Species group: Australian Finches
Other common names: Chestnut-eared Finch
Scientific name: Taeniopygia guttata
The sturdy, agreeable Zebra Finch is the number one or number two most popular pet finch in the world. They are easy to feed, eager to breed, and can be found in an amazing variety of color mutations, starting from the day the first dark-eyed white Zebra Finch was bred in its Australian homeland in 1921. They can found in a crested version as well. They are active and fun to watch, and if you decide to raise more valuable finches later, you may even be able to use your Zebra Finch pairs as foster parents.
The familiar Zebra Finch that we all know and love is a wide-ranging, very successful Australian grassland interior subspecies, T. g. castanotis. The nominate subspecies, T. g. guttata, also known as the Timor Zebra Finch, is a smaller subspecies that may be found in some Indonesian islands, as well as coastal Australia. This subspecies does not possess the “zebra stripes” at all. However, don't get excited if your pet lacks the stripes. It's probably just one of the many, many color mutations of T.g. castanotis that happen to have the stripes bred out.
Because their natural environment is very dry, huge flocks of Zebra Finches follow the rain. They are stimulated to breed by the sight of other pairs around them and by the temporary abundance of water. Therefore, if you have only one pair, and you want to breed them, you should strongly consider playing rainforest tapes for them each day to get them in the mood.
The normal wild Zebra Finch isn't a particularly well-named bird, but if you squint at the male's lower collar, you will notice the zebra stripes. His bright orange cheek patch, paired with his lipstick red bill, is far more prominent. The female is plainer, lacking both stripes and cheek patch, and her coral bill is not quite as bright as his. The pet market offers countless color mutations and a choice of crested or uncrested birds.
12 grams (0.4 oz.)
10 - 11 centimeters (4 in.)
5 - 15 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Zebra Finch is a bold, happy bird that doesn't know its own size. If you have a display aviary, you can often add the Zebra Finches, and they will play happily with much larger birds, as long as those larger birds would not harm them. They will poke into everyone's nest, so if you are a serious breeder, you may want to confine them to their own flight cage. Just make sure it's large enough for them to fly, to play, and to investigate all the little nooks and crannies, because they are always on the go. Their song is never going to win any prizes, as it has been variously described as a little honk or a chirp, but it isn't terribly loud, and it's entertaining to watch the little male sing to his female.
It is a very rare Zebra Finch indeed that would want to fly to or be handled by a human. For the most part, they are curious about us and enjoy watching us from their territory, but they do not want our hands or fingers poking into their cage.
Zebra Finches exercise by flying rather than hopping or climbing, and they are happiest flying in their own territory, although a few rare birds have learned to fly to their owners. Many so-called finch cages are only suitable to serve as hospital or temporary homes for birds awaiting sale. The permanent home of a pair of Zebra Finches should be 36” in length, 24” in width, and 18” in height, with ½”bar spacing. A larger flight would not be excessive. A variety of perches, swings, and even toys will keep them busy and allow them to provide you with endless action and entertainment. They love bathing, so have a bath available, or you may find them trying to splash in the drinking water.
It's possible to house Zebra Finches in colonies or aviaries, and if you decide to provide a very large flight, you may wish to add more pairs. As a rule of thumb, always remember that finches can't count above six. Therefore, if you want to prevent a pecking order from developing in a flock, you can have one pair of birds in the flight, or you can have three pairs or more in the flock, but if you have between 3 and 5 birds, then the finches at the bottom of the pecking order could be harassed, injured, or even killed. Zebra Finches are very curious and will look into other birds' nests, causing more sensitive birds to give up their breeding attempt, so you should not house them with rare species.
A hardy grain-eating bird from the Australian interior, the Zebra Finch is remarkably easy to feed, although you should never expect this bird to subsist on dry seed alone. However, the backbone of the diet will be a small seed mix, so obtain the best quality you can afford. They love many varieties of millet, including the spray millet. The seed should be fresh enough to sprout, and you should test it by sprouting it regularly. You should also supply a small chopped salad containing such items as chopped romaine, grated carrot, the fresh sprouts, chopped apple or grapes, and other dark greens such as chickweed or dandelion. This species does not demand live insects, one of the reasons they're considered an “easy” finch, but they should certainly be offered eggfood throughout courtship and breeding. All finches should have access to grit, as well as clean cuttlebone or another source of calcium.
