A Few Frames on Expired Kodak Gold 200

Back in late July of last year, I spent a few days by myself driving up over to the northwest side of California. I had two second shooting jobs nearly back to back, so I took a few days to explore the Twin Lakes area, Lake Mary, and even some quick areas of Yosemite as I drove through. I brought along my Nikon FM and a few rolls of Kodak Gold 200 that didn't have any expiration date on them and hoped for the best.

Kino, Flo, Jr, and Baby

In the beginning, there was Kino and Arri.

They were originally purchased as props for a short student film project that I was a part of back in 2012. After production wrapped, I volunteered to take the birds and care for them.

zebra finches
Kino (left), Arri (right)
I printed this photo after Arri died. 

Kino and Arri laid lots of eggs together, but unfortunately they were always either unfertilized or never came to term. When Arri died, Kino spent most of the rest of the year alone.

I decided to move Kino up to Gilroy so I could take care of him every day. He was pretty good during the entire 5 hour drive. At first he squabbled a bit for the first half of the trip, until it got so quiet that I had to pull over and check up on him. I found him sleeping on a perch in the corner contently.

A few days after moving up to Gilroy, I decided to go to Petsmart and get him a female friend. After so many unsuccessful attempts at breeding with Arri, I figured I'd get him a male friend to avoid having to deal with eggs. Getting a female and having eggs was better than the potential that two male finches would fight all the time, though.

Zebra finches sound JUST like Peanut's squeaky toys.

I went to Petsmart and picked out a female finch that seemed the calmest, since the rest of the finches were chasing each other aggressively. I brought her home and let her fly into the cage.

zebra finches
Flo (left) and Kino (right) meet for the first time.

Kino seemed SO happy and immediately did his mating song, flying around happily. Flo seemed neutral at first.

I read that to discourage breeding, you simply take away the nest or any nesting materials, so I didn't give them any. One day as I was cleaning up the cage, I noticed that Kino and Flo were staring at a particular corner of the cage, past the bars. Apparently, despite not having a nest, Flo went ahead and laid two eggs, which cracked when they fell from the top perch through the metal floor of the cage. Additionally, when I picked up the cage to clean the bottom, I noticed that Kino had pulled out a bunch of his own feathers in attempts to make a nest.

zebra finch
:( At least this egg was unfertilized.

After that, I decided to give them a nest so that they wouldn't pull their feathers out or have their eggs fall through the bars. Since previous attempts between Kino and Arri to have babies didn't work out, I didn't think that Flo laying eggs would result in anything.

zebra finch nest

Kino and Flo dutifully worked at making a nest in the box and nesting material I provided them. One day, I found a few eggs in there so I decided to candle them (hold a flashlight underneath them to see if they're fertile). Behold, veins!

With it being the holidays, I didn't have time to keep track of how long it had been since they laid eggs. Occasionally I'd shine a light into their nest to see how things were doing. On New Years Day, I discovered two hatchlings in the nest! At just a few days old, they looked more like potato bugs than birds. I named them Jr and Baby.

zebra finch hatchling
What the heck is that, people often asked. They're stretching their necks out with their beaks up and open, begging for food. 

Kino and Flo did a great job keeping their tummies fed. Just a few days later, they were big enough for me to reach in and hold them. I also couldn't help but get in on feeding them a little bit of soft egg food whenever they opened their mouths for me.

Jr at about one week.
zebra finch hatchling
Baby, who is about two days younger than Jr. 
zebra finch hatchling hand feeding

zebra finch hatchling hand feeding

zebra finch hatchling

zebra finch hatchling
Feathers starting to grow.
(Thanks Tyler for helping me take those last four black and white photos!)

Each day, they grew right before my eyes. Those strange yellow sacs on the side of their necks are where their food goes. When it's engorged, that's when I know they're full and well fed.

zebra finch nestling
At approximately 1.5 weeks.

baby zebra finch

baby zebra finch

baby zebra finch
I found it absolutely adorable how there were still stray baby hairs on the tops of their heads.

baby zebra finch

baby zebra finch

baby zebra finch

baby zebra finch

baby zebra finch
At approximately 2 weeks old.
Still looking a bit scraggly.

As they're getting older and learning to fly confidently (there were a few tumbles and falls when they were just learning), they're less inclined to stay perched on my finger, so I try to hold them for a little bit each day.

Hey sweetie, what are you guys doing in the food dish?

At 3 weeks old now, they can fly pretty confidently. Unless they're sleepy, they get more antsy when I try to hold them for photos.

Jr at approximately 3 weeks. 
Baby at approximately 3 weeks.
zebra finch 3 weeks old

I am absolutely in love with them. <3 Kino and Flo already seem to want to start another clutch of eggs already, so I'll have to try taking the nest away soon after Jr and Baby no longer stay in them.

zebra finch family
Family photo! It took a bit of patience to catch them sitting on the same perch.
(Left to right: Flo, Baby, Kino, Jr)