Baby Gouldians

Should You Change the Nest When There Are Babies In It?

A  nest full of baby finches can become really dirty. Many people wonder whether they should change a soiled nest. On one hand, it’s full of poop and possibly disease. On the other hand – we’re not supposed to mess with them too much, right?

This is a nest of society finches. The first picture shows the nest at about 4 days. They’re about 3 weeks old in the second picture. See the mess?

Finch babies in the nest at about 4 days
Nest full of babies
The same nest full of babies at about 3 weeks

I usually change the nest, not just for Gouldians but also for zebra finches and society finches twice during the nesting period. The first time is the day I put bands on – when the babies are about eight days old. While I have them out for banding, I quickly swap in some clean bedding. Then I do it again a week or 10 days later.

Here’s How to Change to a Clean Nest Quickly and Easily.

When you first set up the nest box for breeding, line it with a paper towel or two. Then place the paper shreds or whatever nest material you’re using on top of it. Use your fist to make a dent in it, like a ‘real’ nest. Give the birds plenty of material to use – they’ll probably re-make the nest to suit themselves.

Two baby finches
Two of the baby finches, feathering nicely
The dirty bedding from a 3 week old nest

When you’re ready to clean it, line a bowl with paper towels and put the baby birds into it. Remove the old nest material by lifting the edges of the paper towels. It should pop right out. There’s no need to wash the box unless it became wet from runny poop. Just line it again and fill it with bedding material like you did before. Put the babies back in, and give the parents some nesting material to play with so they can undo what you just did for them.

The parents didn’t like me messing around in the nest, but they’re not going to abandon them. This might be true of most finch types, but Gouldians are a little more particular. If possible, stay out of the nest with Gouldians unless you really need to change it, or unless you know the parents to be fairly calm.

Baby finches waiting patiently
Fresh bedding for the little guys

I don’t have a picture of them all tucked in the new nest, because I can’t reach it! The first nest photos were made by stretching my arm over and taking picture after picture until one wasn’t so blurry.


Tell me – do you change your nests? Why or why not?