What do zebra finches feed their babies

Wild Baby Finch Diet | Pets on Mom.com

By Victoria Marinucci | Updated September 26, 2017

North America serves as home for more than 20 species of finches. These small songbirds inhabit cities, woods, mountains and deserts. With such a large finch population throughout the country, you may have a nest of wild baby finches near your house or wild finch fledglings visiting your bird feeder. You can positively impact a wild baby finch's health by understanding her diet and providing nutritious food at your feeder.

Hatching and Nestling Diet

Much like a human baby, a wild baby finch requires a certain diet of foods and frequent feedings from his parents in order to stay healthy. The first week of a finch's life is the hatching stage, and it is followed by the nestling stage, which can last two weeks. During both stages, it is crucial that his mother keeps him warm and nourished by feeding him at 1 1/2- to 20-minute intervals, according to an article published in "The Condor. " Finches generally feed their babies a variety of regurgitated seeds, such as the sunflower seeds and dandelion seeds that house finches mainly feed their young. Brambling and American goldfinch feed their babies small insects, including aphids and gnats; the diet of those finches consists mainly of insects.

Fledgling Diet

Two to four weeks after hatching, the wild baby finch becomes a fledgling. During this stage, the finch's wing muscles have developed and her flight feathers have grown in. The wild baby finch ventures from the nest, though she is still dependent on her mother and father for care. She still relies on her parents to bring the seeds and insects she received in the nest. The fledgling period lasts one to two weeks.

Juvenile Diet

After the fledgling period, the baby finch graduates to the juvenile stage and begins eating on his own. He gradually learns to eat an adult diet. Though his diet still contains seeds and insects, it also includes plants, such as thistles and nettles that adult goldfinches eat and wild berries and nectar that mature house finches eat. He will remain a juvenile until he becomes a fully fledged adult at 3 to 4 months old.

Bird Feeder Food

Even though a wild baby finch should not be directly handled or fed, you can help her diet by attracting finch parents and fledglings to your bird feeder. Because the parents and their babies eat seeds and insects, you can place wild bird seed containing whole sunflower seeds, sunflower kernels and millet as well as insects such as meal worms or wax worms in your bird feeder. Wild bird seed is available at pet stores, garden stores and most supermarkets, and pet stores sell insects. You also can offer unconventional food such as breads, most fruits and suet. Changing bird seed frequently ensures the food is fresh. Damp or old food may cause illness in birds.


If you find an orphaned wild baby finch, you should not care for or feed him, but you can help him. The first task to establish whether the finch is a fledgling or a nestling. "In order to determine whether the bird is a nestling or a fledgling allow the baby bird to perch on your finger. If it is able to grip your finger firmly than it is a fledgling," states the website Wild Bird Watching. If he is a fledgling, he should be left alone. His parents will continue to feed him as he learns to fly. A nestling, however, should be returned to his nest. If you cannot find the nest, your area's wildlife rehabilitator can properly care for the wild baby finch.


Some foods are dangerous to a baby and an adult finch's health. Among the foods to avoid are those containing caffeine, including coffee beans and chocolate. A finch cannot metabolize caffeine, resulting in dehydration and seizures. Also, vegetable oils can destroy feathers' insulating qualities needed for warmth. Lastly, stale and moldy food, which can cause respiratory infections, should be avoided.


  • Wild Bird Watching: Baby Birds--Should I Help?
  • "The Auk;" A Study of the House Finch; W. H. Bergtold, M.D.; January 1913
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment: American Goldfinch (Carduelis Tristis)
  • RSPB, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: What Food To Provide--Bird Seed Mixtures
  • "The Condor;" Observations On Nesting Behavior Of The House Finch; Fred G. Evenden; March-April 1957

Photo Credits

Writer Bio

Victoria Marinucci has been writing since 2002. Her articles have appeared in Pennsylvania newspapers as the "Bucks County Courier Times," and "The Intelligencer." She has also had numerous articles published on the news site, phillyBurbs. Marinucci earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Penn State University.

