Single parenting when mate suddenly dies
by Bill Davidson
(Gatineau, QC, Canada)
Have a female Gouldian who now has 3 eggs at the begining of a nesting period. She is a young female whose first clutch of 5 eggs were all sterile (one near empty shell, one half empty, 3 sterile). Woke up this AM to find the male dead.
Should I immediately get another male to help brood and raise the clutch or will the female be fine on her own?? If she completes laying a large clutch of eggs, should I cull the number down since she is on her own?? At what point should I introduce a new male??
Appreciate any advice given.
I can only tell you from my experiences what I would do were I in the same situation. I would not hurry out to get another male for your hen quite yet. I would wait and see if the hen lays more eggs. My feeling is that the hen will abandon the eggs in a day or two after she has finished laying. A single parent is capable of raising chicks alone, but I never had one continue when they were just eggs.
I always kept society finches set up to foster either eggs or chick. Since there are only three eggs so far, there may still be time, if you want, to get a couple of society finches. Gouldian eggs don't start to develop until the last egg is layed and when the
hen starts brooding seriously. I know the eggs can remain viable for as long as five days after being laid. If you decide to try this, set the societies up in a small cage with a nest box for a day and watch to see if they go in the box for the night. If they do, pull the eggs from the hen and put them in the societies's nest box. I would always start the fostering in the early evening so I could be sure that the societies were going right in with the eggs for their first night. I have never tried adding societies to a hen's cage, but I would consider that as a possibility. What is the worst that could happen? I think it unlikely the adults would fight, but if you watch them for a while, you'll know if they will get along together. I have heard that societies and Gouldians that are kept in the same cage or aviary with Gouldians will often roust the Gouldian parents and start fostering even when nothing has happened to the parent birds.
If you get foster parents or if the hen abandons the eggs, then find another male for her. With a tiny pen light flash light, I candle the eggs after the tenth day to be sure they contain developing embryos. If there are, you will see lots of red blood vessels inside the eggs.
Hope this is helpful, Jeanie