Zebra Finch

The Zebra Finch does not require continual attention, but this finch will need consistent care. This bird of a feather flocks together with other Zebra Finches and if you buy one, you should buy two, as these caged birds are much happier to bond with their mates rather than their owners. A male and female Zebra Finch will want to mate and raise young. These pudgy little birds have colorful markings, and the male bird has a pleasant call and song that attracts people to want to bring them home.

Common Characteristics

  • Lifespan: 6 to 15 years
  • Allergies: Mild
  • Shedding: Mild
  • Primarily suited for indoors


Common Reasons for Surrender

Finches are usually surrendered because the owner died, the family moved to a new home, a couple has a baby, college student owners go off to school, or an owner marries and the spouse finds the finch annoying.


If you buy them in pairs (recommended), they will keep one another company all day, which can be a great benefit to the family that is on the run and away from home most of the day. While they require consistent feeding and cage cleaning, the Zebra Finch does not need constant attention, and if she has a mate in the cage with her she will be perfectly happy all day. Zebra Finches are easy to keep and breed in the home as long as you provide them with a breeding cage and small nestbox.


This bird wants the companionship of another Zebra Finch but is not likely to bond with a human, like a budgie or parakeet can. If you want a bird that you can cuddle, train, and talk to, you may want to consider another bird. But if you enjoy the color, chatter, and sometimes the song of a small bird, the Zebra Finch may be the perfect fit.


In addition to dry seeds and pellets, the Zebra Finch needs sprouted seeds. Canary grass seed can be placed in warm water and set in a warm room to soak and sprout. Pellets are essential to this bird’s diet as well as tiny portions of fruits and green vegetables offered as treats daily.


It is advisable to buy two Zebra Finches, male and female. The female should be older than one year in order to breed. The finches need a bird cage of at least 30 inches by 30 inches and 20 inches deep in order to exercise. You may want to provide an aviary in your home, a special room set apart for your birds to fly freely or perhaps a porch area that can be enclosed with wiring so that your birds have more space to fly. However, a large cage is a sufficient size for the Zebra Finches.

 Possible Health Issues

Zebra Finches are small but hardy birds and most health issues can be traced back to poor diet or a dirty cage. Be sure your cage is not in a draft and that you offer baths early in the day so that the bird has time to air dry her feathers before night time.

The Zebra Finch’s legs are fragile and can break. Nutritional deficiencies can cause feathers to drop out and bald spots to appear. If there is a lot of activity, the Zebra Finch may break a wing and will need to be seen by an avian veterinarian. As with all birds, you need to watch for parasites. Your Zebra Finch will benefit from an annual checkup. The average yearly cost for avian veterinary care is usually less than $150 per bird.


Zebra Finches can be kept in any home that is warm enough, as they cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees. The Zebra Finches should have  swinging perches and a stationary perches, all spaced far enough apart so the birds don’t touch one another while resting on a perch. Branches from fruit trees are ideal for the Zebra Finch, just make sure the perches are not too thin so the bird’s claws are comfortable when holding onto them. Live branches will need to be replaced as they lose their elasticity or bark. Finches need good lighting and if the days are short will appreciate a lamp nearby at night time. Offer a small nesting box to provide security inside the cage.


Keep a flat bath bowl in the cage and change the water every day or so. If you do not have a flat bath bowl, put a rock into a higher dish to prevent drowning. This bird loves to bathe! 


If you buy a pair of Zebra Finches, as recommended, they provide their owners with an education in reproduction and keep themselves busy with cage perches, baths, “talking”, and mating. Ask your veterinarian about nesting material for the male and for information on raising new chicks.


The Zebras tend to enjoy playing with tassel toys in their cage.




ADDITIONAL RESOURCES                                                                                                   

National Finch and Softbill Society

American Finch Society

We want to thank Feathered Friends Forever, Harlem, Georgia, and Avian Rescue Corporation (ARC), Concord, California, for help with this profile.

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