How often do finches feed their babies? – Childhoodpets.com

Finches are magnificent and charming small birds. They have some different nesting habits that separate them from other birds. For example, the male finch will feed the female finch on the nest during incubation or 5-6 days after the birth of the new hatchling. Male finch accomplishes this by regurgitating feed into the female’s beak. The food is then again regurgitated by the female to the nestlings. 

Here the question arises: How often do finches feed their babies?

Finches feed their babies after every 1-2 hours, day and night, for the first 5-7 days. After that, the feeding frequency decreased with each feeding after a few hours. The baby finches leave their nests when they are 12-18 days old and begin to eat on their own after 12-18 days.

What do Finches require in order to feed their babies?

The major diet of finches consists of various types of grains and seeds along with fruits and buds.

It is expected that both parents would continue to feed their chicks by placing these food items into their chicks’ beaks after chewing. Finches can alter their diet based on the season so that they receive the proper nourishment. 

Raising baby finches might be difficult if you don’t have their parents. Intensive time and attention are required for successful baby finch rearing. It is preferable to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable finch expert if you have to raise the baby finches independently.

How to feed pet baby finches if they do not have parents?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nk37ba1UbAVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Hand Feeding Baby Zebra Finch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nk37ba1UbA)

Use a needleless syringe, catheter or feeding tube to provide the infant finch formula to the baby finches every two to three hours until they are weaned. Open the mouth of a sparrow carefully and check inside for a little hole. It is not recommended to put food in this hole because it is an air passage. Place the feeding apparatus away from this opening and feed him carefully until his crop is somewhat rounded but not too tight. Allow the crop to drain fully between feedings.


First seven days

Immediately following the first day, combine a commercial baby bird food recipe with an electrolyte replenishment solution to generate a thin liquid. Keep feeding the baby birds with this mixture every two hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. The digestive systems of the birds must relax throughout the overnight hours in order to prepare for expansion the following day. Feedings should be interrupted every few seconds to enable the birds to take a breath, and only as much formula as the finch can swallow should be given in each feeding. The third day should see a minor thickening of the formula, but it should remain thin enough to pull through the syringe. On the fifth day, replace the electrolyte replenishment solution with warm, sanitized water and mix in a little amount of lactobacillus powder to suppress the growth of bacteria. Feedings should be reduced to three and a half hour intervals by the seventh day.


After seven days

If your baby finches aren’t eating as much as they should after the first week, alter the structure of the formula and make it thicker. Give them as much as they will eat without forcing them. After each feeding, wipe the region around the baby finches’ beaks with a cotton swab soaked in warm water. Never reuse the formula that has been given to the finches. Prepare a new batch of feed for each feeding. Hands should always be cleaned/washed before handling the newborn finches.  When the baby finches’ feathers begin to appear, they should be placed in a tiny birdcage. Soon, they will be able to flutter their wings and fly for the first time. Your finches may now consume multiple grains/seeds and fresh veggies, as well as drink from a bowl of water that you have provided for them.

What is the maximum amount of time that newborn birds can go without food?

Nestlings are capable of surviving for up to 20-24 hours without nourishment. As soon as you realize the bird is orphaned and in need of rescue, take it to a certified avian vet in bird rescue and rehabilitation.

Issues Concerning Baby Finches Hygiene and Safety

When feeding finch babies, it is critical to wash your hands and use clean equipment. Utensils should never be shared amongst chicks; instead, each baby should have his or her own feeding tube or syringe. After you’ve finished feeding all of the babies, throw away any remaining solution. Unfortunately, abandoned young finches have only a poor chance of surviving for more than a few days, even when they are hand-fed by their parents. Before feeding any orphaned or abandoned chicks, consult with your avian vet or a small animal veterinarian familiar with bird medicine and treatment.

Taking Care of Baby Finches

If possible, clean the beaks around the baby finches as soon as they are fed. The formula should be refilled as quickly as each feeding is completed. It is recommended that only owners can handle finch feeding equipment or newborn chicks. Whenever a finch begins to develop feathers, it must be placed in a tiny cage as soon as possible.


How many chicks do finches have?

A finch may lay anywhere between 2 to 9 eggs at a time. The female finch will perch on the eggs in order to keep the eggs warm. It usually takes twelve to sixteen days for the eggs to be ready for hatching. The parents wean their newborns for several months before allowing them to feed on their own for the first time.

