Zebra Finch, also known as Chestnut-eared finch, spotted-sided finch, and Nyi-Nyi, is a small bird with a thick, pointed triangular beak, grayish-brown wings and a black and white striped chest like a zebra. Being a popular choice of pets, these birds have been bred in captivity for many years.
|Scientific name||Taeniopygia guttata|
|Distribution||Australia, Lesser Sunda Island (North-west Australia), Indonesia, East Timor|
|Habitat||Open steppes, grassland and forests near water bodies|
|Color||Gray, Black, white, orange, red|
|Size||10cm to 11cm|
|Weight||15gm to 20gm|
|How long do zebra finches live||About 5 years in the wild|
|Egg hatching time||12 to 16 days|
|Clutch size||4 to 8 eggs|
|Singing Ability||Seen in males|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Least Concern|
Several color mutations of the Zebra Finch is available like grey, dominant silver, fawn, saddle-backed, chestnut flanked white, yellow beak, black bodied silver, cream backed, dark cream and so on.
Their cheerful, rhythmic song, as well as their bright colorful appearance, makes them popular as pets.
A large, spacious, well-ventilated cage of about 30 inches in length, placed in a quiet corner of the house is suitable for these birds. It is advisable to keep only a pair of finches in a single cage due to the territorial nature of the males. Soft wood or natural branches placed inside the cage form good perching spots. But, make sure not to keep more than two perches, as it may reduce their flying space. Small bells or ladders may be kept inside the cage; however, long strings should be avoided to prevent any obstruction or injury during flight. They can also be kept in aviaries, which should be protected from hawks, cats as well as harsh weather conditions. While keeping multiple pairs in a big cage, pinch clothespins may be placed on the perches at a distance of about six inches to demarcate the territory of each pair.
Nest box and basket
It is recommended to provide a nest basket as these birds enjoy sleeping in nests. A wooden nest box is also required, as they have a habit of laying their eggs in any available space, including the food tray.
A paper substrate should be placed at the bottom of the cage so that any abnormalities in their droppings may be easily inspected. It is to be changed on a daily basis to ensure proper hygiene. Grass and soft hay form a good substrate for nest boxes.
The birds are well adjusted to room temperatures but must be kept away from air conditioning units or cold drafts. During breeding, the temperature should not fall below 5 to 10 degree Celsius. They thrive well in a moderately warm environment; however, direct sunlight should be avoided.
Though full spectrum lighting is often used by people to prevent molting, it is not necessary for the Zebra finch. Artificial UVB or UVA lighting may be used if the room they are kept in has insufficient lighting.
These calm, sociable birds tend to display their loyalty to their owners by fluttering or singing in his presence. However, they dislike being touched or cuddled.
These seed-eating birds are fond of millet seeds, while any sprouted seeds are beneficial for them. A proper amount of fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, broccoli, spinach, apple, banana, mangoes must be added to their regular diet. Cuttlebone, hard-shelled boiled eggs, grits, and pellets form, a good source of calcium and vitamins. Fresh, clean water should be provided to them every day.
A shallow dish of water should be placed at the bottom of their cage for bathing to keep their feathers clean. Their nails should be occasionally trimmed, but caution must be taken as little bleeding may be fatal for them.
Most of the illness suffered by these otherwise hardy finches is due to improper diet as well as an unclean environment. Some of the common diseases are leg cramps, heat stroke, egg binding, mites, diarrhea, sore eyes, scaly legs, broken wings, baldness, constipation, tumors, and concussion. Sick birds should be isolated and kept in a separate cage with a temperature of about 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
If cared for correctly and suitable enrichment is given, zebra finches can survive for up to 12 years in captivity. One individual survived for 14.5 years.
Zebra finches cost around $15-$30.
- The males of dimorphic species can be distinguished from the females by the bright chestnut patches on their cheeks.
- The male finches incorporate sounds from their surroundings in their mating calls.
- Scientists have discovered that the male finch’s song is a result of about 2000 genes present in a specific area of its brain, known as “Area X”.
- After being weaned, the young ones are chased off by their parents who start a different clutch of eggs.