Lady Jane Gray

If you’ve been reading this for a while, you know my husband and I like to get “creative” with the names of our birds. I had the privilege of purchasing two pairs of gray singing finches. As is often the case, the birds did not lay eggs or mate, so I made the choice to put them in the auction my bird club held last July.

The day of the auction, I pulled the birds and realized one of them was severely plucked around her head. Either that or the feathers had fallen out. I asked one of the finch experts at the meeting what I should do and he rightly told me to hang on to the unfeathered finch.


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A healthy gray singing finch


Back home, I put the gray finch in with a male zebra finch who was too young when I pulled him out of the aviary to sell. He’s been hanging around trumpeting and being as macho as a male zeeb can be. He welcomed his new roommate without aggression or assault. And shortly after that, I found tiny eggs in a food dish. So my gray finch is a female and not able to interbreed with the zebra finch.

The months have gone by and instead of getting healthier, I notice my little lady, Jane Gray, is getting even balder. Her breathing is heavy. But she’s eating, she’s not lethargic, and she’s perching upright. At the same time, I purchased a few zebra finch hens and set them up in the outside aviaries as well as with birds I already had. That’s when I decided to pull Lady Jane from her cage with the zebra finch, give him a hen that he can breed with, and see what could be done for the gray bird.

Cage space is at a premium inside these days. And I didn’t want her to be alone. I also have a Fife canary, named (you can have three guesses) Barney. He sings delightfully but I know he would enjoy having a companion. Lady Jane is about a fourth the size of the butterball Fife, but she’s scrappy and stands up for herself.


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Perfect Fife Canary


At first, the birds ignored each other, making sure the other was occupied when they wanted to eat. I put a hot rock into the cage for the hen but found Barney on it just as much as Lady Jane. Then they started sitting on the perch close to each other but not touching. And that’s where we are at this time.

I’ve consulted the experts in finch diseases and we are pretty sure she has mites. I don’t hear clicking when I hold her next to my ear, which is a sign that the mites are getting bad. I give her iodine, Pedialyte, and have sprayed her with Avian Insect Liquidator (AIL) but will try her on Iverlux next.



Getting a male for her is problematic. Few bird stores carry them right now and few breeders in my area have them. I so regret giving up the males, without realizing which ones were the males. I didn’t think they would breed for me, which is a common problem I have with inside birds. Someday a male will appear on the horizon and I will get her a mate.

What will I do with Barney? Breeding canaries is not something I am interested in at this time, and my husband the canary fan is interested in their songs. I don’t really know if I want to get a female Fife to keep him happy. Singing to attract a female makes Barney enjoyable to us both.

I’ll keep updating this little finch’s progress and if you know of any gray finch breeders in Southern California, send them my way. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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