Is it possible to overfeed a baby finch?

Yes, it is possible to overfeed baby finches; however, they have a tendency to close their beaks to let you know that they do not want more. Don’t wholly open the baby finches’ beak if you wish to the finch to get extra nutrition. You may rely on their beaks only to notify you if they are starving before you become aware of their hunger.

Is it necessary to feed newborn finches during the night?

No. It is not. Feeding is not essential between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. because the birds are sleeping at that time, and their stomachs need some rest too. Once the finches’ eyes open with age, at that time, they may consume 3-5 meals each day (one every 4-5 hours). Similarly, when their feathers begin to develop, they may need to be fed twice a day for the first several weeks (every 6 hours).

Will baby finches stop hand feeding when they are weaned?

Without weaning, the baby finches will become “spoiled” and refuse to eat on their own, choosing instead to be fed by hand. However, if they are weaned too soon, they will not be able to eat enough, lose weight gradually, become feeble, and eventually die.

Is it true that finches desert their babies?

It is improbable that both of their adult parents have abandoned baby finches. The babies would not survive for more than three days without sustenance.

At what age do baby finches develop their mature plumage?

After six weeks, they will begin to develop the colours and feathers of their adult plumage. So, after six weeks of their birth, separate the tiny finches from their parents and relocate them to an entirely different cage.

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Finch is a well-known small bird. She is very beautiful and sings melodic songs. Therefore, many people are thinking about the question of whether a finch can live at home. In this article, we will consider in detail the intricacies of the life of this bird in captivity, we will analyze what it should eat, what conditions must be created for it.


Description of the bird

Chaffinch is a songbird that belongs to the finches family. She is very bright and elegant, she does not tolerate cold at all, which is why she got such an interesting name. nine0003

Length From 14 to 18 centimeters.
Wingspan 24 to 29 centimeters.
Weight 16 to 30 grams.
Plumage color Plumage includes brown, white, grey, blue and green. In autumn and winter, the color becomes dull, and in spring and summer, with the onset of the mating season, the birds become bright again. Birds are distinguished by a strong beak, a tail of sufficient length and powerful wings. Females are different from males, they are not so bright and beautiful. nine0016
Lifespan In the wild, the bird lives from one to three years. When kept at home, a finch can live up to ten years.
Songbirds The chaffinch starts singing its songs approximately from spring to mid-summer, in the mating season. In autumn, the bird sings much quieter and less frequently. If the chaffinch lives at home, then its singing can be heard from January.
Table. Finch descriptionSinging finch

The usual type of finches flies quickly, moves on the ground by short jumps, he does not like to walk very much.

The songs of this bird are notable for their loud sound, ringing trills, a bit reminiscent of nightingale. The chant lasts up to three seconds, then there is a pause, after which the singing resumes. Young birds sing very simply, while adults give out virtuoso melodies. A finch's repertoire can include up to ten melodies, which he loves to perform the most.

Interesting fact! Finches are able to predict rainy weather - before the rain they sing a special trill. nine0003

Where does such an unusual name come from

To understand where this name of the bird came from, you need to remember the saying that larks begin to sing when it gets warm, and finches start singing when frost sets in. The finch's trills end before winter in a rather peculiar way, as if the bird's throat had frozen sharply from frost and it could no longer continue singing.

Chaffinch before the onset of frost

In general, it is believed that the name of the bird came from the Russian word "chill", which means - to freeze. nine0003

Differences between males and females

As mentioned above, females are not as bright as males. The females of the chaffinch have brownish-gray feathers, occasionally white wedges can be found. The abdomen of the female is light, and the back, on the contrary, is dark. The beak of the female has a brownish-yellow tint.

