How to help keep your zebra finches alive in the aviary at night

Published: 28th January 2011
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Fed up of losing your zebra finches during the night?
Here's one simple solution to the problem of keeping your pet aviary birds alive.
This is a common thing but there is a simple solution.
This might not refer to your own aviary but is a very common and easily made mistake.

Worry not though! I may be able to help.

You see, zebra finches and some other finch varieties of aviary birds cannot go for more than 8 hours without food. 'But they've always got plenty of food in the aviary!' you might be thinking.

My pet birds have plenty of food too, but that didn't stop them dying unexpectedly, until I discovered where I was going wrong.

Your finch will only eat if there is light for it to see what it's doing.

But during the winter months it's dark for about 14 to 15 hours at night. For your finches to go for 14 to 15 hours without food is like a death sentence to them, especially during winter when your zebra finches need to eat well to build up enough body fat to keep them warm.

Obviously the simplest solution is to install a light in your pet birds aviary night shelter, but you must make sure to fit it so that your aviary birds cannot burn themselves on the heat from the bulb.

You must be sure to seperate your pet birds from contact with the hot light bulb. Easily done by either surrounding the bulb with wire mesh but leaving space between the bulb and the mesh so that neither your birds of the mesh can make contact with the bulb.

If you have a security area in your bird shed which is seperated from your birds area by wire mesh then install the light in the security area away from your finches or other aviary birds. The light will still light up the pet birds area because there is nothing to stop it.

Try not to make you light too bright though as this will only dazzle your aviary birds.

You need to switch the light on as it starts to get dark and you can then switch it off about 7 hours before sunrise, this way your zebra and other finches will only have to go for 7 hours without light so they can eat.

A timed dimmer switch fitted to your light that gradually gets brighter as the sun sets and darker as the sun rises, and so imitating the natural environment, is ideal but can prove to be quite expensive.

I find that a cheap electric timer that switches the light on or off at the right times is the ideal lo-cost solution.

To sum it up; give your aviary birds plenty of food and a night light till about midnight or 1am.

Since installing a light in my pet birds aviary I have had no more casualties.

Try it, it just might work!

Pete Etheridge, Nottinghamshire, UK
Breeder and keeper of pet aviary birds for 10 years.

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