Caring for Zebra Finches

These beautiful little birds can be an excellent pet option for a small home or apartment, but they do require special care. This is a guide about caring for a zebra finch.

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Caring for Zebra Finches
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Question: Introducing New Female Zebra Finch to Older Resident Male

By StodOne 1 1

I have recently bought a female zebra finch and I have a 10 year old male white zebra finch. He is completely white with no zebra stripes on the tail and no tear drop. I am wondering how long do I need to keep them in separate cages, so that they get to know each other before I join them together. Can someone explain to me the steps that I need to do so that I can keep them together without them fighting.

Also a strange thing happened, I've put the male inside the female's cage since the male is not freaking out and is tamed and she freaked out and landed next to him. He kinda picked her a few times with his beak and I seperated them quickly. I was not sure if they were fighting or what. She didn't freak out when he did that, she just stood there. Can someone explain what he was doing and the steps? Thanks in advance.

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    Most Recent Answer

    By Abigail A. 15 1,032 Flag

    January 30, 2016

    Sounds like he might have been actually grooming her. Zebra finches are highly social and shouldn't need long to get to know each other, especially if one is male and one is female.

    Try putting the cages next to each other for a few days, then put them together.

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    Question: Caring for and Injured Baby Finch

    By Oum Daniel L. 2

    I have two finches, a male and a female. After a lot of eggs they finally got one baby going on, but he was injured because of our neighbor's cat. Then they kept attacking him, so I took him to the vet. He's doing good, but his paw is black which means it's dead. I am waiting for the vet to reopen to take him back. Even if the baby finch is doing good, every time I put him back in the cage with his parents they keep attacking him hard. So I put him again in a smaller cage. My question is, when can I put him back again with his parents? Will he be OK by himself? He's, I think one month or two months old, but still wants his mother,

    My second question, I have a very large cage with the finch parents and two canary birds, female and male, but they don't breed. Is it OK to keep the two canaries with the finches? I see they are doing good so I'm not really worried, but I don't see the canaries breeding they don't get close at all.

      AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

      Tip: Zebra Finch Care

      By Cricket 205 896

      pair of finchesIn my opinion, zebra finches are the most enjoyable birds there are! Now that I no longer have a cat, I hope to get some more! They are very easy to take care of. Best of all, the sounds they make are so soothing to listen to.

      The only thing is, like rabbits, if you're not careful you will be over-run with birds before you know it! I started out with a pair, and within just a few months I had 7. Their first clutch hatched 5 healthy babies. I learned to separate the males from the females, and never had that problem again.

      As far as caring for them, they do need a large cage. I believe that all birds need a large cage. The larger the better. However, when shopping for one, you need to make sure the wires are close enough together that the birds can't squeeze out between them. A parakeet cage usually works well, as long as the wires are no more than 3/8 inch apart.

      The cage needs to be large enough to allow the birds to fly. There should also be a wire grate at the bottom with a tray underneath to put the paper in. This paper should be changed at least weekly or more often as needed. I do not believe in clipping a bird's wings, any bird. If you aren't going to allow them to fly, why have a bird? That's what they were created to do.

      Once or twice a week, I would release my birds into a bedroom, and allow them to really fly and stretch their wings. All the windows and any mirrors would be covered to prevent them from trying to fly through them and hurting themselves. I would put their cages in this room with the cage doors open, with food and treats inside. Eventually the birds would all go back into the cages on their own. This usually took several hours, but the birds really enjoyed their time out.

      They need to have fresh clean water at all times. It should be in a bottle with a small cup at the bottom. It needs to be small enough so the birds can't sit it in, because they will try to take a bath in it. I bought a bird bath that attached to the front of the cage and let them take baths twice a day.

      As for diet, specialized pelleted foods are the best, and should consist of 60-70% of their diet. Fortified seeds can be used but only in moderation as they are higher in fat. Daily, you should give them fresh dark greens, slices of raw apples and oranges, grated carrots and sweet potato. Remove any of these that have not been eaten after 24 hours. DO NOT FEED them avocados, fruit seeds, chocolate, alcohol, or caffeine, as they can create major medical problems for the birds. My birds' favorite treat was spray millet. They loved them! They also need a dish of grit to help with digestion. Also, do not place food or water dishes under the perches, as their droppings will land in them.

      Perches of various dimensions should be provided. I went outside to my trees, and cut different size branches off, and used those for perches. Using these natural branches also helped to keep their nails trimmed, too. The variety of branch sizes helps to exercise their feet.

      Once a month, the entire cage should be thoroughly washed and dried. A good time to do this is while they are flying around the bedroom.