Written by Elaine Radford
Nice easy pets, awesome parents, good beginner bird, chirpy birds, hilarious zebra finch, devoted mates
constant chatter, wake me, breedsometimes wont stop, cant handle
timed light cycle, fresh corn, variable songs, cuttle bone, egg supplements
The Perfect Pair
Sue and Will were great birds. One time they got loose out of their cage, and instead of dashing out of the house, they plopped onto the windowsill and allowed my grandmother to pick them up and put them back in! They had 17 eggs, none of which hatched successfully, but warming them kept them busy! Unfortunately Sue used to get ill each winter, and we didn't catch it in time to give her antibiotics one year. Wil lived on to have many girlfriends after that. Their chirp is lovely, they're wonderful birds to look at too! .
From AmberRaeMarie Blume Sep 1 2017 11:56PM
Happy and Energetic
Zebra finches make an enjoyable pet for anyone who likes to listen to the chirping sounds of a happy bird all day long. They really cheer up the house. Put 2 or 3 of them in a cage together and they will happily chirp the whole day away.
The Zebra finch is one of the more common breeds of finch, the male having black and white striped chest and shoulders, the female having less distinctive color. Some of the females have the male patterned feathers, only much less pronounced, other females have no pattern at all and can be cream-colored or almost all white.
The Zebra finch flits around from one place to another quickly, perching, cocking his head around and chirping, and then takes off to another place.
We used to let them out of their cage on occasion and they would quickly fly into our hanging houseplants and hide out for the day. It wasn't easy to catch them when it was time to put them back in their home, but it seemed worth the effort to let them enjoy some freedom and watch them pick at the dirt and leaves.
Zebra finches are a great addition to any house. They require seed, but do not eat very much of it. They often like millet sprigs. Clean up after them is a twice a week change of paper at the bottom of their cage, and offering clean fresh water every day. They are worth the small effort it takes to keep them..
From thegunslinger Jul 24 2015 7:57AM
Zebra Finch House of Horrors
Let me start out by saying one thing I learned through this experience: zebra finches are not for me. I disliked these birds, and eventually gave them away to a friend. They did not fit my idea of a fun pet at all. I'll go through a few categories below to explain my opinion on them.
Schedule: These birds woke up EVERY morning around 5:30am, no matter what I did to keep them asleep. At the advice of friends and pet store employees, I kept my blinds closed, kept a thin sheet over the cage to block out light, and avoided anything that could make sound to wake them up. It was all to no avail. Every morning as the sun came up they would begin a chorus of annoying honking sounds.
Personality: Of course, these birds are not meant to be trained or held... I was not looking for a bird to make any kind of connection with me or be my friend. I was surprised to find how incredibly MEAN these birds were. Not to me though... To each other!!! These birds picked on each other (literally, they would pluck each others feathers). They ganged up on each other, and I was constantly breaking up fights. Again, I sought the help of the pet store, who just told me that this was relatively normal. After a few months I had a bunch of half-bald birds.
Reproducing: There's no way to stop them!! These birds kept laying eggs. They were also horrible mothers... I continually found little cracked bird eggs at the bottom of the cage that the mother had kicked out of their nest. To my horror, I discovered once that the eggs had been fertilized... There was a baby in one of them!!! I then spend the next 2-3 weeks constantly checking on these babies and having to keep putting them back in the nest with a spoon. The mother would carelessly move around the nest, knocking babies out left and right. With the help of the internet and pet store, I was able to keep 3 of the babies alive... Which meant I then had 7 birds -_- After these babies grew up, guess what... They were just as mean. They too soon went partially bald from all the fighting and pecking.
Clean Up: Even with a "splatter shield" installed around the cage, these birds somehow got bird seed and poop all around my room. Clean up was horrible, and the smell in my room was just as bad.
All around, I pretty much hated having these birds. I'm sure that other people have had better experiences, so I will withhold too much judgement and hope that it was only my birds that were demon-possessed. I would recommend to anyone considering purchasing them... Do not keep them in your bedroom. The mess, smell, and noise will ruin your sleeping habits and living quality..
From rachelhill916 Sep 27 2015 7:28PM