Caring for Zebra Finches

Category 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 page about caring for a zebra finch.
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In 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Questions

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November 3, 2019

I'm always finding things on the internet telling me to separate my baby zebra finches from their parents when they're old enough. I can't find why, and if I really should do this.

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All of my zebra finches right now (25 or so) are family, and haven't ever been separated. They are all in one aviary.

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November 4, 20190 found this helpful
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For breeding purposes one couple should be in a cage. They do better in non-crowded conditions.

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November 4, 20191 found this helpful
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If you want to start raising Zebra Finches it is necessary to have several cages set up in your home or yard. Once the babies have grown up it is necessary to move them to a new cage. The rule of thumb is one set of finches per cage so that they can breed. If the cages are too crowded the male and female will not breed.

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November 10, 2018

How often will zebra finches lay eggs in captivity without a male? I need them to have eggs for my baby egg-eater snake. How can I encourage egg laying?

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November 10, 20181 found this helpful
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They can lay eggs weekly

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November 10, 20182 found this helpful
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The best way to encourage regular eggs is to have a mate present, but like with human reproduction, nothing is a given with or without a partner.

Best arrange alternative food sources for your scaly child. There are a lot of snake food websites that sell small quail eggs and other appropriate foods. www.finchinfo.com/.../eggs.php

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August 17, 2015

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.

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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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January 13, 20160 found this helpful

do not worry they will get used to it you bathe them on the first time and then they will do it on there own

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Anonymous
June 27, 20180 found this helpful

My finches didnt like the store bought baths I put a small container one inch high and fill it less less 1/2 full and they like it filled with cool water to cool off

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October 30, 2017

I wanted to know what time do these birds sleep during the day.

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October 30, 20171 found this helpful
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They sleep when it is dark. If you want them to sleep during the day, draw the shades and cover their cage with a sheet.

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December 3, 2019

I have introduced a young female in with my male after my male lost his female friend (they were only friends). My male and the new female seem to get along, but when the go to bed he sleeps on the nest and she sleeps on the ground. She was an aviary bird, but has taken to cage life just fine as she is young. My question is why does he sleep on the nest and she sleeps on the ground?

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December 3, 20190 found this helpful
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The female was in an aviary for some time and they are use to sleeping on the ground of the cage. This habit will end soon and there is nothing to worry about. Once the two birds start to mate things will change.

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My male white finch is quiet and fluffy since yesterday. He was fine yesterday morning making noises, but by evening he was quiet and this morning he was fluffy, quiet, and sleepy. He ate boiled egg shell and the white yesterday.

Please advice me what to do.:(

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October 17, 2014

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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My finch's one eye is always closed. What is the reason and how can I cure it? Will it automatically cure itself? Please suggest some remedy to me or whether I want to go to a vet clinic.

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September 17, 2015

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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May 16, 2015

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

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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My fiches are always simply sitting. Also they are not making sounds frequently. Is there any problem with them? I bought them just 2 days ago. I am just a beginner. I don't have any experience with birds.
Please guide me.

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I just adopted 8 zebra finches, they arrived in 3 cages. They come from a breeder they say, but the cages look like it's been a very long time since they were deep cleaned. It will take me a full day to disinfect them. They are from the same place. I have a big cage 44 x14 x18, can I put them all together? I have 5 females and 3 male.

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May 19, 2016

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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May 22, 20160 found this helpful

I think she is depressed.
If you don't want birds to reproduce, do not get a male and female. It is natural for them to do this.
Your female bird should get along with other females. Will the pet store let you exchange your male for a female bird? The male would rather be with a female that is allowed to mate, and I'm sure the female would rather not prepare to care for babies that never appear.

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June 16, 20160 found this helpful

First you have to realize, when you get an animal. You have to get the pet concept out of your head. because you will never have adequate compassion for the bird.
Animals have the same feelings as humans. Can you take a cub from a lioness or a puppy from a dog. By you throwing the eggs away, showed no compassion at all for your bird. And never forget, animals can sense your feelings as we can sense someone who is angry around us. as I stated. We have to get out of the mind frame of calling animals pets. Your will bond much better without that mind frame.

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July 19, 20160 found this helpful

you can't let her lay eggs like that she will become egg bound and die ,boil some egg, and smash up the shells I let them air dry then go over them with a rolling pin sprinkle the shells in a separate dish not in her food . feed her the egg also , remove what ever she is laying the eggs in from the cage if you have a pair you can not give them anything that resembles a nest they will keep breeding and laying eggs if she keeps laying eggs you need to separate them or she will die from laying that many eggs constantly

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July 20, 2019

Yesterday I got 3 finches from a shelter (a mother and her 2 daughters) called Honk (the mother), Meep and Beep. I've never had birds before and so far those 3 seem really adorable, but I couldn't find any cages for them yesterday so I had to get them a small one and I ordered a larger one that should get here next week, until now they won't stop making noise. I wonder if it's because they're settling in or because the cage is too small? They poop in their water and I'm not sure what to do.

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June 25, 2019

I'm a new owner of two young female zebra finches. When we first bought them they had only a tiny cage. We let them out into the bedroom to fly multiple times a week to negate how small it was. We've upgraded them to a much larger cage, and today I was going to let them out, but they refuse and are just flying around their cage as usual. They've perched on the door to go outside, just won't go outside. Is this fine and they're just happy where they are or is something wrong?

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My white female finch's babies hatched 8 days ago. I want to change the cage to a bigger one. Is it fine to change the cage now or I should wait until the babies grow and come out of their nest. Will she abandon the babies if I touch their nest or transfer all of them to new cage? Please advise me what I should do.

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August 20, 2013

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

By Zoukaa

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May 3, 20150 found this helpful

Your bird might be sick. Contact a vet ASAP.

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I have 2 zebra finches a male and female. I have had them for 2 weeks as they were needing to be re-homed from an elderly man. I had them 5 days when I discovered an egg in one of the feeding boxes which they tend to sleep in. She laid 4 eggs, but after several days of her sitting on them she managed to get them out of the box and unfortunately they broke when landing on the bottom of the cage. For the past 2 days she has continued to sit in the box like before and she has taken to fighting with the male as often as today. What should I do as I am a complete beginner.

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September 11, 2017

My husband is really wanting birds for pets, but I have been fighting him on it for a long time now because I saw someone on TV say that pet birds never shut up, even if you cover up the cage. I feel bad that I keep telling him no so I thought I would do a little research on it. He said he would like to get some finches and I read that zebra finches are the easiest birds to keep as pets so I thought I would ask about those. Also, how much of a pain is it to keep their cages clean? Any info would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

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September 11, 20170 found this helpful

These birds so chirp, but less so than other birds. It is important to keep the bottom of the cage clean. Every day is best, every other day is also acceptable.

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