      Do not place the cage directly in front of a window that gets a lot of hot sun, or anywhere that might have a draft. This includes from a fan. Birds are highly susceptible to cold and heat. The cage should not be placed on the floor, but in an area that is well lit. I have kept my cages across the room from north facing windows, so they got lots of light, but not too much. An east or north facing window would be fine, as long as the amount of sun is monitored. If it gets to be too much, pull a curtain closed. Or if it's just a bit too much, a sheer curtain would be enough.

      Use a cage cover in winter, it will help to keep the warmth inside the cage. I never used it during the warm months though.

      When I first got my birds I bought a book about the care of finches. But there is tons of information online that you can get for free, and print it out and create your own book.

      Source: My own 7 zebra finches.

      By Cricket from Parkton, NC

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      Question: Finches Won't Bathe

      By Paula W. 1

      I am new to finch ownership. I bought a large cage which has a deep base with pull out trays and two feeders in the bars and one water feeder in the bars (the ones with a clear cap). I have one female Zebra finch and one male and one female Bengalese finch.

      The pet shop told me they love to bathe, but I have tried a clip on large bird bath (with clear lid), small terracotta, small stainless steel, and plastic round trays all on the floor to no effect. I even tried putting it onto an upturned small plant pot to raise the height to no avail. All have been filled (2 cm) with warm fresh tap water.

      They don't mind being sprayed with warm water from a spray bottle, but as the pet shop said they loved to bathe I was wondering where I am going wrong. Other than that they have settled in really well, and are happy and healthy.

      Finches in cage

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        Most Recent Answer

        By Abigail A. 15 1,032 Flag

        August 17, 2015

        Now I see you said 2cm which is about right. As long as they are happy, I wouldn't worry.

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        Question: Finch Poops in Her Food

        My finch was left for seven days while we were on vacation. We provided enough food and water for her. Now she just sits in her food and poops and doesn't like to sit at the top of her cage anymore. What's wrong with her?

        By Marilyn K.

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        Most Recent Answer

        By Abigail A. 15 1,032 Flag

        May 5, 2015

        Sounds like she may be sick.

        You don't mean you left her alone for seven days, I hope? It's best to put her in a small cage and let someone take care of her, even if they just give her fresh water every day, fresh food about every other day, and change the paper at least once.

        You also need the temperature to be relatively high for finches, as they are natives of places like New Zealand. Did you turn the heat down when you left? Did any of the nights get cold?

        Bacteria from poop in the water can grow over a matter of days, causing illness. Wipe the slimy stuff out of the water container every time you change it. When the food is about half shells, not whole seeds, change it.

        In case you don't already know, finches need grit to eat as well as food. On warm sunny days give them a bowl of water to bathe in.

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        Question: Caring for Zebra Finches

        By Rebecca Anastasia R. 1

        My finches are officially parents and have 2 little hatchlings, it's my first time having bred birds and I'm not aware of the necessary precautions I would need to make sure of. I read around online that people do "nest checks" from the moment the eggs are laid til they are fledglings. Also I want to train the babies to be human prone, not to skittish and timid like the parents.

        I greatly welcome any concrete information I can get.

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          Most Recent Answer

          By Abigail A. 15 1,032 Flag

          September 19, 20151 found this helpful

          Unfortunately, Finches are one of the wildest bird breeds that people keep as pets. They are considered extremely difficult to adapt to humans and are almost always skittish.

          You can't hand raise these birds as the babies are smaller than peanut M&Ms and can easily be injured.

          You can provide fresh food and water, a cuttlebone or crushed eggshell, and grit.

          You can keep an eye on the eggs, but honestly, I think the people you describe may not be doing the right thing. A bird is extremely protective over her nest and babies and gets stressed out when people interfere too much. If she gets too stressed she may just decide to abandon the nest. Once a day with a flashlight when she goes to eat should be fine.

          ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

          Question: Zebra Finch Laid an Egg

          By Carmen T. 1

          My zebra finches have laid one egg. I need to move to another location. Could moving affect the egg? Will it hatch? Will they lay any other eggs?

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            Most Recent Answer

            By Abigail A. 15 1,032 Flag

            May 20, 2015

            They will probably get stressed during the move and ignore any eggs they lay. If they don't sit on the eggs for several days, remove them. They'll be rotten. I'm sure once they're settled in their new place they'll start over.

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            Question: Keeping Finch Eggs Warm

            By kerrybenlever 2

            I'm very new at breeding finches. I have a pair that have had eggs and they are doing very well at keeping them warm, but I looked at them in the morning and I think the mother died. Will the father take care of them or will I have to as I have no way to keep them warm. Is there a way to keep them warm without having to buy stuff? Thank you.

            By Kerry

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            Most Recent Answer

            By Abigail A. 15 1,032 Flag

            December 1, 2014

            The father should take care of them. If he doesn't, it's probably better they don't hatch anyway, unfortunately, since the dad won't feed them if he didn't even bother to sit on them. Sorry about your bird.

