is Black- Forbidden Rice (it is extremely nutritious- but they don't know it!)
Bird crack sticks (they like to chew the seeds off of them), Note, these birds do not 'climb' like other parrots (conures, etc), so the sticks must be near a perch or on the bottom of the cage.

Band size is usually a 4.2mm (same as my German Zebs- MUCH larger than a society or most other finches).

Emergency formula for abandon baby birds:
2 tsp fresh orange juice (Vit C)
1/2 tsp ground and soaked high quality cat food (as it has taurine- remember these parrots actually do consume a large amount of insects in the wild)
1/2 tsp banana (potassium and magnesium)
1/2 tsp carrot puree (vit A)
1/2 tsp hard boiled egg (13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein)
1/2 tsp quinoa flour (Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants)
1/8 tsp peanut butter (thickener- B6)
1/8 tsp apple sauce (helps crop mobility/sour crop)
sprinkle of probiotics and bird vitamins (that includes calcium)... this fills in the gaps.

Otherwise my formula for babies consists of: Parrot hand rearing formula, with a pinch of the *lorikeet nectar and a bit more protein. These birds live in Australia on the coast- and generally mate right after the rainy season (spring and fall). They are surrounded by fresh fruit (most fruit is ripe in spring and fall), nuts, seeds and insects. Therefore this mimics that diet.
Parrot hand rearing formula- This becomes the base (if you are experienced- you should have this on hand) I prefer rice based instead of corn.
Lorikeet nectar -filled with the fruits, herbs and pollen they need for a strong immune system. I prefer 'Blessings Gourmet' as it also has papaya extract and numerous homeopathic herbs- it is expensive, but well worth it.
Protein- I use quinoa flour, baby food puree (meat) or pureed hard boiled egg.
Apple juice- helps with potential issues of sour crop. I add a couple drops in the formula
Like many birds- birds need a way to trim their beaks. I use a couple different methods:

Cuddlebone is pretty easy- the squid bones provide calcium and a abrasive surface for birds to do 'self maintenance. However they sometimes do not contain enough calcium after years of sun exposure or improper processing (you can check the bone by soaking it is water and using an aquarium water testing kit for KH/GH).

My birds didnt 'love' cuddlebone. My trick to get them to initially begin using it is simple:
I take the cuddlebone, and put a very thin coat of sunflower butter or peanutbutter over a portion of it (make it at home- so you know it is salt free and clear) as a glue to sprinkle millet on top. This attracted them to the cuddlebone in which they then became familiar. Another option is to hang the cuddlebone close to some fresh fruit or 'parrot sticks' so they get acclimated with the size/color/shape and realize it is in fact 'edible'.

Manu Mineral Blocks
The Manu mineral is actually a clay that is digestible and Macaws use it as a mineral supplement in the wild. My birds love this, and use it daily.

Natural wood
Most importantly- USE REAL NATURAL WOOD. the crevices not only help with beaks- but the joints of birds. Especially with a bird that loves to 'stand around'. They are considerably less active that other birds and therefore need unique surfaces to stand on.

  • Average is 6 weeks to wean
  • Clutches are 4-6 eggs
  • Incubation 17-21 days
  • Remove babies for hand feeding at 20 days
  • Brooder Temp 80-85 Degrees.... gradually decrease as they get more feathers. Always look for signs of dehydration, wings out, lethargy.
  • Brooder Humidity at 55-65 degrees.

2-3 weeks= 3-4ml
6am 9am 12pm 3pm 6pm 9am

3-4 weeks= 5-6ml
6am 10am 2pm 6pm 10pm
*At this age they really start exploring. Therefore it is important to provide lots of food stimulants- Nestling Food and soft fruit and veggies are a great start.

4 weeks to weaning= 7-8ml
6am 11am 4am 9pm