Zebra Finches: Types, Facts, Behavior, Housing, And Feeding

Zebra finches are the most popular among finch birds. They are small birds that breed frequently and make a good pet bird for beginners. Zebra finches are relatively hardy, easy to care for, and require a minimal time commitment. The lifespan of a zebra finch is 3 to 15 years.

The zebra finch has been kept in captivity for over a century and is generally kept in pairs where they entertain themselves without much interaction with their owners. The zebra finch is not actually the smallest of all finches. Other finches such as the Gouldian finch, spice finch, blue finch, star finch, and strawberry finch may have brighter colors, but few are easier to keep successfully than zebra finches.

Zebra finches have colorful plumage. This makes the birds easy to identify. The zebra finch also has a thick, tapered bill with a red-orange or waxy orange color that is bright and relatively easy to see from a distance.

They are often used in scientific research due to their short mating cycle. They have also been used for studies on incipient imprinting, mate selection, and song learning specifically regarding how they vocalize.

Both male and female zebra finches have this colorful beak, although the female’s beak may be relatively duller, otherwise, the genders look very different.

Male zebra finches have a gray head and nape with a prominent orange cheek patch and a black teardrop in the eye. The upper chest and throat have fine black and white horizontal stripes, with a broad black patch on the chest.

It has a bright orange-red bill at maturity and the flanks have striking reddish patches and white spots, although these patches may not be easily seen depending on how the bird holds its wings. The back and wings are tan in color, the tail has thick black and white stripes, and the rump, lower abdomen, and under tail coverts are plain white.

Female zebra finches are duller in color and have similar markings with no patch on the cheek and only a slight buff wash on the flanks without spots. It has a pale orange bill, however, for both sexes, the legs and feet are pale. Young or juvenile birds resemble the female but are generally browner and the bill is black.

Types Of Zebra Finches

Zebra finches often come in a variety of mutations including

  • Pied zebra finch
  • White Zebra finch
  • Black-cheeked zebra finch
  • Florida fancy zebra finch
  • Orange-breasted zebra finch
  • Fawn cheek zebra finch
  • Black-faced zebra finch
  • Crested zebra finch
  • Black-breasted zebra finch
  • Chestnut-flanked white zebra finch
  • Eumo zebra finch
  • Dominant silver zebra finch

Facts About Zebra Finches

Zebra finches originate from the arid areas of central Australia, living in large flocks in their native habitat there. They can also be found in East Timor and Indonesia. The zebra finch has been introduced to the nations of Portugal and Costa Rica, where wild flocks now exist.

The zebra finch’s preferred habitat includes open steppes, cultivated areas such as rice fields, a variety of grasslands, and forests with scattered trees and shrubs, preferably near bodies of water.

Zebra finch Zebra finches are small birds that are calm, active, and fun to watch. Although small in size, the zebra finch requires a large cage to fly. All finches are social and must be kept in pairs. A male and female pair will often reproduce quite easily, so you may want to consider keeping only the female zebra finch.

Some people normally keep them in pairs or in groups of more than six. If you have more than one pair, you will need a larger cage, such as an aviary or flight cage. Although they are social with each other, zebra finches don’t really bond strongly with people. They can get boring, but they don’t like handling. However, with a lot of training, you can get it to your hand.

When it comes to verbalization or vocalization, the bird makes silent chirps and peeps that are easy to tolerate. This species should be appropriate for apartments or condominiums. Zebra finches are beautiful birds. They are gender dimorphic, which means that you can tell the sexes apart just by looking at them.

Behavior Pattern

Zebra finches are social birds that reside in groups in the wild. They don’t like to be touched and handled, but they rarely resort to biting. They are not actually “trainable” like a parrot type bird is.

You can usually find hand-raised finches or you may have to raise a baby yourself. Therefore, in those cases, you will have a finch that is attached to people. and it will gladly perch on your shoulder or hand and feel ideally comfortable.

zebra finchAvoid trying to force a finch to be “friendly”, as this will likely stress and terrify the bird. Zebra finches require a lot of social interaction with other birds in order to stay healthy and happy. It is always good to keep at least two zebra finches together. Couples can be either the same sex or the opposite sex, although females probably get along better together than males.

If a same-sex pair is kept, a nest or nests should not be placed in the cage, as it can lead to fights between the birds. A cage containing zebra finches of only one gender should not be kept in the same room with zebra finches of the opposite sex.

If birds can hear the song of a potential mate that they normally fight with their cage mates trying to create the territory. They can be kept with other types of finches or soft beaks as long as the cage is large enough to allow the various birds to have their own territories and interact without conflict or too much competition.

Do well to research potential cage mates thoroughly to make sure the birds are likely to get along.

Sound And Speech

All finches have a variety of sounds and whistles. The zebra finch has a trilling, calm, and conversational song. The father bird often teaches the chicks to vocalize. He teaches a song, and they rehearse or improvise with little whistles and trills to personalize it and many of their improvisations sound like external sounds that they have normally heard. You can play music or sing to your birds to inspire them.