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            Question: Caring for Finch Eggs

            By tori 1

            I have a Galapagos finch as a pet and she laid 5 eggs. I wasn't prepared for this to happen and the eggs are without a nest. My question is, are they OK being without a nest?

            By Tori from San Antonio, TX

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            Most Recent Answer

            By blakez 1 Flag

            September 27, 2011

            I bought some zebra finches about a month ago. Their cage has a man-made wicker nest up in the top corner and they were using that regularly for a while. Then I had the bright idea of giving them some grass. They began putting it in the nest but then ended up building it in the feed bowl so I removed the nest.

            Then I read that they won't build the nest anywhere that I put the materials in. So, next time I gave them grass, I put in the food bowl thinking that they would insist on moving it somewhere else. Instead, they didn't make a nest at all and they sometimes sleep in the food bowl and sometimes in the nest.

            A few days ago, she laid 2 and then 3 eggs in the nest. Oddly enough, they don't give them much attention at all and are now both sleeping in the food bowl instead of the nest with the eggs. I gave them a bit of grass today and they both got busy right away bringing it up to the nest. They didn't make a very good nest but they jammed it all in there.

            This afternoon, I gave them a bit more grass and they were no longer interested in it. I am hoping they sleep in the nest with the eggs tonight. Not sure if the eggs will be dead already though. I am sure I will see some signs if they are dead soon. Its pretty hot here in Thailand!

            Any tips on the bird psychology behind this, about helping them make a nest in the man-made nest, or just about taking care of these eggs would be great. I really don't know much about them although google is helping!

            ReplyWas this helpful? Yes


            Question: Baby Zebra Finches Died

            By Trish H. 1

            I had 2 baby finches; they hatched 3-4 weeks ago. The parents cared for them, especially the dad which is common, but a couple of days ago the dad started to lightly peck one of the babies' bald head. He was found on the floor of the cage dead. He was the weaker baby of the 2, so I assumed he either died because he was weak or has been killed for the same reason. But then the dad started the same thing on the remaining, stronger baby (he could fly, but hadn't quite mastered landing!) and he was found dead today. Has the dad killed them both and if so, why?

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              Most Recent Answer

              By heather inwood 13 229 Flag

              November 12, 2015

              In some cases the male parents want the babies out of the nest box so they can breed again. In that instance you should remove the babies as soon as they are able to eat by themselves. Maybe this is what happened to your wee birds. It is very distressing for you. In the future you may need to finish raising the birds yourself. Once they get to 2-3 weeks old put the babies into a separate cage with a nest box & feed them 4 times a day with a special bird raising formula that you can buy from the pet stores. My advice is to GOOGLE or buy a book on how to hand raise - this is a satisfying hobby but not without it's challenges. Also there are many finch breeding society's that you can contact that may help with advice.Good luck

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              Question: Raising Zebra Finches

              I have two female zebra finches and they are building a nest together and dancing together like they would if it was a male and female. Is that normal?

              By Jane

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


              Most Recent Answer

              By Abigail A. 15 1,032 Flag

              December 3, 2014

              Where did you get them? Do you know if they were raised by single mothers? Finches imprint on their parents to use as models for a mate later on. If the males were introduced to the females just for mating, then removed, that would cause this. Zebra finches should be raised by both parents.

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              Question: Feeding Millet Sprays to Finches

              I got some zebra finches last week and they love millet sprays, but I know that budgies and cockatiels shouldn't have millet sprays all the time because they are high in fat. I usually give my budgie/cockatiels one or two sprays a week so they don't get overweight and I was wondering if I should do the same with my finches or if they can have the millet sprays whenever they want. I'm really enjoying my finches, they are so cute and tiny! Thanks! :)

              By Aly P.

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


              Most Recent Answer

              By heather inwood 13 229 Flag

              May 8, 2014

              No doubt the same feeding routine for the cockatiels and budgies with the millet sprays would be fine for the finches. Enjoy the wee birds but be warned they are very quick so protect the cage door entries as they could escape very easily. I put a length of shade cloth over the door so as to put my hand through on opening to lesson the chances of them escaping. Just cut the cloth to size then wire the top of the shade cloth across the top of the entrance & let the cloth hang loose over the door. Good luck - keeping birds is a pleasure.

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              Question: Finch Sleeping During the Day

              My zebra finch female is sleeping during the afternoon; is it normal?

              By Zoukaa

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              Most Recent Answer

              By Nilka 2 Flag

              May 3, 2015

              Your bird might be sick. Contact a vet ASAP.

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              Question: Female Finch Aggressive Towards Male

              Finch in cage.My female finch is always fighting with the male bird, she take out his feathers; it this normal? Please help.

