Finches - General

By Rick Axelson, DVM

Care & Wellness, Pet Services

General Information

"Finches are flighty, timid animals and prefer the company of other finches."

The finch is a popular pet bird with a fascinating personality and colorful community life. They originate from various countries around the world. There is a large diversity of species and varieties available in an abundant assortment of colors and patterns. Although ordinarily quiet, they do have a cheerful, harmonious song. This is especially true of the male around the time of courtship and breeding. These petite birds are robust, easy to care for and demand little attention. They are often housed collectively in large attractive aviaries. Some finches have a strong territorial nature and a social pecking order that may lead to aggression between individuals. Finches are flighty, timid animals and prefer the company of other finches. Because of this, an interactive bond is not likely to develop between you and your pet; however, young birds may be finger trained.

Some common species kept as pets include the Zebra finch, Society or Bengalese finch, Java finch and Gouldian finch.

Purchasing a finch

Finches may be purchased from a pet store or a reputable breeder. When selecting a finch, try to choose a young bird. The lively, alert bird is more likely a healthy bird. Hand raised babies are not commonly available but may make better pets since they have some socialization with humans. After purchasing your new bird, have it examined by a veterinarian familiar with birds.

Veterinary Care

Finches require regular, routine veterinary health check-ups at least twice a year. Your veterinarian can perform a physical examination, grooming (beak, nail or feather trim as necessary) and laboratory tests as needed. During these semi-annual check-ups, health, nutritional and maintenance issues can be identified and addressed. Veterinary check-ups help prevent disease and will aid in the maintenance of a long lasting, healthy relationship between you and your bird.

Color Hundreds of varieties, colors and shades

SexingIn many species, the sexes look similar

Consult a finch guidebook for specific differences

Weight Average 0.3 - 1.3 ounces (10 - 35 grams)

Size Average 3 - 6 inches (7.5 - 15 cm) in length

Life span 4 - 6 years (maximum 17 years)

Diet  Consult your veterinarian; also see our handout on FEEDING FINCHES.

Breeding Sexual maturity 2 - 3 months old

Brood Size3 - 7 eggs will hatch in 12 - 14 days, young leave the nest in 2-3 weeks

Egg color varies between species but they are often white or cream colored

Cages  Minimum 1 ft x 1 ft x 2 ft long (30 cm x 30 cm x 60 cm); they do better in large cages with plenty of room for flight

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