Note: Zebra finches are loud and boisterous singers. Their song is small beeps, leading to a rhythmic song of varying complexity in male zebra finches. Males begin to sing at puberty, while females do not have the ability to sing.

Housing For Zebra Finches

When keeping zebra finches as pets, the height of the cage is not as important as having room to fly horizontally, so a long but short cage is permissible. It is a good idea to get the largest cage you can.

A good size for a pair of finches should be 30 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches tall. If you are purchasing a larger group of birds, an aviary or a large flight cage will suit. The spacing between the wires should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch to prevent the bird from being trapped between the wires.

Choose a variety of perches, as this helps your bird’s legs stay healthy and strong. Make sure the cage is not disarrayed and untidy so that the finches cannot fly back and forth. For the perches, you can use dowels in a couple of different sizes, or add a few natural branches, perhaps angling them for variety.

You can also provide ladders and swings, although ladders are likely to be used as perches instead of climbing. Provide them with hanging toys, even if they are not very interested in toys.

Zebra finches reproduce very well in captivity, so nests should not be placed in the cage or aviary unless they need to be reproduced. They are very prolific and will lay eggs in nests of almost any size, even in their own food cups.

Due to this prolific reproduction, the finch owner must decide whether they are pairs of the same or opposite sex. Having a pair of breeding zebra finches requires the purchase of additional cages (mature chicks must be discarded and removed from their parent’s cage at six weeks of age) and dietary supplements.

The zebra finch cage should be placed off the ground in a quiet and safe place in your home, away from drafty areas such as doors, windows, or vents. Unlike parrots, finches do not seek social interaction with people, so they will be less stressed if they stay away from a hub of activity.

Zebra finches can be kept in a white temperature range, but be sure to avoid temperature fluctuations, direct sunlight, and drafts. However, in warmer climates, you can acclimate zebra finches to outdoor aviaries.

You may want to move your bird’s cage to a quiet room to sleep in or cover your bird’s cage at night. Placing them in a quiet area or covering the cage helps your bird acquire the nest it needs to stay healthy.

Even quiet noise in a room from a computer or television can interrupt your bird’s rest and prevent it from getting a healthy amount of sleep. If the cage is in an area that is used after your bird’s bedtime, it is necessary to move the cage to a quieter room at night.

As soon as your bird is familiar with its surroundings, let it out of the cage at least once a day. Do well to provide a shallow dish or pot of fresh water several times a week to bathe and keep the feathers clean. Nails often need to be trimmed, but be careful, as even a little bleeding can be fatal.

Nest box And Basket

It is necessary to provide a nest basket as zebra finches enjoy sleeping in nests. A wooden nest box of about 12 x 12 x 12 cm is also necessary, especially during the breeding season, since they have a habit of laying eggs in any available space, including the food tray. You can use coconut coir or dry hay/grass as nesting material.

Paper Substrate

Place a paper substrate at the bottom of the cage to easily identify any abnormalities in their droppings. The paper substrate should be changed daily to ensure proper hygiene. Soft hay and grass are good choices for the substrate in the following boxes.


People often use full-spectrum lighting to prevent shedding of skin. However, it is not essential for zebra finches. Artificial ultraviolet (UVA) lighting can be used if kept in a room that receives an inadequate amount of light.

Required Temperature

Zebra finches are well adapted to room temperature but should be kept away from cold drafts or air conditioning units. The temperature should not drop below 40°F to 50°F during breeding because they will thrive, thrive, and survive well in a moderately warm environment and be sure to avoid direct sunlight.

Feeding Your Zebra Finches

Zebra finches are seed-eating birds and they like millet seeds and whatever germinated seeds are useful to them. They are herbivores (granivores) and feed primarily on grass, grains, and seeds. Zebra finches supplement their diet with insects (primarily termites and ants) to provide protein for proper egg  formation and flower.

zebra finchSeed mixes and a teaspoon of Pellet feed can be provided as a daily base diet. The pellets are a formulated source of nutrition that is good to offer as part of a varied and balanced diet. Insist on making your finches accept granular food.

It is also important to provide them with an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, berries, cantaloupe, watercress, kale, grass seedlings, chickweed, banana, mangoes, romaine lettuce, broccoli, apple, spinach (in moderation). to their usual diet.

You can experiment to find out what they like and keep offering a variety. Your zebra finches may need a few tries to accept new foods. Avoid giving them avocado because it is harmful to most birds.

You can also provide other supplements, such as eggs or a commercial hard-shell cooked egg food supplement. This is ideal for all birds and is crucial for breeding birds.

Provide cuttlebone as a vitamin and calcium supplement. Grit is no longer supported as a supplement for finches. However, if you are offering grit, offer only a few granules at a time and very rarely.

Do well to provide drinking water every day. When feeding fresh food be sure to remove anything you haven’t eaten after a few hours so the food doesn’t spoil and wash the dishes thoroughly before using them again.

Note: Most finches hunt for plant seeds, cones, weeds, and berries in the wild.