Quick Facts

  • Finches are not parrots but rather passerines, which are sometimes referred to as “perching birds” 
  • Many of the finches commonly kept as pets, such as Gouldian finches, owl finches, society finches and zebra finches, belong to the Estrildidae family of finches

Finch

Food for Finches“Finch” is a loose term to describe one of many (hundreds!) of small passerine birds. The finch species most commonly kept as pets come from the Estrildidae family of finches, like the zebra finch Gouldian finch, owl finch and society finch. Finches are ideal for those wanting a pet bird but not ready to take on the demands of a parrot. They will be content housed in a large flight cage or aviary with other finches. A finch most likely will not be a cuddly companion  (although some hand-raised finches, especially zebra finches, have been known to perch on a finger) like a parrot.

Native Region / Natural Habitat

The estrildid finches, such as the zebra finch, Gouldian finch, owl finch and society finch, are native to Australasia.

Personality & Behavior

Finches are popular as companion pets because of their pleasant sounds and social interactions with their flock mates, and, in the case of the Gouldian finch, their dazzling coloration. They are mostly hands-off pet birds; instead preferring to be with other of their kind.

Speech & Sounds

Finches are not capable of emitting the ear-splitting screeches of parrots and therefore might make a good choice for those with close neighbors. Their vocalizations are mostly “peep” and “meep” sounds,typically by the males. Their calls/songs can be persistent at times and finches spend a large portion of their day vocally communicating with one another.

Care & Feeding

Finches need spacious housing, especially since they spend most, if not all, of their time inside their enclosure. These birds should remain fully flighted instead of having trimmed wing feathers. A horizontal cage is a must (as opposed to a vertical cage). Finches are flock animals and thrive when housed with other finches (do not house a finch with a parrot because a parrot can injure a finch). If you house pairs of finches together, be prepared for possible offspring, especially if the finches are provided a nest (small wicker-basket) and nesting material.

Some finches can be housed in same-sex pairs (a male finch with a male finch or a female finch with a female finch) to avoid the possibility of breeding but it depends on the finch species as well as possibly the time of the year. Consult an experienced finch breeder to see which same-sex finch pairs are most likely to get along. Likewise, if you plan on keeping an aviary of mixed finch species, consult an experienced finch breeder first, because some finch species can be aggressive toward other finch species, especially during breeding season.

A finch will thrive on a pelleted base diet, such as Lafeber’s Premium Daily Diet specifically designed for finches, supplemented with fresh greens and other vegetables, grubs, eggfood and some seed.

Health & Common Conditions

Finches can be prone to air-sac mite infection, especially when overly stressed. This is a serious medical condition that warrants immediately veterinary care. Finches can also be susceptible to scaly face (a condition caused by a mite that presents as white, scaly areas around the beak/eyes, as well as the legs), which also warrants a call to the vet. Finches can also have overgrown nails or beaks, which should be addressed by an experienced bird groomer or vet.

Get a Finch

Finches such as Gouldian finches, zebra finches and society finches are widely available in large pet stores, from avian specialty stores and from bird breeders.