Letter 10: Zebra cock not accepted by other Zebra Finches

Problem After one of my Zebra finch pair has successfully reared five youngsters my husband and I decided to reunion the other pair of Zebra finches with their previous "friends" in their aviary. But to our disappointment the two hens "Pitch" and "Putt" seem to spend most of their time quarreling whilst the introduced cock "Sligo" spends most nights sleeping on a perch in the flight cage on his own. I have provided him with a nest box close to his perch but up to now he has not shown any inclination to use it at night. Putt, his partner, is quite happy to roost with the other Zebras in their nest boxes at night. No fighting is going on between pitch and putt during the night. Should we remove Sligo and Putt out of the aviary and place them back with our bengalese and silver bills? Maybe you have any idea why Sligo is singled out by the other Zebra finches – and why he won't roost with putt in the provided nest box. He never seems to be involved in a quarrel with the other adult Zebra cock "mister" and I haven't noticed any bullying going on.

Alderman C & K: aldman@globalnet.co.uk

Comment Dear Aldermans,
what you tell me doesn't sound too unusual – I think quite a few aviculturists have experienced a similar behaviour. In fact, a lot of animal species – in addition to their basic behavioural patterns – show a wider range of individual behaviour than most people expect, even on a lower intelligence level such as that of finches, estrildids etc. Not every Zebra Finch is the darling of every other Zebra Finch ...

If the individual variation which your are observing looks so very human – soap operas keep reiterating the topic –, there may be a second reason for it, though: the experience that Sligo (or Putt?) has had with humans or another bird species! (Where did you get him / her from? Did he use to be alone before? Did he /she grow up with birds other than Zebra Finches?)

As long as there is no strife and danger of the birds hurting each other, I don't feel there is a reason to remove Sligo and Putt. By the way, where did you get these interesting names from?

Remark Sligo is place in Eire, Pitch & Putt is a seaside golf game (much disparaged by real golf players!). Sligo was rescued from a dodgy petshop, with three silverbills in a small cage with 15 budgies! He was on his own – so perhaps this explains things.

Yours, C&K.

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