Are you interested in a small bird? A bird with lovely colors? A bird that has a beautiful song and a lovely chirp? Are you not overly interested in having a hand-tame bird? Then the Zebra Finch could be the perfect bird for you. They are small, so their cage doesn’t need to be extremely large (but it does need to be large enough to allow for the bird to fly to get exercise). They are fairly inexpensive because of how easily they breed in captivity. And they aren’t extremely loud. They do chirp and beep a good portion of the day, and the males do tend to belt out a gorgeous tune when they feel happy, but this is actually very lovely background noise for many people. Zebra Finches are a very popular small bird here in the United States, as well as in many other countries around the world.
Zebra Finches originated in Australia. They can be found in the wind in Indonesia as well. They are hardy and adaptable, living in almost any environmental conditions except the very cold south of Australia and the rather hot areas on the uppermost north of Australia. They thrive in brush, forests, and grasslands. They tend to live close to a water source. Their diet consists mainly of seeds. They have dealt with human use of their habitat well because of their adaptability. They can and do nest in many different areas, such as in trees, on the ground, in bushes, in termite mounds, and on man-made structures. They are small, reaching a size of about 4 inches and only weigh about an ounce.
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This bird is dubbed a “zebra” because of the distinctive black stripes found on the neck and upper chest area of the male. The head, neck, back, and wings are gray. The chest, leg feathers, and rump is a white-cream color. Along the wing line on the side of the bird is a patch of brownish-red with white dots. The cheek is adorned with a round orange patch. A black line falls from the eye down to the end of the cheek. A white patch runs along the beak and the black eye line. A thick band of black stretches across the chest. The beak is a bright red, the feet are orange, and the eyes are black. The female is less colorful. She is mostly gray. She lacks the zebra stripes, the cheek patch, the black band on the chest. Her belly, legs, and rump are cream colored. Her eyes and feet are the same as the male, but her beak is lighter and more orange.
Many many years of captivity has given rise to many many different color mutations for this bird. Breeders have played around with mutations and produced some very fun color variations. Some include: albino, fawn, light back, black breasted, penguin, pied, as well as many others. The most popular color remains the original wild coloring.
These birds are not considered trainable. Some owners do hand train them, but it is difficult as they are fairly skittish birds. It takes many months of patience to get a Zebra finch to trust you. And potentially many more months before it will take that leap of faith and actually perch on your hand. But I can’t say it isn’t possible, because there are bird owners out there that have accomplished it.
In captivity the finch diet consists mainly of a nice balanced seed mixture. Lots of yummy leafy greens and other treats are needed as well for optimum health. Add a cuddlebone and some grit to the cage as well. Provide fresh water daily and a nice big shallow bowl full of water a couple times a week so your bird can splash around and bathe.
Common Diseases and Ailments (Zebra finches are considered hardy birds):