The routines associated with managing a birdroom must never be overlooked even when dealing with a relatively hardy species such as Zebra Finches. Well organised birdrooms tend to be those where the birds are fit and healthy. Successful exhibitors invariably bench birds which are clean and in good physical condition.
Routine daily tasks
Routine daily tasks include the replenishment of all seed pots, removing any old seed husks before adding fresh seed. Water should also be replaced on a daily basis even when using tubular drinkers, which hold more than a day's supply of water. Additionally it is important to set aside time every day just to look at each individual bird. Often when rushed for time it is possible to top up both the seed and water pots without actually looking at the birds. Daily inspection allows early signs of trouble to be spotted and the sooner remedial action is taken the easier will be the cure. Any birds looking off colour should be caught up and examined more closely. If the cause of birds appearing to be unwell is not obvious, they should be housed separately from other birds until they return to full health. Certain individual birds will dislike each others company and when they are kept in the same cage this will lead to one or both looking off colour.
These include cleaning out cages, providing baths for your birds and replenishing grit pots. Cages should have old floor coverings completely removed and replaced with fresh material. Sand or wood chippings are the most usual coverings, although paper may be used in some cases. Wood chippings tend to be the most absorbent, keeping cages drier and birds cleaner, however it is important only to use clean, course softwood chippings or sawdust. Many fanciers have had birds die because wood chippings or sawdust have been contaminated with creosote and other toxic chemicals. Paper keeps the cages themselves fairly clean but birds kept on plain paper tend to pick up dirt more quickly than those kept on wood chippings or course sawdust, if you intend to use paper as a floor covering then it is advisable to place several sheets in the cage and remove the top sheet on a daily basis.
Less frequent tasks
These include cleaning flights and aviaries, indoor flights need cleaning about once a fortnight and outdoor aviaries about once every four to six weeks, depending on their size and floor covering. All receptacles used for seed, water and grit must be kept clean and will require washing out fairly regularly. Seed pots should be emptied and their contents sieved at least every other day. Perches also require attention, any which do not fit properly should be discarded and replaced. Whether to use natural perching or dowling is a matter of personal preference, I use natural perching in my flights as i find it kinder on the birds feet but i use dowling in my breeding cages, both the round and square type of about 3/8'' diameter and these are sanded slightly to remove any rough edges and also provide some variation in thickness. In addition to scraping perches clean they also need washing thoroughly about once a month, if used in flights or weekly if used in cages. I soak mine in a bucket of warm water and bleech for a few hours then use a scouring pad to clean the perches before rinsing them in clean water, then leaving them to dry over night. Dirty perches, in addition to encouraging foot sores, can also be responsible for eye infections. Loose perches which fall down continually make birds nervous and flighty. Birds should be treated with an antimite spray, exactly to the recommendations of the manufacturer, at least twice a year. Zebra Finches are unlikely to be infested with red mite or northern mite, but can carry feather mite.
While it may seem optional as to whether we employ good management, or adequate general management techniques it is worth bearing in mind that those breeders and exhibitors who consistently produce good quality birds, almost certainly employ good general management. For the exhibitor failure to meet these basic standards often results in birds losing at least two or three places on the show bench, while breeders who neglect detail tend to be those who have round after round of clear eggs or high levels of dead in shell...