As for the males, their plumage has many shades of green and blue. These birds have dark wings with white stripes, their back is brown, and their abdomen is beige. With the beginning of the mating season, in spring, the bird's beak becomes bluish, only its tip remains dark. By winter, the beak of the male finch looks slightly frozen - it acquires a shade of pinkish-brown. nine0003 A pair of finches

The most common types of finches

In total, eighteen species of finches are known in nature. On the territory of the Russian Federation and the CIS you can meet:

  • European chaffinch - the traditional variety described above;
  • Caucasian chaffinch - lives in the Crimea and the Caucasus, sings very beautifully;
  • Hyrcanian chaffinch - lives mainly in Northern Iran, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, has a reddish belly and a dark brown back; nine0094
  • Kopetdag chaffinch - distributed near the Turkmen reserve of the same name, has extensive white areas of feathers on the wings and tail.

On the territory of our country, you will most likely meet only the European variety of the chaffinch.

European chaffinch

Way of life

The chaffinch resembles a sparrow in many ways, it easily finds a common language with people, often neighbors them. The diet of this bird is unpretentious, for the winter (subject to a warm climate), the bird builds a strong nest for itself, which it diligently disguises. nine0003

Chaffinches can often be found at the stadium or in the city park. If the bird is worried, feels the approaching danger, it makes loud, sharp sounds that are repeated over a wide range of frequencies. The loud sound of such a chirp should make the enemy stop chasing the bird.

Sometimes finches do not want to show their excitement to everyone, then they squeak loudly, betraying anxiety. Such sounds resemble a thin, drawn-out whistle, it starts almost silently and ends with the gradual disappearance of the volume to zero. A bird can give similar signals to its fellow tribesmen in order to warn them of impending danger, but not to appear in front of a predator, not to give out its location. nine0003 Weasels are one of the main enemies of finches

The chaffinch is an unpretentious and hardy bird. Its main enemies are small predatory animals that love to destroy bird nests. Finches can be hunted by owls, woodpeckers, magpies, crows and jays.

In addition, the main enemies of finches are cats, ermines, squirrels and martens.

Where found in nature

Finches prefer to live in deciduous, coniferous or mixed forests. They do not like only the taiga, because it is quite difficult to get food on the ground there. It is not uncommon for a finch living in a summer cottage or garden plot. nine0003

What it eats

The basis of the diet of this bird is insects, in addition, the bird does not refuse weeds, fruits, berries.

Diet of finches

Chaffinches actively harvest insects in spring, they feed on them throughout the summer, until the end of August. They really like small bugs, weevils. Finches rid tree plantations of these pests, which bring great benefits to the environment.

Migratory or not

Finches prefer to fly to warmer climes for the winter. Some varieties of these birds that live in an acceptable climate may stay over the winter. Most of the birds, with the onset of the first frosts, approximately at the beginning of October, set off on a long journey. They can fly to the central part of Europe, to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Some birds winter in the Caucasus, birds from Siberia prefer to winter in Central Asia, Kazakhstan.

The flight to wintering takes place with the participation of the whole flock, which can include up to a thousand individuals. Birds move south at a speed of more than fifty kilometers per hour. From wintering, finches return from February to April. First, males return to their place of residence, females catch up with them after about a week. nine0003 Flock of finches

Peculiarities of keeping finches at home

Finches at home – is it possible? These birds coexist well with humans, take root well in apartments and houses. But, it is impossible to say with certainty that the bird will definitely become tame. To achieve this, you will have to create a lot of conditions for the finch, have experience in keeping birds and be patient.

If the bird was caught as an adult, certain difficulties may arise with it. You will have to keep the finch in a cage covered with a cloth so as not to frighten him. Such birds, when a person appears, begin to express strong anxiety, beat against the bars of the cage. nine0003

If the bird was caught in the wild on its own, because of which it was injured, then it will not work to wait for melodic singing from the pet.

Cage, covered with cloth

Preparing the cage, drinkers and feeders

Keeping a finch at home involves preparing a suitable place for him to live. A cage for a finch will need not be too voluminous, with a height of about sixty centimeters, a width of fifty centimeters and a width of forty centimeters. The upper part of the cage should be made of cloth, and it is better to cover the cage itself with a cloth so that the bird is more comfortable inside. So, you will create for her an island of safety in which she will feel comfortable. nine0003

Place a bowl of water and a feeder in the bird cage. It does not hurt to fix perches inside the cage on which the bird can sit and a house where it can hide.

