Finches are quiet and beautiful companions, capable of living a long and healthy life if given the kind of care they deserve and need. Most species are very easy to breed, and finches are so small that the equivalent of an aviary can be had within a flight cage (see below).


Finches are happiest when kept in pairs, or at least near other finches. Fortunately, many finches can be sexed simply by looking at different colour patterns. Remember that immature birds usually tend to resemble females. Wicker or box nests may be offered until the first young are raised, at which point the hen is rested by removing the nest. Clean dried grass is preferred for nesting material; softer materials such as natural cotton fibers are also good.


A small cuttlebone and a treat cup containing oystershell should be available at all times. Regular gravel or grit is not needed as the calcium rich oystershell will supply their desire for grit. A good quality finch mix is fed along with spray millet (the spray millet should be available at all times). A nutritional supplement is also required. "Prime" is recommended because of its high calcium content and amino acid/beneficial bacteria additives. Seed eating birds are often deficient in lysine and methionine, which Prime can supply. Use it daily on chopped or shredded spinach, dandelions, clover, chickweed or lettuce (all washed). Or it may be used on another favourite soft food, egg. Chopped hard boiled egg should always be offered when MOULTING or when RAISING YOUNG, because of the extra protein required. Some finches also need baby mealworms to successfully raise young.


Most beginners try and keep finches in a cage that is TOO SMALL. Try and purchase one wider than it is high (ask your pet retailer to order a large flight cage such as Hagen B-4261 if possible). Display your finches to their best advantage by keeping them under a full spectrum fluorescent light such as Hagen's "Life-Glo" (highlights their often beautiful colours like fish in a tank!). An aquarium strip light can easily be rested on the top of most large cages or flights. Use natural branches for perches and replace frequently (willow, birch, alder, oak, apple, cedar). A bath may be attached to the cage and, if changed daily, may also provide drinking water.


Sick finches should be seen by an avian veterinarian as soon as any problems are noted (rapid breathing, excessive sleeping or fluffed feathers, loose or scant droppings etc.). Avian veterinarians are available in all large Canadian cities.

Louise Bauck BSc, DVM, MVSc.

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