Finches are small passerine birds characterized by their somewhat pointed wings, forked or furrowed tails, round heads, and conical beaks. Although there are members of the finch family who do not react well to being kept in captivity, many species including the society, zebra, spice, and blue finches are commonly kept as pets across the world for their sweet songs and relative ease-of-maintenance.
Distribution and habitat
These birds have a global distribution, inhabiting Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas, being absent only in the Polar Regions and Australia. Finches are common in well-wooded areas, but can also be seen in mountainous and desert habitats, most species being non-migratory in nature.
Types of finches
- Blue finch
- European greenfinch
- Saffron finch
- European goldfinch
- Spice finch
- Pine grosbeak
- Blanford’s (crimson) rosefinch
- Common chaffinch
- Society finch
- Owl finch
- Gray singing finch
- Strawberry finch
- Shaft-tail finch
- Gouldian finch
- Oriole finch
- Mongolian finch
- Golden-naped finch
- Mountain finch
- European Linnet
- Star Finch
- Zebra Finch
- Spectacled finch
- Atlantic canary
- Violaceous euphonia
- Purple finch
- House finch
- Trumpeter finch
- Desert finch
- Olive-rumped serin
- Forest canary
The Atlantic canary has been artificially bred into many variations, based on their singing ability, physical form, and plumage color: read more about them.
Mating & breeding
Finches usually reach their breeding age when they are around 8 months old. The female lays 2-10 eggs, depending on the species, at a rate of one egg per day.
How long does it take for finch eggs to hatch: The incubation period lasts between 12 and 16 days, with the hatchlings fledging in another 3 weeks.
Lifespan: How long do finches live
Most finches live for around 5-10 years, but can live longer with proper care. There are individuals that have lived for 27 years.
Finches as pets
Housing & cage requirements
Finches do a lot of flying within their cage so make sure you get a large enough cage, at least 30x18x18 inches (Length x Width x High) for a pair. It should be placed in a draft-free and well-ventilated area, away from doors and windows. The ideal temperature for a finch to thrive in is around 60°-70° F (15.5°-21°C) during the day, and around 40°F (4°C) in the night. You may need to cover the cage after dark to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Cage accessories: There should be sufficient number of softwood perches of varying textures. An additional benefit of these is that they keep the nails in proper condition. You may also put a cuttlebone in there, as it would ensure strong beaks and hard egg shells during breeding.
General care tips
- Clean the cage on a weekly basis, and disinfect it once every month.
- Replace the food and water dishes every day, putting in new ones.
- Bathe your finch at least once a week (preferably daily during the summer).
Behavior & temperament
Finches are easy-going birds that would not be taking up much of your time. They are cheerful, active, entertaining, and robust. Unlike parrots, finches are perfectly content in each other’s company when they do not get much interaction with their owner. They do not like to be handled, but hand-reared finches can get attached to their humans enough to be trained to come and sit on the fingers on cue.
Sounds and singing: Most finches are quite birds; however, there are some species that do sing, including canaries, European goldfinches, and house finches. Their sounds are sharp chirps, made most when they are in a group, or with other birds. However, they do not make too much sound to render them unsuitable to be kept in an apartment.
Diet: What to feed finches
The staple food for finches is a readily available finch seed mix, to be fed every day. They are usually not prone to overeating, with one bird consuming around one teaspoon of seed mix in a day. A little cod liver oil can be added to the seed mix, as it is full of vitamins. Make sure to talk to the person at the vet store regarding the amount to feed them as the quantity may vary during molting.
Other food options: You may offer your finch some sprouts, millets, fruit flies, dry dog food, and meal worms. Occasional bread crumbs can be a good source of protein.
What do baby finches eat: Feeding newborn finch chicks can be tricky and it is recommended to take them to an expert to learn the correct method. They are usually given children’s electrolytes at first, later followed by a mixture of an electrolyte replacement solution and baby bird food formula.
Diseases & health problems
Finches are usually tough little birds unlikely to face many health concerns; Though, an improper diet and care, coupled with a drafty and unhealthy environment with dirty cages can lead to some problems, including overgrown beaks and nails, feather picking, ingrown feathers, heat stroke, and cramps.
Some of the telltale signs of a finch in ill-health are:
- Lack of appetite
- Ruffled feathers
- Sitting with eyes closed
- Head tucked into the wing
- Irregular breathing
Contact a vet as soon as you can if you suspect any of the above signs, as it is essential to treat any ailment at the earliest.
- Perhaps the most well-known member of the finch family is the canary, owing its fame to the animated character Tweety.
- The house finch was initially found only in the western United States before the 1940s. They were illegally brought to New York, and some escaped and thrived in and around Long Island, before spreading throughout the country.
The cost of finches can vary exponentially based on the availability and color of the bird. However, they are usually rather inexpensive compared to many parrots, with prices ranging from USD 20 to USD 500.