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.


January 26, 2016 Flag
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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.

May 19, 2016 Flag
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I got 1 couple of Zebra finches (male and female) about 4 months ago. I had a small cage at first, but then after reading more about them, I bought them a big one and they were happy with it. That's when they started mating and the female would lay eggs about everyday into the food container and sit in it. I did not want them to nest and that's why I did not get them a nest, so I would throw the egg away, but as soon as the next day there would be another egg. This lasted for about 2 months with an average of 3 eggs per week. Now that has dropped to about 1 a week. The female stopped moving like before. She would sit in the food container all day with just a couple of minutes of exercise in the morning, but staying still in the food container all day. I try to scare her sometimes to come out, but she would go back in right after that. What seems to be the problem?

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August 25, 2011 Flag
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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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August 25, 20110 found this helpful

I love my finches. The pair I have also produced 5 healthy babies,which I rehomed.. When I had all 7 of them together,I had them in a larger cage and they could fit out through the wires but they wouldnt even try unless i was trying to pick one of them up, then they would go through to freedom.They are the sweetest little birds.I also have two cockatiels and the little finches just mkind thier own business and pay the biger birds no mind!Finches shouod have been named love birds. Mine stay side by side and hug and kiss all the time,but the male bosses the female around."Just like a MAN!"

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March 26, 2016 Flag
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I knew I had an egg in the nest but was away and when I came back, I saw a baby zebra finch already hatched. This is the first time an egg as hatched in my aviary. It is starting to get its baby feathers and I'm not sure how old it is. Do you know how old it is? And how do I know when it hatched? Do I have to do anything or buy any different food for the parents to feed it? Is it looking healthy or not? I don't know much about baby finches so please, any tips, tell me!

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August 17, 2015 Flag
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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. Finches in cage

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.

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August 17, 20150 found this helpful

I don't know. Generally they do love to bathe.

All I can think of is that they prefer a shallow, not deep, bath. Try a shallow dish or plate with no more than 1" of water.

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August 17, 20150 found this helpful

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

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May 2, 2016 Flag
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Recently I had a couple of finches, a male and female couple, who had two male chicks. They were on their second hatch when one day I came home from camping and three were dead. The chicks some how survived, but the only adult left was one of the young males. He seems to be trying to take care of the chicks by sitting on them and feeding them, but I don't think he's can do this by himself. If I buy him a mate do you think she will help him take care of the chicks?

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May 10, 20160 found this helpful

Always separate the breeding pair into a separate cage with a nest box when breeding. Other birds will kill the parents & or babies. I doubt the a new female will help rear the babies. Possibly the male is doing a good enough job to save the wee ones. As a bird breeder you will need to learn the skills of hand rearing. Good luck.

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May 11, 20160 found this helpful

A new mate would only distract the young male with "other thoughts." I wouldn't try to hand raise them if you know little about it. They are very tiny and easy to injure. It is possible one or two of the babies will still survive since your bird seems to have the instincts needed.

In the future, separate the nesting pair from the rest as petlover said, and be sure to maintain a constant temperature in the house while you are gone. Also, if you are gone more than a day hire a pet sitter to change food and water.

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September 17, 2015 Flag
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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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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.

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October 17, 2014 Flag
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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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May 5, 20150 found this helpful

Don't worry about the poop on the food. Birds kinda poop where they want so it's okay. But the "Doesn't want to sit on top of the cage" part - think she/he might be sick or something. This is my theory.

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May 5, 20150 found this helpful

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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May 16, 2015 Flag
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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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May 20, 20150 found this helpful

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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December 1, 2014 Flag
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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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December 1, 20140 found this helpful

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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November 9, 2015 Flag
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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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November 12, 20150 found this helpful

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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