              By Mireya

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


              Most Recent Answer

              By keiichi18 1 Flag

              February 10, 2014

              Ok from what my dad told me... yeah, he kept zebra finches (among other birds, a personal favorite would be a parrot called Showoff). He said not to worry unless it is habit. They can use their own feathers to make a nest if need be.

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              Question: Finches Not Sitting on Eggs

              I have two pair of finches. One pair laid two eggs four days ago and are not sitting on the eggs. What should I do?

              By Sekar.k

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


              Most Recent Answer

              By heather inwood 13 229 Flag

              January 3, 2013

              I'm not sure about finches but I breed cockatiels and they usually don't start to sit on the eggs until they get up to 3. Are you sure they are a true pair as some females still lay eggs?

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              Question: Information on Zebra Finches

              By fayed 2

              I have 4 zebra finches, 2 males and 2 females. One of the females laid four eggs in one nest and is sitting on a different nest with all the others. After 1 week or something she laid 4 more in another nest and all of the birds sit on them, but during the day they don't. If anybody could explain please? Thank you.

              By Fayed from Giza, EG

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              Most Recent Answer

              By Myrna 17 1,083 Flag

              April 3, 2011

              I called my sister-in-law who once owned Zebra finches as I know nothing about them and she said, "The female will sit on the nest much longer and hardly get off it the closer the time comes for the eggs to hatch. When the female first lays her eggs, she will leave her nest a few days for food and water and will get back on the nest. It's more the bird's nature."

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              Question: Cleaning a Finch Cage While She is Sitting on Eggs

              By Joyce 1

              Is it OK to pull the bottom of the finch cage out to clean it, when there are eggs in the nest and the female is sitting on them? I'm afraid she might abandon the eggs.

              By Joyce from Marietta, GA

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


              Most Recent Answer

              By Cricket 205 896 Flag

              March 17, 2010

              I'm assuming you have the type nest that hangs on the side of the cage, and that your birds are as used to you reaching in to clean as finches can get. As long as both these are true, then there's no problem with removing the bottom for cleaning. I had finches for a while and it didn't bother them at all when I did that.

              If they normally get really upset (not just some because all finches will get some upset, but I mean actually panicky) when you reach in, then I wouldn't. Just go slow when you're handling the cage and you should be fine.

              Good luck! Finches can be so much fun!

              ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

              Question: Adequate Sleep for Zebra Finches

              I have read online that Zebra finches need 10-12 uninterrupted hours sleep a night. We keep ours in an uncovered cage in a room where there are large windows and glass doors, so they wake up at the first sight of daylight, and start singing. In the winter they get close to 10-12 hours sleep, but I am wondering what they need in the summer months, as then they will be waking up between 4 and 5 am, and will get less hours of sleep. Is this a problem? Should they be getting less hours of sleep in the summer or should it be 10-12 hours all the year round?

              By P.S.

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              Question: Raising Finches

              Should I give my finches some time outside in their cage to get fresh air?

              By A S

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

              Question: Caring for Zebra Finches

              Can I use real grass on the bottom of my finch cage?

              By Geordie

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

              Question: Finch Not Sitting on Eggs All of the Time

              I have a female and male zebra finch. They mate all the time and this past Monday (5 days ago) she laid her first egg. Then two days later another (Wednesday); now nothing else. They sit, off and on, on their two eggs, but not consistently. I am wondering if more eggs will be laid because I generally hear of females laying eggs every day not every other day like mine? Also should I candle them to see if they're good since its been 3-5 days (since she laid them)? What should I do? How long should I wait to remove them if they don't sit on them consistently?

              By Joey

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

              Question: Feeding Finch After She Laid Eggs

              My mom finches just had babies should I feed the mom some kind of special food?

              By Lisa

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

              Question: Zebra Finch Father Died

              By Dale C. 1

              Our finches had eggs which hatched. The father was feeding them until he died. He's been dead for about a day, and though we haven't been watching very diligently, we haven't seen the mother feeding them yet. I was just wondering if we should do something, or let the mother take care of them on her own?

              By Dale C.

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

              Question: Finch Not Sitting on Eggs

              By Christina Bedway S. 1

              We've had a pair of zebra finches for a few weeks. I just discovered 3 eggs in their nest. They had to have been laid in the last 12 hours, as I noticed she was very plump yesterday and now she is not. I am guessing they are still young finches. They are not sitting on the eggs. Is this normal for them?

              Thank you!

              By fostermomma

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

              Question: Moving Finch Eggs to a Larger Nest

              I have 2 finches, a male and a female, who had 10 eggs. They laid them in a small open nest. We are afraid that when they do hatch they will fall out and die. We have a larger closed nest that we want to put in, but they might leave the other nest with the eggs. Can we transfer the eggs from one nest to another without interfering with the hatching of the egg?

              By Sweetie Sugercane

              AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

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