At the bottom of the cage, sand can be poured, which must first be sieved and calcined to get rid of parasites in it.

Dry sand for bedding

Puts the cage with the bird in a place that is well lit, regularly ventilated. But, the presence of drafts is not acceptable. You need to clean the inside of the cage on a regular basis. General cleaning should be carried out weekly with mandatory disinfection of all surfaces and subsequent airing of the cage in the fresh air. nine0003

Nest materials or bedding

As we noted above, sifted sand should be poured inside the cage, it will act as bedding.

In order for the birds to make their own nest, it is necessary to prepare materials at hand for them. It can be tree branches, lichen, moss, pieces of tree bark, cobwebs, wool, hair.

Diet and feeding regimen

How to feed a finch at home? This bird is not particularly picky either in living conditions or in the diet. nine0003 Poppy seeds

What can be fed to a chaffinch:

  • millet - you can combine several species, check what the bird will like and choose the optimal composition;
  • some oil to reduce the pet's susceptibility to cold;
  • sunflower seeds, rapeseed, oat and poppy seeds - will increase the energy of birds, which is especially important during the mating season;
  • germinated seeds - just do not mix them with dry ones, this will quickly spoil both types; nine0094
  • grated carrots, boiled potatoes;
  • white bread soaked in milk or water;
  • ant eggs;
  • woodweed greens.

Chaffinch food should not remain in the feeder for a long time, it must be changed to a new one in a timely manner.

In order for the birds to sing more actively, it is necessary to increase the number of insects in the diet. It can be flour worms, special mixtures. Insects are required when the birds have hatched and begin to accustom the chicks to adult food. nine0003 Boiled potatoes for feeding finches

Do not constantly feed the bird with sunflower and hemp seeds. These products should be given in minimal quantities, only as part of a mixture with other grains. Otherwise, the bird may get sick, blind and die. If you notice signs of anxiety in a pet, you see that he constantly scratches his head on the bars of the cage, and his eyes begin to water, you need to drastically remove these foods from the diet. After that, it is important to wipe the finch's eyes with a weak solution of potassium permanganate, increase the amount of greens in the daily diet, add a little currant jam to the drinker. nine0003

Basic hygiene procedures

In order for the bird to bathe whenever it wants, to keep its plumage clean, it is necessary to put a container of water in the cage. Its contents should be changed regularly to avoid the multiplication of pathogens inside.

Do finches breed in captivity?

Finches can breed if kept at home, in a cage, under the right conditions for them.

Chaffinch nest

What you need:

  • a small box with a nest;
  • improvised nest materials - moss, lichen, twigs, tree bark, wool;
  • bring the male and female into one cage.

How will birds breed? First, the birds will begin to build a nest, it will take them about a week. After mating, the female will lay eggs in the nest, there can be from four to seven. Finch eggs are multi-colored, the female will incubate them for 11-13 days. nine0003

It should be noted that all the time while the female is incubating the eggs, the male sings songs melodiously. Newborn chicks squeak amusingly, whistle, their skin is covered with a rare fluff, it is wrinkled and red.

The chicks begin to fly out of the nest on their own about 14 days after hatching from the egg. To feed them, you need to offer the birds small larvae and other insects. Food rich in protein will speed up the growth of finch chicks.

Finch chick

Males guard the nest with the female and chicks very seriously. When danger appears, they immediately stand up to protect their family. nine0003

Interesting fact! The male chaffinch may participate in feeding foreign chicks.

After the first spring/summer egg laying, finches may lay another clutch. This does not happen before the end of summer. This time the female lays no more than three or four eggs. It should be noted that in order to incubate new offspring, the male builds a new nest for the female.

How to tame a bird?

It is not easy to tame a finch, if a pet was born in a cage, then it can get used to a person. If he was caught already as an adult, then it will be very difficult to tame him. Most likely, when a person appears, the bird will beat against the bars of the cage, trying to hide. nine0003 Tamed Chaffinch

In order for the bird to quickly get used to the owner, it must be kept in a cage upholstered with cloth for a long time, where the pet will feel relatively safe.

Finches can live in a cage with other birds, but they do not always do it with great pleasure. If the bird has a cocky character, then the meeting of two male finch can end in a fight.

