October 25, 2017

How To Care For Finches

Finches are becoming more and more popular as a pet in many areas, but proper care for them can be trickier than for a dog or cat. Many new owners buy their finches because of the birds' cuteness, their beauty, or their attractive song - only to lose them due to mistakes or neglect.


Even previous bird owners can make mistakes when getting their first finches. In order to prevent a tragedy in your birdcage, here are a few tips to remember when caring for finches.


Some Finches Are Not So Sweet

Some Finches Are Not So Sweet

Prospective owners are often dazzled by the gorgeous plumage colors available across the many domesticated finch breeds. However, not all finches get along well together. Zebra finches, which are often recommended for beginner finch owners because of their affordability, can become pushy and slightly aggressive towards other finch breeds.

Some very pretty pet finch breeds will outright kill birds with similar plumage during mating season, as well. Other birds, such a weaver finches, will become territorially aggressive when it comes to resources they consider important, such as nests and strips of paper.

Having plenty of flying space, nests, food, water, treats, and places for passive birds to hide can help to mitigate aggressiveness in large aviaries. Birds that are only slightly pushy towards different breeds may become more passive if a large aviary and plenty of food is provided.

Some pet finches will always be aggressive though, so it is important to research a new breed thoroughly before introducing it to other finches. Finches are especially more likely to become aggressive towards birds of a different breed that share plumage or recognizable markings. Red throated finches of different breeds, for example, must never be housed together.


Watch Out For Nail Over-Growth

Watch Out For Nail Over-Growth

For some finches, toenails may grow very quickly. Many bird owners use sanded perches or natural wood to keep finch nails short. Sanded perches can harm your pet's sensitive feet, though, and natural wood perches can be expensive. Some birds' nails will grow out regardless of these measures, as well.

Finch toenails should resemble slight crescents; if they are too long or even beginning to curl in on themselves, they may get caught on the bars of the birdcage or other hazards. Finches are not very smart in a crisis, and a finch with its toes caught may just flail and pull until something breaks in an effort to escape. Damage from such an accident may include broken bones, wings, toenails, and potentially fatal blood loss.

If your pet's nails are getting too long, there are several ways to remedy the issue. The most reliable way to shorten them is to take the birds to a trained vet or groomer who offers the service. Another safe, if laborious, way to shorten the nails is to file them down slowly until they are a safe length.

If you are confident in your abilities, you can try to clip the nails yourself. Be mindful of the "quick", which is the blood supply of the nail. If you nick it, the finch may bleed to death in a manner of minutes. Corn starch can be pushed inside of the nail in the event of such an accident in order to stem the bleeding. A freshly snuffed match can also be pressed into the nail tip in order to cauterize the wound.

Regardless of the method you choose, quick action may be necessary to prevent permanent damage or even the death of your pet. If you doubt your abilities, it is always a good idea to take your bird to a professional.


Keep The Water Clean

Keep the Water Clean

Finches will get agitated and frustrated if they are not able to bathe often, so a large enough bird bath should be provided in their cage or aviary. However, your pet finches are not very interested in health and safety, so you must keep an eye on their water sources. Regardless of how many water sources or how much water you offer the finches, you must change their water every day.

This is because finches do not differentiate between bathing water and drinking water, and will happily drink water out of the communal bird bath. Finches may also leave waste in water dishes, so check to make sure that no perches are positioned above the water supply.

New finches pose a particular threat in terms of soiling the shared water. Finches fresh from the pet store may still be carrying all sorts of undetected diseases and parasites. If they are allowed to bathe and drink from the water your other birds use, they may easily infect the whole aviary. These birds should be quarantined in a separate area and given their own source of water to share, so as to prevent putting your older birds in danger.


Finches Are Messy Birds

Finches Are Messy Birds

Finches pick up their seeds by pecking rather than scooping as a hooked-bill might. If their eating habits are not taken into account, pet finches can create quite a mess for their owner. An easy way to prevent finches from spraying seeds all over the floor is to put a fine net around the cage where the feeding cups are.

However, this can still lead to wasted food in the bottom of the cage. Another way to prevent waste is to use cups with plastic hoods to prevent spillage. Using these cups in conjunction with netting is the most effective way to keep the finches from making messes.

If neither of these are a viable option, you can also place the seeds and treats in the center of the cage. Just be sure if you do this that there are no perches directly overhead, or the finches may defecate into their food supply. This should be avoided, as it contributes to the spread of disease.


Nesting And Mating Vary By Bird

Nesting and Mating Vary by Bird

Some finch breeds are more prone to nesting and breeding, and even within a species there will be individuals who are better breeders than others. Make sure to do plenty of research before buying a supposed breeding pair.

If you are looking to get a breeding pair, the best option is to find one that already has hatchlings and reserve the pair for purchase. "Proven pairs" such as these will breed reliably so long as you replicate the conditions in which they first mated.

Mixed aviaries can alter mating and nesting habits significantly. Some birds may feel more driven to nest with added competition. However, for many species, mixed aviaries reduce the likelihood of successful mating. Aviaries with more aggressive species are especially likely to have low breeding rates, since finches must feel secure and unafraid for their potential hatchlings in order to breed.

If your finches are not nesting, and you want to encourage it, do not add anything to the nests yourself. Instead, place several different kinds of nesting materials against the bars of the cage, or aviary.

Nesting materials can be bought at pet stores, but you can also use shredded paper, feathers, string, or bits of fabric/ If you use string or fabric, be sure that it cannot unravel to long threads, because birds may get tangled in it and hurt themselves.


Finches can make adorable pets, and their sweet songs offer a pleasant morning melody for their owners. However, they do take some special care. Whether you're a new owner or a finch veteran, I hope these tips will help you keep your birds healthy, happy, and safe. Good luck!

Read more: Book List – 15 Books On Hummingbirds

Lucy Sheppard

Hi, I’m Lucy Sheppard. I love pets, especially dogs. My love for these true friends of humans turned into a passion. This passion led me to start this pets website so that people like me can benefit from my study and research.

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