Zebra Finches

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Zebra Finches


Zebra Finches, originating from Australia, have been one of the most popular caged birds for over a century. They are great birds for a beginner or any bird enthusiast. In the wild, these little grass finches live in groups and breed in colonies, eating grass seed they find on the ground.


Zebra Finches are approximately 4 inches long. Their normal wild color is gray. The males have a bright red beak and orange cheek patches, while the female is a similar color with a lighter orange beak and no cheek patches. She also has “tear drop” markings under her eyes. Today, with selective breeding there are a variety of patterns that include pied, fawn, and white.


Zebras have a great need for movement. A cage with horizontal flight is better than a vertical cage. Place the cage where it is well ventilated, though free of drafts. It should have good light but be away from doors and windows. Aviaries and bird rooms will also give this finch the flight area needed to keep them happy and healthy.


These Finches will come to know and trust you, but they will not be intimate like Budgies. Because Zebra Finches naturally live in flocks, they are very social and should be kept in pairs. If you wish to mix bird types they should be mixed with other finches in the Estrildidae family that have the same requirements.


A balanced diet would include a seed mix with pellets and millet. You can add vegetables like romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, and other fruits and vegetables for healthy, fresh treats. Provide a cuttlebone for calcium and some grit for digestion. These little darlings love to bathe, so a bath a few times a week is fun to watch. A note: never bathe your bird at night because they need to be completely dry before they go to sleep to avoid chills.


Zebra Finches breed readily, even in small cages. They will display mating behaviors all year long, and the male will collect nesting material. There should either be a single pair or 3 pairs; two pairs will fight for dominance. After breeding rights have been established, the female will lay a clutch of 4-6 eggs and they will hatch in 12-14 days. Both parents will feed the babies. At this time, provide fresh sprouts daily and soft foods such as hard boiled egg or grated carrot. The young leave the nest about 4 weeks after they hatch and in 5-6 weeks are off on their own. They are generally inexpensive because of their rapid breeding.


Overall, they are very hardy birds and almost every illness can be traced back to improper diet, dirty cages and drafts. Some signs of illness are loose droppings, fluffed feathers and sitting puffed at the bottom of the cage with a puffed-out appearance. Overgrown nails can also cause a finch to get caught on a cage bar, toy or perch, which can lead to them getting hurt or dying. There are many more problems that can occur but if given the right diet, cage maintenance, and enough room to fly.

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