Owner reviews of keeping finches at home

The chaffinch at home is a bird that needs attention. She is not often seen in the apartment. nine0003

Owner reviews of finches :

  • the bird sings beautifully, in different ways;
  • difficult to tame an adult;
  • does not require special care;
  • young chick easily adapts to life in captivity.

Keeping a finch at home is not just entertainment, it is a great responsibility for the bird and its life. If you want to have a songbird in the apartment, think about whether you can provide it with the necessary living conditions, properly organize the living space and diet. nine0003 Video: Finches.

Finch | ZOOMIR

Jul 2012

  • Chaffinch - an ordinary bird of our forests, the size of a sparrow, a cheerful and lively singer of the spring forest. Where did such a name come from?
  • It is known that the chaffinch is a migratory bird, but sometimes it stayed over the winter in its native lands.
  • Finch


  • This happened in those distant times, when horses were the main means of transportation in Rus'. In the harsh winter season, when a thick layer of snow covered the ground, the only and reliable source of food for wintering birds was oat grains, which were fed to horses.
  • The Russian people have always subtly noticed the features of the behavior and appearance of each bird and aptly gave it a name.
  • It is possible that he received the Russian name "chaffinch" (chill, chaffinch) out of compassion for a ruffled, small and chilled bird, boldly remaining at home in a severe frost, or maybe because of his manner often stay in autumn and spring in large flocks on the chill nine0094
  • Let's get to know our little hero better. As mentioned above, this bird is the size of a sparrow or slightly smaller, has an unusual color.
  • The rusty-brown tone of the chest and belly is in harmony with the dove-gray cap. The back of the head and neck are of the same bluish color.
  • Black forehead, brown back, greenish-brown rump and loins complete the motley portrait of an elegant male.
  • And the older the bird, the brighter the colors in its plumage. The distinguishing features of finches look especially beautiful - white spots - "epaulettes" on the wings and a narrow white stripe along each wing. nine0094
  • These details are also present in the outfit of the female, but unlike the bright male, she is painted in restrained tones of light olive color.
  • It is very important for her to be as inconspicuous as possible on the nest when she is incubating the eggs and keeping the chicks warm.



  • Special mention should be made of the finch's nest. As the chicks grow, their nest noticeably stretches and increases in size - this wonderful feature of such a building helps the kids not to fall out due to crowding and fit in their house until the very departure. nine0094
  • Scientists conducted an experiment with an empty nest, filling it with pebbles and the internal volume increased by one and a half times! And this is not the limit!
  • It turns out that with effort, you can stretch such a house 2.5 times without violating its strength and shape.
  • Males are the first to arrive in their native lands and occupy their territory in forests, groves, parks and even dachas in order to meet their ladies in a week and start a family.
  • As it should be in the spring, they stay in pairs, as a result of which the female lays 5 eggs in a warm nest, after which incubation begins. nine0094
  • For two weeks she sits motionless on her eggs, rarely flying down to feed and exercise. Sometimes the male feeds her, but he sings more or quarrels with the neighbor finches, preoccupied with the protection of his site.
  • Finch


  • The hatched chicks are covered with long gray down, although some parts of the body remain bare, but in general their outfit looks much more fluffy than that of their many songbird relatives.
  • Especially attractive is the cover on the head of fluffy chicks sticking out in different directions, forming a funny cap, and after two weeks only downy "horns" on the head remind of the former outfit. While feeding babies, finches change their diet - instead of plant foods, they feed their offspring with tender spiders and caterpillars. nine0094
  • In June this food is always in abundance. As the chicks mature, more seeds are added.
  • Chicks that quickly become independent leave their parents, but do not remain alone. Despite the fact that the finch is a forest bird, and therefore nests exclusively in trees, for most of its life it sticks to open spaces.
  • Flocks of finches begin to roam, adhering to meadows and forest edges, where there are always a lot of weeds with edible seeds. 9009four
  • Finch


  • At the end of August, migratory mood takes over all finches and small flocks of 5-20 birds each go to warmer climes, mixing with other brothers and forming larger flocks.

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