CARING FOR YOUR PET
were kept as pets for centuries entertaining their
owners with their gently trilling sounds and songs,
quickly darting about in endless choreographed
movements. While some vocalize with a peep-peep
(perfect for apartment dwellers) others have soft,
beautiful songs! These small, lively and sociable
birds are easy to care for and many are easy to
breed! Finches are native to areas, such as Africa,
Asia, Australia, India and the Indonesian Islands.
While many species inhabit grasslands, some make
their homes in forests. The optimum room temperature
for most finch species is 18C - 21C. Finches will
fit the lifestyle of just about anyone!
One Finch, Two or More?
Finches must never be
kept alone. They are extremely sociable birds and
need partners of their own species. If deprived of
companions (whether their own species or not) they
will suffer loneliness and possibly sickness.
Finches will be healthier and happier with a flock
to belong to.
This will vary from
species to species. Usually a male and a female of
the same species is the best match to make. Neither
males nor females should predominate in your
cage/aviary. Unattached birds will cause problems,
since they will always be looking for an opportunity
to find a mate.
Perch or Nest sleepers?
Finches are divided
into two groups according to their sleeping habits.
Perch sleepers will sleep huddled together or by
themselves on a perch. Nest sleepers will build
nests for sleeping; even outside of their mating
season. The nest builders need to have access to
nesting material and also to ready-made nests,
otherwise they may catch cold or become panicked at
Your Finches New Home When purchasing a cage for your finches, keep the
following in mind. Unlike hook bills that can climb
around their cages, finches get their exercise by
flying from perch-to-perch. Therefore, they will
require a home that is wider than it is tall. Get
the largest cage that you can! A roomy home with
lots of area for flying, perching and sleeping is
ideal. Your finch cage will need bars that are set
at 1 cm (0.4 inches) intervals. You may want to hang
their cage or place it on a cage stand, but either
way, make sure the room is draft free, away from
heat or air-conditioning vents and is not in direct
sunlight. A cage cover will allow your finches to
get the rest they need. Remember, that birds wake at
sunrise and sleep at sunset.
Your finches must
have a variety of perch sizes to allow their feet
proper exercise. They will need not only the
perching that comes with your cage, but also
branches which will provide them with an uneven
surface. These may be purchased in plastic, manzanita wood or you may collect the following
branches from outdoors, provided they have not been
sprayed: fruit trees, willow, poplar, elderberry and
maple. If you do use natural branches, they will
need to be replaced frequently. Situate two of the
perches at the same height as the seed and water
dishes, not directly over them, where fecal matter
could spoil the food.
Lighting Your finches require exposure to ultraviolet light
on a daily basis. Since it is not possible in our
climate to have them outside on a daily basis, and
placing them in front of a window only allows
filtered light inside, which is ineffective; the use
of a full-spectrum light is vital. UVA and UVB is
necessary to prevent calcium and vitamin D3
deficiencies which can cause a tremendous amount of
health problems. As well, depriving your finches of
UV light will make them colour blind. It has also
been suggested that UVA light is beneficial in
reducing or eliminating abnormal behaviour, such as
feather damaging disorders, phobias and aggression
among just a few. An avian floor lamp and UVA/UVB
bulb will be a necessary part of your finches basic
is unreasonable to expect any living thing to remain
healthy when fed only one or two types of food. You
must give your finches a balanced diet if they are
to live long and happy lives! Fresh finch seed mix
should always be available. Check their seed twice
daily, and don't
be fooled by the empty husks they will leave in the
dish! Blow them off into the garbage, stir and top
up as needed. All finches need some animal protein
to supplement their diet. Peeled, cooled, boiled egg
that is rubbed through a sieve (must be neither
mushy nor chunky) may be offered in a small egg cup
daily. Mealworms may also be offered a few times a
week. The worms should be chopped (not whole) and
offered in a small dish. Also, a healthy mix of
fruits and vegetables, shredded into pick-up-and-fly
pieces should be offered daily. Feed all perishable
foods in a separate dish, and remove it after one or
Vitamin/Mineral/Amino Acid Supplement
In the wild, birds are free to fill all of their
nutritional requirements, but in a cage/aviary
environment, they are not. To make sure your finches
are getting the vitamins their bodies require, we
recommend the addition of a high-quality powdered
vitamin. This may be administered on top of their
daily salad or sprinkled on their millet. A liquid
vitamin may be used instead of the powdered if your
finches snub the vitaminized foods you are offering.
The liquid vitamin is added to fresh water daily.
Watch your finches to make sure they are accepting
the vitaminized water since you do not want your
birds to go without drinking for any length of time.
Packaged seed treats, egg biscuits and spray millet.
Treats will keep your finches busy picking and
gnawing, while giving them a tasty alternative to
staple foods and salads. Spray millet is something
finches would eat in the wild, and is accepted with
gusto! All finches should be fed millet sprays, as
part of their weekly diet. A millet holder is handy
to use and will keep the millet from becoming soiled
at the bottom of the cage.
Cuttlebone Cuttlebone is a convenient way to supply your
finches with calcium, phosphorus and other minerals
necessary to keep them in optimum health. Hang it in
their cage, out of the way from droppings, which
could soil it. Change it every two months.
Plumage Conditioner and Bird Bath In the wild certain finches have different needs
for bathing. While Zebra finches and Munias may take
two or three baths a day, some Grass finches bathe
only in the morning and evening. Find out your
finches preferences by providing both a bath and a
light mist. Which do they prefer? Most will enjoy an
early morning splash in a bird bath that attaches to
the door of the cage.
Additional Food Cups Plenty of food and water should always be
available for your finches. Hooded cups may seem
threatening to a bird accustomed to open cups. If
your finches are not readily eating and drinking,
remove the hoods from the cups. Replace the hoods
for a few hours a day until they are used to it.
Your finches will need one additional cup for salad,
another for seed treats, and one more for egg.
Cage paper is easy to
clean and it's not difficult to shred. To a certain
extent, gravel paper can also aid in trimming your
Your finch's nails will grow continuously. If your
finches perches are too thin and smooth then their
nails will have no chance to wear down (see Perches;
Environmental). Should this happen, nail clippers
made especially for birds must be used. Take care
not to over trim or cut into blood vessels running
through each nail. Should this happen, have a blood
coagulant waiting and ready to use. Ask your pet counsellor how to trim your finch's nails or phone
for an appointment to have them clipped.
In the wild, finches spend much of their time
foraging for food, building a nest, rearing a
family, defending their nest site and so on.
Domesticated finches, if left to their own devices
within a barren cage, will grow bored. To alleviate
this boredom, fighting and picking at themselves and
each other will be a natural activity to fill the
void. Your finches need activities available to them
that encourage their natural habits. A pacifier toy
is fashioned to encourage preening. Small rope toys
with bells, beaded toys and mirrors also may be
appreciated. Hanging plastic plants serve as hiding
places, which help make your finches feel more
Nests/Nesting Boxes and Nesting Material As mentioned at the beginning of this pamphlet,
some finches are perch sleepers and others are nest
sleepers; however, nests and nesting materials
should be provided for all of them. Not only do they
give the finches an activity (collecting and lining
the nest), but a nest will provide a sense of
security. One or two nests per pair is ideal. A
nesting box may be used if you have decided to try
and breed your finches, although some finches will
breed even without the nesting box!
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept
in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt
and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep
your pet's home clean, and wash your hands before
and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
Please remember that
all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit
diseases to humans. Young children, infants,
pregnant women, people with compromised immune
systems and the elderly are at great risk of
infections and should use caution when in contact
with pets or their homes.